Two of West Virginia’s most popular resorts now offer “garden” restaurants serving up delicious food paired with gorgeous surroundings.
During a visit to Oglebay Resort in Wheeling last month I ate not once, but twice, at the property’s new-to-me Garden Bistro perched atop the resort’s grounds overlooking colorful terrace gardens and lush rolling hills.
Indoor seating is available, but seems criminal, with plenty of patio tables outside offering panoramic views. I opted for one of them, where I sipped a lovely mango mojito while glancing over a small menu of locally and regionally sourced lighter plates – many featuring ingredients grown in the resort’s own gardens.
Dishes feature free-range chicken and eggs, grass-fed beef and handcrafted breads, with vegetarian and gluten-free options, too.
I chose a delicious, creamy white gazpacho made with seedless cucumbers, white grapes, almonds and garlic drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil. That light lunch was so good that I went back the next day for dinner, where I debated the crab cakes or filet mignon with port wine steak butter before settling on delicious jumbo seared day boat scallops with fruit salsa and pea shoots.
I accompanied that with a side of grilled asparagus with Manchego dressing and what was supposed to be pancetta crisps, although they substituted bacon without divulging that swap.
Folks at the table next to me devoured gorgeous salads – a Thai Noodle Crunch with Bibb lettuce, shave cabbage, cucumbers, carrots, radish, cashews, rice noodles and chili-ginger dressing, the other a Strawberry & Dragon Fruit situation with garden greens, Marcona almonds, gorgonzola and mint vinaigrette.
There are also cheese and charcuterie boards; daily flatbreads; a burger with caramelized onions and fontina cheese; a grilled salmon sandwich with sprouts, wasabi-chive mayo and kimchi-style pickles on sourdough; and an everything bagel sandwich featuring a fried egg, thick-sliced bacon, Havarti cheese, heirloom tomatoes and greens.
Although I’ve had nice meals at Oglebay’s casual Glassworks Grille and its popular Ihlenfeld Dining Room in the past, the resort’s Garden Bistro is definitely my new favorite spot for really great food and ambiance.
Garden Bistro at Oglebay Resort in Wheeling is open from 4 to 9 p.m. Monday-Tuesday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday-Sunday. For more information, visit www.oglebay.com/garden-bistro.
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Now in its second summer season, The Greenbrier’s Creekside Gardens on the banks of Howard’s Creek is a picturesque backdrop for new farm-to-table dinners featuring fresh regional Appalachian ingredients.
Executive Chef Bryan Skelding and his culinary team craft menus full of locally sourced meats and fish accompanied by fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs from the garden. Guests sip cocktails creekside while the food is prepared, then sit down at a long farmhouse table under sparkling lights for a feast in magical natural surroundings.
Recent and upcoming menus have included treasures like potato-leek soup with Maryland crab and summer truffles, fresh greens with candied bacon and green goddess dressing, pickled beets and bourbon-roasted pears, sauteed rainbow trout with wilted greens and Virginia peanut Romesco sauce, smoked chicken with white barbecue sauce, chocolate molasses cake, lemon-buttermilk pound cake and berry cobbler with Chantilly cream.
For more information on upcoming dinners – including full menus – visit www.greenbrier.com/holidays-events/farm-to-table-dinner-series.aspx.
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It’s National Ice Cream Month – with this Sunday marking National Ice Cream Day – so the country of Lithuania (pretty random) thought The Food Guy might be interested in knowing about some of their more “peculiar” ice cream flavors.
The folks in Lithuania were very, very wrong.
While the country is known for nice exotic ice creams flavored with rose, saffron or clove, their efforts to get me excited about options spiked with mackerel, charcoal, stinging nettles or even crickets fell way flat.
Under no circumstances am I digging into a bowl of seaweed ice cream with lobster caramel crunch, hazelnut oil and black sturgeon roe. Or Lithuanian spit cake ice cream, although the sweet, soft and buttery description of the cake sounds better than its name.
Just for kicks, you can take a look at this interactive ice cream map showing the incredible variety of weird flavors found at restaurants and parlors across that country. But if it’s all the same with you, I’ll be sticking to Mint Chocolate Chip, Espresso Oreo and Brambleberry Crunch. Now THAT’S good eating.
Whatever your favorite flavor is, I hope you enjoy plenty of it this month!
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Finally, this is your last call to submit old Charleston restaurant recipes to include in the recipe booklet organizers are compiling for attendees at next month’s Charleston High School All-Class Reunion Aug. 6 at the Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center.
The gala’s dinner that evening will feature nostalgic foods like the Anchor’s Tomato Pie, Cagney’s Cajun Chicken Pasta and Shoney’s Strawberry Pie – all of which will be included in the booklet. We’ve also tracked down the Phillips Drive-In Long Bob Sandwich and Kourey’s Meatloaf.
If you have leads on any other classic Charleston recipes, send them my way by July 25. That’s the last day they can be submitted for possible inclusion!
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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.