• Steven Keith

A few ‘hot’ restaurant stops from Huntington to Charleston

Turns out I’m not the only one who craves dinner specials and seasonal offerings that aren’t on a local restaurant’s regular menu.

Grouper Etouffee from Gumbo Stop Cafe
Grouper Etouffee from Gumbo Stop Cafe

After sharing my desire to try something new and different when I go out to eat – instead of always the same ol’, same ol’ – many readers chimed in with similar preferences. One of them was fellow food writer Susan Maslowski.


“I have enjoyed the Gumbo Stop Café located in Huntington’s Heritage Station for the same reasons you mentioned in your recent column,” she wrote. “The owner, Debbie Annett, offers seasonal dishes and occasional specials.”


Shrimp and seafood dish from Gumbo Stop Cafe
Shrimp and seafood dish from Gumbo Stop Cafe

A St. Patrick’s Day menu featured items like Atlantic salmon with whiskey cream sauce and a side of colcannon and roasted carrots.


Umm, yum!


“She is also offering Lenten meals on Fridays and I’ve noticed a variety of fish entrees and seafood etouffee. She occasionally offers dishes not listed on the daily menu, like Cajun meatloaf. I have enjoyed the delicious food and friendly service every time I’ve eaten there. I also like the outdoor courtyard seating, which is very pleasant on a warm spring day.”


I’m especially intrigued by the thought of delicious Cajun and Creole food these days, especially after last week’s ode to the tasty crawfish boil and giant muffuletta sandwich specials currently available at The Olive Tree Café in South Charleston.


Muffuletta sandwich from Gumbo Stop Cafe
Muffuletta sandwich from Gumbo Stop Cafe

It’s interesting that Susan mentioned a restaurant in Huntington, because I also heard from another reader this week asking for my favorite places to dine out in that sister river city. I rattled off a few of my favorites, but also confessed that I haven’t been down that way in a minute and several buzz-worthy new places have opened. I’m especially excited to check out the swanky newish LaFontaine’s Rooftop Lounge I’ve been hearing so much about.


I guess a one-hour trip west is in my near future.


  • IF YOU GO: Gumbo Stop Café, located at 210 11th St. inside Heritage Station in Huntington, is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. For more information, call 304-654-2240 or visit the restaurant’s Facebook page.


• • •


Speaking of new dishes, Black Sheep in downtown Charleston recently freshened up its menu to include a few new options, including two crispy double-stacked “fusion” quesadillas that have piqued my interest.


BroccWings from Black Sheep in Charleston
BroccWings from Black Sheep in Charleston

The EnchiDilla is filled with chicken and chorizo topped with house mole sauce, while the BirriaDilla is stuffed with braised barbacoa, onion relish and a side of braising jus for delicious dipping.


There’s also a new Bullock’s Gin Mule made with local Bullock’s Barrel Rested Gin kissed with ginger beer and lime juice and new BroccWings that are full of zing. That zesty new app features tempura-fried broccolini tossed in Nashville hot sauce and topped with sage-infused honey, Black Sheep fry sauce and pickled red onion.


It’s hot, y’all, and I mean that in a good way.


• • •


In case you missed this big scoop last week, the owners of popular 1010 Bridge Restaurant in South Hills have purchased Ellen’s Homemade Ice Cream, which has been a beloved and iconic fixture on the downtown food scene since opening its Capitol Street location back in the fall of 1997.


That’s 25 years, can you believe it?


Paul Smith, Ellen Beale, Marie and Aaron Clark
Paul Smith, Ellen Beale, Marie and Aaron Clark

But when previous owner Ellen Beal decided it was time to finally hang up her scoop, she was determined to find strong, responsible new owners who would continue the high level of product quality, customer service and community love she had so diligently maintained through the years.


Ellen believes she found that in 1010’s chef-owner Paul Smith and co-owners Aaron and Marie Clark, who vow to continue her success for years to come.


Ellen’s, which has been voted best ice cream in the state multiple times by the readers of WV Living magazine, can also be found outdoors at Capitol Market from May through September, at several regional retail locations including Tamarack and Drug Emporium, and at various local restaurants.

• • •


Finally, a bit of sad news.


Many of you may recall I recently wrote about all of the fond food memories I savored at my grandparents’ houses growing up, even sharing my Mammaw Keith’s recipes for Jam Cake and Sourdough Bread in honor of her 100th birthday, which we were fortunate enough to be able to celebrate with her back in January.


Mammaw's homemade jam cake
Mammaw's homemade jam cake

After blessing us for 100 years and 76 days in this life, Lula Mae Perry Keith passed away peacefully last Sunday, March 20.


It’s hard to believe that I still had a grandparent around as an almost 53-year-old man, but that’s a gift I will cherish always. And I also get a smile every time a reader calls in to tell me how much they loved one of her recipes I shared.


“I just wanted to drop you a note that I made your Mammaw’s jam cake yesterday and all I can say is … WOW!” Kim Mallory recently wrote, adding that she called her grandmother Mammaw as well.


“This was really delicious! Even my husband, who mostly only likes chocolate cake, loved it. I think this will be a new favorite that is served whenever we have company or special occasions. Thanks so much for sharing the recipe.”


On behalf of Lula Mae, you’re so welcome.


• • •


Steven Keith is a food writer and restaurant critic known as “The Food Guy” who writes a weekly column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail and has appeared in several state, regional and national culinary publications. Follow him online at www.wvfoodguy.com or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or at wvfoodguy@aol.com.

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