Chef 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.
I 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.
The 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.
Another 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.
A 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.
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.