The restaurant business in Morgantown is cutthroat. New restaurants are popping up all over, replacing ones that floundered in mediocrity -- something simply not good enough with the amount of competition in this town.
The Bank at 344 High is brand new - replacing most recently The Dancing Fig, which seems to have moved into the ZenClay location (the cafe closed, but the pottery portion seems to remain open). Before The Dancing Fig, the location was Lira, And before that, it was a Wesbanco (hence the name 'The Bank').
I met my friend Lisa here to check it out. It has the same general feel as the previous two restaurants: dark woods, classy with a touch of modern. I dig the decor. They have these frames full of pennies around the interior, which is a neat touch.
We started off with a glass of wine. You only have the option of their house wines by the glass. Cabernet, merlot, chardonnay, pinot grigio, moscato and prosecco are the only options. All are $5. There are many others, but it seems they'll only sell those by the bottle.
Appetizer time. Our server admitted it was her first day, but she was helpful. The menu had the hushpuppies at the top for $, down the left side were shareable entrees, and the right side was individual entrees. Everything else is $9.50. We ordered the basket of hushpuppies and the fried spinach and rapini ravioli with a roasted red pepper sauce to share.
The hushpuppies were mediocre, at best. They were incredibly greasy - "but Candace, of course hushpuppies are greasy." Grease like running-down-my-hand greasy. All I could taste was grease flavor - where's that comforting corn, fluffy onion flavor? Nah, just grease. Their sauce was better than the hushpuppy itself.
The ravioli was better. They were fried with some cheese on the outside. The roasted red pepper sauce was tasty, but the filling of the ravioli wasn't my favorite. Maybe a texture thing, but it was mushy and just a little off. Needs to be thicker.
For my main entree, I ordered the shrimp and grits. Billed as Charleston, South Carolina-style cheese grits and shrimp with bacon and asiago cream sauce. I really dig this dish, but this version kind of fell flat for me. Lots of fresh toppings, but the main components were kind of bland for me. The sauce wasn't particularly flavorful - and neither were the grits.
It looks beautiful. I just want more from it. More flavor. More cheese flavor. More something. However, considering they're new, it could just be a matter of time before the flavor is kicked up. And I hope so, because the theme of mediocrity has been a downfall for the previous restaurants.