Vagabond Kitchen is an interesting restaurant. Chef Matt Welsh traveled the country on his motorcycle visiting restaurants and culinary communities and wrote about being a vagabond chef before he decided to come back home to West Virginia and open up a restaurant in the McLure Hotel. At the time of this writing, though, they are looking to relocate, and until the new flagship restaurant opens, they are serving lunch at the First State Capitol and dinner at Wheeling Brewing Company.
I was drawn to Vagabond Kitchen because I know they are dedicated to developing the food culture in West Virginia - specifically in Wheeling. Chef Welsh is an influential person in West Virginia's food scene. So, when I came up to Wheeling for the day to stop and get lunch with my mom, I wanted to check it out.
The space has less personality than I was expecting. I was thinking it'd be a bit more trendy, a bit more cohesive. I know in some sense it is probably bound by the confines of the hotel limitations, but generic table and chairs, very little art and a sparse open room left a bit to be desired.
Mom ordered the philly cheesesteak, but had a tough time eating the long cuts of peppers and missed the addition of some sort of sauce. I went with the Korean Pulled Pork Tacos, which is bulgogi marinated pork shoulder braised and pulled in-house with homemade kimchi on corn tortillas. This was good, but not amazing. I love that this item is an option because I think it's fun, but a touch of sweetness would have balanced out the sourness of the kimchi. Typically the bulgogi would have a bit more sweetness to it. I think just a small addition could take this plate to the next level.
I liked my meal, but I think I built up this "amazing" place in my mind. And it's very likely another dish could be super amazing. I think I need to come back and check it out another time.