The Food Guy: Restaurant Week winners and more pepperoni roll love

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Another successful Charleston Restaurant Week is in the books and I, for one, miss it already.

I mean, after six straight nights of three-course dinners out, I was pretty jazzed about actually eating at home Sunday night. But now that a few days have passed?

Let’s do it again!

And while there’s no way I could’ve hit all 28 restaurants last week, that doesn’t mean I didn’t try. This year, by the numbers, I ate 18 courses, tasted 34 different dishes, and enjoyed 31!

Based on my experiences, here’s my take on the week.

Best appetizers

Although I could (and may) have eaten the white truffle aioli that came with The Market’s French fries with a spoon because it’s so good, I’d have to say Bistro at the Barge’s Caesar salad with fried Brussels sprouts and Edgewood Country Club’s silky mushroom bisque were standouts.

Best entrees

The Barge’s duck confit over parsnip puree and Edgewood’s signature beef Stroganoff were big hits in my book, although the roasted airline chicken breast with rich gravy and buttery Dauphine potatoes at Noah’s Restaurant & Lounge was a revelation, too. Who knew a lowly chicken breast could be THAT good?

Best desserts

The Barge’s show-stopping caramel pot de crème — with its delicate candy apple sugar dome — was Instagram-ready, and The Market’s chocolate brownie and The Block’s dessert pear sugar waffle were phenomenal.

Best overall meal

Don’t make me pick! While Noah’s and Bistro at the Barge were both flawless across all three courses, the nod here goes to the Barge based on overwhelming reader response and an overall “wow” factor for the second year in a row. Every single offering was spectacular.

Dishes that missed

Usually stellar, The Market’s cauliflower puree served with its salmon dish was cold, bland and sloppily plated. Bricks & Barrels’ seafood pan roast was tasty, but I would’ve preferred a little less rice and a little more delicious sauce to keep it from being too dry. And while there wasn’t anything specifically wrong with it, Edgewood’s ginger-shellac salmon, basmati rice and mixed veggies were fairly ordinary.

Best buzz

Although I didn’t make it there, I had lots of readers report that Dem 2 Brothers & a Grill really stepped up to knock it out of the park this year with great (plentiful!) food and good service.

Do we really have to wait a whole year for the next one?


More pepperoni love came rolling in after readers started sharing their votes for the area’s best pepperoni rolls last week.“I’m kind of surprised no one mentioned the pepperoni rolls from the little shop across from the DMV at the Kanawha Mall,” wrote J. Michael Mollohan. “They make theirs with pretzel dough and they’re wonderful, if not traditional. Best go early, though. They sell out quick.”

An anonymous caller submitted votes for the Gino’s and Go-Mart locations in Clay, and reader Ruth Moore recommended local pizzeria Graziano’s.

“They are huge and you can get them with sauce on top or on the side. Buy and freeze them, then pull them out to have as a treat.”

Then came this tip from Laura Harbridge: “You haven’t had a pepperoni roll until you’ve had one from Ellen’s Ice Cream — and ask them to warm it. They are heavenly!”

Dave Alan Gilpin praised the ones at FireSide Grille in Teays Valley, “JK the DJ” Joe Kerner loves the ones from the One Stop/Exxon station just off the Cross Lanes exit of I-64, and newly named Capitol Market Executive Director Nichole Greene voiced an opinion shared by countless parents of local schoolchildren.

“Kanawha County Schools actually has the best pepperoni rolls of all time,” she said. “Period.”

I admit they’re awesome, but I also tasted a worthy contender for the crown this week.

After Janessa Spence told me the pepperoni rolls at Books and Brews were her favorite, I popped in for lunch Saturday to check them out. With sliced pepperoni buried in a vat of melty cheese inside crusty, seasoned pockets of bread, they’re pretty hard to beat.

Steven Keith writes a weekly food column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail and an occasional food blog at He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or by e-mail at You can also follow him on Facebook as “WV Food Guy” and on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest as “WVFoodGuy”.