Friday, November 1, 2013

Morgantown Edition: Big Whiskey Saloon and Dancehall

UntitledUntitledChestnut Street in downtown Morgantown has been booming in the past year or so. The first domino down was that Dragonfly closed. Then it was a chain reaction with Rocktop opening on the roof of that building, a hotel was erected next door, and Big Whiskey opened up in the former Dragonfly location. The latter three are all under the same ownership. So they have three businesses right on the same block.

It reminds me of the trifecta of businesses in Bent Willy's, Vintage Room and Red Zone just the next  building up.

This company clearly has some money. I saw releases going out from a PR firm about the openings of the restaurant and hotel, so it doesn't give me that warm, local feeling. More like that of larger corporate types taking over a block downtown, shelling out some dough for a nice-looking place and attracting a certain type of clientele - kind of the opposite of the local, hip, chill vibe I go for.

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Regardless, my friend Heather and I wanted to check out this new country bar and BBQ place called Big Whiskey. We tried opening the doors in front of the street. Stood there awkwardly for about five minutes. Nothing was happening. So I called the phone number listed, and it rang up to Rocktop. I told the woman I was trying to get to Big Whiskey, and she told me to go to the door around the corner. So I walked around to the right and saw a broken down-looking door with a bucket and broom in front of it, then I kept walking and saw another door. We went inside.

Ooof.

Okay, so once we got inside, there was literally no one there except for a guy working on the sound. We awkwardly walked inside - it was kind of dark - but they said they were open. We meandered over to a table and sat, wondering what we were doing there. The guy who was supposed to be there came not too longer after, then a few more people trickled in. He came over and apologized because they were having a meeting. Okay, great, I don't really care. At this point, I was annoying at the maze I had to get through to get in and then there was nobody there. Whatever. Just feed me at this point.

UntitledHe brought us menus, and in the meantime, the man who was working on the sound warned us it would get really loud for a few minutes. It got really loud for a few minutes - so loud I couldn't hear Heather across the table from me. He was testing the bass and whatnot. Clearly they were more concerned with the ridiculous country dance party they were going to be having that night than the two customers trying to have dinner in the restaurant portion. First sign this place is a bar masquerading as a restaurant. And not a very good one at that.

Prices are a bit steep, but the brisket platter was $14, so I ordered that. It came with a side, and I got slaw. As we were waiting, we were looking around. It really does have nice finishes - it's trying to be an upscale country place. Dragonfly was gorgeous inside, so it's a shame that a restaurant with a similar theme couldn't come in. But the interior is nice, but the focus is on the dance floor and bar.

When our food came out, I was kind of surprised to see zero sauce with the brisket. Nada. You gotta be pretty confident in your smoking abilities to not need any garnish. Rare in West Virginia. They shouldn't be so confident.

It was a pile of meat that had a hint of smokey flavor, but not enough to garner no additional sauce. Some pieces were really fatty, too. Others were fine, but just kind of bland. It was kind of greasy in a way, and for the price, bleh. The slaw was surprisingly much better with pickles and a more oil base than mayo. For $15, I felt very unfulfilled. Very mediocre. And considering the subpar service, I wasn't happy.

It doesn't help that just a week later, I was walking past this business around 7 p.m. and the bouncers - presumably for Rocktop - catcalled my friend and I. Bouncers, really? When I voiced my displeasure via Twitter, Rocktop responded that the parking lot was just for Rocktop and Big Whiskey patrons after hours. Uh, what? You're condoning their behavior if you think I parked in that lot? A - I did not park there. B - What in the actual hell? I sent a few more tweets, and apparently I'm still not over the whole experience because I'm voicing it here. Hate everything about this place. Food is mediocre, at best. Service is atrocious. And apparently they don't care.

Grade: D
Big Whiskey Saloon & Dancehall on Urbanspoon