Columns by John

John Brown has been a wine and food columnist in West Virginia since the 1980’s. His regular columns appear in the Charleston (WV) Gazette-Mail under the title Vines & Vittles and in The State Journal - a statewide business weekly

WV restaurants wine Wine Spectator awards

We all have our favorite restaurants around the state and even beyond the borders of this land of “purple mountain majesty.”  Good food should be accompanied by good wine and those eateries that understand this rudimentary principle should be recognized.  It’s one thing for this back-water wino to say nice things about a grubbery, but when a prestigious international magazine does…well that, to use the local vernacular, is “spay-chull.”

Therefore, wine lovers and foodies in our state should know that the annual Wine Spectator restaurant awards were just announced and the Mountain State has 13 establishments that received honors.  

According to the magazine, “Wine Spectator’s restaurant wine list awards program recognizes restaurants whose wine lists offer interesting selections, are appropriate to the cuisine and appeal to a wide range of wine lovers.  To qualify for an award, the list must present complete, accurate wine information. It must include vintages and appellations for all selections, including wines by the glass…”

The three categories of awards are:  “Awards of Excellence”; “Best of Awards of Excellence”; and the “Grand Award. “  Nearly 3000 restaurants across world have received the “Award of Excellence,” including eleven restaurants in WV.  Two WV restaurants, the Bavarian Inn and the Greenbrier’s Main Dining Room, received “Best of Awards of Excellence” and that’s quite an honor since only 800 restaurants achieved that distinction.   Only 72 restaurants around the world received the highest honor and none were in West By-god  -- yet.

The state restaurants receiving “Awards of Excellence are:  Bridge Road Bistro, Charleston; The Chop House, Charleston; Ember,  Snowshoe Mountain Resort ; The Glasshouse Grille, Morgantown; La Bonne Vie, Chester (at Mountaineer Racetrack); Provence Market Café, Bridgeport;  Sam Snead’s, While Sulpher  Springs (The Greenbrier); Sargasso, Morgantown;  Savannah's, Huntington; Soho’s, Charleston; and Spats, Parkersburg (in the Blennerhassett Hotel).

I think we should all support these restaurants and encourage others within our grazing range to strive for this honor.  I know there are many fine restaurants that are very close to achieving this award and many others that could add a few selections to their existing list and get within striking range.

Another Charleston restaurant that deserves credit for not only presenting delicious cuisine, but for taking their wine lists seriously is the South Hills Market and Café.  

The South Hills Market and Café, owned by Richard and Anne Arbaugh, features a superb and eclectic menu of continental, low-country and new American delicacies in a visually stunning presentation. The food tastes good too! Actually, Richard is quite an accomplished chef with tours of duty at The Homestead as well as the Bridge Road Bistro. 

The wine list is very well constructed with an array of international wines that are reasonably priced.  The restaurant has added a “happy hour” from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday along with a new appetizer menu. You’ll need to call for dinner reservations (305-345-2585).

Wine Recommendation: 

2007 Vu Ja De Syrah ($18);  A dyslectic take on dejavu, this wine with a WV connection and Napa Valley lineage, is a wonderful mouthful of blueberries, chocolate and coffee.  The guys that run this operation have planted grapes in Roane County and are using their Napa Valley connections to bring us wine until their vineyards are mature enough to produce WV fruit. In the meantime, ask for this wine or try their cabernet ($16).  It is also a nice wine at a reasonable price. 

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