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  • Writer's pictureSteven Keith

Farm dinners, food events and grilling contests abound!

What say we put this boiling summer heat behind us and focus on a much more delicious kind of boil?

A farm-to-table dinner at Gritt's Farm in Buffalo.
A farm-to-table dinner at Gritt's Farm in Buffalo.

Gritt’s Farm in Buffalo continues its Farm-to-Table Dinner Series on Saturday, July 9, with a big Low Country Boil offered at 3, 5 and 7 p.m. that day.

Each casually elegant dinner at the farm this summer consists of four creative courses featuring fresh farm ingredients prepared by Chef Jesse Lyons from Coco’s Kitchen & Cafe on Hale Street, along with live music and drinks to enjoy.

On the menu for this event are zucchini fries with fresh herb dip; a boil of local Angelo’s and Black Oak Holler Farms sausages with shrimp, Gritt’s sweet corn and red-skin potatoes; and freshly made farm cake donuts for dessert.

Additional farm-to-table dinners (with menus to be announced) are scheduled for July 30 and Aug. 20. To purchase tickets and learn more, visit

• • •

As they say, “You Gotta Pre-Gatta!”

Or something like that.

The region’s long-running Charleston Sternwheel Regatta returns to the river city this week after a 14-year absence, with a five-day lineup of big concerts, carnival rides, children’s activities, food trucks and a new Wheelwash Craft Beer Festival this Thursday night featuring more than 50 brews along with the evening’s entertainment.

All Fired Up at Capitol Market
All Fired Up at Capitol Market

If you want to do a little “pre-gaming” to gear up for this year’s Regatta, join me from 6-9 p.m. this Wednesday evening at Capitol Market for a Pre-Gatta Pre-Party serving as a casual kick-off of sorts for the festival.

You’ll enjoy drinks from The Wine Shop, pizzas and sangria from guest restaurant Lola’s, and tunes by EJ the DJ, all in the market’s outdoor pavilion. Tickets are $40 for all food and adult beverages, or $25 for food only. You can snag them online or at the door Wednesday night.

Funds raised from this event will help fund youth-based culinary programs at Capitol Market, including an upcoming All Fired Up kids grilling competition from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 2.

On that day, eight teams led by 12- to 16-year-old “chefs” will have one hour and $100 to shop the farmers market for fresh ingredients. Then – using their finds, a pantry of common ingredients and a new grill – each team will have two hours to cook up a delicious meal while Chef Paul Smith emcees the event and helps guide the young chefs.

At the end of the contest, teams will present their creations to a panel of celebrity judges that includes … lucky me! We’ll be picking three winning dishes: Best Tasting, Best Use of Market Ingredients and Most Creative.

Kids and grills. What could go wrong?

I kid, I kid. It should be a really fun event and I hope to see you there!

• • •

The new Clendenin Brewing Co. officially opened its doors in grand style this past Saturday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony full of pomp and circumstance, including a number of dignitaries, a few hundred guests and a party that spilled out onto the town’s Main Street.

Clendenin Brewing Co. grand opening
Clendenin Brewing Co. grand opening

The celebration was especially moving since it took place almost exactly six years to the day after devastating floods ravaged the area in one of the state’s worst natural disasters on record.

Since then, the town has been slowly but steadily rebuilding, and there are signs of life all up and down the street leading to Matt and Nikki Holbert’s new brewery anchoring a corner by the Elk River.

Although the line for beer was out the door, I was able to sample three of Clendenin Brewing’s first creations, including one that may very well become its signature brew. The easy-drinking and perfectly balanced Clendenin Cream Ale (with that style’s characteristic creamy mouthfeel) is a treasure in a glass.

Clendenin Brewing Co. taproom
Clendenin Brewing Co. taproom

I also enjoyed the hoppy Mothgirl IPA and Amber Knights Red Ale, and can’t wait to go back to try a Belgian Tripel with a foreboding name. At 8.9% ABV, the Three Step Mister cautions you to take it easy – or you may not even make it three steps!

Whether customers will make the trek up from Charleston and surrounding areas to frequent the brewery’s casual taproom remains to be seen. But my money’s on it becoming a new hotspot for those who live there and others who visit to kayak the river just steps away.

And I bet their beers will be well received when they start distributing to bars and restaurants in the coming months.

  • IF YOU GO: Clendenin Brewing Co. at 2 Main St. in Clendenin, will be open from 4 to 9 p.m. Thursday, noon to 9 p.m. Friday-Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday. For more information, visit the brewery’s Facebook page.

• • •

And finally, reader comments are STILL trickling in regarding tracking down old restaurant recipes to serve and include in a nostalgic booklet as part of the upcoming Charleston High School All-Class Reunion this August.

My name is Georgia Tucker and I’m calling from Florida, but I used to live in West Virginia. I loved the Tip Top Drive-In BBQ and wondered if you had any idea about the recipe for that. It was right there where the Moose Lodge is now going into Charleston.”

Brew room at Clendenin Brewing Co.
Brew room at Clendenin Brewing Co.

Having been before my time, I did a little digging and found this brief history of the place on I really enjoyed looking through the old photos and articles but, alas, there were no recipes included.

“Just one more thing to add to that taste of nostalgia list for the Charleston High Reunion,” Fred Patton added. “I can’t believe nobody mentioned A&W Root Beer. Their hotdogs and hot bologna sandwiches should be added to their menu.”

Another reader who had previously sent in some of his favorites from that era also sent a PS adding a few more.

“Steven, lest we forget Sterling’s Chicken in the Rough and Bull in the Pen,” wrote Gary Borstein. “The Chicken in the Rough was sent to them as a packaged item from another company, but the Bull in the Pen was their own and was prime beef, their famous salad and French fries.”

• • •

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 or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or at

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