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Taste Buds: Chefs' Auction

May 9, 2013

When opportunity knocks, answer the door.

That's just what the Buds did last week, when the opportunity presented itself to attend Wheeling Health Right's 20th annual Chefs'Auction. Bud Em, presented with another opportunity, was unable to attend the event, but Bud Shaunna happily "volunteered" her hubby to play Taste Bud for the evening.

The Chefs'Auction is Wheeling Health Right's biggest fundraiser of the year. This year's theme was "The Roaring Twenties" and there were plenty of flappers and Dapper Dans roaming WesBanco Arena among the silent auction items, the food tables, and the stage featuring live music by "Pair O'Docs." The event also featured a live auction and a caricaturist.

But as if that wasn't enough, 17 of the area's best restaurants - all themed and decorated in 1920's decor - packed the building and featured their tastiest dishes. Well, isn't that the bee's knees!

This week, the Buds dish on half of the vendors we sampled at this culinary spectacular.

Quaker Steak & Lube:

This Ohio Valley favorite started its franchise with their chicken wings, and keeping true to what makes Quaker Steak & Lube great, they brought their famous wings to the Chefs'Auction in four different flavors - Golden Garlic, Thai 'R' Cracker, Louisiana Lickers and Arizona Ranch, in increasing order of heat. Bud Hubby happily sampled the Thai wings and found they offered a very nice kick to wake up his taste buds.

The eatery also featured ribs and a Greek flatbread with jalapeno ranch and chicken. The flatbread was soft and the combination of flavors was a winner, with the jalapeno giving it a zing at the end.

To top everything off, Quaker Steak offered patrons a sample of their Skinny Dragonberry Lime-N-Ade. This delicious pink liquid had a sweet twist - a perfect compliment to the spicy meat options.

Wheeling Island Hotel, Casino & Racetrack:

Next up was Wheeling Island Hotel, Casino & Racetrack, famous for their specialty cuisine. Sticking with the roaring 20s theme, their buffet featured "Great Gatsby" stuffed mushrooms, beef tenderloin with bourbon sauce, crunchy potato pancakes, and a 4-tiered pineapple upside down cake.

Bud Shaunna, a mushroom lover, could not resist the "Great Gatsby" mushrooms. Delish! Bud Hubby piled the juicy beef tenderloin on his plate, along with the mini pineapple upside cake, which featured the ingredients skewered on a long toothpick.

Great taste and creative presentation - we expected nothing less from Wheeling Island Hotel, Casino & Racetrack!

Centre Market Bakery:

Located in the heart of Wheeling's historic Centre Market, Centre Market Bakery offers up some of the most delectable pastries in the Ohio Valley. Their display was loaded with sweet treats featuring brownies, pecan sandies, chocolate dream cookies, mini cupcakes in vanilla and carrot cake flavors, and cream puffs. Upon learning from the friendly woman working the table that the lone cream puff on display was the last one, Bud Shaunna snatched it up faster than you could say Charlie Chaplan. That quick reaction was totally worth it! Bud Shaunna is certainly not a cream puff, but she DOES love eating 'em!

In addition to the sweets, Centre Market Bakery also brought along various breads, including one Bud Shaunna sampled called the "Kitchen Sink" which featured fresh garlic and basil, asiago, provolone and parmesan cheeses. Wow - what a great tasting slice of bread - soft and bursting with flavor throughout.

Mehlman's Cafeteria:

Winners of last year's People's Choice Award, this St. Clairsville mainstay was hitting on all sixes again this year by offering loads of their home-cooked favorites. Their menu included their succulent prime rib, cabbage rolls, barbecue ribs, escalloped potatoes, homemade noodles, broccoli casserole and a hard roll. For dessert, Mehlman's offered full-sized slices of strawberry shortcake, coconut cream pie and pineapple upside down cake.

The portion of prime rib was HUGE! Bud Hubby had to share, which worked well in Bud Shaunna's favor - prime rib is one of Mehlman's tastiest dishes. The broccoli casserole is always a hit (and the Buds have yet to figure out the secret recipe), and nothing closes out a Mehlman's meal like a buttery, creamy slice of heavenly coconut cream pie.

Year after year, Mehlman's just continues to deliver great food!

Ohio Valley Sno:

Jeff Schuetz of Tiltonsville, owner and operater of Ohio Valley Sno, has been in business for nine years providing area football games and festivals with his kettle corn and funnel cakes. Luckily for the patrons at the Chefs'Auction, he brought along his famous treats!

The caramel corn was sweet and salty and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Their Chefs'Auction menu also featured deep fried Oreos and funnel cake, both of which - sadly - were long gone by the time Bud Shaunna and Bud Hubby made it to the table.

Ohio Valley Sno also offers shaved ice, deep fried candy bars, hot dogs and steak hoagies. Sounds like the Buds need to take a road trip to get their hands on that funnel cake they missed out on!

Cafe Burress/ Jaremiah's Express:

Next, the Buds headed over to Cafe Burress, who was serving up their famous cat fish, along with thick slices of cornbread, beans and rice, and baked beans. This impressive spread had patrons going back for seconds, as Cafe Burress just kept cooking up and serving their food as fast as they could!

Bud Hubby loaded up his plate with cat fish and cornbread, noting that the cat fish was some of the best fish he's ever eaten. The taste and quality of food at Cafe Burress never disappoints!

Stratford Springs Steak & Seafood:

Stratford Springs had their display all dolled up in a 1920's theme and offered some nifty food to compliment it. Their menu featured a tender filet mignon, asparagus and four cheese potatoes. Stratford also offered shrimp cocktail, displayed in a very large cocktail glass, and individual chocolate mousse dessert.

Bud Shaunna enjoyed the filet and asparagus, while Bud Hubby commented that the potatoes were creamy and full of cheesy goodness. Stratford Springs continues to serve up delicious food with a unique and creative menu.

Perkins Restaurant and Bakery:

Perkins, a favorite Ohio Valley family restaurant, pulled out their big guns for the Chefs'Auction. Strawberries dipped in dark and white chocolates were beautifully displayed, as well as brownies and mini custard pies. In addition, Perkins brought along a savory dish as well - tender pulled beef.

The large dipped strawberries were divine! The Buds could have easily cleaned off the tray, but we refrained. In addition, the custard pie was delectable - creamy custard and sweet crust, all topped with cherry topping - what's not to love about that? We just love Perkins!

Stop back next week when we provide a second helping of the 20th annual Wheeling Health Right Chefs'Auction. We promise you'll have a swell time!

The Buds can be reached at tastebuds@timesleader



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