The Market closes, wine wins and chefs throw down
Updated: Mar 24
Popular South Hills bistro closes, but delicious dinner galas ease the sting
News that The Market, formerly South Hills Market & Café, on Bridge Road suddenly closed its doors for good Saturday night was quite a blow to the local restaurant scene, sending waves of shock and awe throughout the Kanawha Valley that are still rippling days later.
“We have tried to continue business since the water crisis of 2014, but the inability to recoup losses suffered as a result of that tragedy and economic conditions in the Kanawha Valley since has left us with no other option but to close,” the restaurant said in a Facebook post Monday.
“We are very grateful to have been a part of the Charleston community for the past 12 years. We will dearly miss our customers, staff, vendors and friends.”
Once one of my top two or three restaurants in town, visits to The Market over the past year or so have been more hit-or-miss since chef/owner Rich Arbaugh started stepping away from the day-to-day operation to further his culinary studies, eventually moving to Florida last year.
Still, I know he and wife, Anne Arbaugh, put their hearts and souls into that place and it will be missed by many.
The restaurant business is grueling — and managing one from afar is even tougher — so I’m sure this was a gut-wrenching decision. While The Market’s closure is a loss for local diners, I wish Chef Rich the best in his culinary quest.
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Saturday night’s FeastivALL dinner, at Berry Hills Country Club, was another beverage-pairing battle for the ages, with wine edging out beer this year — and pushing ahead with five wins to beer’s three over the competition’s eight-year span.
Although I was a fan of a few of the wines served that night, I voted for beer in four of the five pairings.
I especially loved the nuttiness of Parkersburg Brewing’s Cell Block 304 Brown Ale paired with creamy butternut squash soup; New Belgium’s mildly effervescent Transatlantic Kriek sour matched with a winter pomegranate salad with tangy crumbled bleu cheese, almonds and pears with poppyseed dressing; and New Belgium’s citrusy Orange Honey Tripel with a chocolate mousse over hazelnut, caramel and cocoa cake, which reminded me of a slam-dunk dark chocolate/Grand Marnier pairing that can’t be beat.
Even though the crowd vote didn’t go my way, we enjoyed a spectacular evening with great food, drinks and friends in a lively atmosphere celebrating FestivALL and the city’s vibrant arts scene.
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From one awesome benefit dinner to another, the 10th annual Chef’s Challenge supporting Covenant House comes to the Clay Center from 6 to 8 p.m. March 3, bringing a tapas-style gourmet dining experience prepared by nearly two dozen local and regional chefs using food typically found in a food pantry.
Features editor Maria Young offers a full preview of the event in today’s paper, but I also managed to get a list of all 21 chefs who will be preparing food that night and a sneak peek at some of their dishes.
What, pray tell, might you taste this year?
Edgewood Country Club chef Dennis Harris is dishing up traditional gazpacho soup with optional chili-lime shrimp, and chef Jeremiah Bowen from Black Sheep Burrito and Brews will serve vegan vindaloo curry samosas.
Chef Jeni Burns from Ms. Groovy’s Kitchen will be making deviled eggs; chef Oscar Aguilar from Café Cimino Country Inn will be offering the inn’s signature meatballs; chef Blaire Campbell from The Pretty Penny Café in Hillsboro will load you up on jerk chicken with rice, peas, West Virginia slaw and pineapple jerk sauce; and Chef Heath Ax from Berry Hills Country Club will be making seared Ahi tuna tacos with pineapple slaw served with green goddess and spicy yum yum sauces.
And let’s not forget dessert, with baker MK O’Haver bringing an assortment of mouthwatering goodies like strawberry daiquiri shortcakes and bread pudding with pecans, brown sugar crumble and caramel moonshine sauce.
Others serving up elevated food pantry dishes at the event include Amanda Gartner from Bellaire at Devonshire, Betty Reed from Embassy Suites, Danielle Mallory from Starling’s Coffee & Provisions, Eli Urbanic from Café Cimino, Evan Wilson from Ichiban, Frank Gonzales from Mi Cocina de Amor and Gonzoburger, John Macklin from Mardi Gras Casino, John Wright from Bridge Road Bistro, Justin Steele from Bluegrass Kitchen, Kayla Young from Eggs Will Roll, Teri Blevins from Lil Bit of Heaven Cupcakes, Venu Menon from Mea Cuppa and personal chef Paul Smith.
This year’s guest emcee for the evening will be attorney Meshea Poore, a former member of the House of Delegates and current Vice President of the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at West Virginia University who has worked tirelessly on behalf of underrepresented people in our state.
The Chef’s Challenge dinner is Covenant House’s largest fundraiser of the year, providing critical support to help Kanawha Valley’s most vulnerable meet their basic needs of food, clothing and shelter.
To purchase tickets, call 304-344-8053 or visit www.wvcovenanthouse.org/chefs-challenge-2020.
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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.