• Steven Keith

Will The Barge restaurant make culinary waves once again?

Enquiring minds want to know if The Barge will once again make delicious waves on the local restaurant scene.

The Barge Restaurant will be auctioned off in January.
The Barge Restaurant will be auctioned off in January.

That unlikely scenario gained a little steam last week with the announcement that the floating vessel once home to a casual waterfront bar and grill – not to mention one of the region’s top fine-dining restaurants – will be auctioned off to the highest bidder at high noon on Thursday, Jan. 13.


The auction conducted by Joe. R. Pyle will take place where the abandoned barge is still docked at 1413 MacCorkle Ave. SW near the Patrick Street Bridge in Charleston.


Glazed pork belly from Bistro on The Barge
Glazed pork belly from Bistro on The Barge

For those who don’t know, The Barge closed it doors on New Year’ Eve in 2019 after an extended run as a mostly successful indoor-outdoor bar and grill and, during its later years, a separate swanky restaurant indoors on the second deck.


Known as Bistro on The Barge, the boat’s upstairs restaurant quickly gained a loyal following of discerning diners thanks to its elegant surroundings, pampering service and impressive menu of seafood, steaks, pastas and more.


Remember that sweet-and-spicy glazed pork belly, the seared tuna over wasabi cream, the butter-poached lobster tail atop a lemon-basil risotto cake with creamed leaks, that signature fried Brussels sprout Caesar salad, and the tangy goat cheese ice cream with tart berries and nutty crumbles?


I’m telling you, the food at Bistro on The Barge was so inventive and flawless that it had become, in my mind, Charleston’s best restaurant – rivaling the likes of Noah’s, Laury’s and the late South Hills Market for that title.


Seared tuna from Bistro on The Barge
Seared tuna from Bistro on The Barge

Right before it closed, there were even plans in the works to move the floating restaurant to a new permanent dock on downtown Charleston’s riverfront, a move I believe would’ve been a game-changer to help finally ignite the area’s much needed, but woefully lacking, riverfront dining scene.


That deal fell through at the last minute, leading to the restaurant’s ultimate closure, and rumors since then have run the gamut from it reopening in its current location under new ownership to it still moving downtown (but as an Indian restaurant, of all things) to it being in such disrepair that it may never see life again.


An assessment back in 2017 determined the vessel’s fair market value to be between $900,000 and $1.2 million, according to the auction website, but that was before it sat vacant for two years.


I have no idea what’s next for The Barge, but you can bet I’ll be following (and sharing) its next chapter.


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I’m a big fan of having breakfast for dinner, whipping up a batch of pancakes, sausage, eggs bacon and toast to end the day rather than start it.


But dessert for dinner?


That’s exactly what J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works is offering when Chef Ian Israelsen's brings this creative six-course menu to the Malden facility’s farm-to-table dinner series on Jan. 8:

  • Sage cream profiteroles with pear, prosciutto and salted caramel

  • Mexican chocolate soup with beets, cinnamon and almond

  • Duck liver mousse with lemon, spicy honeycomb and lavender

  • Apple roulade with chevre, endive and black pepper caramel vinaigrette

  • Affogato with Arabic espresso, vanilla and date

  • And something mysteriously listed as only “Jasmine after Midnight”

Tickets are $95, which includes the meal and non-alcoholic beverages. A cash bar offering beer, wine and spirits opens at 5:30 p.m., with dinner starting at 6 that night.


For more information or tickets, call 304-925-7918 or visit www.jqdsalt.com.


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After a two-year hiatus, the West Virginia Jewish Film Festival returns to Park Place Stadium Cinemas in downtown Charleston Jan. 16 with free screenings of three movies, including one that foodies will love.


The film “Breaking Bread” follows a cooking contest pairing Israeli Jews and Arabs competing to create the best dish in Haifa, Israel’s third-largest city behind Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. But while the film features a competition, its focus quickly shifts to one of bonding, showing how food can truly bring people together.


“The film is going to be luscious on the big screen,” said Fred Pollock, a festival organizer. “Haifa has one of the best food scenes in the world and this film is a food travelogue.”


“Breaking Bread” will be shown at 2:30 p.m. that day, after a screening of “Shared Legacies” at 1 p.m. and before “American Birthright” at 4 p.m.


You can watch the trailer for “Breaking Bread” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbxk3UhF34M.


But be prepared to drool, and maybe even tear up a bit. I know I did.



• • •


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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