It seems this country is charging forward to the numbing of the senses movement, in terms of eateries. The chain restaurants are spawning rampantly, appealing to the masses, whose taste buds have grown accustomed to fake food, frozen and artificial. How many times have you waited thirty minutes or more to get a table, only to be left feeling agitated and forced to endure the pungent smell of sour milk from a table due to being wiped down with a mildewed towel? I suppose I am sounding melodramatic, however most of us go out to eat as a treat, for entertainment, a break from the chore of cooking at home. As diners we should not be forced to numb our taste buds and be brainwashed into thinking what lies before us is something edible. Free yourselves from the chains of chain restaurants, long live privately-owned establishments, who cook with care and from their hearts. I should note that one of my favorite restaurants is indeed a chain. So call me a hypocrite, but Macaroni Grill offers some wonderful dishes, all is prepared and cooked on the premises of the individual restaurant. With that note aside, allow me to introduce you to Smokies on the Gorge! Nestled in the hills-“mountains” to us Mountaineers, overlooking the New River Gorge is the best restaurant you will find in West Virginia. The interior is reminiscent of an upscale Boy Scout dining hall, encased in wood paneling, and I swear you can still smell that pungent pine scent, and I am not referring to Pine-sol!
There are seats outside as well, and if you are fortunate you can sit directly beside a cliff, and dine with an incredible view as equally fine as the morsels in your mouth. This establishment is a buffet setting, filled with nothing short of the most scrumptious bites be it gourmet, unique, and loaded with artistic flair.
I will first let you in on an on-going problem, and as my husband refers to as control issues. I normally am a nervous wreck at buffets and avoid them at all costs, with the exception of my favorite WV restaurant. First, all that food arranged like produce or meat at the grocery store, overwhelms me and my mind feels like it’s in a mirror maze and everywhere I turn I am engulfed in hyper-stimulation me mode. I do my best to resume some kind of mental order by requiring that Nikos and the kids first go up and get salad, fruit and vegetables first. The kids moan and groan and I am right there with them wanting dessert first. One day, I promise to anyone who is reading this, I will relinquish my suffocating structure and we will eat dessert first. Nikos gets his revenge on my bossiness by refusing to get the salad first, and he thinks he’s such a tough guy while he’s muttering under his breath like a kid sent to his room, “I don’t need to get a salad. You can’t make me. I am getting a piece of fried chicken and you can’t stop me.” I suppose he is reigning in bravado to defy me and pick up that piece of chicken before his veggies. While sauntering up to the salad bar, I am mad and nearly sweating by my mental chaos and Nikos is not helping. It’s all the food, it’s the other diners, and I just have issues, but I will swallow it all and deal when it comes to Smokies on the Gorge.
The salad bar is a lovely arrangement, like a colorful iceberg of fruits, cheeses, crackers, and salad fixings. Even Nikos in his acts of spiteful rebellion gets the salad first. The main fare is cooked by fine chefs, with a multitude of flavors. The last time they even had wild boar in conjunction with a cherry/brandy chutney. There are usually five or so main entree dishes, some seafood, meats and pasta. You can expect the vegetables to be sauteed in fanciful ingredients to make any veggie hater a fan.
I am nervous waiting in the brief line afraid that my food will be snatched up by the person in front of me. I believe I even despise them momentarily. Our plates are filled numerous times and the kids are even infatuated by their food. I am in a blissful state of gluttony and the nerves have been quelled. Then, comes the introduction to the jewels of the evening, dessert. There is cheesecake, a variety of lemon-filled/chocolate/vanilla custard cannoli, cobblers, and what looks like seven layer brownies. Every time we have visited, there are different menu items, including dessert.
What you need to understand is that the combination of the scenery, the amazing food, and the ambiance will leave you with a profound sense of satiation with life.