Saturday, October 31, 2015

Charleston Edition: Larobi's Pizza at Southridge Golf Range


A driving range back beyond a shopping center isn't usually my first choice for dinner. But, alas, Larobi's Pizza at Southridge Golf Range landed a spot on the 101 Most Unique Places to Dine in West Virginia list, and, well, I can't help myself.

I came here, avoided playing any golf and ordered a pizza at the bar. It was a bit busy, so lots of folks were coming up to get buckets of balls, which made things pretty crowded. Once my pizza came out, I grabbed a table away from the commotion. That was a good decision.


The pizza was OK; fairly average. There were a ton of little mushrooms all over it. That's a good thing. But the sauce was a bit too sweet, and the crust wasn't quite crisp enough for my personal preference. But, to each his own.

Grade: C
Larobi's Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, October 30, 2015

Huntington Edition: Stewart's Original Hot Dogs

Stewart's HuntingtonAfter checking out the Stewart's Original Hot Dogs location in Kenova, we hopped over to the Huntington location to compare. For starters, there's no restaurant seating at the Huntington location. It's an outdoor counter that has some accompanying outdoor seating. But most folks sat in their cars.

Stewart's HuntingtonI already had an OK hotdog, so I wanted to try that root beer float. First off, it's huge. And, it wasn't the easiest to eat with that odd bubble top. I ended up taking that off and using a spoon so get all the goodness in one bite. Root beer + ice cream = no better way to have root beer. And a pretty good rendition of one.

Stewart's HuntingtonChelsey went for cheesy ranch fries this time, and I really like the shredded melted cheese more than the nacho cheese product. The "ranch" part is just ranch dipping sauce. But, nonetheless, good junk food.

Grade: B
Stewart's Original Hot Dogs Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Kenova Edition: Stewart's Original Hot Dogs

Kenova Stewarts

Stewart's Original Hot Dogs has two locations: one in Kenova and one in Huntington. The restaurant has been around for quite some time, and it purchases its meat from S.S. Logan Packing co. and buns from Heiner's Bakery, which is a cool collaboration between three area businesses. Another cool thing about this eatery is that it helped create the West Virginia Hot Dog Festival, which is the very first time I tried a Stewart's hot dog.

Kenova StewartsSince Kenova was a bit out of the way, we wanted to knock that one out first. We pulled up into a spot outside the main restaurant (you may eat inside if you are so inclined) and waited for a bit before a carhop came by. They stuck a white sheet under my windshield wiper to show that we had been waited on. I asked for a menu, because I had no idea what I wanted. But, the "famous original hot dog" seemed like a good bet. I ordered one, not really knowing exactly what came on it and proceeding to panic that it might just be a plain hot dog.

Kenova StewartsFear not, when the hot dog arrived all wrapped in a napkin, I could already tell there was at least chili. And then I discovered also onions and mustard. Not too shabby - just some slaw away from being a true West Virginia hot dog. And slaw is available if you think to order it.

Kenova StewartsThe hot dog is OK. It's certainly not my favorite hot dog - but that's tough considering this one was slawless. But the chili was just not my favorite. It was a little bland and heavy. Chelsey's rootbeer float, though, looked incredible, and I knew what I wanted at the other Stewart's location immediately.

Kenova StewartsGrade: B
Stewarts Drive-In Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Wild Ramp

Wild Ramp

I have finally visited the elusive Wild Ramp. The local food market was operating under different hours than their website listed the first time I tried to visit. Then, another time, they had closed early for the day. But, finally, I was able to check it out recently.

Wild Ramp

The Wild Ramp, which operates a year-round community supported market, features more than 170 food producers and artisans. Their mission is to provide an economic outlet for food producers while simultaneously providing consumers access to locally grown products.

Wild Ramp

They have a little bit of everything - from fresh cheese to grains and dried herbs to a small restaurant area. They even have this adorable stuffed ramp! And pawpaw trees. Have you been? What's your favorite purchase?

Wild Ramp

Wild Ramp

Wild Ramp

Wild Ramp

Wild Ramp

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Huntington Edition: Midway Drive-In

Midway Drive InJust a few more drive-ins to get through in West Virginia. And, a few of them are located right in the Huntington area. I've already been to Frostop (and tried hotdogs from the other drive-ins during the hotdog festival), but I hadn't been to many of the actual drive-in locations.

Midway Drive InMidway (West) Drive-In is located at 445 6th Avenue West. When we arrived around lunchtime, it was packed. Like, I wasn't totally sure where to park. As I was hesitating, someone pulled out, and I nabbed their spot up front.

Midway Drive InI hadn't had time to do appropriate research to find out what I wanted, and it seems that most folks who frequent drive-ins have a "regular" order, because the carhops don't bring menus. This is also the first drive-in I've been to where it was just all guys working as the carhops. So, I asked for a menu and quickly texted my good friend Chris to get his opinion on a few options he said would be good. Ultimately, I went with the smoked pork bbq sandwich. My cousin, Chelsey, went with the cheese fries.

Midway Drive InThe verdict: Pork bbq sandwich is good. It COULD have been a bit more tender, but the flavor was great. The french fries - the large crinkle cuts aren't my favorite. A bit too dense and could use an extra minute or so cooking to get crisp. But, overall, a nice lunch at a small pricetag.

Grade: A
Midway West Drive-in Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, October 26, 2015

Huntington Edition: River and Rail Bakery

River & Rail BakeryRiver and Rail Bakery in Huntington scored a spot on the 101 Most Unique Places to Dine in WV list this year. Which means it became a priority.

River & Rail BakeryThe bakery is located in Heritage Station, which also houses other great places like Butter It Up, Bottle & Wedge, and Summit Beer Station. It is known for its handcrafted artisan breads, fresh pastries and direct-trade organic coffee.

River & Rail BakeryWe stopped in just briefly for a sweet snack. There were a number of cookies and scones, as well as fresh bread. But one of my favorites was available: brownies! I ordered one and had a seat at one of the couple of tables available. It wasn't overly sweet, and there were bits of semisweet chocolate chips inside - not my favorite. But, it wasn't bad. I imagine this would go well with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. And maybe some caramel to sweeten things up a bit. Have I mentioned I have a sweet tooth? :)

River & Rail Bakery

Grade: B
River & Rail Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Berkeley Springs Edition: Lot 12 Public House

Lot 12Chef Damian Heath first popped up on my radar when I began looking into the James Beard Foundation awards. He has been nominated for years now, and he's the only one from West Virginia in recent memory to do so. So each year I saw his name and his restaurant, Lot 12 Public House, come up, I rooted for him. And while he hasn't made it past the semifinalist round (yet!), he's definitely made an impression on the culinary scene in the Eastern Panhandle.

Lot 12I made a trip out here to talk with Chef Heath and his wife, Betsy, for a story for Taste WV Magazine. The restaurant is in a historic building, which is where its name comes from. I was super fortunate to try many of their menu items. Which, really, were all amazing.

Lot 12The crisp roasted duck is a house specialty with rosemary potato cake, pear chutney and bourbon pan juices. Because of the way it's cooked, there's no real layer of fat. It's perfectly moist duck with a crispy skin outside. Just incredible.

Lot 12Another great dish was the shrimp and grits with tasso, andouille sausage and bell peppers in a cream sauce with creamy garlic cheese grits. Amazing. Plump shrimp, a delicious creamy sauce, huge chunks of tasso and sausage. Plus a nice little piece of toasted bread to soak up all the extra sauce.

Lot 12A few more that I didn't get to taste, included toasted gnocchi with roasted garlic, sauteed mushrooms and parmigiana reggiano; a quail and waffle dish and a cheese appetizer.

Lot 12

Lot 12

Lot 12

Lot 12

The food at this restaurant is some of the best I've had in West Virginia. It rivals Cafe Cimino as one of my all-time favorite restaurants here, I think. Go in, enjoy a bit of luxury and taste some of the best food in this state.

Lot 12

Grade: A
Lot 12 Public House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Berkeley Springs Brewing Company

Berkeley Springs Brewing CompanyBerkeley Springs Brewing Company is a newcomer to the craft beer scene in West Virginia. The bathwater brewpub, as it's affectionately called, was created by Karl and Denise Wagenbrenner out of what started as just a home brewing shop + classes. It still has the Mountain Man Brew Supply products on one part of the brewpub.

Berkeley Springs Brewing CompanyI went out here to talk with the owners to learn a little more about what they do for a future issue of Taste West Virginia Magazine. So, I won't get into too much here, but I do want to touch on the super delicious beer and food I had.

Berkeley Springs Brewing CompanyI was able to try a full flight of beers, which included their caCapon Kolsh, American Amber and Berkeley Brown. Plus there was an apple butter beer, and oh my gosh. He was also working on a pawpaw beer, which resulted in me taking home a fresh pawpaw.

Berkeley Springs Brewing Company
I also ordered from their menu their specialty "tater waffle," which is just what it sounds like - a bunch of tater tots placed in a waffle iron so the entire outside gets perfectly crispy. Their weekly special tater waffle was a "south of the border" edition with chili, sour cream, tomatoes, cheese and onions.

Berkeley Springs Brewing CompanyThis is so good! It's so simple, but it's awesome to have this super crispy tater waffle. Perfect pairing for the beer, too.

Berkeley Springs Brewing CompanyBerkeley Springs Brewing CompanyStop through, get a tasty beer and a quick tater waffle to fill you up.

Grade: A
Berkeley Springs Brewing Co Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato