No Clocks allowed…..
Madeline’s located across from the historic Warner Theater on High St. in beautiful Downtown Morgantown WV. When walking in you will be greeted with good smells, and a nice comfortable atmosphere, kind of a Seattle coffee shop meets French bistro feel to it. Usually with some sort of eclectic special on the board, for example, espresso chili rubbed prime rib with cheesy polenta and kale served southern stile. Sound interesting? Well we will talk about that later. When coming here, they do not allow clocks so leave your watches in the car, because nothing here is fast. If you are in a hurry, go somewhere else. Dinner here is an affair a big production so bring some notes on extra conversation topics because you will have time to discuss them all.
First, it was cold in there, I am a rather big fellow and I thought you could hang meat and it would keep for weeks. Nevertheless, I kept my sweater on and we pushed forward with the meal. The menu is full of things that sound delicious with tapas from every food genera Asian to Caribbean, French, and southwestern. The entrees are mainly French, with Italian influences, with modern American mixed in for flair. We sat down and made our drink order. Well that took about ten minutes to fill; they left and came back ten minutes later to take our appetizer order. We went with the Jerk chicken with the tie peanut sauce, and the chicken taquitos. They also offered crab wontons, mussels in white wine, and black bean quesadillas. I have had these before and they are all really well done.
Around ten or fifteen minutes went by and our waitress presented us with a bread bowl full of different breads; a roasted onion loaf, poppy seed bread and a multigrain that I thought was delightful. With olive tapanade and compound butter served on the side. Then we made our entree order. I went with the special as described earlier an espresso chili rubbed prime rib with cheesy polenta and kale served southern stile. My dining partner Brooke went with the mussels in white wine served over linguine.
A few minutes later, we received out appetizer order. The Jerk chicken, served luke warm and the tie peanut sauce was cold. The chicken almost dried out but just almost. The flavors were there though, It was delicious the spicy jerk smoothed out by the peanut sauce then hit you again with the chili burn finish, it was a flavor explosion. Running your taste buds through an emotional gambit, the flavor version of watching Meet Joe Black. It was good but if it was hot it would have been awesome a symphony of flavors but instead it was just a good garage band. The taquitos were just right, warm with homemade salsa, and sour cream beautifully presented, tasty, crisp, and an all around good bite of food.
The entrees served while eating the appetizers… they finally brought out the food in a timely manner and they had to serve it on top of the other food they just brought out. The Mussels were served over linguine that was cooked perfectly beautifully presented, not over sauced, this was a good-looking plate of food. Brooke let me have a bite or three and I was impressed the Mussels, cooked well not rubbery at all and the pasta, served al dente, the sauce was just missing something though…. I know…. It was not; hot it was just luke warm…again a potentially good plate of food reduced to mediocrity because of the service. My meal was served so sloppily that I was taken aback. Just a huge chunk of meat served with a GIANT serving of polenta, and some Kale on the side. So much food you couldn’t see the plate. It liked like a magic tick the food just hovering there above the table. Appearances can be deceiving because my prime rib was cooked beautifully, a nice medium rare basted in their wonderful espresso chili sauce it tasted great, the polenta was so cheesy and smooth, it felt like silk on my tongue. In addition, the kale was awesome, slowly simmered with bacon and onions, and vinegar it reminded me of the collared greens my nanny made when I grew up in South Carolina. The whole plate of food reminded me of a good summertime barbeque, except made from arguably better ingredients. Prime rib instead of brisket, polenta instead of macaroni and cheese, and Kale instead of collared greens. I was almost a happy camper. However, sadly this dish was also served too cold. It seemed the theme for this whole meal was a poor service, which undeniably ruined the food. Things just sat out too long before they were served. You could tell that a lot of care went into preparing the dishes making sure all the flavors were there. Nevertheless, the service was just lacking. It was inexcusable; there were two waitresses there to cover six tables. At one point we went without water for so long, that my mouth felt like sand was poured in it.
At the end of our entrée when our waitress was pushing us to leave, Brooke wisely inquired about desert. The waitress for the first time had a glimmer of excitement in her eye, as she announced their special desert for the evening a Bananas Foster bread pudding. Some people do not know what bread pudding is. Well it is the second best thing on the planet. Crispy on the outside gooey in the middle, always full of flavor; this dish is a Chefs desert, something to end the meal right, sweet and savory, just fantastic. The best desert in my opinion and something I will always order when it is available is bananas foster. Bananas and brown sugar sautéed in butter then flambéed with rum it caramelizes the bananas and it is usually served over ice cream. Combine these two things and you have a perfect end to a meal. Needless to say, we chose this desert option to share. It came out piping hot it was ouhhhey and gooey and delicious served with premium vanilla ice cream caramelized bananas, and tons of the syrup it is an awesome sight to behold. I definitely recommend trying it. This by the way was the only thing we had that was served hot and it was definitely the best thing we had.
This is a good restaurant because when they are on their game the food is really well executed. It is always slow but sometimes everything comes together and you will be raving about the food. The place is comfortable the food is potentially awesome, but at least always good, but the service “put in a nice way “ could use some improvement. I will be back I did enjoy it. My one recommendation, call ahead to see if they have the Bananas Foster Bread Pudding available if they say yes run there if they say no walk but still give it a try. Just don’t be on a time schedule and enjoy yourself.
Monday, February 1, 2010
Yes, there is a Cheers in Saberton WV.
A bold statement I know, but I am still going to lay it out there. The hardest thing to do is find the place, it is in the back corner of nobody knows how to find its ville. Actually coming off of interstate 68 heading into Saberton take the first right before Sheetz, then take the immediate right and it is 100 yards up on your left hand side. However, I bet you didn’t know there was even a road there.
Once you find the place, you will never forget how to get there. Twenty-one and up only please (yes they do have slot machines). Come for the cheep cold beer stay because you make friends and come back for the food again and again..
The atmosphere of the place has a good feel to it. It is a well kept up dive bar. With lots of rich dark woods on the floors and tables and, a good bar to sit at and B.S. at, you don’t mind getting comfortable and staying for a while. TVs everywhere, and yes they will show Football and NASCAR at the same time. They even have trivia and guitar hero if you run out of stuff to talk about. The only issue with the place I had was that occasionally because it is small It can get smoky in there when a lot of people light up at once. But it is a bar and if you are one of those people that complain about stuff like that, you probably wouldn’t enjoy this place anyway because you might over hear someone having a good time too. You don’t come her for afternoon tea wit the Queen. You go here to blow off steam after work and cuss about your day.
The Staff is awesome after you come her once or twice they start to recognize you and remember what you drink and just bring it over with out even asking…. Does anything make you feel better than that? Makes you feel welcome and that people are happy that you are there. Love it. A few of the main characters are Kay (hope that’s how you spell it) and Angela. Kay is the front of the house lady. This Woman is very cool. Talks to everybody, makes you feel like family, thanks you for being there and appreciates your business. If you want it, she will make sure you get it. Angela is the Chef de Cuisine and with a remodeled kitchen, she puts out some killer specials that we will talk about in a minute. The barmaids Brittany and A.J are fun and talented too, some might even call them attractive, and those who didn’t would be wrong.
The Food, The food here is good but some of it is really good. Get the Specials. They have specials here that are made fresh daily, not specials to get rid of old junk. Moreover, there are different ones every day. Some of my favorites are on Mondays Spaghetti and Meatballs… Yes, I know what you are thinking Really Zach, Spaghetti and meatballs at a dive bar… Yes, I know what I am talking about. The meatballs are made from scratch not from a bag, and they are fantastic. On Mondays, I imagine Angela looking like an Old Italian grandmother with a housedress, pink slippers, and too much Jewelry on hunched over a cauldron sized pot listening to old Dean Martin records stirring away for hours. It is good try it.
Tuesdays.. Probably the best day to go to this place is on a Tuesday. For the lunch, special Angela whips up homemade meatloaf and gravy with mashed potatoes. This is a meaty, hearty, meat loaf not a whole lot of peppers and onions in it just enough to impart flavor but not enough to take away from the main attraction., The Meat. Tuesday is also Taco Tuesday. WHOO HOO I know right tacos, who cares, if you wanted tacos you could just go to taco bell right.. If you are saying this then shut up and listen buster. In either pulled Beef or Pork, soft or hard, These are the best tacos in or around town slow roasted meats Beef Brisket and Pork Shoulder cooked for hours with and then pulled by hand massaging out all of the potential flavors with all the love and care of someone who enjoys what they do. Served on a grilled or deep fried tortilla depending if you want hard or soft put your own toppings on it over at the toppings bar and there you have it. How much would you expect to pay for a taco like this? $4 or $5…. Well you would be wrong you can buy them for $.75 or a buck fifty for two. They are not small either. Definitely worth a try, you will find yourself looking forward to Tuesdays.
They also do a really good Fish Fry on Friday a 9oz Pollack filet (Gordon Ramsey’s choice fish for fish and chips) Deep-fried to a golden brown served with fresh cut fries. It is good and lent is just around the corner.
The burgers are good. Half-pound burgers cooked to medium well served on a toasted bun. Have it your way, or their way, but either way it is a good choice every time. Best about them… they are available every day.
They have a couple of good appetizers. You have to try the potato skins; real potatoes, real cheese and real bacon combine to make an exquisite cheesy, bacony, velvety smooth taste, that rolls across your tongue like the winds across the plains of Africa The whole family would enjoy them but you have to be 21 to get in. A must have is the nachos. They make there own chips. Ill type that once more. They make there own chips. They deep-fry the tortillas for each order of nachos, the chips are good plain, and these are garbage nachos, piled so high they should be served in a bucket not on a plate. A must try, but not a must try on a first date. These are so good I almost bit off my own finger trying to shove them in my mouth so fast.
They have salads and they are huge, they use good romaine lettuce and fresh vegetables to put together some bright vibrant looking good tasting salads, I didn’t order one, I’ve tasted someone else’s though. I did mention they had good hamburgers.
Soups…. Angela is a Soup Guru, Beef vegetable, broccoli cheddar, Creamy tomato, chicken this, and bisque that. Whatever is on special is fresh and is definitely good. She even makes a Cheeseburger Soup. I know what you are thinking that sounds stupid, and until I tried it, I too was an ignorant fool. This creamy concoction is like eating a warm hug from a long lost friend, I have never met anyone who did not like it. If you don’t like it, I think they perform exorcisms on the third Thursday of every month at the church downtown. I’ve asked how she makes it but she said, “no I wont tell you” so I didn’t ask anymore I just asked for another bowl.
They have other food that is good but it is your standard bar food done pretty well, the wings are good; they have some creative sauces like Cajun Honey Jalapeño, and Medium Parmesan. Good cheese sticks they use real cheese, not plastic. They also have your typical bar sandwiches Philly steak etcetera….
Get the specials though, they are always good and it is always enough to satisfy. Come in and stay for a while you will enjoy yourself I know I did.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Colasante's Ristorante and Pub on Fairmont Ave in Westover WV…. Serving pizza pasta sandwiches salads and more, in a light homey atmosphere.
First this place has been around forever… and I mean forever. I think the last time this place had an update people were talking about who shot JR Ewing on Dallas. The “lounge” upstairs is dated with wood paneling all over, and it is a Mini Casino or “hot spot” so only over 21 year old people are supposed to be there. It smells like smoke so bad that it permeates your clothing before you are half way up the stairs. Unfortunately this is really the only place that can easily accommodate a larger group of people. Downstairs is non-smoking, more of a family place from 1983. The whole place reminds me of pizzerias from my childhood. Like the first Pizza Huts, when people actually went to Pizza Hut sat down and ordered a pizza and a pitcher of Coke. It is really quite nostalgic and charming, there aren’t many places like this left.
The service there is hit or miss. This last time was a miss, like bottom of the ninth 2 outs bases loaded 7th game of the World Series… swing and a miss. I have had better luck getting a three-toed sloth to move faster and get silverware to me. I had my food for 5 minutes before she brought out a fork, and looked at me like I was rude for asking. I think she wanted me to use the Force to cut up my sausage and peppers. The girl wasn’t really happy we were there to eat; it can be such a bother to have customers sometimes I guess. Touch screen games can be so much more fun.
That said I have been there before where the service was so good that I couldn’t believe that I was at a pizza joint. Intuitive waitresses that knew what we wanted before I had even thought of it. “Sweetheart you look like you wanted some extra marinara for your crust”, and she was right. I love people like that that like their job and like being good at it. Making you feel at home, taking care of you like an Old Italian Grandma, if you tell her you want more she brings out a whole other plate. If you say you don’t want any more you just get another smaller plate… “It’s ok baby you are a growing boy” I’m 31 and already fat enough but I still like being treated like that.
This place does a few things really well, and then they do a few other things to fill up the menu.
The appetizers are mainly a bunch of junk fried food like stuffed mushrooms from a freezer bag made by somebody that was allergic to mushrooms. Mozzarella sticks are available, but I am pretty sure that there was no actual mozzarella harmed in the making of them, again from the infamous freezer section of Sam’s club. The stuffed peppers are hit or miss, sometimes they cook off the peppers before they stuff them like you are supposed to sometimes they don’t, either way they are hot. The sausage is good but spicy, so there powers combined this app is as hot as the seventh level of Dante’s hell, so if you have an ulcer skip this or you might bleed to death.
The wings in medium sauce are wonderful…. It is delicious, good spice with a touch of tanginess and finishes with a hint of sweetness from the vinegar they use in it. It is so good that if you are not a properly trained wing eater, one of those amateur people that use two hands, you will get the sauce all over you, but your brain wont let you wipe off until you have finished the plate.
Get the Pizza Blanco or the Garlic Dippers. Both are superb. I crave these appetizers. I dip the garlic dippers in the medium wing sauce, one word Devine. Both are a personal size pizza with an oil base. The garlic dippers have been cut into strips and covered in garlic cloves and cheese. The Pizza Blanco is like a tomato salad on a pizza basil tomato and mozzarella…. These are good things basic and wonderful.
The salads are good, fresh vegetables. Lots of cheese and some have fries. These are big salads and are delicious I recommend the house red wine vinaigrette. Just add some sugar to the dressing, I find it to be a bit sour without it. The ranch is really good as well. Ahhhh ranch the universal sauce of WV, people put it on everything and theirs is pretty good. DO NOT order the Italian dressing it comes from a tub… Not a bottle a tub it is that thick yellow dressing that could be mistaken for Buffalo snot. Overall the salads are pretty good, and they go well with the main reason to come here, the Pizza
The pizza crust here is so good and the sauce is so tangy,,, I crave it so bad my inner being yearns for it, and no lesser pizza can take its place. It has a flavor that isn’t available anywhere else. They have specialty pizzas including a taco pizza that is pretty good and should be tried at least once. They have good Italian sausage that is a bit spicy, the same as in the stuffed peppers, but it is good. And they will put meatballs on it. Who doesn’t want meatballs on a pizza? Bad people that’s who. If you come here and don’t get a pizza you missed out on the entire reason for this places existence.
The pasta. Some of it is good and some of it is cafeteria food, lets break it down. Lasagna, it is traditional Grandma Italian simple meat cheese noodle, repeat then repeat again cover in sauce more cheese on top serve piping hot, eat enjoy. It is recommended. The Chicken Parmesan looks to have been deep fried out of a freezer bag, thrown on a plate, melt some mozzarella, with some reheated noodles, and slop some sauce on it, served with a piece of bread. Skip this or you wont eat here ever again. The meat sauce is pretty good but I think it is a bit sweet. I am a bit of a sauce whore and compare everything to my Aunt Cindy’s sauce, a benchmark that sets the bar high.
Try the gnocchi and the tortellini, but order both of them with the tortellini sauce. Because it is a wonderful cream sauce with a blend of Italian herbs and garlic that come together in a symphony of flavor that make your taste buds hear the music of the Vienna Boys Quire at Christmas, just wonderful.
If the tortellini sauce is like a boys quire then when you see the calzone you ordered come out, and you did order one because if you didn’t then you might as well have helped the terrorists come to America…. Yes it would have been that big of a mistake... Back to boys quire… The calzone would be like a 5000 person Southern Baptist Church Revival singing Oh Happy Day, and performing faith healings. This thing is HUGE. So big you should have to pay personal property tax on it. “How much does snow removal cost on your calzone.” But I digress. Stuffed with everything imaginable under the sun, these things are not to be missed. There is one named after Nick, I don’t know who this man is but his calzone is so good stuffed with different meats, cheeses, and peppers that you probably have to make an appointment years in advance just to shake his hand. The insides are warm and full of goodness, and the bread has a beautiful crust and a soft velvety layer that holds all of that goodness like a baby in swaddling clothes.
There are too few places like this left, family restaurants that support and are supported by the local community. They aren’t trying to make a fortune off of you the prices are very reasonable. You can feed 4 people for less that $10 a person. Everything now trends to the generic restaurant like Chilies, Cheddars, or Applebee’s. If you were blind could you really tell the difference by taste alone? So with all of its quirks this is a Pizzeria worth going to, Brings you back to a better time when family’s sat around and shared a slice, took a minute and talked to their kids about little league or soccer practice, just enjoying each others company. Besides all of that, they have damn good pizza.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
This past Wednesday we were invited to the trial opening and staff training of Tailpipes; the new Burger restaurant on High St. next to Daniels. We rounded up the troops and invaded the place about twelve opinions deep.
First the atmosphere. It's nice in there, set up like a 60s diner inside, it has comfortable booths and tables. The lights and fixtures all look like auto parts, a nice touch, everything is red, black, white, and chrome. it sounds harsh but it works the lighting is soft and it is comfortable. It feels like a burger joint inside.
The joy of the walk up counter..... I love the half fast food half sit down restaurant. You get the instant gratification of knowing your order is placed and having your drink, While knowing that you are going to be waited on in the near future. The staff is nice here, you place your order an the girls behind your counter ring you up and prepare your milkshake....we will get to that in a moment.... and bring out your food when it is ready....they clean up your mess too.
The Menu.... The Mad Scientist Burger Restaurant.
This place is very cool, but man, there are a lot of options, the first time for me I was a bit overwhelmed. They have about a dozen burgers planned out already. Named after mussel cars these are some Bad Ass burgers. Moist and delicious whatever meat you choose they do take some time to come out "an extra minute or two" but they are from fresh, not frozen, meat and they are in some complicated combinations.
A few examples from memory
The Barracuda..... caramelized onions, pineapple, jalapeno BACON, mozzarella, with a teriyaki sauce glaze, on a sesame seed roll...... this is a true food porn burger this is the first one I ordered and yes I had more than one that night.
The Shelby Cobra.... An AWESOME combo on a great roll. This is good stuff here. Burger, spinach, roasted red peppers, and goat cheese with a cranberry....yes cranberry glaze. on a delicious whole grain bun. I chose to have this one made with buffalo.... yes that is an option... I should have picked turkey... yes that is an option too. With the cranberry glaze it would have been like a Thanksgiving burger.... But the buffalo is a good choice it was moist, tender and delicious....
I tasted a lot of the other burgers too and they were good, but I couldn’t eat everything there was too much to try including the sides.
The choices can be daunting. pick a gourmet creation or build your own, with what looks like to be 100,000 flavor combination starting with what kind of meat. Beef, Turkey, Buffalo, Chicken breast, or for those whiny vegetarians Portabella Mushroom Caps. Then chose from 5 types of bun including lettuce. Then what seems like an infinite amount of toppings including fried green tomatoes. The choices can be daunting but I don't think you will be disappointed no matter what you get. I guarantee you will already be looking ahead for what you will get next time you go.
The burgers are great but I would go back for the sides alone.
Onion Rings....... The myth about onion rings are that they come from a bag that was processed in some old world country like Romania.. frozen and freezer burnt, then shipped by oxcart across old Europe then delivered to the grocery store to sit in the freezer for 7 to 9 years waiting for a pregnant woman to have a craving for them.
This is not the case here. These onion rings were invited by Dr. Frankenstein. Infused with what I think was crack cocaine for addictive properties only. These cut fresh daily, tempura style battered rings are.... Phenomenally Delicious. But wait there is more. they give you a special sauce to dip them in it. They call it a fry sauce.... It is like a supped up chipotle ranch, but that doesn't so it Justice, like saying a Ford fiesta and a Rolls Royce are the same because they both get you from point A to point B. It is so good that I would put vodka in it and take shots at the bar. If it was good for my skin you could find me on Sunday nights laying in a bathtub full of it letting my stress flow away in the bliss of its peppery goodness...... Verdict.... try the onion rings.
The fries.... what kind ... that is the question regular, sweet potato, or zucchini...... Yep, options again, just like ordering a real mussel car there are options available.
The zucchini fries are really good. fresh and crisp they taste like the fried zucchini that my Aunt makes me when i go visit.... also they go well wit the fry sauce. as I am sure anything would including old used tire.
Sweet Potato fries. probably the greatest invention of the late 20th century they are doing them well here. Worth giving a try if you never have. But they go best with the MAPLE BACON MILKSHAKE..... how is that for a segway.
The milkshakes.... hand dipped and crafted with more care than Michelangelo took painting he Sistine Chapel. These milkshakes are goodness incarnate. They have the standards... for those of you with no adventure in your heart.... and they have some that are creative, there is one that tastes like an orange dream sickle... they do seasonal shakes as well. But one in particular makes your brain itch....causing you to wonder if someone in the back was having either a Dahlia Lama experience, or a life crises... well whatever happened.. the planets must have been aligned because it works.... World let me tell you about the MAPLE BACON MILKSHAKE. Thank you oh lord for the small favors in life. There are not so many things in life that can give you this particular feeling of well being. The face of a child on Christmas morning, The moment you had your first kiss, the first time your Dad told you he was proud of you. and this milkshake. It is hard for me to describe how this tasted besides what i said right after i tasted it. "You have got to be F%#&I@G kidding me".... and then something strange happened. I was overwhelmed with all of the flavor profiles coming at me at once... I thought about eating Wendy’s frosties with French fries... and I decided to do something bold. I took my sweet potato fries and dipped them into my shake..... as the first morsel of food touched my taste buds.... I felt the world around me slow down. colors were brighter, sounds were crisper, I had a warm felling wash across my soul... I snapped back and I realized that I had just experienced in that one moment... true bliss. Food Nirvana if you will.
We had a good time there sampling each others food, laughing and carrying on for a while, I was almost sorry when it was time to leave even thought I was stuffed like a fat girl in a bebe sweat suit.
Friends what can I say besides that. I recommend this place the food is good, the people are nice, and it is a comfortable place to be.
So why start a blog about a bunch of guys that eat a lot, drink to much and are to picky about their food? Because it is a good time that's why. Imagine if you will a core group with occasional guests that have discerning pallets, and opinions about service and atmosphere. Almost all of us are or have been in the bar and nightclub business. We come together at least once a week and try out new places or revisit old favorites. We have been to most if not all of the restaurants in and around the Morgantown WV area, and we travel to Pittsburgh occasionally. So in an effort to offer a "professional amateur" opinion telling you about the good, and the bad in every restaurant we visit. We set out with this venture to enhance the public understanding about the myriad of options available. The chain restaurant isn't always the best choice even though it might be the easiest.