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My first “baby” graduated from high school yesterday.

I’m still crying today.

They’re happy tears, mostly, but don’t be surprised if you see me around town drowning my sorrows with fine food and drink in the near future.

Good food is such a joy that it has gotten me through a lot, and it’s an appreciation my wife and I have worked diligently to pass on to our three sons as well.

As they were growing up, we would all watch Food Network shows together, host our own reality-style cooking contests at home and pull the boys into the kitchen to help us prepare meals.

And no matter how crazy life got juggling school and homework, music lessons and sports schedules, jobs and, well, life, we almost always sat down to dinner together. As a family. At the dining room table. Every single night.

While taking time to savor whatever we had prepared — from the fanciest of feasts to the humblest of hot dogs — we’d take advantage of that quality time to talk about how our days had gone, discuss what activities were coming up that week, plan family vacations and just ... talk ... about anything and everything that came up.

It’s no lie when I say these have been among the best times of my life.

After I Facebook-bragged about Adam (George Washington High School, Class of 2021) being named a National Merit Finalist this spring — an honor only attained by the top 1% of high school seniors in the country, mind you — reader Ed Sisson reached out with a fascinating morsel of news.

He wanted to let me know that a study of National Merit Finalists around the country found that all of those students shared only one thing in common.

“They ate dinner as a family every night,” he said. “You and your wife are great parents.”

I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I cried with pride all the same. We sure have tried.

Whether dining out at a restaurant or gathered around our own dinner table, we made memories I wish for all of you.


To celebrate Adam’s big milestone during the trying times of COVID, we bypassed a big rockin’ shindig in favor of a more intimate dinner with just the extended family on the deck up at The Lookout Bar & Grill at Eagle View in Charleston.

About 20 of us spent a gorgeous evening there Saturday evening catching up over drinks and stories while mingling and nibbling on plump, juicy shrimp cocktail and a bubbly hot spinach, artichoke and crab dip with toast points.

Then we settled down to dig into plates of glistening and flaky teriyaki-basted salmon with asparagus, zucchini, squash and red peppers over rice, plus a perfectly cooked beef tenderloin with oven-roasted potatoes and a tangy Greek salad.

Although it can be difficult preparing food for groups — not only cooking it properly, but keeping it warm and delicious throughout the evening — The Lookout really nailed it. The food was fresh and hot, service was top-notch and those sweeping views can’t be beat.

We walked away feeling like we were on top of the world. Just where I expect my oldest to land as he soars on to new challenges. Adam, I love you more than you’ll ever know.

IF YOU GO: The Lookout Bar & Grill, 530 Silver Maple Ridge at Eagle View, is open from 4 to 9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 4 to 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. For more information, call 681-265-5011, 304-343-5652 or visit the restaurant’s Facebook page.

Steven Keith is a food writer and restaurant critic known as “The Food Guy” who writes a weekly column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail and has appeared in several state, regional and national culinary publications. Follow him online at or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest as “WV Food Guy.” He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or at

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