In breaking local restaurant news, downtown’s Elements at The Quarrier Diner has closed, there’s a new restaurant already opening at Eagle View and two other places are either expanding or moving locations.
Whew! Let’s dig in.
As for Elements, the restaurant was locked up and dark this weekend, with no one answering the phone, no sign on the door explaining special circumstances and — most telling of all — the Facebook pages for it or the downstairs Boiler Room bar have either been unpublished or deleted.
Repeated calls to Elements have gone unanswered, but after making a few of my own to local chefs in the know, several confirmed that the restaurant did indeed close up shop last week.
I hate to see that, but I’m not surprised. When folks kept asking me why I still hadn’t reviewed the place after three or four months, I told them it was because it wouldn’t be around in two or three more. It lasted five.
On a more positive note, the owners of downtown’s popular Ichiban and Bar 101 are opening a new restaurant up at Eagle View, which may be ready for business as quickly as a few weeks. And, fingers crossed, this one will be run by two local guys with current success in the restaurant industry.
Just two months after Tin Box BBQ suddenly closed, Todd Moore and Dave Andrews confirmed Saturday that they’ve signed a lease and are well on their way to welcoming guests in that same location at the mega-housing complex high atop the hills overlooking the city.
The new restaurant is called The Lookout Bar and Grill at Eagle View and will offer a menu of casual pizzas, sandwiches, salads and more.
“We’re really going to focus on catering to the local residents up there,” Andrews said, noting something previous restaurants struggled with. “We’ve already secured a golf cart to deliver pizzas to them, which we think will go over really well.”
Although the initial menu will be fairly basic, Moore said once the restaurant is established they’ll add specials and things like steak night, Italian night and other themes.
“We’ll also serve food at their pool parties and do other things to build up our presence,” Moore said. “With summer coming up, it’s a great time to be starting a new venture there.”
Because, you know, that awesome deck.
“Yeah, that deck is great,” Moore said, with a laugh.
“By creating a nice place for residents there, we hope it will eventually become a place Charleston wants to visit as well,” Andrews said.
And with the complex’s security gate now staying open into the early evening hours, it should be a lot easier for non-residents to enjoy the place.
“We’re excited for the opportunity to build our own business up there,” Moore added. “Bar 101 was already established when we bought it and Chef Evan pretty much runs the show at Ichiban. This is something that will truly be ours and have our mark on it.”
In even more local restaurant news, Ashton Place’s Cozumel Mexican Restaurant is adding a second location in St. Albans, the former Cali Tacos in St. Albans is relocating to 39th Street in Nitro and Fat Patty’s is rumored to be looking at the shuttered Lonestar building in Kanawha City — although we’ve been burned by Fat Patty hype before when it was Roca, not that big burger joint, that replaced TGI Friday’s at Dudley Farms.
See? You miss a week and you miss a lot.
Be on the lookout for more news about The Lookout and other restaurants each Wednesday in The Food Guy!
I had a great time judging this past Saturday’s fourth-annual Charley West BBQ Fest. And by great, I mean terrifying, but let me explain.
Organizer Dave Mincer had asked me to judge the event’s professional Competition Division, which included four entrants each competing in four different categories — best ribs, best pulled pork, best sauce and best “wildcard” entry, which could be anything smoked.
A quick review of the math (four categories, four items in each) told me that was 16 dishes I’d be sampling. No problem, I said!
Then he asked if I’d be willing to also judge the amateur Backyard Division two hours later. Rubbing my belly and revisiting the math, I felt I could probably handle tasting 16 more dishes after a little break to have a beer and listen to some of the great live music on hand. No problem, I said!
So I returned two hours later, only to learn there were nine entrants in this division — times four different categories — meaning I’d be tasting not 16, but 36 additional dishes that afternoon. On top of the previous 16.
If I knew my fellow judges wouldn’t have made fun of me, I would’ve crawled into the fetal position below the table right then and there. But I manned up and dug in, comforted by the thought of the Alka-Seltzer I’d stuck in my pocket that morning.
So over the course of four hours Saturday, I sampled 52 different barbecue ribs, pork, sauces and more, including creative entries like smoked oysters with bacon and bleu cheese, smoked scallops wrapped in bacon, smoked sausage wrapped in bacon and giant smoked chicken legs wrapped in bacon.
Sensing a trend here?
We ate some really good BBQ, but since it’s a blind judging we had no idea whose food we were tasting until the winners were announced at the end of the event. And here they are ...
In the Competition Division, Lem’s Meat Varnish cleaned house by winning best ribs, best pulled pork and best sauce, with Big Joe’s edging Lem’s out in the wild card category.
In the Backyard Division, McCutcheon’s Butt and Breast Rub won best pulled pork and best wild card entry, with Blue Creek BBQ taking best ribs and best sauce.
Dem 2 Brothers & A Grill won best pulled pork in the Commercial Division, and People’s Choice Awards went to Gil’s Pit Beef (Commercial) and Carnivore BBQ (Competition).
It was a fantastic day that entertained hundreds of guests and raised more than $15,000 for the Bob Burdette Center’s after-school program on the West Side.
From one culinary extravaganza to another, Taste-of-ALL Charleston takes over Kanawha Boulevard and the Four Points by Sheraton from noon to 4 p.m. this Saturday.
The 36th annual food-tasting event, now part of FestivALL, features 20-something restaurants and food trucks offering samples to hungry guests, along with a cash bar, cooking competition, live music, kids activities and more.
Fellow food writer Judy Grigoraci has shared all the event details this week, so I’ll just focus on a few of the items I’m most excited to try in our quest to judge, rate and name our winning dish for this year’s food critics award.
Here are the bites I’ll be racing to first:
- Four Point’s by Sheraton’s seafood risotto, and pork belly slider with red-eye gravy and Appalachian slaw
- Marriott’s Brick Salt Bar + Kitchen’s Chesapeake crab cake with tomato chow-chow, and mini peanut butter pie with chocolate ganache and raspberry jam
- Chow Thai’s Pa Nang Beef and larb
- Ichiban Pan Asian Cuisine’s Korean meatball with sweet-and-spicy glaze
- Big Joe’s Bar & Grill’s Buffalo pork belly chicharrónes and Buffalo chicken mac ‘n’ cheese (a winner at last year’s Charleston Mac & Cheese Cook-off)
- The Twisted Taco’s smoked pork BBQ nachos smothered in queso
- East End Pub’s eggroll sampler
- Dem 2 Brothers & A Grill’s brisket slider
- Recovery Sports Grill’s crispy artichokes with lemon-garlic aoli
- Sitar of India’s channa masala and chicken tikka masala
- Eggs Will Roll’s Mexican street corn, chicken ‘n’ waffle and Reuben eggrolls
- Rock City Cake Company’s Dirty Diana and banana pudding cupcakes, and triple fudge peanut butter brownie
Can’t decide if I’m getting hungry — or full — already!