My husband and I were in Huntington on a non-home game Saturday afternoon recently looking for somewhere “different” to eat. We don’t make it to downtown Huntington very often, so finding somewhere “different” shouldn’t be too difficult, right? We struggled a little. We didn’t want to go to one of the chains (Uno’s, Max & Irma’s or Five Guys’ Burgers and Fries) at Pullman Square and we weren’t in the mood for Asian, Italian or Mexican food (Thai House, Frankie B’s, also at Pullman Square, or Chili Willi’s.) It was between lunch and dinner hours and a couple of other places (Huntington Prime and another I can’t recall the name of) weren’t open yet. So we decided on the Marshall Hall of Fame Café. We’d eaten there a couple of times before, but it had been a few years.
We were asked by the hostess if we wanted to sit in the dining room, the bar or on the patio. It was a little too cool for the shaded patio, and we were in the mood for some football, so we chose the bar area. Cabell County enforces a smoking ban, so we knew we wouldn’t have to worry about cigarette smoke in the bar. The entire restaurant, as you might guess, displays tons of Marshall memorabilia all over the place. Even if you aren’t a Marshall fan, it’s still kind of neat to look at it all. The bar area is very spacious with a long bar with lots of stools, high top tables and booths. They have about 10 televisions on the back wall of the bar each showing a different game and they even bring around to all the tables a listing of each game they are showing and its broadcast time. Each booth also has its own smaller tv, and control is in the hands of the customer. Several other tv’s are placed throughout the place too.
My husband and I both ordered 20 oz. Blue Moon drafts for $5.25 each. They arrived quickly and were nice and frosty and definitely hit the spot. I sometimes forget how good Blue Moon is and forget to order it. I need to remember next time a place has it on draft. After our server brought our beers, we still hadn’t decided what to order. We asked for a few more minutes, which is usually a mistake for us because that normally means our server won’t be back for another 15-20 minutes. (Why is that? We may not be ready to order within five minutes of sitting down so we need just a couple more minutes, not a day and a half.) We got lucky this time. Our server actually came back to us after about five minutes.
I had already decided that this meal would be a splurge/cheat meal. I wanted grease and carbs and lots of ‘em. I had a tough time deciding between the hand-battered fish sandwich, the appetizer sampler platter and four or five of the mouth-watering burgers on the menu. I decided on the Bourbon BBQ bacon burger ($6.99), mainly because I have a hard time resisting anything with bacon on it, all the while questioning whether or not it’s what I really wanted. My husband ordered the chili burger and fries ($7.49). I opted for the onion rings for an upcharge of $1.95, which is ridiculous since you don’t get as many rings as you do fries. Besides, are the rings really that much more expensive? I doubt it. Oh well, I wanted the rings and I only eat like this once in a while, so I didn’t mind.
I had talked myself into not regretting my order and when the burgers arrived, I was glad I decided on this particular burger. The BBQ sauce was a sweet sauce made with bourbon and there was plenty of it on the burger. It also had a slice of cheddar cheese and two very large slices of thick bacon. The burger, according to the menu, was angus beef, and I asked for it to be cooked to medium doneness. I used to get weirded out if my burgers were a little pink on the inside, which is strange because I like my steaks cooked medium rare. But I’ve quit letting that bother me and have rather enjoyed the juiciness and flavorfulness of a burger not cooked to resemble a hockey puck. My burger was excellent. The sauce, cheese and bacon were great additions, but the star of this show was the meat. It was seasoned and cooked perfectly and the quality of it was evident. The onion rings were worth the upcharge. They were crispy, huge and delicious, and I actually got quite a few of them.
My husband’s chili burger looked like the chili pot had exploded onto his plate. The menu states this burger isn’t “for the weak and weary!” It was intimidating. It was served open-faced with a ton of chili, shredded cheddar cheese, jalapenos and lime-flavored sour cream over it. It was definitely a knife, fork and spoon kind of burger. I tasted the chili and it was very flavorful and had a little kick to it. We both agreed that it needed more sour cream. The fries were the frozen kind, but were cooked crisp and were pretty good. We both loved our burgers.
The menu at Marshall Hall of Fame Cafe has a lot of good choices, maybe too many for someone like me who when starving can;t make up her mind. I’d like to try a few of the other burgers or sandwiches or the sampler platter or one or two of the rib combos or the crab cakes or the house made desserts or ….
I realize that the Marshall Hall of Fame Café is a chain of sorts. They have locations in three or four other college towns, aptly named for those schools, of course. But a lot of the food is fresh made and that makes a big difference to me. I give it FOUR FORKS because I had one of the best burgers I’ve ever had, second only to the Black River burger at the Black River Grill in Myrtle Beach (which we devastatingly discovered last month-GASP!- has closed down. )Marshall Hall of Fame Cafe 857 3rd Avenue Huntington, West Virginia 25701 304-697-9800