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The Food Guy: New Jamaican spot opens, paella comes to Tidewater

In breaking local food news, I was thrilled to learn that the long-awaited Karubee’s Jamaican Restaurant finally found a home and is now open for business.

Abandoning initial plans to set up shop in a Lee Street storefront near Davis Park — where the “coming soon” sign still hangs — Karubee’s is now open in the old Maria’s Grill location across from CVS on Grosscup Road in Dunbar.

I was especially excited to hear the news by way of lofty Facebook reviews of its brown stew chicken, curry, plantains and other dishes touting claims like “OMG ... out of this world ... really delicious!”

According to his bio on the restaurant’s website, Jamaican-born founder and owner Kerry Martin acquired a passion for cooking by working in his grandmother’s kitchen at a young age. Although life led him to New York, Charleston, Columbus and back to Charleston — all after leaving the island at age 10 — he’s thrilled to finally realize his long-term goal of serving authentic Jamaican food in the Kanawha Valley.

And I, for one, am glad to have him. Although I haven’t visited the new restaurant yet, I adore Jamaican food and hear his is the real deal.

A drool-worthy menu offers lots of chicken (jerk, curry, barbecue and brown stew), beef (curry, oxtail, ribs and jerk burgers) and seafood (curry shrimp, jerk salmon, brown stew snapper, fried whiting, king fish and more). Sides are just as tempting: collard greens, fried plantains, steamed cabbage, sweet corn, mac ‘n’ cheese, rice and peas, regular and sweet potato fries.

Drinks options include iced tea, hot tea, soft drinks and coffee, but no adult beverages at this time.

Have any of you been yet? Once they have a chance to get into a groove and work out any kinks, I’ll definitely be visiting a time or 10.

IF YOU GO: Karubee’s Jamaican Restaurant, 1000 Grosscup Ave. in Dunbar, is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday to Saturday and closed Sunday through Tuesday. For more information, call 877-617-7076 or visit www.karubees.com.

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In other local restaurant news, Tidewater Grill now serves paella. And in case you missed that: TIDEWATER GRILL NOW SERVES PAELLA!

Forgive my excitement, but it’s extremely rare for any restaurant in the region to offer this signature dish from Spain — pretty non-existent, actually — much less one right in the heart of our town.

I spotted this on the menu when I stopped by the Charleston Town Center mainstay during the final Court Street Live concert a few weeks ago, which also happened to be the same day I started receiving “Did you know?” messages and calls on this very discovery from readers.

I already had dinner plans and didn’t try it that evening, but I cleared my schedule to sample it myself this past week.

Paella is an ancient Spanish dish — from the coastal city of Valencia on the country’s eastern shore, specifically — that traditionally consists of white rice, green beans, lima or butter beans, and meat (usually chicken and rabbit, but sometimes duck and occasionally snails) seasoned with saffron and rosemary.

More common today is seafood paella featuring just rice, seafood and seasonings simmered all the live-long day, while other interpretations offer a blend of both approaches. That’s the approach Tidewater has taken, which is what got me hyperventilating that day.

Their version features saffron rice flecked with chunks of chorizo and peas, then topped with lobster, shrimp, mussels and chicken. And there’s no skimping on the seafood either. We’re talking half a lobster still in its shell, six mussels, nearly half a dozen tail-on shrimp and large strips of chicken. With a cup of pure drawn butter for lobster-dipping, of course, along with your choice of salad and a basket of those warm-from-the-oven crack rolls.

What’s more, the paella is served in a giant cooking skillet to create a truly show-stopping presentation. This is not just a dish, but an “experience” to be enjoyed.

And the taste? Not perfect, but pretty good.

The paella was too salty, although my taste buds got used to that sodium-shock after the first few bites. It was also a little overcooked, rendering the chicken dry and the mussels a tad shriveled instead of plump. But both flaws are easily fixable and neither stopped me from enjoying the heck out of this rare treat.

I definitely recommend you make a quick trip down to Tidewater to get you some!

IF YOU GO: Tidewater Grill at Charleston Town Center is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 888-456-3463 or visit www.tidewatergrillrestaurant.com.

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 Today, Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Armstead, David - Noon, Chapman Funeral Home, Winfield.

Crawford, Charles - 7:30 p.m., Andrews' residence, Belleaire at Devonshire, Scott Depot.

Duff, Catherine Ann - 11 a.m., Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery, Dunbar.

Jarrett, Shirley - 1 p.m., Mt. Juliet United Methodist Church, Belle.

Lawrentz, Deo Mansfried - 11 a.m., Koontz Cemetery, Clendenin.

McGraw, Judy Fay - 2 p.m., Jodie Missionary Baptist Church, Jodie.

Mullins, Alice Ellen (Blessing) - Noon, Cunningham-Parker-Johnson Funeral Home, Charleston.

Staats, Anthony Vernon “Tony” - 1 p.m., Roush Funeral Home, Ravenswood.