Remember me saying when it comes to some restaurants, it’s love at first sight (and bite) for me? This is one of them.
I fell hard for Bahnhof the second I walked in the door. From its open layout and eclectic decor to its multiple dining areas — including a sweet bar and large two-story outdoor patio — this new Appalachian-inspired German “Wursthaus & Biergarten” in Huntington gives off an immediate ultra-cool vibe.
Located in a renovated corner building that housed once-popular McIntosh’s and Mac-Reedo’s for a combined 25 years, this is a place you’ll love to hang, as evidenced by the large, lively and growing crowds the restaurant has packed in since opening in April.
Better still, good food and great service match that stellar ambiance.
Less than 24 hours after returning from a two-week trip to Europe, where we enjoyed plenty of German food, we made the much shorter trek to Huntington to see how Bahnhof’s fare compares.
A menu of sharable appetizers, sandwiches, salads, house-cranked sausages and entrees will definitely impress — both in portion size and quality — as will the speed, competency and friendliness of the servers who deliver those tasty treasures.
We started with a couple of filling appetizers offering a traditional taste of Bavaria. The ginormous house-barley malt pretzel with raspberry-buckwheat honey butter, whole-grain mustard and beer cheese was nice. But we really dug the platter of currywurst and pomme frites (curry sausage and crazy-good fries) drizzled with an addictive curry ketchup made with apricots, vindaloo curry, fenugreek, brown sugar and apple cider vinegar.
We could’ve walked out fat and happy right then, but where’s the fun in that?
So we kept going with a far-too-large platter of jagerschnitzel, battered and coated pork cutlets covered in a roasted crimini mushroom, garlic and lardon (pork fat) sauce. Oh my, the comfort-quotient of this dish.
We also sampled the house Reuben, featuring corned beef brisket and all the fixings on caraway rye; a pork schnitzel sandwich topped with mustard aioli, chow-chow and arugula on brioche; and a Greek lamb sausage dressed with Moroccan aioli, toasted walnuts and feta.
Other German entrees include wienerschnitzel with lemon, parsley and caramelized onions; Appalachian pork schnitzel with chow-chow and buttered beans; and weisswurst over sautéed herb spätzle (veal sausage and egg noodle dumplings) with pea shoots and fried onion.
A house-made sausage menu features a traditional brat, plus Korean, Mexican, Moroccan, chicken, breakfast and vegetarian Italian links — any three of which you can sample with a pretzel, deviled eggs, cornichon, bread-and-butter pickles and various condiments in a $20 “Sausage Party” platter.
In retrospect, I can’t for the life of me understand why I didn’t do that.
Not an ethnic food fan? Not a problem. There’s pan-seared salmon, maple-cured pork chops, mussels, a burger, salads, fried pickles and deviled eggs with bacon “meat candy.” Bacon. Meat. Candy.
Oh, and we can’t forget the bier! There are 33 on tap, including a nice selection of West Virginia craft beers that features, in my opinion, the state’s finest: Morgantown’s Chestnut Brew Works Halleck (American) Pale Ale.
My only criticism of Bahnhof’s food — of the entire dining experience, actually — was with a few of the sides that came with our meals.
The rotkohl (red cabbage) wasn’t as flavorful as my wife’s German recipe, the pan-fried potatoes with bacon marmalade (a great concept, by the way) were a little mushy and the “turbo” sauerkraut a little too fiery. I like the idea of offering a spicier kraut, just not as the only option for the heat-averse.
That’s such a small complaint, though, given every other aspect of our visit was so fine from start to finish.
I’m telling you, folks, I’m head over heels for this place. I think you’ll fall for it, too.
IF YOU GO: Bahnhof WVrsthaus & Biergarten, 745 7th Ave. in Huntington, is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday-Saturday. Bahnhof is closed on Sundays. For more information, call 681-204-3837 or visit the restaurant’s Facebook page.
Steven Keith writes a weekly food column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail and an occasional food blog at blogs.wvgazettemail.com/foodguy. He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Facebook as “WV Food Guy” and on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest as “WVFoodGuy.”