You’d be forgiven for overlooking the food scene in Charleston, West Virginia, the capital of the state, which has yet to draw the feverish press surrounding hotspots such as Atlanta, Nashville, and Charleston, South Carolina. Like many smaller cities across the country, however, Charleston has come an awfully long way in the past decade. One of the people most responsible for that culinary renaissance is native Keeley Steele, who operates the popular Bluegrass Kitchen as well as beach bar Tricky Fish and bakery Frütcake.
The menu at Bluegrass Kitchen is a study in smart but accessible food, with sassafras-rubbed short ribs and house-made pasta dishes positioned next to beer-battered fish and chips, and a classic French dip stuffed with grass-fed local beef. It’s farm-to-table dining executed with particularly West Virginian senses of discipline and modesty—and damn tasty, to boot.
Starting this month, fresh blueberries will begin to appear at farmers’ markets across the South. At Bluegrass Kitchen, Steele and her cooks freeze them, which helps release the berries’ juices, and then bake them into a signature blueberry buttermilk pie. For best results, use fresh berries, high-quality buttermilk, and a scratch-made pie crust, although berries from the frozen aisle and a store-bought crust will work just fine in a pinch.