The Food Guy: Bridge Café a new discovery in Putnam, but I need more!

You know how you’re sometimes on a long trip when hunger strikes, leaving you searching for the nearest non-fast food stop to fuel up on good eats?

I get that way on the short, one-hour drive to Huntington (don’t judge), so I’m always looking for new restaurant discoveries in the Putnam County/Teays Valley area to enjoy on my way there and back.

That’s how I’ve come to know such welcome midway destinations as Thai Valley Kitchen, Whiskey Taco, Mountain Pie Company, FireSide Grille and my newest obsession: Bridge Café & Bistro.

Appropriately named at the foot of a small bridge along the Midland Trail not far from Hurricane’s Main Street, the restaurant’s mission is “spanning the gap from farm to table” — a goal they achieve admirably.

With a vibe I’d describe as a blend of country farmhouse meets eclectic bistro, the small restaurant serves up an impressive variety of breakfast, lunch and dinner specials using a bounty of fresh, local ingredients.

After hearing people rave about the place for a couple years now, I finally stopped by for Saturday brunch recently to check it out.

While somewhat non-descript on the outside, Bridge Café & Bistro’s interior is warm, inviting and lively. There’s plenty of rustic wood and metal accents, and you can’t miss the whimsical “upside down chair” plant holders over the windows.

It’s a hip place, no doubt, and the menu is just as appealing. In fact, I’m still salivating over the options and wishing the restaurant were a little closer to my home.

We’re talking entrées like braised beef roast with caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms and roasted red peppers over creamy polenta. An herb-crusted pork chop with grilled zucchini, cherry tomatoes, roasted pepper cream sauce and spicy chow-chow. Teriyaki-glazed pork loin with stir-fried jasmine rice, vegetables, homemade sauce, sriracha and scallions.

Recent dinner specials have included fennel-crusted chicken breast with Dijon cream sauce over potato cakes; wild mushroom and gouda-smothered ribeye with balsamic reduction; baby-back rib mac ‘n’ cheese with cheddar, smoked gouda, mozzarella, shoestring sweet potatoes and fresh scallions with barbecue drizzle.

The lunch menu offers a tasty array of soups, salads, sandwiches and sides, and breakfast options include popular gluten-free pancakes, signature hashes, breakfast sandwiches and platters, pastries, smoothies and more.

Brunch choices the day I popped in included steak and eggs, vanilla-zucchini bread pudding, and bacon-egg-cheeseburger sliders, along with a regular selection of craft beers, wine, sangria and mimosas.

I sampled the biscuits and sausage gravy (because I can’t ever not) and let the woman taking my order talk me into some strange creation called “sweet potato pork pancakes.”

“It sounds weird, I know, but it’s amazing,” she assured me.

“Yes it does,” I assured her back, but decided to take the plunge.

They were, in a word, fantastic! The earthy, slightly sweet pancakes paired perfectly studded with flecks of tender, flavorful pulled pork — and both were even better when drizzled with maple syrup. Looking back, I never should’ve doubted the woman – the flavors of sweet potato, pork and maple are a no-brainer together.

The sausage gravy, however, wasn’t nearly as good. The taste was fine, but there was — and I can’t believe I’m saying this out loud — way too much sausage in it. It was so thick I had to spread it with a knife, so, yeah, not really gravy.

Besides that, the only other flaw I experienced that day was having to wait a really long time for my cup of coffee, even though other tables were receiving theirs at lightning speed. When mine finally did come (from a different waitress than mine) she apologized for “a big mix-up” and that acknowledgment alone definitely helped.

As I spent a Saturday morning here, watching dozens of happy customers come and go, it was clear to see that owners Andrew and Ashley Stewart are doing something right. With fresh, thoughtful food served by a friendly staff in a cool, comfortable setting, Bridge Café & Bistro has not only become a really good restaurant, but a great gathering spot for the community as well.

IF YOU GO: Bridge Cafe & Bistro, 44 Midland Trail in Hurricane, is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday and is closed on Mondays. For more information, call 681-233-4141 or visit “Bridge Café & Bistro” on Facebook.

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Putnam County peeps, I need your help!

It would be a shame for The Food Guy to starve while driving to and from Huntington, so I’d love to know your favorite new (or new-to-me) places to dine in the greater Teays Valley area.

My friends Dan and Pam Blackwood just told me about a new, really cool-sounding craft beer bar called The Pallet on Teays Valley Road. I still haven’t made it to Fairways Bar & Grill or Mountain ‘Cue. I’ve also been wanting to revisit the Italian Grille, to see if it’s still as good as I remember from so many years ago.

What else am I missing? Please send me your picks!

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

Funerals for Sunday, October 20, 2019

Fink, Janice - 1:30 p.m., United Disciples of Christ Church, South Charleston.

Honaker, Dewey - 2 p.m., Arnett Assembly of God Church, Arnett.

Jenkins, Tina - 2 p.m., Hafer Funeral Home, Elkview.

Payne, Joseph - 3 p.m., Gateway Christian Church, St. Albans.

Snyder, Janice - 4 p.m., Snodgrass Funeral Home, South Charleston.

Vance, Kendall - 2 p.m., Handley Funeral Home, Danville.