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  • Writer's pictureSteven Keith

Get a load of these lovely local lamb dishes

Plus, you can catch the James Beard Awards at a watch party (with music, food and drinks!) at Charleston's Capitol Market on June 5!

Grilled lamb loin chops from Kita Modern Japanese
Grilled lamb loin chops from Kita Modern Japanese

After I took reader Gary Borstein up on his challenge to try Dancing Dog Ice Cream Cafe’s delicious chicken salad sandwich, he reached back out to throw down another gauntlet.

But this time, I was ready.

“Steven, thank you for taking me up on that chicken salad sandwich at Dancing Dog,” he wrote. “In my quest to find the best foods in the extended valley, I wonder if you have experienced the lollipop lamb chops at The Chop House at the mall. They are more than worth your time.”

Lollipop Lamb Chops from The Chop House
Lollipop Lamb Chops from The Chop House

Oh, have I ever experienced them. And what an experience they are!

Served as an appetizer, these perfectly chargrilled chops are cooked to glistening perfection and drizzled with mint salsa verde on a fresh watercress salad.

In addition to getting my mouth watering, that also got me thinking about a few other lovely local lamb dishes Gary may want to try as well.

Kita Modern Japanese at Southridge dazzles with gorgeous lamb loin chops seasoned and grilled over Binchotan, a white charcoal often used in Japanese cooking. Bricks & Barrels downtown next to Go Mart Ballpark offers an entree featuring a half rack of Australian lamb encrusted with fresh garlic and herbs, then garnished with a rosemary demi-glacé.

And The Lookout Bar & Grill high atop Eagle View across the river from Kanawha City has a similar — and similarly tasty — grilled lamb chop dish as The Chop House’s, which is also served with a tangy and bright mint salsa verde.

James Beard Watch Party at Capitol Market

Total brag alert, but Yours Truly has scored a coveted ticket to the prestigious James Beard Awards Gala on June 5 in Chicago, where Charleston’s own Paul Smith is one of only five finalists for the foundation’s “Best Chef - Southeast” award.

Grilled lamb chops from Bricks & Barrels
Grilled lamb chops from Bricks & Barrels

Much like the Academy Awards is to movies, the James Beard competition is the Oscars of the culinary world, complete with red carpet arrivals, paparazzi and an after-party for the ages.

And also like the Academy Awards, it truly is an honor just to be nominated. After all, the region Chef Paul represents includes such heavy-hitter food cities as Nashville, Atlanta, Charlotte, Lexington and that other Charleston down South.

And, my friends, West Virginia has never had a finalist before.

I’ll be there at the Lyric Theatre in Chicago as Chef Paul goes up against the big guns and will be posting all the action on my socials during the event. But for those who can’t be there, the 1010 Bridge Restaurant he co-owns with Aaron and Marie Clark is hosting a celebratory James Beard Awards Watch Party from 6-9 p.m. that same night at Capitol Market.

Dubbed “Mr. Smith Goes to Chicago,” the event on June 5 will provide guests an opportunity to watch the awards ceremony on big screens while hearing tunes from DJ EJ, sipping wine and beer from The Wine Shop, and nibbling on heavy hors d’oeuvres from Tastefully Dun Catering. (The owners of 1010 are closing their restaurant that night and having the watch party catered so their employees can join in the celebration.)

Tickets are $90 and may be purchased at Proceeds from the event will be shared between Capitol Market and the American Red Cross.

It’ll be a guaranteed good time – in Chicago AND Charleston!

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

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