Snowed In for Restaurant Week in CWV
By Danny Forinash
At first, I was bummed.
I hadn’t intended to spend the evening in Charleston, W.Va., but the winter storm known as Jonas shut down some highways and changed my plans.
So I decided to make the most of it, and hey, as a travel writer, I should be exploring new places, right?
So I found my way to the Charleston Marriott Town Center, where I’d be snowed in. And by the way, if you’re looking for top-notch accommodations, you’ll find them here. Great room, fantastic service, excellent menu. The downstairs bar is swanky and relaxed – the perfect place to wind down during a storm.
The streets were a little snowy, but I caught a cab to the beautiful Culture Center to catch “Mountain Stage.” You might have heard it on NPR. It’s a nationally-broadcast show featuring some of the world’s coolest artists. I was stoked to see two of my favorites – Guster and Robert Earl Keen. But it was also the first time I’d seen or heard the Westies, and I loved their bluesy, grungy, folksy sound.
“Mountain Stage” was a wonderful experience. You’re watching a live radio show and get to see both famous and up-and-coming performers. And last night was a special treat, because the show’s host, Larry Groce, unveiled a few new tunes from his own upcoming album.
My stay in CWV was off to an excellent start, and it was about to get even better. I learned from the concierge that Charleston’s Restaurant Week was about to begin. I decided to extend my stay.
So I wake up this morning to the sound of “Get Found” on the clock radio. This lively and buoyant tune, by chance, happens to be Charleston’s unofficial theme song. It’s by a cool local band called Qiet (pronounced with the “u.”) You can check it out here paired with Charleston's “hip, historic” video.
I hit the snooze bar, and I’m experiencing déjà vu for some reason. But I decide to explore. Charleston is thawing, and I’m excited to see what the city has to offer.
Across the street is Charleston’s urban mall, the Town Center. It’s an indoor mall with all the stores you’d expect to find, but it also manages to meld with the city’s street. I grabbed some coffee at Starbucks and began my search for breakfast.
Charleston’s a friendly place. I received some friendly hellos, including one from Rod Blackstone, who I later learned is deputy mayor, as well as Toast Man – he’s made a tradition of throwing toast during West Virginia Power baseball games.
“Good morning to you!” I nodded to him. Like I said – it’s a cheerful city.
I stepped in an icy puddle – there’s that déjà vu again – but soon found warmth just a couple blocks away in a chill, cozy store called Taylor Books. Heard how local book stores are dying? Well, you’ll find a great one here, and it’s alive with character and charm. It’s one of Charleston’s crown jewels, and it’s also where I found a second cup of coffee and a scone.
Capitol Street in downtown Charleston exudes that same charm. Along this bricked, modish, pedestrian friendly thoroughfare, you find local boutiques, restaurants and distinctive landmarks. (Take a few moments to find the famous Mortar Man, peaking out from atop a Victorian doorway along Capitol.)
I chose Adelphia for lunch. When you walk in, you think “first rate sports bar.” But it’s more than that. The menu features American classics but also some Mediterranean choices. One of Adelphia’s signature dishes is fried feta – and trust me, you’d don’t want to skip that appetizer.
Adelphia is one of nearly 20 spots on the Restaurant Week roster offering three courses for just $30. Which reminded me to make dinner reservations. Choosing was hard. I found an eclectic mix of menus at cwvrestaurantweek.com. I decided to try Ichiban Pan-Asian, just down the street.
Ichiban shares a corner with Bar 101, where I met Evan, a bartender whose hobby is inventing concoctions on the fly. He’ll even name it after you. I suggest choosing from Bar 101’s fine selections of bourbon, too, though.
After pre-gaming there, I stepped into Ichiban, which has elegant space situated just below the sushi station.
The Restaurant Week menu offered two choices per appetizer, entrée and dessert. I started with the Almost Heaven Maki, which melts in your mouth and truly approaches paradise. The main course was filet and daikon tower with shrimp skewer, roasted sprouts and teriyaki glaze. I was a little doubtful – it’s a sushi place, after all – but the chef proved me wrong. The dish was cooked perfectly. And I topped it off with a trio of Mochi ice cream balls.
Ichiban did not disappoint, and Charleston hadn’t either. I already was looking forward to staying another day in Charleston and checking out another Restaurant Week location.