So, I made a trip to southern West Virginia recently for some freelance work (woo, check this out), and it was a good excuse for me to finally visit Dobra Zupas. This Beckley restaurant has been churning out incredible food - and beer - for more than a year now, so it was due time to visit.
Dobra Zupas, which means "good soup" in Slovene - paying homage to the restaurant owner's heritage, changes out their menu seasonally, but they have some incredible staples, like the Black and Bleu Fillet and the Crab Risotto. It really is an eclectic, charming spot.
Well, I spent the day with the owner Rebecca Zupanick, and Head Chef Jon Lester, who gave me a sneak peek at lots of amazing dishes they will be churning out now that the air is getting a bit cooler, a bit crisper.
This fall, a roasted root vegetable pasta with rutabaga, cauliflower, squash and Anaheim pepper in a cream sauce will be featured as one of the weekly pasta specials. And WOW. This was something Jon just kind of threw together - which is an even bigger testament to his flair for flavors. Those roasted vegetables in this perfectly creamy sauce with just a touch of heat was beyond.
Another special will be a brown butter, pan-seared, bone-in pork chop over creamy cheddar polenta topped with Cognac-glazed apples. I'm not sure there's a better combo than pork and apple, and Jon kills it with this dish. Just absolutely kills it. That cheesy polenta just takes it up another notch.
And a curried carrot bisque is something he has been serving for some time now, and it's no surprise it sells so well. Perfectly flavored with some sweet, some salty, some depth and just a smooth, thick texture that just sings fall. Perfection.
And, last, but certainly not least, I got to try this apple pie shot. It's a poached Fiji Apple Pie Shot with brown sugar, apple cider, rum, amaretto, ginger, whipped cream and crumbled pie pieces that you eat as you drink it. I mean, now he's just showing off. Incredible.
And, of course, I couldn't leave without trying some of the beer. I got a growler of the ginger beer to go ... and I had a ways to get home (another stop along the way, too), and these incredible people assembled this sort of cooler so that I can take it home. I mean, I can't even with this. They packed it tight and full of ice, by the time I made it back to Morgantown hours later, it was still ice cold.
And, it was also delicious!
It's one thing to have absolutely incredible food (which they no doubt do), it's another thing to have absolutely kind, incredible people who will go above and beyond to make people happy. These are the kinds of people you want feeding you. These are the people you want to support. These are the people who are pioneering the incredible food scene in West Virginia and showing that we, too, do food well here. Damn well.
It's a sort of family moment when, after I had a chance to take all my photos, the front of house staff and back of house all gathered and we dug into these plates to try everything. Everyone truly loves the owner, and it's clear they love what they do. Everybody compliments the chef on yet another job well done. It's a special moment that, as a writer, I've experienced a few times. Being one of the staff is a compliment.
I've been to a lot of restaurants, you guys. A LOT. But, this one is special. The food is amazing, the people are incredible, and I'm so proud of how they're contributing to the West Virginia food scene. I can't see what else they do.