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  • Writer's pictureSteven Keith

Wine Spectator has little love for West Virginia restaurants

With Wine Spectator just releasing its 40th annual list of the most wine-worthy restaurants across the world – a lineup recognizing nearly 3,000 restaurants in more than 70 countries – it’s time for my annual lament about the falling number of West Virginia spots they feature on said list.

The Wonder Bar Steakhouse in Clarksburg
The Wonder Bar Steakhouse in Clarksburg

We’ve actually hit a new low this year with only three Mountain State restaurants making the cut.

West Virginia had about that same number when I started writing about food and drink more than 20 years ago, but the total gradually crept up to more than a dozen as the state’s food scene got better and consumers started to become more interested (and in my case, obsessed) with enjoying nice wines to match the quality of a restaurant’s food offerings.

So this year’s list is disappointing, but absolutely no cause for alarm.

Bridge Road Bistro in Charleston
Bridge Road Bistro in Charleston

As I’ve said many times before, West Virginia’s culinary scene is better than ever with impressive wine lists gracing menus all across the state.

We’re not any “less than” now, it’s just that many restaurants have told me they no longer feel it’s worth jumping through the extensive hoops necessary to apply for Wine Spectator’s special designation.

Instead, they said, they’ll continue to rely on happy customers and positive reviews to let them know they’re doing alright. Hard to argue with that.

But for those who like an official seal of approval, here are the three West Virginia restaurants Wine Spectator says do the best jobs pairing the very best food and wines …

  • The Wonder Bar Steakhouse in Clarksburg, most notable for reasonably priced prized California wines to complement its impeccable steak and seafood dishes.

  • The Greenbrier’s Main Dining Room in White Sulphur Springs, lauded for its very large selection of wines from across the world paired with classic French and continental cuisine.

  • Bridge Road Bistro in Charleston, also recognized for offering well-priced California wines served with regional American specialties.

There are so many other top-notch wine lists around the state that I wouldn’t even know how to begin listing them all. So, Wine Spectator, I respectfully disagree on your assessment.

But nonetheless, cheers to these winners!

• • •

Thanks for all the love after last week’s column sharing my love for an awesome outdoor crab feast friends of mine hosted over the Fourth of July holiday.

I’m sometimes hesitant to share food-related adventures that aren’t based in local restaurants, worried that folks may have no interest in reading about a place they can’t go themselves.

Summersville reader J.D.'s crab dinner
Summersville reader J.D.'s crab dinner

But those experiences often receive more comments than reviews of the area’s new restaurants, so I’ll keep ’em coming. And although you can’t necessarily enjoy them at the same places I did (in this case, my neighbor’s backyard) you can certainly experience them on your own.

Case in point: A fan from Summersville sent in a note saying he enjoyed my article and that his family did the same thing, also ordering fresh crabs from Annapolis, MD, for a outdoor dinner. (He even sent a mouthwatering photo to prove it!)

Another reader from Charleston wrote: “I miss living in the Washington/Baltimore area. Where did you get the crabs from? General Seafood? Can I ask what you paid for a bushel or half bushel?”

I didn’t buy the crabs we enjoyed, so I’m not sure how much they cost. But I could tell him they are also available at General Steak & Seafood in downtown Charleston, because another reader said they did the same thing we did on July 4th with crabs purchased locally there. (I’m sure they have to be special ordered in advance, though, so definitely call ahead first.)

Sounds there were lots of crabby people celebrating Independence Day this year.

• • •

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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