With indoor dining at restaurants still off the menu, at least for a couple more weeks, and Mother Nature’s cold and rainy turn putting a damper on outdoor dining, it hasn’t been a great week for eating out.
However, I did take advantage of one warm and sunny day to zip up to The Lookout Bar & Grill at Eagle View to enjoy sweeping views, frosty brews and a really nice dinner on the restaurant’s stunning deck overlooking the Kanawha Valley.
Since replacing Tin Box BBQ, which replaced Adventures Bar & Grill at the mountaintop housing community, The Lookout has had moderate success based on feedback I’ve heard from readers.
My take is pretty much the same, having enjoyed both really good and merely OK food during a handful of visits. But the service has always been great and those aforementioned views really are unbeatable, so The Lookout is still a place I enjoy visiting — and one I’m definitely rooting for.
My experience last week was fantastic thanks to a towering basket of crispy fish and chips, featuring moist and flavorful fillets encased in a thick coating with thin, salty fries that made my West Virginia craft beer taste even better.
My only regret when the fish arrived was it didn’t come with any malt vinegar to drizzle on it, but it turns out I didn’t need it. The coating already had a mild vinegar tang to it, so they must flavor the batter with it. Brilliant!
I haven’t loved the pasta dishes I’ve tried at The Lookout, but can vouch for several others.
The grilled lollipop lamb chops with mint salsa verde are delish, and the summer salad with tomatoes, strawberries, avocados, feta and chopped nuts over mixed spring greens (which you can get with salmon or fillet) is wonderfully bright and fresh.
I’ve been super tempted to try both the tuna poke bowl with edamame, carrots, onions, cucumbers, avocados and spicy ponzu, and also the kale and tuna stacker salad with roasted squash, roasted almonds and dried cherries in balsamic vinaigrette.
The juicy burgers and thick sandwiches look good, and I savored a phenomenal steak special some time back featuring a risotto cake topped with a perfect fillet topped with grilled mushrooms and veggies.
Others rave about the Cajun chicken pasta and chicken Parmesan, but we must’ve ordered them on a bad night. Our dishes didn’t look anything like the photos and reviews we had seen. What was supposed to be homemade marinara was more like chopped tomatoes, the chicken was dry and rubbery, and both dishes lacked flavor.
(In the restaurant’s defense, the owners did later admit that a rookie chef had been working that night and they couldn’t have been more apologetic. That speaks volumes about their credibility in my book.)
The Lookout is one of those places that people seem to really like or not, and there’s no question its somewhat out-of-the way location makes it a tough sell for some.
I, for one, am a fan now that I know what to order — and what to skip.
The Lookout Bar & Grill at Eagle View, located at 530 Maple Ridge in Charleston, is open from 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 4 to 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday, and 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 681-265-5011 or visit the restaurant’s Facebook page.
When indoor dining at restaurants resumes on May 21, it will be limited to 50% of regular capacity, and eateries will be required to follow a long list of safety and social-distancing precautions.
For restaurants that have bars, tables in those areas can be used for general seating but no service from the bar (or standing and sitting at it) will be permitted for now. Dining groups will be limited to six, and no live music or other entertainment is allowed.
Despite the restrictions, this is a very big step for local restaurants and their customers. A welcome one, too.
In the meantime, restaurants are getting increasingly creative about expanding (or starting) outdoor dining spaces to try to get back on their feet a little quicker.
I’ve seen larger patio areas emerge, tents and tables being set up on parking lots and, in one unfortunate case, a restaurant that reopened its once-outdoor patio even though it was completely enclosed by plexiglass walls last year. Making it, in essence, an indoor dining area.
I’m starving for dining out options as much as anyone, but let’s all be careful — and logical — out there, OK? The last thing we want is to let our guard down too soon and lose some of the small freedoms we’re just now starting to get back.