It’s funny how things work out.
After writing about how much I was going to miss this year’s in-person FeastivALL food and drink extravaganza at Berry Hills Country Club, my wife was like, “Hey, we never did cash in on the free dinner at Berry Hills we won during the silent auction at last year’s event.”
She then dug out the certificate only to discover it had already expired. We just never got around to using it due to COVID-19. Bad on us.
But she made a quick call to Berry Hills, who said they’d be delighted to still honor the certificate and host us for dinner. Good on them!
So the fam and I all donned our Sunday best and headed out Davis Creek way for a lovely evening of conversation and really delicious food Saturday night.
The evening’s culinary hits included a nice eggplant and roasted tomato salad with farro, chickpeas, pine nuts, fresh basil and sherry vinegar; a delicious skin-on striped bass with charred lemon over couscous; and a phenomenal lamb shank basted with a mint-rosemary demiglace served with creamy, earthy mushroom risotto.
But the top highlights for me were a silky cashew and cherry creme brûlée and — hand to God — the absolute best baba ganoush I’ve ever had. In my life. Anywhere.
Berry Hills’ offering of this traditional Lebanese dish featuring cooked eggplant pureed with olive oil, lemon juice and spices had the most incredible smoky flavor that just lit up my taste buds. It was so amazing that we got an extra order to go, which — hand to God — I ate for breakfast the next morning, spreading it on pita bread like jam on toast.
I still can’t stop thinking about that baba ganoush, and may just have to join the country club now so I can inhale it on the regular.
While the restaurant at Berry Hills is for members only, the club does occasionally open it to the public when hosting community events. If you ever get the chance to go, you have to try that baba ganoush.
And you have to take me. Please!
Speaking of FeastivALL, I told you last week that this year’s event will be a two-day takeout affair with 1010 Bridge in South Hills offering “FeastivALL To-Go” meals from the restaurant on March 15-16 that will include a three-course gourmet takeout meal packaged with a can of beer and a half-bottle of wine to pair with the main course.
There will also be beer and wine pairing selections offered for the salad and dessert courses, plus participants will receive three handmade items from FestivALL Art Fair artisans (a wooden serving board, a pottery ramekin and an original painting on a mini canvas) along with a link to a video featuring “Wine Boy” John Brown and “Beer Guy” Rich Ireland discussing the pairings they’ve chosen to accompany your meal.
Now, how good does all of that sound? Well, I’m going to tell you.
I was invited to a special preview tasting of this year’s FeastivALL food and drink pairings at 1010 Bridge yesterday and have all the mouthwatering dishes (with descriptions and photos!) posted on my WV Food Guy Facebook page today.
Tickets for “FeastivALL To-Go” are $125 per person, or $150 with delivery included. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.feast ivallcharleston.com.
And finally, speaking of 1010 Bridge, rave reviews continue to pour in for the restaurant that opened in the old South Hills Market location on Bridge Road last summer. I’ve told anyone who will listen that I can’t recall ever seeing a new restaurant open with such universal praise.
Usually when a new place opens its doors, some people love it and others not so much, or maybe people want to like it but there are still lots of bugs to work out when it comes to food or service.
Doesn’t seem to be the case here, though. No restaurant is perfect all the time, but reviews like this one still fill my inbox more than six months later.
“Hey Food Guy! I just wanted to let you know after your glowing review of 1010, my husband and I made reservations and BOY were you right on point,” a reader named Katie told me. “The staff was WONDERFUL, the owners came by a few times to get feedback and were super nice and sweet, plus it was the best service I have had in a long time.”
She reported that the fried green tomato appetizer was tasty crispy and paired nicely with the remoulade and jicama served with it. She added that the scallops and salmon entrees were both “out of this world,” then went on to describe the nuances and balance of the ingredients and sauces that graced each dish.
“Long story short, our experience there was one of the best I have had anywhere. This place may even rival Noah’s, my longtime favorite. Thanks for the review!”
That really IS lofty praise and I’ve seen a hundred more comments just like it.
Congrats to owners Aaron and Marie Clark and chef/owner Paul Smith on a job beyond well done.
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 as “WV Food Guy.” He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.