Coulter rotates a specials menu. Last week featured barbecue spaghetti, a pulled pork, blackened hamburger and pasta dish, and smothered chicken breast in a creamy white sauce with grilled asparagus and bread. This week, her no-filler crab cakes are on the menu.
Bound only with egg, mayonnaise and sour cream, the crabmeat cakes sit overnight before Coulter lightly coats them with panko breadcrumbs and sautés them in butter. She dresses them with a lemon aioli, which she makes herself. She also blends her own blue cheese, apple Dijon vinaigrette, and ranch dressings, Creole mustard and the honey butter she serves with crispy sweet potato fries.
She fries chicken wings, then sears them in her sauces, hand-made, of course, to create Injun Joe Wings in mild, hot and "whoa momma!", Caribbean jerk wings with coconut, rum, pineapple and jalapeno, and barbecue wings.
"A lot of our names are references to the book 'Huckleberry Finn,'" she said. "The picket fence is a popular appetizer. It's nachos with sweet peppers, onion, tomato, banana peppers, jalapeno, Creole sauce, salad vegetables and sour cream. It's more than enough for two people.
A native of Montgomery, Coulter's education is in commercial art. In 1986, she and Frank, a civil engineer, built Lock 6 Marina in Dunbar. They contemplated opening a restaurant, but didn't make the move until 1996 when they purchased a barge from Wheeling and moored it along Route 25.
Inspiration for a restaurant theme struck when Coulter was browsing through books at Taylor Books on Capitol Street and stumbled across a Creole cookbook originally published in 1893.
"It was true Creole and Cajun cooking without the 'Bam!' stuff," she said. "It was really eye-opening. I realized that was what I wanted to do."
She tinkered with cooking methods, while she ran the marina. In 2005, her husband bought her a set of cooking knives and told her to go to culinary school. She graduated from West Virginia North Community College.
Last month, Coulter was named a certified executive chef, after passing an exam and certification process that involves creating dishes from a basket of ingredients provided to candidates. "The C.E.C. is an honor. It's validation of what I do," she said.
This year, the Coulters added a barge available for special occasion rentals.
Jazz and blues bands set up in the open-air bar in the evenings and on Sunday afternoons. Coulter closes the kitchen at 10 p.m., but the bar stays open until midnight. "This is not a late-night facility," she said.
Reach Julie Robinson at jul...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1230.