Spotlight: Cafe Cimino


We needed some time away but did not want to drive too far.  I knew immediately that I would book us into one of West Virginia’s gems: the Cafe Cimino in Sutton, West Virginia. Located in a very small town about an hour north of Charleston, the restaurant and bed and breakfast provides a cocoon of high quality attention to detail long forgotten by most establishments.   Cafe Cimino Country Inn is a full scale country inn, with a gourmet restaurant, luxurious lodging, a full bar by the river, spa services, a wine and a MountainMade giftshop, a firepit, verandas, and lots of places to enjoy on the grounds. Sutton is the county seat of Braxton County. Settled early in the late 1770s because of saltworks, timber and coal resources soon provided an economic reason for continued development.  Due to its location on the Elk River and on the regional turnpike, the area was occupied and almost completely destroyed during the Civil War. Most of today’s downtown is of 1890s-1920s construction. A dam across the Elk River forming Sutton Lake provides outdoor recreational opportunities. Although quite small (2010 population around 1000) the town exhibits a strong arts community with the Landmark Studio presenting several plays during the year and the West Virginia Film Makers Festival this past first weekend in October.  Controled Eccentrics is one of several art studios in the area.

Tim Urbanic and his wife Melody established the restaurant with the goal of providing excellent food prepared to entice the palate. Much of the food comes from local farms so it is fresh and he can be assured of the quality. He strives to serve organic foods to maximize the healthy aspects of his ingredients. They have a small farm as well as a kitchen garden that provides tomatoes, peppers and much more.

We requested to spend an hour with Chef Tim so he could show us his gardens and plantings on the property but opted to sit inside because of the rain, enjoying a glass of wine and a wonderful appetizer of polenta. We heard of his childhood garden that gave him a love of fresh produce.  We learned that the restaurant and the B&B added in 2007 are a second (or perhaps third) career for them.  We admired that he was not a culinary school trained chef, but one that turned a love of preparing good food into a commercial enterprise that has been “paying the bills from the first month”, a statement few restaurants can match. Located in county with a small population, they market to the entire state and are consistently rated one of the top restaurants.  The 2011 Governor’s Tourism Conference presented Tim and Melody both the 2011 Award for the West Virginia Tourism Professional of the Year as well as the Mountain State Award. The word has spread that this is the place for local food superbly prepared . Andrew Zimmern of the Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods show visited West Virginia a couple of weeks ago for Pocahontas County’s  Roadkill Cookoff. He spent some time at Café Cimino and Chef Tim prepared groundhog. Watch for the show to air in March or April.

Hen of the Woods wild mushrooms

Tim invited us into the kitchen where Chef Eli and other staff were busy preparing for the evening meal.

Tim showed us wild mushrooms and other ingredients as well as the polenta, prepared in a large pan, and then found paper and pen for Graham to write a family sized version of the recipe.

I enjoyed watching the choreography as the Intermezzo was prepared, a slice of cucumber, topped with mascarpone and a strawberry slice….who would think how well that would go together. It does!

We left them for a few hours with instructions that they were to decide on our meals. When we returned we enjoyed a six course meal including

Gnocchi

Roasted red peppers with goat cheese

Garden tomato, fresh mozzarella, basil

Canelloni bean soup

Clam chowder

West Virginia trout with potato pasta

Free range chicken

Dessert crepe

The other dessert we shared, creme brulee, was gone before we realized that we had forgotten to take a photo!

Meanwhile a local guitarist provided soft music.

Later, TarabRags, a West Virginia family who had been to Morrocco and had a film showing at the West Virginia Film Makers’ Festival, came in and performed Moroccan music and belly dancing.

With all that good food and more than usual wine consumption, we made it to our room in the

Carriage House safely. A large room with a superbly comfortable king sized bed, we enjoyed waking to partial sun allowing us to enjoy the view of the river from the private deck.

Breakfast continued the high quality of food, with a plate of fresh fruit fully ripened and peak flavor, scones and muffins, and a vegetable frittata with two lean strips of bacon and another serving of the polenta. Wonderful coffee topped it off.

We will return. While not inexpensive, the Café Cimino provides an experience of a caliber found in few places. In fact, as we savored the dinner, Graham and I discussed where on the spectrum of our five best restaurants Café Cimino can be placed. We believed it has edged out our previous number one.


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3 Responses to Spotlight: Cafe Cimino

  1. So nice that you enjoyed your visit to Sutton West Virginia!!
    Yes Cafe Cimino is EXCELLENT !
    Couldn’t help but notice that you had a picture of Controlled Excentrics Creative Studio & Supply
    you listed it as one of the studios in the area, I thought you might take a momment and check out our website http://www.controledexcentrics.com you would find that we are much much more!
    The picture you took is only part of our building and operations http://www.townsquaremarket.net is our cafe and resturaunt check out our menu,
    This an excerpt out of the Charsleton Daily in life section wed Oct 28 2011-
    “Town Square Café serves 21 varieties of wholesome fresh sandwiches, 18 salad selections and entrees, which include a large assortment of pasta dishes, cabbage rolls, pierogies and basic favorites such as turkey and meatloaf. The modest pricing is aimed at families. Special treats include soft-serve ice cream, root beer floats, tasty desserts and Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts coffees. Their menu is online at http://www.TownSquareMarket.net. A Sunday “all you can eat” buffet and televised football game events have become very popular with Sutton residents.

    The café shares its home with the couples’ other business, a crafter’s playground where “no artist is left behind.” Controled Excentrics is a wholesale art supply and an open format public workshop. People – no experience required – are invited to experiment with a variety of crafts including pottery, stoneware, beading, soap making, glass fusing, porcelain, gallery glass, lamp shades, doll making, candles, mosaics and painting. Use of specialized equipment (such as kilns, clamps, art tools, etc.) is free. Crafters only pay for the supplies they use in their projects.

    “We have one rule,” said Ms. Cicogna. “People aren’t allowed to interfere with the art of others. Each person’s art comes from within.” The couple opened a retail art supply store on the ground floor this summer. To learn more, consult their website at http://www.ControledExcentrics.com“.

    Tamara and Bob

  2. Wow!!! Wonderful visit with two wonderful people (Beth and Graham)!
    Thank you for this most splendid blog! What a wonderful writer you are, Beth. I’m not sure anyone in our 12 years has better captured what we do 🙂 We are so proud, I have already “shared” your review/blog on the group page! IAll the best…feel free to market small groups here and we will do the same with them. 3 to 4 couples would be just perfect. Chef Tim could even do a pasta making class after breakfast! Just a thought…cheers from both of us, Melody & Chef Tim

  3. I am going to reccomend your Blog to various associates of mine, I think you are definately on the right track.I found your blog on Yahoo

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