Slow food is a global grass roots movement that is the direct opposite of "fast food." It's all about eating locally, sustainably, and consequently, more healthily. Not just in restaurants, but at home, too. Slow Food USA is made up of chapters around the country that seek to promote farmers markets and local producers, and help consumers find locally sourced food.
The first chapter is currently being organized in West Virginia by Richwood Grill, in Morgantown. (Here's the link to their Yelp page. Their website is currently down, but they do have a Facebook page.) Richwood Grill is one of the rare jewels here in the Mountain State that is serving locally sustainably sourced food and proud of it!
I ate at Richwood Grill for the first time back in the winter. A couple weeks ago, I was back in Morgantown, and hankerin' to see what their offerings would be with lots of fresh food just coming in season. It did not dissapoint.
To sweeten the deal, Richwood Grill is on Restaurant.com. I had a $25 gift certificate to burn, so I didn't hold back when I saw the menu. Also, I was with my best friend and her husband, and we have an understanding to taste a little of what everyone orders to get a little more sampling of what is on the menu.
We started out with some appetizers. Erinn got the blue crab escobeche with grilled pineapple, red pepper, coconut milk and aji rocoto. It was delish. Very refreshing and light--which is what an appetizer should be. I got the grilled watermelon in a habanero brine. It was really good, but really unexpected.
I guess when I hear the word "watermelon" my mind associates that with an icy cold fruit for the height of summer. This was warm. Duh, Jennelle, it is GRILLED. But my mind just didn't want to make the connection. And it wasn't sweet, really, because of the habanero brine. It wasn't hot, either, just a very salty with a slightly sweet taste. I was drinking Great Lakes Holy Moses White Ale, which went with it perfectly--a happy accident.
Our entrees came out, and Erinn ordered the Mon Valley Farms Pasture Raised Steak-of-the-Day. It looked like a bone-in ribeye, and it was delicious. The reason she ordered it was because it came with red pepper butter, and I could see why, after I tried it. So, so good.
Mike ordered the fish. I'm not sure if it was the WV trout with wasabi remoulade, that is on the menu, but it was the best dish at the table. The last time we ate there, back in January, Mike ordered the tofu dish, which turned out to be the best dish at the table that night. I would have never ordered the tofu, myself, since I am at an establishment that serves locally and sustainably raised animal protein--I can indulge guiltlessly. But the tofu was pretty freakin' awesome. I might ask him to order for me next time we go since he seems to be hitting all winners on the menu...
I had the Gardener Farms Pork Loin with Red Miso Curry, which was also very good. I don't think there is anything on the menu that would dissapoint me, actually. I'm slowing coming around to liking curry. I think it was a bad experience with it when I was a freshman in college that led to my longstanding and adamant dislike of it, but I'm wading into the curry-eating pool slowly. This sauce was perfect, maybe because it wasn't all curry. The red miso certainly tempered the curry taste, which was a perfect compliment to the pork loin, which by the way, was HUGE.
If I'm eating somewhere that serves sustainable meat, I almost always go for the pork. It's not that I like pork better than say beef or chicken, but as far as industrial/conventional meat goes, it's probably the worst of the three. Do yourself a favor and don't (or do) Google images of CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) pork. It's horrendous.
At any rate, the folks at Richwood Grill have been trying to start up a West Virginia chapter of Slow Food, because those principles are important to them as restaurant owners. "Slow food unites the pleasure of food with responsibility, sustainability and harmony with nature," was the attitude of the movement's founder, Carlo Petrini. And, after all, as most recently demonstrated by the Richwood Grill, slow food just tastes better. I just wish more farm to table restaurants would catch on here in West Virginia.
It was hard to beat the ambience of eating a fabulous meal on the patio at Richwood Grill with this sweeping view of South Park--at least until the rain forced us inside to finish our meal.
But while it lasted, it was such a nice evening of good food, good drinks and good company.