You better buckle up for this week’s extra helping of local restaurant news.
Molé is flying out of a kitchen downtown, a popular East End restaurant has reopened for lunch, the owners of a Bridge Road fine-dining spot have left town, there’s a new bourbon-themed bistro going into the old Celsius location and a Spring Hill bakery is now serving lunch.
So let’s dig in!
Black Sheep swamped
My recommendation that y’all should run right downtown to try the new molé enchiladas now on the menu at Black Sheep Burrito & Brews is one many of you took seriously.
When I popped into the restaurant the day after I made that challenge in the newspaper, manager Kevin Madison came rushing up.
“Man, you killed us!” he said. “We sold almost 50 enchilada entrées the day your story ran. We were back in the kitchen rushing to make more molé thoughout the day and the orders just kept coming.”
I apologized to him, but secretly smiled inside. Glad to hear there’s still power in the press.
Do me a solid and keep filling the place up at 702 Quarrier St. Just be sure to tell them The Food Guy sent you.
Bluegrass reopens for lunch
After a long midday absence, the East End’s Bluegrass Kitchen has now reopened from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. each Monday through Friday, serving a “still under construction” lineup of 10 different lunch options at 1600 Washington St. E.
In addition to a weekly featured soup and trio of salads (house, steak and spinach, the latter served with a farm egg, bacon, goat cheese and warm tomato vinaigrette), sandwich options include a half-pound hamburger or plant-based burger with lettuce, tomato, garlic pickle chips and a choice of either caramelized onions and smoked gouda or homemade pimento cheese.
There’s also a house-cured corned beef Reuben with melted Swiss and Bavarian-style kraut, a batter-fried trout sandwich with house tartar and all the fixings, a hot fried chicken sandwich with green tomato chow-chow and buttermilk blue-mayo, falafel on house-made roti with hummus and feta-yogurt, and buttery fried burrata cheese with tomato chutney.
The Market owners move to Florida
Rich and Anne Arbaugh, owners of Bridge Road’s The Market (formerly South Hills Market & Café), have moved to Florida, where Chef Rich is now working in the food industry there.
No word on what will happen to their restaurant here, which is currently still open and being managed by senior staff.
New life in the old Celsius
Vicente Cruz, owner of Vino’s and the Copper Pint Pub on Kanawha Boulevard, has confirmed that he and his business partner have rented the old Celsius space between Hale and Dickinson streets downtown. They plan to open a new “bourbon bistro” concept there that will be called Hale House.
Renovations have already started and Vicente hopes to share more details in the near future.
Sokolata adds lunch options
The Sokolata European bakery and gelato shop in Spring Hill has now added a new lunch menu featuring a handful of gyros, salads, soups and sandwiches featuring Boar’s Head deli meats and cheeses. Some of the tasty new options are familiar faces from the owners’ Creperi Café and Pizza Barbarosa locations at Trace Fork.
Sokolata also recently changed its business hours to stay open longer throughout the week but be closed on Sundays. You can now stop by the shop at 4524 MacCorkle Ave. SW from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Sip & Savor another smashing success
The Clay Center’s second-annual “Sip & Savor: A Bourbon & Bites Bash” was another well-run affair, with hundreds of guests sampling special bourbon and food pairings offered at a variety of stations throughout two levels of the Grand Lobby.
A VIP pairing dinner on the main stage featured a delicious duck wing confit with sweet chili jam and peach BBQ sauce, a sorghum-lacquered pork belly with spiced corn nuts and bacon gremolata and a smoked trout rillette with pickled red onion, toasted horseradish and marble rye crispelle — and, a rare tasting of Woodford Reserve’s exclusive “Country Roads #10” bourbon made exclusively for Morgantown restaurant Bourbon Prime. After that, I ventured out into the lobby for even more good eats.
There, I loved treats like Rock City Bakery’s pepperoni rolls (paired with Smooth Ambler Contradiction), Embassy Suites’ beef Wellington (Bib & Tucker Barrel Proof), Angelo’s Old World Italian Sausages (Town Branch Bourbon) and Embassy Suites’ candied bacon (W. L. Weller Special Reserve).
But the best bourbon-food pairings of the night, in my opinion, were Ichiban’s shrimp skewers with butter and sherry (Virgil Kaine Ginger-Infused Bourbon) and Mi Cocina’s housemade pimento cheese spread on bakery crouton (Old Forrester Rye).
Oh, what a night!