Saturday, June 15, 2013

Ansted Edition: Hawks Nest

Hawk's Nest
West Virginia is home to many beautiful views – Hawks Nest is one of them. Hawks Nest State Park is located on 370 acres in Fayette County near Ansted, WV. It’s one of those must-visit places in the state, so my friend Kaitlynn, her boyfriend Josh, and I took a day trip and stopped at a few other places along the way.

Hawk's NestHawk's Nest

Hawk's NestFirst stop: Kanawha Falls. I wasn’t even expecting this – I just saw a sign then all of a sudden this expansive body of water, so I turned around and went back. Folks were fishing there, and it was a nice little spot.

Second stop: Cathedral Falls. I probably would’ve passed this little guy up had a friend not warned me about it. It’s in the bend of a road, and it kind of just looks like a stopping point, but if you walk just slightly back, you see some tall falls. Gorgeous. Serene.

Hawk's NestThird stop: The Mystery Hole. This is a well-known tourist trap for folks on the way to Hawks Nest. It’s like $6 or $7 to go. I don’t really want to ruin the fun, but it’s an odd “gravity-defying” room. It was fun and kitschy, but honestly, having had previous issues with vertigo, it left me feeling very wobbly and uncomfortable. Not ideal.

Fourth stop: Hawks Nest. We had a nice little view and checked out the gift shop. I got some post cards, a strawberry cowtail, and a WV magnet.

For dinner, we ate at Hawks Nest because we were starving. Hawk’s Nest Restaurant is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the off season and 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. in season. They weren’t too busy, but their staff seemed beyond flustered.

Hawk's NestHawk's NestHawk's Nest

Hawk's NestI tried looking over the menu quickly and just opted for a bacon cheeseburger at the hefty price of $9. It’s a very small menu, with just a few burgers, sandwiches and entrees. Not a ton of variety. I also asked for sweet potato fries.

A little while later, our plates came out. Mine, with regular fries. I asked about it, and she said the kitchen must have made a mistake. I said okay, can I just have ketchup in the meantime? And she said they were out of ketchup.

Out of ketchup.
Hawk's Nest
OUT. OF. KETCHUP.

How is that a thing that happens? Ketchup is essential for my burger AND my fries. Okay, fine. Can I have ranch? That worked.

Until the table next to me asked their waitress for ketchup, and she gave them some. What the.

Our waitress came back with my sweet potato fries in a to-go container, which was fine. They’re just not nearly as good cold. I didn’t even bother with the ketchup ordeal.
Hawk's Nest
So the burger was pretty juicy, and the toppings were crisp and fresh. It was very tasty, actually. The fries were thick, but they were okay. The sweet potato fries were clearly frozen and fried, but by the time I got to them, they were very soggy.

Really not too bad of a burger – I’d pass on the fries, though. And it was a little pricey, but worth it to me.

Grade: B 
Hawk's Nest Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 14, 2013

Morgantown Edition: Pies & Pints

Pies and PintsI've now officially been to all three Pies & Pints locations in West Virginia: Fayetteville, Charleston and now Morgantown. Of course, as soon as I leave Morgantown, the best pizza place graces the town.

Pies and PintsPies & Pints took the place of Ledo's in Suncrest Town Centre - which is probably the best swap ever. It's not a huge space, but it definitely gives off the same vibe as the other two locations: chill, laid back, hip.

Pies and PintsPies and Pints

I went here for my graduation dinner with my family, so even though a few things were working against Pies & Pints on that evening: busy, just opened, and had to please my family. I gotta say - my dad was a little irritated at how long our order took, but I understand they were training and we did order two large pizzas.

We got half margherita pie, half mushroom garlic and half chicken gouda, half chipotle chicken pie.

Pies and PintsMargherita pie - pretty basic, but delicious fresh flavors.
Mushroom garlic - literally has cloves of garlic, which is sometimes too much. But love the flavor combination.
Chicken gouda - this remains one of my favorites. The smoky gouda paired with salty bacon is phenomenal
Chipotle Chicken - this one was good. It's the least memorable, but the onion stuck out to me. Maybe a little too much onion? But still very good.

Morgantown has a real gem with this place. And I think it's important for the town to have some of these places that are more than just eateries. It has personality. And I love it.

Grade: A
Pies & Pints on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Glen Jean Edition: The Cold Spot

The cold spotThe cold spotAn assignment took me out Glen Jean way, and the photographer I was with, Tom, suggested a bite to eat at the Cold Spot. I haven't been to the locations closed to Charleston, but I know there are a handful. Their sign says beer and wings, but since I was working, only the latter applied.

When we walked in, we looked around for menus to take to the table, but all they have is what's behind the counter. I gave it a once over and chose two types of boneless wings: six honey mustard and six sweet Asian.

Tom got his wings a good bit before me. In fact, he almost had his finished before I even got mine. Once mine came out, I ate twice as fast. That was probably a bad decision.

The cold spotThe cold spot

The cold spotBut, I enjoyed them. These - more than any other boneless wings I've had - are clearly just chicken strips, fried, and chopped into bits with sauce poured over top.

That's not necessarily a bad thing - but especially with the honey mustard, there was just too MUCH sauce. It wasn't tossed in the sauce, globs of the sauce were poured over it. Just a little too much.

This place is known for having the best wings, so I'll definitely have to try those. But these were truly not bad. I liked the sauce - I just wish there was a little less of it. And at least maybe try to pretend like they're actual wings? Either way, I'd totally eat these again.

Grade: B
Cold Spot on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Charleston Edition: Leonoro's Spaghetti House

Leonoro's & Live on the LeveeLeonoro's & Live on the LeveeLeonoro's is located just a few blocks from me on Washington Street, so I had my hopes up for a hometown Italian restaurant that served up some tasty pasta. That was short-lived.

When my friend and I entered, we waited for a few minutes before somebody noticed us. They asked if we needed a menu - seems as though this is a place with many regulars. We did need a menu. While I prefer those stuffed pastas with cheese, I decided to get the spaghetti because, well, this is a spaghetti house. I also got a house salad.

Leonoro's & Live on the LeveeLeonoro's & Live on the Levee

Leonoro's & Live on the LeveeWe were first greeted with a basket of cold bread. Meh, no thanks.

My salad came out with the house dressing - which was, literally, marinara sauce. Usually house dressings are some sort of oil/vinegar ... this was marinara sauce. I tried it and threw away most of the salad, unfortunately. Iceberg lettuce doesn't have much flavor alone.

Leonoro's & Live on the LeveeThe spaghetti was fine. The sauce tasted like it was straight from a can and could have used a decent helping of some spices and herbs. It was also kind of liquidy. The meatballs were good. But I could've made this entire meal for less than what I paid for at the restaurant - and had leftovers!

Everything was generic, too expensive and just bland. No thanks. I'll stick to making this at home if this is the quality I'm interested in.
Leonoro's & Live on the Levee

Grade: C
Leonoro's Spaghetti House on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Charleston Edition: China Buffet

China BuffetChina BuffetChina Buffet

China BuffetChina BuffetA Chinese buffet is a guilty pleasure for everyone - admit it. They're disgustingly delicious. Full of calories and dripping in thick, flavorful sauces. They also have that kind of ick factor of it being a buffet. But alas.

China BuffetThe only Chinese buffet that I have discovered so far is one at the Kanawha Mall. My friend Matt and I were feeling some Chinese on this particular day and traveled across the river to sink our teeth into those troughs of food.

I think there were about three rows of islands full of sauce-drenched chicken, beef and pork. Fried egg rolls, chicken, and crab rangoons are also aplenty.

China BuffetIt seemed fairly fresh - they brought out a few new bins while I was at the buffet. They have a sushi portion, but I'm a little more hesitant to say that it's fresh as well. All in all, it is pretty good, but I think some more options, some fresher options and some made-to-order options would be killer. For what it is though, not bad. I enjoyed my go-to General Tso's, as well as the egg rolls and the crab rangoons.

Grade: B
China Buffet on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 10, 2013

Charleston Edition: Recovery Sports Grill

RecoveryRecoveryRecovery Sports Grill seems to be a newer restaurant in town, and from what I gather, folks are happy to have a sports bar. It's located right on Virginia Street, and the lane in front of the building suddenly turns into parking around 6 p.m., which blows my mind. I was really confused to see a three-lane road become two lanes because the right-most lane became a parking lot. Bizarre.

RecoveryRecoveryThere's something about a sports bar that turns me into a sports fan who loves nothing more than a beer, wings, and trivia. In this case, I just went for the wings because their menu said that "absolutely nobody does wings as well as we do." Ha!

Other menu items include burgers, sandwiches, salads, appetizers - your typical sports bar fare. I ordered 10 wings - 5 of which were buffalo bleu and 5 were sweet BBQ. I also got a side house salad because I was extra hungry.

RecoveryThe salad came out first. I was bummed they didn't have French because that makes a salad for me. Ranch had to suffice. It wasn't bad, actually. Some greens, onion, cheese, tomatoes and croutons. A little more to it than I was expecting.

I think whenever someone builds up an item like - "it's the best I've ever had!" or "no one tops our X!" it is instantly a failure to me. Maybe I should not put so much stock in others' opinions or maybe I think my mouth is going to melt from an overwhelming amount of amazing that I just consumed. But I feel like the more times someone talks up a place in such a way that is over the top, the more likely I am to hate it.

Sorry, Recovery.

Have you met Mario's Fishbowl's wings?

RecoveryMaybe I'm too picky with wings. Here's the thing: I don't like when I feel like I'm chewing a giant piece of fat. That is a texture that is just not appealing to me. I understand its value in flavoring the dish, but skin/fat have to be cooked well done so I don't feel like I just ingested grubs. Blech.

RecoverySo, I like my wing skin to be cooked well, well through. I don't want it to be slimy - I want it more crunchy. I want some bite. A couple of my wings had this - but the majority did not. Beyond that - I felt like the flavor was meh at best. Yes, 'meh' is an acceptable adjective now.

RecoveryToo much build up without delivering. Wings need some extra kick. Give me some flavor, give me some spice. Maybe a different flavor would do the trick.

Dessert can redeem all. My friend ordered a cake of some sort, and I got a peanut butter pie. Both were good. That's all.

My bill came to around $25, so not bad considering the salad, the wings, a drink and dessert.

Grade: C
Recovery Sports Grill on Urbanspoon

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Charleston Edition: Adelphia Limited

Adelphia LimitedAdelphia LimitedI only just recently visited Adelphia on Capitol Street, but I noticed this Adelphia Limited on my drive to work. It's a smaller lunch service cafe that's only a block or so from work, so it's a perfect location for me. Not only that, but it's also the opposite way of Capitol Street - which is usually where I find myself during my lunch break, so it's nice little change of pace -- not to mention a little less foot traffic in that area.

Adelphia LimitedTheir menu has a few gyros, quesadillas, wings, burgers, fries, and grilled cheese sandwiches. I ordered a Greek quesadilla, which is flour tortillas stuffed with gyro meat, feta, blended cheese, red onion, diced tomato, cucumber and served with Yia Yia's tzatziki sauce. I called this in, and they told me it'd be about 15 minutes.

Adelphia LimitedAdelphia LimitedA couple co-workers and I went to the building. There is some outdoor seating, but you go inside the actual building, and the first left is the restaurant. My total came to around $8, and I was on my way back to work.

After I opened up that styrofoam container, four small triangles stared up at me. It was a little on the spicy side, but not overwhelming. The flavors were a little muddled in the heat and spices, but it was still good.

It has the gyro elements, but I didn't realize how much the bread really pulls those flavors together and maybe the starch helps balance out those flavors. With a thin tortilla, I didn't quite get that same effect. For what it was, it was good. But I think the spices were a little heavy-handed, and I would've liked the tomatoes and cucumber to shine through a little more.

Adelphia Limited
Grade: B
Adelphia Limited on Urbanspoon