Thursday, September 26, 2013

Charleston Edition: The Cold Spot

Cold SpotI've been to The Cold Spot in Glen Jean. Twice, actually. My opinion of the place had risen since my first visit as I had the chance to meet the owner on my second visit to that location. I, again, went with photographer Tom Hindman, who knows everyone. The owner genuinely cared about our meal - though there were no worries - it was great.

So I visited the Charleston location recently with my friend Carl. You know those nights when you kind of just want to "bro" out and have some beer and wings?

Cold SpotYeah, that.

When we got here, I'm not going to lie - I was a little confused about the layout. It is sprawling in non-linear way. Maybe it's just the way they section it off. Didn't matter - Carl knew his way around and we made our way to the bar. First-class service was executed all night - maybe because he had been here a time or 3,000 before - but the woman behind the bar was fantastic. Got us a pitcher of beer as soon as we sat down. Friendly, on top of her game. Give her a raise. It'd help if I remembered her name.


Cold Spot
Cold SpotI ordered 12 boneless sweet BBQ wings. They were pretty busy that night, but when we got our wings, they were piping hot. In typical fashion, I had been starving so I actually got filled up pretty quickly. But that's not to the discredit of the wings.

Cold SpotThey're good.

Crispy on the outside, covered in a sweet and tangy sauce, the wings are general crowd pleasers, I'm sure.

I didn't even have ranch or bleu cheese. I think I just forgot about it. But I think that speaks to the quality of the wings.

Grade: A
Cold Spot on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Charleston Edition: Gino's Pizza and Spaghetti

Gino'sRemember how excited I got when I had a calzone from Gino's in Clay County? I thought I found THE best thing at Gino's. I was just choosing the wrong thing! I gotta give all other Gino's a chance!


I went to the Gino's on the East End of Charleston. I had called in my order previously and just went inside to pick it up. It's pretty close to home, so it's convenient.

Gino'sWhen I walked in, the man was chit-chatting with a couple in front of me and failed to even acknowledge me until they finished their conversation. Then he asked me what I had ordered. I told him. During this process, there was some in-fighting amongst employees, and I actually felt bad for the guy working.

Gino'sIt could use a dose of professionalism.

When I got home, I was severely disappointed. My calzone had been cut haphazardl. It had been cooked too long on the bottom. Grease was puddling in the box. The edges were odd and puckered, leaving crunchy bits and odd openings.

Where was the beautiful work of art I had received in Clay? It had been replaced with this lifeless, overly greasy, slovenly assembled blech. No bueno.

Grade: C
Gino's Pizza & Spaghetti on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Charleston Edition: Yen's Sandwiches

Yen's SandwichesYen's SandwichesIt's odd to have two Vietnamese places in Charleston. Right across from each other. But I'm not complaining. One specializes in noodle soup - pho, and the other in sandwiches - banh mi.

Yen's SandwichesYen's Sandwiches is more of a lunch place, though if you're out of work by 6 p.m., you can make it for dinner. With sandwiches at about $3.50, it could really be both.

Yen's SandwichesYen's SandwichesThe inside isn't large and gets quite busy at lunch. The menu is small, but the food - perfected. I think I favor restaurants with small menus that do just a couple things really, really well. That's the case with Yen's.

I ordered spring rolls, which weren't bad. Lots of cilantro, lettuce, shrimp and rice paper. I think if I were a bigger fan of cilantro, these would be lovely. I used liberal amounts of the sauce, which was really quite tasty.

The star of my meal was definitely my pork meatball sandwich - banh mi xiu mai. Delicious. Love a meatball sub? Love it with an Asian flare, lighter, with veggies and amazing flavor? Yes. Just do it.

And just because, I also got an avocado bubble tea. If you want to try something that's not super sweet but still is tasty. Try it. It's different.

Yen's SandwichesYen's Sandwiches

Grade: A
Yen's Sandwiches on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Charleston Edition: The Peanut Shoppe

Peanut ShoppePeanut ShoppeOne of the more unique establishments in Charleston is The Peanut Shoppe. Not every city has a shop devoted to nuts and candy, but good ol' Charleston does. As an institution of sorts, my townie friends required my attendance here.

I usually skip by this place because I walk by the small exterior and it's usually closed by the time I make my way downtown. It had stayed open later on this particular night because of a parade, so we followed our noses to the roasted nut aroma.

Peanut ShoppeI get the feeling of stepping back in time when I set foot in here. It's small and tons of containers and bins feature every sort of nut and popcorn and candy you can imagine. I imagine this is magical for children. I'm amazed at 24 years old.

Peanut ShoppeWhile nuts are lovely, I couldn't get over the hand-pulled caramels. Hand. Pulled. Caramels. There's no contest.

I got a handful and went on my merry way. Little did I know what a fantastic decision this way. I ended up having a long day and every so often, I'd pop one of these. And each time I congratulated myself on what a brilliant decision this was.

They are a different level of soft. Like, you can't get these in a grocery store. Chewy but melty. And lovely. Go soak up a piece of Charleston and enjoy some treats.

Grade: A
The Peanut Shoppe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 12, 2013

New Charleston restaurant coming soon!

In case you missed this:

A new Japanese and Thai fusion restaurant aims to be a relaxing refuge for young professionals in Charleston.

Su-Tei, which will feature Asian Cuisine focusing on sushi, Thai food and Japanese cuisine, is set to open in Kanawha City by the end of September.

"There really isn't a fancy restaurant in this area," manager Andri Purwanto, 37, said. "There are lots of young professionals, and we wanted to give them a restaurant where they can hang out, relax and have great food."

Purwanto is originally from Indonesia and has managed five New York City restaurants. But he found the bustling city of more than 8 million people to be too busy and he had too much competition.

He slowed down and moved to the Beckley area, where he managed Kimono Japanese Restaurant. When he discovered that the largest city in West Virginia could use an upscale restaurant that targeted 20- to 30-year-olds, he wanted to make his mark on the town.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Fairmont Edition: Dairy Creme Corner

Dairy Creme CornerDairy Creme CornerDairy Creme Corner is definitely not new, but it's new to me. It's located in Fairmont - the next frontier for me.

They have a walk-up window, as well as some spaces inside, I believe. If you want hotdogs and the like, that's available. But, we were here for the ice cream.
Dairy Creme Corner
Their version of a blizzard is the "avalanche," and they have a bazillion flavors: Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Peanut Butter and Jelly, Poptart, Cheesecake, Whatchamacallit, Peppermint patty. The Choco Taco was calling my name.

For only $3.54, you get a full styrofoam cup full of ice cream. Considering what a huge fan of ice cream I am, you would think I could put some away. Not so much the case. I just can't handle that amount.

It is a LOT.

And it's pretty good. There are giant chunks of waffle cone and chocolate and nuts all mixed into a vanilla base.  I was a fan. And it's a ridiculous amount of ice cream. Kudos to you if you can finish it.

Dairy Creme CornerDairy Creme Corner

Grade: A
Dairy Creme Corner on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Morgantown Edition: Coach's Crab Shack

Coach's Crab Shack
Coach's Crab ShackI had previously reviewed Coach's as a mediocre sports bar. They've revamped and found a niche market in Morgantown: seafood.

Coach's is now Coach's Crab Shack, and if you're hesitant about a sports bar transforming into a seafood restaurant, you're not alone. I definitely had my reservations. But I'm always up for an adventure, so my friend Afton and I went out Collins Ferry Road to check it out.

Coach's Crab ShackCoach's Crab ShackWalking in, I could tell a good bit has changed. The theme is more nautical. A hostess seated us, and we looked over the menu.

They have "steamers," which are these huge combo plates of seafood. I went with the shack classic ($19), which has snow crabs, shrimp and kielbasa. Others have variations of this plus crawfish, clams, and other types of crab. All steamers come with corn on the cob, red potatoes and hushpuppies.

Coach's Crab ShackYou get to choose which flavor you want your seafood cooked in, and I went with garlic herb butter. They also have spicy cajun, old bay, bbq, good old steam, and Signature J.O. - which is their special seafood seasoning.

Coach's Crab ShackAfter a bit, our waitress came back with two metal trays overflowing with food. We were so excited, we dived in. It wasn't until a solid 15 minutes later that the waitress realized she forgot our tools. Clearly we're resourceful because we had devoured about half the meal anyway.

What Coach's has going for it is there is literally no local competition. If you want food like this, you can go here or Red Lobster. This is the much better option. It's a ton of food. It's fresh and delicious. I have little qualms - like the potatoes and hushpuppies are basic and could use some spices, but overall - awesome.

I was completely surprised. I think you might be, too.

Coach's Crab Shack

Grade: A