CHARLESTON, W.Va. - If you still haven't made it down to Noah's Eclectic Bistro, you're missing some culinary fireworks worthy of the country's biggest cities, but happening right here in our town down on McFarland Street.
Of course, I can't be too judgmental. I'm one of the restaurant's biggest fans, and even I don't go as often as I should.
It had been months since my last "experience" (it's much more than just a meal) so Friday night the wife and I met another couple there for an evening out. For us, it was another dinner to remember. But for the Noah-newbies with us, it was their first - and I suspect far from last - taste of some of the best food Charleston has to offer.
We agonized over the menu, a "Sophie's Choice" of ever-changing selections. You'll want to try them all, so I highly recommend inviting dinner partners who are willing to pass their plates. (Thanks, John and Allison!)
I started with an appetizer of seared jumbo sea scallops served with fantastic tri-colored roasted cauliflower, bacon and tangy lemon buerre blanc. I hope to see this back as an entrée sometime soon, hint hint.
Others at the table enjoyed a fresh lump crab salad with Granny Smith apple gelee, a grilled romaine salad (the topic of last week's column) and a bursting-with-flavors baby spinach salad with orange segments, pine nuts, goat cheese and sesame vinaigrette.
For a main course, I stayed in the seafood vein with my perfectly cooked pan-roasted yellowtail grouper served over creamy ginger carrot puree with fresh shrimp, braised bok choy and pickled red onion. We also dove into skillets of paella offering chicken, chorizo, lobster, shrimp, clams, mussels, calamari, sweet peppers, peas and saffron bomba rice.
And at the end of the evening, after soundly swearing off dessert, we made quick work of decadent chocolate lava cake with vanilla ice cream and a white chocolate-golden raisin bread pudding with creme anglaise.
It had been a while since my last visit, but it won't be long until my next.
One of the big reasons most chain restaurants are popular is their consistency.