It’s a big week in local restaurant news, so let’s get right to it!

SoHo’s opens outdoor beer garden

The popular Italian restaurant Soho’s has opened a temporary beer garden under the pavilion at Charleston’s Capitol Market.

But don’t think “temporary” means they just set a few more tables up outside. The new dining and drinking area is enclosed by a fence resembling the same wood pallets used by the market’s outdoor farmers (nice touch!) and is decorated with live plants, hanging lights and more.

There are four taps outside pouring ice cold craft brews, or you can enjoy canned domestic beer, a glass of house wine or house liquor. There’s also a limited menu offering the restaurant’s awesome brick-oven pizzas and calzones.

You can see a quick video tour of Soho’s beer garden on the restaurant’s Facebook page. The new space is currently open from 5 p.m. to close on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Chow Thai adds exciting new dishJust down the street on Shrewsbury, Chow Thai bowled me over this weekend with a dish I never thought I’d see on a menu around these parts.

As you may remember, I wasn’t the biggest fan of this restaurant when it opened a few years ago, but so many of you love it SO much that I vowed to give it another shot.

When I saw a Facebook post from someone sharing a photo of a dish they recently enjoyed there that literally stopped me in my tracks, it seemed like as good a time as any to pay another visit.

The dish that drew me in was Chiang Mai Noodles “Khao Soi.” And it was transformative.

A unique combination of rice noodles, pickled mustard greens, green onions, fried shallots and crispy wonton strips was swimming in the most phenomenal, mildly spicy, thick yellow curry made from a lemongrass coconut milk base. (If they sold that sauce, I’d buy it by the gallons.)

You can get the dish with beef, chicken, tofu or vegetables, but the cauliflower, broccoli and butternut squash combo in my veggie option were so good I can’t imagine it any other way.

All flavors and textures paired beautifully together, but the star of this dish — outside of that luscious and creamy coconut/lemongrass/curry base — was the pickled mustard greens that delivered mouth-puckering satisfaction with every single bite.

Unlike many of the southern Thai curry and noodle dishes that dominate most Thai restaurant menus in the area, this bad boy is a rare northern Thai dish you won’t want to miss.

Run, don’t walk, to try the awesome Khao Soi at Chow Thai. It was so good that I’ll definitely be going back to revisit previous dishes here now!

The Lookout hires Chop House chef

With friends visiting last week (some of whom had never been to Charleston or West Virginia) I wanted to pick a nice place to meet them for dinner so I could show off my town.

Although I initially debated a lot of good choices in the area, these folks were really excited to see the mountains (something they don’t have back home) so that made my decision a no-brainer.

I planned a special gathering on the deck high above the Kanawha Valley at The Lookout Bar & Grill at Eagle View, where I knew they’d fall in love with the restaurant’s sweeping views and epic sunsets.

What I didn’t know was that our food that night was going to be prepared by a new and notable chef. Turns out the restaurant has hired Jeremy Sprouse, who recently spent four years as a chef at the Chop House at Charleston Town Center.

That’s quite a score and it’s already paying off. The tuna poke bowl and glazed salmon with rice I had that night were impeccable and everyone else in our group enjoyed the sandwiches, pastas and entrees they ordered as well.

I’m looking forward to seeing what else Chef Jeremy has in store “up on the hill” in the months ahead.

Steven Keith is a food writer and restaurant critic known as “The Food Guy” who writes a weekly column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail and has appeared in several state, regional and national culinary publications. Follow him online at www.wvfoodguy.com or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest as “WV Food Guy.” He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or at wvfoodguy@aol.com.

The Food Guy: New beer garden opens, new dish and chef impress | Food & Dining

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