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Red Wolf Grill

June 27, 2004

By E.T. MOORE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Walking through the doors of the Red Wolf Grill brought back some old memories for me as expected. But once inside, my companions and I began to create some new memories of an upscale restaurant trying very hard to please.

For the most part, the owners and staff succeeded in pleasing us as we were seated comfortably in what used to be a bank I frequented with my mother when I was a child.

The crisp black and white decor blended nicely with the marble walls and pillars left over from the previous incarnation. Local art dotted the walls, as did a unique display of modern clocks, all seemingly set for time zones around the world.

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The bar area to the rear of the dining room featured large metallic globes dangling and bobbing from branches that also adorned the small performance stage. The effect was adventurous.

On this particular night, local favorite Sam Felker and his companion, Patrice Flynn, dusted off several pleasing Joni Mitchell and Judy Collins favorites to the delight of the baby boomers in the restaurant.

The menu was small but diverse enough to please most palates.

My choice was the New York strip steak, which came with red bliss potatoes and portobello mushrooms, all smothered in a rich brown sauce, not to be confused with a mere gravy. I got all of this for $19. A salad was an extra for $5.50.

Still at $24.50, I didn't feel cheated. The steak was as I ordered it, the mushrooms were tender but a tad too acidic for my taste. Both the potatoes and salad were perfect with a balsamic vinaigrette on the side that I would describe as easily the best I've ever had.

Both of my companions ordered filet mignon, which also rang in at $19 each.

One diner described her order as medium-well as ordered. She said it was so tender it could almost be cut with a fork. Her mashed potatoes were creamy, garlicky and gone all too soon.

The other filet was a little rarer than preferred but the diner insisted it was delicious nonetheless. A ranch dressing lover, he wasn't as impressed as I with the vinaigrette but nibbled on the plain greens with little complaint.

Although there is no designated children's menu at Red Wolf Grill, the youngster accompanying us was happy when the server gave us several choices such as a hamburger or grilled cheese.

That grilled cheese sandwich, though, weighed in at $5.50.

When it came time to order dessert, there was little room, but I didn't want to miss the opportunity to sample a red velvet cake on the menu. The icing was rich and creamy, but the cake bordered on dry.

The bill was substantial, but no one complained.

The service was attentive. One of the co-owners stopped by the table to see to our needs, mentioning that the restaurant had been open since November. She said she and her husband reside upstairs in the historical building, which still boasts 28-foot ceilings there after a new false ceiling was installed for the restaurant level.

Executive Chef Evan Hume specializes in modern American cuisine, according to the colorful handout available both in the restaurant and outside on the bill of fare.

"Upscale dining with a downtown address" is the Red Wolf Grill's motto and that was achieved ... for a price.

Red Wolf Grill

n Food: 3 forks (out of 4)

n Service: 4 forks (out of 4)

n Atmosphere: 4 forks (out of 4)

n Value: 3 forks (out of 4)

Hours: Red Wolf Grill is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner hours are 5 to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Live music is featured on Fridays.

Prices: Dinner entrees range from $14 for a Vegetarian Mixed Grill to $26.50 for Twin Lamb Chops.

Phone: 1-304-263-7400

Location: 131 S. Queen St. in Martinsburg, W.Va.

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