First let me start of by saying that this trip was more about the food than anything else (besides baseball) Sight seeing was kept at a minimum because that is what happens when you have less than a day to explore each city. Besides I've already been to these places before.
Thursday August 30
I flew to Pittsburgh from Rhode Island via Southwest. After arriving in Pittsburgh at around 11am, I rented a car and drove immediately to Charleston WV. The weather was hazy and muggy and a cold front was expected to go through bringing possible t-storms to Charleston in the late afternoon, followed by excellent weather for the rest of the trip. My first stop was Tomaro's
in Clarksburgh WV. I've had pepperoni rolls before in Pittsburgh, they usually came from bakeries and the dough was soft and fresh. Tomaro's Pepperoni Roll is no different, however the pepperoni sticks inside the dough are truly on steroids and explode with flavor as you bite into them.
Considering I only had a couple of atkins protein bars for breakfast, I was still hungry after the pepperoni roll. I always wanted to try a slaw dog so it was off to Ritzy Lunch
just a few blocks down. I ordered the special- two slaw dogs with meat sauce, fries come with the special. The fries were nothing notable and I just picked at them, the mellow tasting tasting meat sauce harmonized well with the slaw. Mustard and raw onions complete the deal.
After lunch I continued on my journey down to Charleston WV and checked into the Holiday Inn Civic Center. Around 5pm I headed to The Farm Table
in South Charleston. I found out about this place by chance on the internet as an alternative to Southern Kitchen. By this time the skys were getting dark and it looked like a storm was a brewin. I'm glad I got to the restaurant when I did because the skys opened shortly after I got there and it was pouring/thundering and lightening. The Farm table is a family restaurant in the roadfood tradition. Bigger and newer than Southern Kitchen with a larger menu. I noticed the huge display of pies in the Glass Case as I walked to my table. I ordered the Boned in Country Ham with Red Eye Gravy, it comes with Biscuits or Corn Bread and Two Sides. I chose Corn Bread, Pinto Beans and Kale Greens as well as a glass of unsweetened iced tea (yes we're in sweet tea territory). To my surprise the meal came, and a little tub of raw onions (for the beans) and vinegar (for the kale greens) were included as well. The salty slabs of Ham drenched in eye twitching red eye gravy was delicious. The hunk of warm cornbread obviously homemade was also delicious and so were the pinto beans and greens. After dinner I couldn't decide between the Peanut Butter Pie or the Blackberry Cobbler, the waitress assured me they were both good but that the Blackberry cobber just came out of the oven. I ordered mine a'la mode and this was truly a sweet ending to a great meal.
Southern Kitchen is good, but The Farm Table really took the cake "no pun intended"
Here are a couple of snippets from The Farm Table's Menu
I left the restaurant shortly before 6pm and although the storm passed through, it was still raining. By the time I got back to my hotel, it was slightly drizzling and by the time I was ready to to walk the mile and a half to the ballpark it stopped raining altogether. I arrived at the ballpark at around 6:45pm for a 7:05 game. Apparently it was only $3 to get into the ballpark and they were running $1 beer specials (I only had 2) The West Virginia Power play at a brand new park- only a couple years old. Like Camden Yards in Baltimore and Petco Field in San Diego, Appalachian Power Park has an old warehouse that anchors the park, in fact the entire structure encircling the park almost has a "minimalist" feel with the warehouse basically taking center stage. The West Virginia Power hosted the Lexington Legends that night. For most of the game, West Virginia was ahead but Pitching fell apart around the 7th inning and Lexington won. After the game before walking back to my hotel, I headed on over to the Regatta Festival- a big carnival on Kanawha Blvd along the river. I just walked through through it before heading back to my hotel to check in for the night
Friday August 31
I started out the morning at Southern Kitchen
for another round of country ham and red eye gravy, this time with biscuits and a couple of eggs over medium. The country ham and red eye gravy was good but didn't quite have "the edge" I experienced the night before at the farm table. The Biscuits were warm, fresh, leaden and delicious as always, just the way I like them.
After breakfast I took a stroll down Capitol avenue and grabbed a half decent cup of coffee at Capitol Roasters. I then walked over to Towne Center Mall and strolled around inside the mall.
After checking out of my hotel, I was on my way to Columbus Ohio. Shortly after leaving Charleston, I got a call from Michael Hoffman
who was supposed to join me for the Columbus Clippers game that evening, unfortunately he advised that due to unforseen circumstances he would be unable to make it.
I made it to Columbus in a little under three hours and checked into the Marriot Courtyard Downtown near the Nationwide arena. I walked over to the Brewery District/German Village approximately a mile and a half away and after browsing the Shops in German Village I decided on an early dinner at Schmidt's Sausage Haus
. I chose the Buffet which I now regret, I should have gone with one of the individual meals. Basically the Buffet consists of a variety of sausages and wursts along with red cabbage, sauerkraut, german potato salad, an interesting Sausage Stew and oddly enough fried chicken (which I decided not to try). The Sausage Stew had a dark red sweet n sour sauce and was served over something resembling rice but may have been spatzel. I chose a local brew from the Elevator Brewing Company (ironically which was right next door to my hotel) and finished the meal with one of their famous cream puffs.
The Ohio State Capital en route to German Village
Knockwurst, Bahama Mama, Mild Mama, Bratwurst (all sausages) braised red cabbage, german potato salad and roll
Sausage Stew, spatzel? braised red cabbage and sauerkraut
After dinner I walked back to the hotel and then drove to Venerable Cooper Stadium to see the Clippers host the Toledo Mudhens. Although it seems nice that Columbus will have a new Downtown Ballpark in 09, I would have preferred to have seen a renovated Cooper Stadium. The Clippers lost to Toledo that evening. After the game I headed to the Elevator Brewing Company for a night cap before turning in.
Saturday, September 1
After a light breakfast at Cup O' Joe Coffee House, a local mini chain in the Short North District, I drove to Mooresville Indiana just west of Indianapolis to Gray Brothers Cafeteria
. When I arrived there around noon, it was just starting to get crowded. I loaded my tray with Bean Salad, Green Beans, Scalloped Potatos, Yeast Roll and Fried Chicken. I looked for Sugar Cream Pie but was told they don't have any any. I thought that was their specialty? Even their website doesn't include sugar cream pie among their wide variety of pies.
It was a choice between Banana Cream or Raisin, so difficult to choose. I went with Banana Cream. The Fried Chicken and its accompaniments were excellent (although I still think Hollyhock hill had a slight edge), however the Banana Cream pie was just outstanding.
After lunch I headed to Indianapolis aka "Naptown" "India-No-Place"
"Brickhouse in the cornfield" naptown it wasn't. In the nearly 20 years and half a dozen times I've been to Indy I've never seen Downtown so vibrant due to the several festivals being held over the holiday weekend and revitalized Canal District. After checking into the Sheraton downtown I walked the canalwalk and toured the free Eiteljorg museum and admired it's Native American Artists, afterwards I drove to The Green Street Pub and Eatery
recommendation for the best Breaded Pork Tenderloin in Indy and I'm glad I did. This sandwich was a masterpiece. Now I know what a real BPT tastes like. Lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions and mayo come on the side and I loaded mine up. Even my choice of coleslaw (homemade) was outstanding, probably some of the best coleslaw I ever had!
, although I won't be pursuing the BPT outside of Indiana, Iowa and Perhaps Central Illinois, I now know where to find a good one!
After dinner I walked to Victory Field, a new downtown ballpark and home to the Indianapolis Indians- Sold out game! I'm glad I got my ticket earlier that afternoon! Indianapolis lost to the Louisville Bats. After the game I walked over to Meridian Street the entertainment district for downtown Indianapolis. Since I had a couple of beers at the ballpark, I didn't bother to stop anywhere. I then headed back to my hotel for the evening
Part II another time