The Food Guy: New restaurant challenges and old Charleston recipes

Essential reporting in volatile times.

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The times, they are a-changing, and at a head-spinning pace of late.

With growing health concerns over COVID-19 causing self-imposed and mandated quarantines, canceled events, closed businesses, “social distancing” and now restaurants transitioning to curbside pickup, drive-thru service or to-go orders only, some aspects of life as we know it have come to a near stop.

In recent developments, owner Sandy Call announced that Bridge Road Bistro in Charleston, Bistro Café at TransCanada in Kanawha City, and the new Sunset Grill in Huntington are all closed until at least next Monday due to the pandemic. Other restaurant owners have told me they’re contemplating the same.

We certainly are in changing, trying, unprecedented times, and I’ve never seen anything quite like this in my lifetime.

But this too shall past.

I’m already looking forward to the day where we can all meet out again at our favorite restaurant or watering hole to reflect on what we’ve survived — and toast good times to come.

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As many as 1,200 graduates are expected to attend Charleston High School’s All-Class Reunion at the Charleston Convention Center Aug. 8, and the reunion committee has a culinary surprise in store when they do.

The food served that evening will be recreated from beloved recipes once served at some of the longtime local restaurants Charleston High students and alumni may have frequented back in the day. Recipes collected will also be included in “A Taste of CHS” cookbook that will presented at the event.

But organizers need our help gathering some of these nostalgic tastes of Charleston.

“We are hoping to work with you to request these old recipes from your readers who may have access to them and are willing to share,” said Dale Clowser, who is chairing the reunion’s food committee along with Tricia Clark.

So far, the group has acquired recipes for Duchess Bakery’s brownies, The Sterling’s salad dressing, Steak and Ale’s steak marinade, Hess’ Drive-In’s banana cream pie and Shoney’s strawberry pie.

“Many of these restaurants are long gone, but we’d still love to find recipes for dishes like Cagney’s Cajun Chicken Pasta, The Anchor’s Tomato Pie, The Diamond’s dinner rolls and more,” Clowser said.

I can hook the group up with a few of these, but I’m calling on all of you classic recipe fans out there for more of them.

Please let me know if you have (or have a lead on) any of these treasured recipes, or if there are other longtime Charleston favorites you think the group might like.

•••

Speaking of long-lost Charleston recipes, another reader is looking for two more that I bet Charleston High alumni would like.

This request comes from a reader who’d love to track down how to make the original Slim Joey ham sandwich and “those cheese balls” from Joey’s Bar & Grill.

I was just talking to someone the other day about how friends and I spent almost every Saturday afternoon at that iconic Charleston hangout across from the old Civic Center on Quarrier Street when I first moved to town — and how much I missed the place.

Especially “those cheese balls,” which were deliciously rich little fried orbs of (I believe) sharp cheddar cheese that were heavenly when dipped in a side or ranch.

If anyone has their hands on either recipe — or even and old menu that might describe each dish — I have a reader who would be forever grateful.

Steven Keith writes a weekly food column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail and an occasional food blog at http://blogs.wvgazettemail.com/foodguy/. 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.”