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New pub has identity crisis, but good food

This is a story with a beginning, a middle and a rather surprising ending. So stay with me.

When I first heard about a new "gastropub" opening in the old Murad's spot in Kanawha City, I got pretty excited envisioning an upscale menu of artistically plated gourmet food served in a casual setting.

Then I went.

B&D Gastropub has done a really nice job sprucing up the place and has already attracted a nice following of passionate fans. But as I looked over a selection of traditional bar-and-grill appetizers, burgers and sandwiches, I couldn't help saying to myself, over and over, "This is no gastropub."

That doesn't mean it's not good, so I've visited several times over the past month to sample my way through the menu and get a better feel for its vibe. I certainly have a few suggestions for improvement, but you know what? Despite the identity crisis the name implies, I like this place.

A little more decor would do wonders warming up the stark brick walls lining the dining room now. I also think the restaurant should consider changing its name to better match the menu and ambiance - or adjust the offerings to match the name - but B&D is still on its way to being a fine "sports light" bar/grill/pub.

And there's nothing wrong with that.

The interior is subdued, with several TVs but no avalanche of sports paraphernalia falling from the ceiling and walls. Service has been outstanding on every visit - a big plus in my book. The beer list, both draft and bottle, is impressive.

With one exception, the food's been really good. We've enjoyed the Dragon Bites (feta-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon) and Jalapeno Boats (stuffed with spicy sausage and cheddar), although the later came floating on a plate far too large for them, so a little plating finesse would be nice.

The Spinach Salad (with red onions, feta, sunflower seeds and Greek olives) is nice and fresh. The Adult Grilled Cheese (double cheese with bacon and house-made guacamole) is decadent and the classic Reuben is a hit.

Burgers here are phenomenal; each made with six ounces of fresh, hand-formed beef and placed on toasted buns in all sorts of combinations.

There's the Gouda with bacon, grilled mushrooms, Gouda cheese and chili cream sauce. The Fire Breather with jalapenos, pepper jack cheese and hot sauce. The Rad 'Shroom with grilled mushrooms and horseradish. The Wild West with grilled onions, applewood smoked bacon and barbecue sauce.

We haven't tried the pizzas yet, but have enjoyed several desserts: a really nice apple tart a la mode, a brownie made with draft stout, and a rich and creamy cheesecake.

Most recently I enjoyed a new appetizer on the menu, tasty house-made Reuben eggrolls with Thousand Island dipping sauce, followed by one heckuva burger. "The Remedy" (basically a bacon, egg and cheese burger) featured crisp bacon, a fried egg and American cheese, to which I added lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and onion.

When I gave the big burger a slight smash before digging in, that golden, glistening yolk oozed out and starting dripping down the sides. A thing of beauty!

My only real disappointment so far has been the Monte Cristo. Although they say it's a top seller, the hand-dipped and deep-fried ham, turkey and cheese sandwich dusted with powdered sugar was just too greasy for me.

B&D is still not my idea of a gastropub, but maybe I'm the one who's mistaken.

On my latest visit this past weekend, as I was washing down this fantastic burger with an incredible pint of Roedy's Red (think Killian's amber ale, but hoppy) from Parkersburg's North End Tavern & Brewery, an employee walked by wearing a T-shirt with the definition of "gastropub" printed on the back.

I didn't catch it all, so I immediately looked it up on my phone.

According to Dictionary.com, a gastropub [gas-troh-puhb] is "a bar that serves good food and high-quality alcoholic beverages."

By that definition, B&D nails it. I stand corrected.

Contact writer Steven Keith at dailymailfoodguy@aol.com or 304-348-1721. You can also follow him on Facebook and Pinterest as "DailyMail FoodGuy," on Twitter as "DMFoodGuy" or read his blog at http://blogs.dailymail.com/foodguy.


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