Saturday, August 24, 2013

Morgantown Edition: Atomic Grill

Atomic GrillAtomic Grill has quickly gained some positive attention in Morgantown during the short time that it's been open - since June 17. I've been hearing a lot of great things about this bbq place, so when I made the trip up there recently, it was first on my list to try.

It's located in the former Hostess store on the intersection of Greenbag Road and Kingwood Pike.I had actually been to the old Hostess store and bought a few fruit pies. It reminds me of the bread store we used to have in Wellsburg.

It does have a parking lot, which is a luxury for many Morgantown restaurants. The inside is quite small. It's just one open room where they placed a bunch of tables, which is odd. I would think some sections or dividers would help break up that space a bit.

It has a very cool vibe, though. Dark colors, some alternative staff - tattoos and piercings galore, and some  locally sourced foods are throughout the menu. I love the locavore movement, just FYI. And the dishes are a little bit more upscale than many other restaurants in town.

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A friend told me to start with the Appalachian Bruschetta. Sounds cool, right? It's cornbread crostini served with a variety of regionally influenced toppings. Those toppings ended up being a compound butter, smoke roma ragu, green tomato relish, boursin and collard green pesto.

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Definite points for creativity, right?

Atomic Grill
I didn't blow me away, but I appreciated the thought that went into this dish. They were all fine dipping sauces. I'm not sure cornbread's flavor profile fits perfectly with any of them, but there were a few that I appreciated more than others - the pesto was pretty good, and the soft cheese is good.

Next time I want to try the fried green tomatoes, though.

For the main entree, I went with the ribs because our waitress said they were the best she'd tasted. I thought, well, this could change my entire outlook on ribs. So I did it. I just got the smallest rack I could because it's definitely on the pricey side.

Atomic GrillYou get to choose which sauce you want, so I asked for a sampler. They essentially have a West Virginia sauce, a hot sauce, a Hawaiian sauce, a horseradish sauce and a vinegar sauce. The West Virginia is the closest to a traditional BBQ, so I went with that.

The ribs came out with a giant portion of fries and also baked beans. I am not a baked beans fan, so those went to my friend Tony.

The ribs were good. They could have been more tender. But if they're locally sourced, I understand that a bit more. The fries were flimsy and not crisp. Not my favorite way to cook fries. I want some crunch going on.

We rounded out the meal with dessert. They pay homage to the roots of the building by offering some pastry-influenced desserts. The one that caught my eye was the Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding. I am, indeed, a bread pudding connoisseur. I've eaten it for many, many years. My family reunion has bread pudding contests.

Atomic GrillThat's usually a bad sign when I'm trying a restaurant's, because it's tough to live up to that nostalgia and level of expectation. This bread pudding was okay. Essentially, it became this giant cup of soft bread. And I think having some different textures is key to bread pudding. If it's all just this oddly soft goopy mixture, it's not a pleasant thing to eat. It did not taste bad - in fact, the spices used were lovely. But I think having a little crunch would do this dish wonders.

Better than many restaurants in town, but not as great as all the hype I've heard.

The Atomic Grill is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. For more information, check out their Facebook page here.

Grade: B
Atomic Grill on Urbanspoon