• Steven Keith

Lola’s and a new café with ties to it both open; Noah's still a hit

Out of all the restaurants readers have been asking me about over the past month, one has received far more inquiries than all the rest. Combined.

Filet with Potatoes & Carrots from Noah's

“When in the world is Lola’s going to reopen,” many have been pressing. “Or (gulp) is it?”


Folks got a little worried when the popular South Hills pizza bistro didn’t reopen after outdoor dining halted by COVID was allowed to resume, and then stayed shuttered when indoor dining opened back up as well.


Many feared the worst, but those worries were unfounded. The restaurant just took advantage of the down time to do some maintenance, cleaning and remodeling – and reopened its doors on Tuesday.


To the cheers of adoring fans throughout the area, me included.


  • IF YOU GO: Lola’s, 1038 Bridge Rd. in South Hills, will be open from 4-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, noon to 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 304-343-5652, visit www.lolaswv.com or check out the restaurant’s Facebook page.

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Jerk Shrimp from Noah's

On a related note, a new healthy café run by the original creator and owner of Lola’s also opened this week downtown.


After previously selling her successful neighborhood restaurant on Bridge Road, Cary Charbonniez is getting back into the restaurant game with Coco’s Kitchen & Café located in the old Merrill Photo Supply storefront next to Ivor’s Trunk on Hale Street.


The new spot will offer a variety of fresh and healthy breakfast and lunch items, along with smoothies and grab-and-go items for customers on the run.


I did a drive by this week to check the place out and it looks awesome inside, with a dozen tables and a sofa area complemented by the original tile floor, colorful art lining the walls and new lighting suspended from an exposed black ceiling.


Add another spot to my growing restaurant hit list.


  • IF YOU GO: Coco’s Kitchen & Café, 233 Hale. St. in Charleston, will be open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday-Friday for dine-in, takeout or curbside pickup. For more information call, 304-343-6420 or visit the restaurant’s Facebook page.

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Zucchini Fritter from Noah's

To celebrate a special family occasion this past week, we enjoyed a long-overdue (and always fantastic) dinner at Noah’s Restaurant & Lounge, which also happened to be the last place I dined before all restaurants were closed at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.


It was the first time we took our three teenage boys to the swanky place on Summers Street downtown, but those junior foodies fit right in.


We kicked off the evening with shrimp skewers with marinated cucumber, crispy Thai-style calamari with stir-fried bok choy and sweet chili sauce, and zucchini fritters served in miniature cast iron skillets with mint yogurt, tomato jam and balsamic.


Molten Lava Cake from Noah's

We followed those jewels with seared scallops atop spinach pomme puree with roasted cauliflower, and a perfectly cooked filet with dauphinois potatoes, baby carrots and house Worcestershire.


The revelation of the night, though, may very well have been the swordfish, because it’s a fish that’s so hard for even accomplished chefs to get right. (It’s often a dry, chalky and lifeless piece of fish in less-capable hands.) This grilled swordfish was everything but bland, and the creative combination of black rice, stir-fried veggies and red onion-black bean vinaigrette dressing it was bright, surprising and mouthwatering.


We ended the night by “oohing and aahing” over our own individual molten lava cakes that were perfectly warm and gooey inside – because not a one of us was about to share a bite.


  • IF YOU GO: Noah’s Restaurant & Lounge, 129 Summers St. in Charleston, is open from 5-9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, with the lounge opening for drinks starting at 4 p.m. those days. For more information, call 304-343-6558, visit www.eatatnoahs.com or check out the restaurant’s Facebook page.


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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 wvfoodguy@aol.com.

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