Thursday, April 30, 2015

Charleston Edition: Rollin Smoke BBQ

Rollin smoke bbq

Rollin Smoke BBQ is located on Crede Drive along Route 119 between Mink Shoals and Big Chimney. The trailer has a wooden lattice built up around it and the smokers and truly looks like a shabby BBQ joint. Hand-painted signs with "pork ribs" or "hog roast" written across the front pair with quirky pig decorations.

Rollin smoke bbq

Walking around back, I discovered a window with a large menu situated underneath. Pulled pork sandwiches, Texas smoked brisket sandwiches, smokey spicy link sausage, pulled chicken BBQ, smoked ribs, wings, smoked cornish hens, and sides of BBQ baked beans, cole slaw, red potato salad, macaroni salad, cheesy hashbrown casserole and green bean casserole. They also have a selection of desserts and offer catering.

Rollin smoke bbq

I ordered a pulled pork sandwich with a side of macaroni and cheese and potato salad at the window. After a few minutes, my order was called from the other window, I picked it up ... and then realized there's no seating here. There are some seating areas, but it's not for eating. It's for waiting. Carry out only. So, good friend and #gradschoolproblems buddy Matt Murphy and I went back to his place to chow down.

Rollin smoke bbq

I understand why Rollin Smoke BBQ has such a great ratings (and here). The applewood-smoked pork has a smokey sweet flavor with a tangy tomato-based sauce. This heaping BBQ sandwich was filled with tender pork with a perfect flavor.

Rollin smoke bbqThe sides were just as good. The macaroni and cheese had a thick sauce and didn't get mushy, which often happens. The potato salad was fresh, not too muddle with mayo flavor. The herbs and skin from the potatoes gave it a ton of flavor. One of my favorite places in Charleston in recent memory. Now that the temperatures are warming up, what's better than a little roadtrip and BBQ? Not much.

Rollin Smoke is open Monday through Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. They accept cash and credit cards. Rollin Smoke BBQ also has a mobile pit in downtown Charleston at the corner of Quarrier and Laidley, but they encourage folks to check out their Facebook for specifics.

Grade: A
Rollin Smoke BBQ on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Huntington Edition: Savannah's Restaurant

Savannahs

Huntington, you beautiful food town, you. There's so much to explore. I'm slowly making my way through the town, hitting the best food spots along the way.

Savannahs

Savannah's Restaurant is upscale dining in a beautiful, old white house. There is also a bistro portion and a catering space. It gives off a kind of southern charm feeling. It is one of the finest restaurants (read: pricey) in town, so when a friend tipped me off to Savannah's participating in Huntington's Restaurant Week, I was excited to check it out.

Savannahs

As part of the Restaurant Week special, Savannah's offered a prix fixe menu of $35 per person, including a soup or salad, choice of entree and dessert.

Savannahs

First, we had a small amuse-bouche of a crunchy baguette, blue cheese, cream cheese, dried cranberries and nuts. This was fine. Familiar flavors but on what tasted like toast, so ... it was OK.

Savannahs

Then, we had a basket with an assortment of bread and a side of whipped butter. I liked the variety, as well as the light butter. Nice start.

Savannahs

Then, I started with Savannah's Classic Cream of Crab Soup. The consistency was thinner than I imagined, but the flavor was light and buttery. There were some good pieces of lump crab meat.

SavannahsThe entree I chose was the chicken cordon bleu, which was a chicken breast stuffed with prosciutto and Point Reyes blue cheese, served with mushroom sherry cream sauce, saffron butternut risotto, snow peas and julienne carrots. It's chicken cordon bleu kicked up a few fancy notches.

This was really quite tasty. The chicken was breaded and crispy and juicy. The cream sauce was light but a beautiful touch. And the risotto underneath was a flavor I was not expecting but certainly welcomed. It was really tasty. It's rich in flavor and has a wonderful combination of crunch with fresh snow peas and silky smooth sauce with a flavorful chicken and umami flavors. All around super good. Love this dish - a little unexpected but with classically delicious flavors.

I must say, our server was not the most confident. You could tell she was new or nervous, but she never seemed sure of her answers about the food, and she was timid when approaching us. I'm thinking it'll only take a little time before she's a veteran.

SavannahsFor dessert, I went with the bread pudding du jour. Bread pudding is one of my favorite desserts. This one featured chocolate and peanut butter. Those are some heavy flavors, as opposed to something like cinnamon or white chocolate that accent the flavors.

SavannahsSo, to me, it seemed like the dessert was desperately trying to be something it's not. It was just covered in this chocolate and peanut butter that smothered any of the real flavor. It was bread pudding, but all flavors of it were masked and this forced chocolate/peanut butter combo didn't do it for me. Too overpowering. That said, it wasn't bad, but it was more of a chocolate cake with peanut butter, really.

Despite some small misteps, I actually really liked Savannah's. The entree was very well-thought out and delicious. The crab soup was also tasty. The amuse bouche and dessert were more experimental, but at least they were different. Overall, a very good experience and some tasty, interesting food.

Savannah's is open Tuesday through Saturday for dinner. The bistro opens at 5 p.m., and the restaurant opens at 5:30 p.m.

Grade: A
Savannah's on Urbanspoon







Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Morgantown coupon giveaway

Coupon Book
So I have a little present for a few lucky readers. 

Amy, the new owner of Morgantown’s Enjoy Coupon Book, reached out to me to discuss the buy one, get one free coupon booklet. I hadn’t heard of it before, and that’s because it’s mostly a fundraiser for community groups. 

There are just three local booklets - one for the Wheeling/Ohio Valley area, one for Morgantown/Fairmont and another for Pittsburgh.

If you look through the booklet, it’s mostly BOGO offers, including meals at Atomic Grill, Table 9, The Tea Shoppe, Kenyan Cafe, The Grind, Casa D’Amici, Morgantown Brewing Company and so, so many more. So, buy one meal, get one free. Click here to get a peek at what is inside.

Coupon Book
Anyway, she has provided me with one, free of charge, to check out and try some restaurants. AND, luckily for you, she has also given me three others to give away. They retail for $30 usually, plus tons more in terms of savings, so yay! These coupons cover mostly the Morgantown and Fairmont areas, with a little bit of PA thrown in.

Coupon Book

For a chance to win one of three booklet, simply comment below ON THIS POST telling me your favorite West Virginia restaurant and why. That's all. If I get more than three answers, I'll use a random number generator to help choose from qualifying answers. If you're local, I can hand it off to you or ship them.

Sound good? Ready, go!

EDIT: Contest over! Congrats to Kayla, Lauri and Matthew for winning! Email me at Candace127@gmail.com for more info! I wish I could have chosen more, because I loved all your answers! But to remain unbiased, I let the random number generator do the choosing for me. If you didn't win but are interested in a booklet, be sure to check out http://www.enjoycouponbook.com/site/. Thanks everyone :)

Monday, April 27, 2015

Huntington Edition: Summit Beer Station

Summit Beer StationSummit Beer Station is a small bar serving up craft beer, with many local options as well as hard-to-find ones. When we walked in, the first thing I noticed was the digital screen showing all the beers they had on tap, as well as how full the keg was, how much each beer was, the ABV and location of the beer. Just super cool.

There was like one high-top table downstairs and maybe just a couple upstairs. It's very small, and the crowd seemed intimate. And totally hipster. They also ordered a pizza while we were there, which was funny.

Summit Beer StationI ordered a Charleston Brewing Company Wobbly and fell in love pretty much immediately. The English Bitter was clean but with a little power there. Huge fan. And, no, I swear I wasn't drunk - I just apparently don't know how to focus in a dark bar with bright light outside. So, A to this beer and also A to this bar.

Grade: A
Summit Beer Station on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 24, 2015

Huntington Edition: Butter It Up

Butter it up

Butter in coffee is a new thing. And apparently a thing marketed as being healthy.

Butter it upI don't drink coffee often, unless I really need it, so I don't pick up on small details that everyday coffee drinkers would. But after a rainy day traveling, a hot cup of coffee sounded good. And Butter It Up was close, so why not?

Butter it up

I ordered "The Katie," which has butter, cream and local honey. Honestly, though, I couldn't really taste any of that. Instead, it tasted like... well, coffee. And kind of average coffee, at that.

Butter it upI like that it's something a little different, sure. But a whole marketing concept around something that doesn't have a ton of flavor to me is interesting. So, to me, average coffee. I think I'd rather go for a latte or maybe something else.

What do you guys think? Have you had butter coffee? Does it change the taste? Do you like it or nah? Any diehard butter coffee lovers out there? Englighten me.

Grade: C
Butter It Up on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Williamson Edition: Tunnel Drive-In

Tunnel Drive In

Tunnel Drive In

Tunnel Drive In

Tunnel Drive In

As part of my effort to complete adventures from the 55 things to do in the Mountain State list, I convinced Tom to accompany me to southern West Virginia to see the Coal House in Williamson and check out the grave of Devil 'Anse' Hatfield, as well as stop in Matewan and try the Tunnel Drive-In. It was a first me to travel through Lincoln, Logan, Boone and Mingo. Woo!

Tunnel Drive In1) The Devil Anse Hatfield grave is in the middle of nowhere, but we found it without too much trouble. I realize how tough it is to not rely on my phone in an area where I have no idea where I'm going. I'm actually surprised I didn't get more lost. We climbed a hill to see that guy right over there ----------------> and nearly died on the muddy hill, but it was worth it to see this near-life-size statue of Hatfield. Fun fact, my friend BJ is a relative.

2) The Coal House is pretty cool. It's, well, a house made out of coal and is also home to the Tug Valley Chamber of Commerce. Inside, I bought a coal pig. The whole Hatfield/McCoy thing is a huge thing in this area of the state, so I figured a pig would be fitting considering it is rumored that a stolen pig is what helped start the war between the families.

3) Matewan, of Matewan Massacre fame, had a nice little area devoted to the history of the massacre, as well as more Hatfield/McCoy stuff. I bought the book on Matewan there, because it seemed fitting.

OK, food!

Tunnel Drive In

The Tunnel Drive-In is one of the few drive-ins left in the state. It's located in Williamson, and it took me a few tries to find this place. The address has it listed on the road down below (so I thought), but I happened to look past the road and saw it, thankfully. As soon as I pulled up, my car was beside none other than Don Blankenship himself sitting in his Beemer eating some drive-in food. I was a little shocked.

Tunnel Drive In


Tunnel Drive In

Tunnel Drive In

After some awkwardness about omfg, that's Don Blankenship in the car beside me, we figured out what we wanted from the menu and went inside to order. After being in my car for hours upon hours, I didn't want to sit in there to eat, too.

Tunnel Drive InI wanted to order the Tunnel burger, considering the namesake, but they were out. I found out it is a 1 lb. burger, so I'm glad they were out. Somehow, they weren't out of regular sized burgers, so I ordered one of those instead with a side of fried mushrooms. And a strawberry milkshake.

My burger was not bad - the burger was kind of dwarfed by the size of the bun and a giant piece of tomato. It was definitely well done, bordering on crispy, but a slice of cheese masks some of that. But a burger is a burger. It's still good because you can't mess up a cheeseburger too terribly bad.

The mushrooms were aplenty, and the ranch dip wasn't a bad touch. I don't know if I've ever dipped mushrooms in ranch? It worked, but I kind of liked them all on their own.

The perfect touch was a strawberry shake. I can't tell you the last time I had one, but it was so delicious. What goes better with a burger and a side of fried food than a smooth, sweet shake? Nothing, I tell you. Nothing.


Tunnel Drive InGrade: B
Tunnel Drive-in on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Clarksburg Edition: Parkette Family Restaurant

Parkette Family Restaurant

Old-fashioned, regular food is the name of the game at Parkette Family Restaurant. Chicken dinners? Check. Baked steak? Check. Liver & Onions? Yep.

Parkette Family Restaurant

Once seated - and it took a little while considering it was a Sunday afternoon and we were in solid church-crowd territory - we looked over the menu. The first thing that jumped out at me was creamed turkey and biscuits - oven-roasted, shredded turkey with homemade gravy over biscuits. This takes me back to high school days with the one day a year when everyone ate hot lunch - creamed turkey day.

Parkette Family Restaurant

So, I ordered that, and it came with two sides. I went with coleslaw and mashed potatoes. My coleslaw came out on its own first, which was odd. I didn't want to just eat a bowl full of coleslaw, so I kind of picked at it until my main entree came out. It was also a little heavy-handed on the mayo.

Parkette Family Restaurant
The plate was full of this gravy/turkey/biscuit mess - and I mean mess as a term of endearment. A made a forkful of mashed potato, biscuit, turkey and gravy in every bite, and it was pretty good. Really good? Nah. But pretty good, yes. Hot comfort food - not as good as when mom and dad make it - but a decent substitute for now.

Parkette Family RestaurantGrade: B
Parkette Family Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Uniontown, PA Edition: Caporella's Italian Ristorante

Caporellas italian restaurant

I recently accompanied my friend, Vicki, on a trip to Home Depot in Uniontown, PA, to buy a chiminea. (Add “purchasing a chiminea” to list of life goals, because they are the bestttt). But, of course, we scoped out the best place to get lunch while on our mini-adventure in the area.

Caporellas italian restaurant

Considering I haven’t really spent any significant time in Uniontown, the options were plenty. But I remembered I had received an email last month from Steve (Hi Steve! Thanks for the suggestion!) about reviewing Caporella’s Italian Ristorante, which he said was an excellent Italian restaurant in the area. 

Caporellas italian restaurant

Consider it done.

Caporella’s is located in Grindle Station, a renovated train station in town. We parked and walked inside to find the restaurant packed. We didn’t have a reservation, but they did find a table for us back near the waiter station. Not ideal, but the allure of a good Italian red sauce knows no bounds.

Caporellas italian restaurant

Funny enough, what had me most captivated was a special they had: shrimp and crab ravioli with roasted tomatoes and mushrooms in a vodka sauce. There is no way I WASN’T ordering that. Yumm.

But first, bread.

Caporellas italian restaurant

The bread was OK - nothing too special, and I wasn't overly impressed with the olive oil. It looks pretty, but I didn't taste much of the spices, and I am never a huge fan of it being at the table already because I'm concerned with what other diners before me could have done. Hey, you see things being in restaurants so often. I once saw a child stick an entire salt shaker in his mouth. I don't trust easily. But that's a minor neurosis of mine, NBD.

Caporellas italian restaurantNext: house salad! You don't usually see me get excited about house salads, but if they have fresh greens, banana peppers, onions, tomatoes, olives, cucumbers and croutons, I get excited. Yum. Topped with a french dressing makes this one of the better house salads I've had. Nothing signature or special, but clear attention to some detail gets top marks from me.

Caporellas italian restaurant

Vicki ordered an appetizer of stuffed banana peppers with ground veal topped with marinara sauce and provolone cheese. Not totally my thing, but I did taste the red sauce, which was tasty. Just a tad spicy and peppery.

Caporellas italian restaurantFor entrees, Vicki had the chicken parmesan, which she liked. My special was good. It looked as though the sauce had separated a bit, but the flavor was there. The texture was just slightly off. The raviolis were sapid, a little different flavor than what I'm used to, so something new for my tastebuds all the while in the comfortable rich kind of sauce I crave. It's still good food, but the best?

Almost, but not quite.

Grade: B
Caporella's Italian Ristorante on Urbanspoon