Last fall I shared an experience visiting The Billy Motel in Davis, one of the most exciting, alluring, unusual and, well, offbeat food-and-drink establishments I’ve come across in some time. Maybe ever.
Once a very tired roadside motel, the property has been transformed into an ultra-cool, retro and somewhat swanky roadside “pocket hotel” with a hip restaurant and bar scene to rival any other. Maybe anywhere.
I raved about The Billy’s “hillbilly fabulous” mid-century cocktail lounge and signature drinks during my first visit, but reduced restaurant hours caused by COVID prevented us from trying an exquisite-sounding menu.
That all changed during a guy’s getaway to the mountains last week where we visited The Billy not once, but twice, to savor the scene. And we were so excited the restaurant was open this time, that we ordered “one of everything” as soon as we sat down.
Really, they asked? Yep, we said, and that was just a starting point. (We ended up ordering seconds of several items.)
Over the new few hours, we devoured …
Fresh Mexican gazpacho made with Jersey tomatoes and corn
Korean Banchon with grilled beef, a homemade kimchi pancake, marinated tofu, veggies and rice
Phenomenal Vietnamese beef wrapped in grape leaves with fresh herbs, peanuts and a zesty dipping sauce
Spanish Papas Bravas, a plate of crispy roasted potatoes with smoked paprika sauce and lemon aioli
Mexican street corn with butter and herbs
An earthy beet salad with balsamic reduction and sour cream
Brazilian Pão de Queijo spicy cheese puffs with creamy cilantro
An incredible Spanish-Israeli blended manchego and halloumi cheese board with nuts, dried and fresh fruit, homemade sourdough crackers and digestive biscuits
All of it incredible – and all made, served and enjoyed at a roadside motel. In the mountains of West Virginia. As I said back in the fall, I could not love this place any more.
And I now have two T-shirts to prove it.
IF YOU GO: The Billy Motel is located at 1080 Williams Ave. in Davis. The restaurant is open from 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday. The lounge is open from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 3 p.m. to midnight Friday-Saturday. For more information, call 304-851-6125, check out www.thebillymotel.com or visit the restaurant’s Facebook page.
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The Billy wasn’t the only culinary gem we discovered in the Canaan Valley area.
As the newish restaurant at the Bright Morning Inn in Davis, Milo’s Café has gained a quick following for its fresh breakfast, lunch and dinner offerings, paired with a curated craft beer and wine menu.
While I’m a sucker for breakfast – and the restaurant’s Huevos Rancheros, biscuits and sausage gravy, baked goods and Hangover Sandwich looked amazing – we popped in for an early dinner.
After a round of local brews, we dug into bowls of Mexican street corn dip and chips, a smoked maple bacon gouda cheeseburger, Korean-style cabbage rolls with spicy chili sauce, andouille sausage and jumbo shrimp gumbo over jasmine rice, a salmon burger and tangy lamb tikka masala in an Indian tomato-curry gravy.
Once again, all enjoyed in a tiny town in the Potomac Highlands.
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Finally, although we didn’t make it this time, all the locals were also raving about Farm Up Table, a storefront spot offering “jazzy comfort food” in the heart of Thomas.
What’s jazzy comfort food, you say?
We’re talking a leg of local lamb with braised kale, apricot and port … a fresh salad with bacon lardons, imported Swiss and a local poached egg … fries tossed in butter and truffle oil, then topped with Parmesan and sauteed shrimp … creamy Dauphine potatoes blended with pate a choux and fried up nice and crispy … and a dozen more creations.
And don’t even get me started on the local sausage and roasted tomato eggs Benedict, crab and mushroom omelet or buttermilk-brined chicken and waffles with jalapeno-infused local honey.
Next time, I’m so there.
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Although I still miss former Canaan Valley mainstay Hellbender Burritos, may it rest in peace, these new spots along with great coffee and pastries from Tip Top, insanely good pizza from Sirianni’s and a handful of other bright culinary spots still make Canaan Valley one of my favorite West Virginia getaways – to play, relax AND eat.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.