Monday, July 14, 2008

Huntington Hot Dog Joint: Midway West

In order to assess the prodigal son of Huntington hot dogdom, Midway West, we've invited a guest reviewer and life-long Midway mark, Mrs. Film Geek, to giver us her take on the joint:

"Hey, how about we skip 4th period, and drive down to Midway for lunch?"

My friend, Teresa, would coax me into it now and again during my senior year in high school. Teresa and I had a bad case of senioritis in 1984. We'd sneak out of our senior study hall class, climb into my green 1976 Toyota Corolla and drive the short distance to the hot dog stand. It was worth the risk. Midway's hot dogs were the best in town, and their fries were tasty. Almost as good as the hot dogs--maybe on some days better--was the sweet Pepsi they served, from a fountain, and chilled with crushed ice.

Unfortunately, our occasional trips for dogs came to an abrupt end one summer day when, just after we'd placed our order, we spied Vinson High School teacher and coach Mr. Griffith enjoying his lunch two cars across the lot. He finished up his lunch, then walked over to ask us how we enjoyed ours.

We served detention each day the following week.

A regular since I was a toddler, Midway was really a significant part of my life. Better than Frost-Top and Stewarts, Midway was the place to go for curbside food that was consistently good. The hot dog sauce was the best in town--it was meaty, with a nice spicy (but not hot) flavor. The slaw was sweet and creamy. The slaw was so good, in fact, that it was the only place I ordered slaw on my hot dog. So, I was really saddened when my husband called one day to tell me Midway had been closed by the city because it's owners owed back taxes. It was like hearing that "The Sopranos" series was ending.

When I read recently that Midway was opening again, with new owners, I was excited to stop by and sample the food. Mostly I wanted to see if it was the same. The lot was full of cars--about 40 cars were crammed tightly onto the lot--and more than a dozen people were eating at the small bar inside. After finding a spot, I ordered my hot dog, fries and Diet Coke, sat back and crossed my fingers.

It was good. But, it wasn't the same.

The hot dog was fairly close to those served by the former owners. The slaw was sweet, chopped fine and there was plenty of it on the dog. The wiener tasted beefy, and sort of snapped when I bit into it. (I don't know much about wiener quality, but that seemed like a good thing.) The sauce was average. It didn't stand out as good or bad, really. It was just unremarkable. Add that the soda was less sweet and served over block ice rather than crushed, and the crinkle fries were sprinkled with steak fry seasoning (which was too spicy), and you realize the current Midway is something different than the previous Midway. My heart sank.

It was good, but not as good.

I am glad that in the Midway's absence, I discovered the perfect hot dog meal at the
Griffith and Feil Soda Fountain in Kenova. I'll be going there from now on.

Sadly for the new owners, I have to agree with Mrs. Film Geek. I have not heard so much buzz about a restaurant opening in town since, well, ever and the year-long torment of the "opening soon" sign sure didn't help. Midway has given itself, and ultimately suffers from, high expectations.

The slaw is tangy and had a dominant celery salt taste. Unfortunately, it is too dry and chunky.

The sauce is indeed pretty darn average and is quite similar to others based on ground beef that is browned rather than simmered. It is bit more sweet (ketchup?) that I like, but the sauce partially made up for a bit of the under-sweetened slaw. The taste of the two is more than the sum of its parts, but not by much.

The crinkle cut fries are a bit greasy, a sure-fire sign that the oil is not hot enough. They also taste like the oil had been in the vat for a few days.

I'm sure that Midway will find its niche of pedestrians in the area and nostalgic folk, but, in order to regain it's predecesor's place in Huntington's hot dog culture, Midway West needs to go back to the fundementals of what made Midway so great.

3 weenies.


The Film Geek said...

Good post.

I've eaten there twice since the re-opening. I was disappointed, too. Not so much as it wasn't the same (although I wanted it to be), but more in that they seem to be trying to cover up the difference with different spices.

The second time I went was well after they's opened, in order to give them some time to get used to the process. I swear to god I'm not exaggerating: the waitress forgot to turn in my order of a bacon cheesburger not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES! Each time she's come to the window and ask if I needed anything, because I'd been there so long. And each time I said I was waiting for the bacon cheeseburger. And each time she said: "Please don't be mad at me, I forgot." The first time it was funny, the second annoying and the third...well, I was mad. She gave me back my cash, and I left.


wvapoker said...

"the year-long torment of the "opening soon" sign sure didn't help."

Note to persons considering opening a business: If you create a buzz that creates high expectations. Then be prepared to meet those raised expectations or be doomed from the start.

Dan from Fork You...

Sarah Einstein said...

Hey, Mrs. Film Geek!

Huntington High or (shudder) Huntington East? We may have been classmates. If not, we were rivals.

The Film Geek said...

Hey, Sarah. I'll answer for her, since her blog reading time is limited, and she may not see your question.

She went to Vinson.

Christopher Scott Jones said...

TFG: Remember, during the We Are Marshall opening, when you asked the local news person if you could take a photo and they got excited and asked "who for?" and you were all "uhhhhhh, my blog" and she was all "oh."

Well, upon reading "Vinson," I bet Sarah said "oh."

The Film Geek said...


I remember it well. And you are more than likley right. LOL

Go Tigers.

Sarah Einstein said...

Yeah, this is late (I forgot to check back) but in my very flawed memory, Vinson was a Junior High. So, yeah, all those things you said about snotty kids at Huntington High? I just proved 'em right.

The Film Geek said...

Nah, Sarah, it's all good. Vinson is a middle school now, but it was a high school until circa 2000.

Unknown said...

ate at midway yesterday,was as good as ever.I asked about how they cooked for the meat sauce and the owner gladly showed me the large pot on the stove slow simmering NOT browned.I also learned the new owners have gone back to grinding their beef fresh for the hamburgers and sauce .I know the previous owner started using frozen patties.

Unknown said...

And oh by the way, the last time e were in Huntington and got a hot dog at mid way they had changed the weiner product to a distastefull turkey weiner I think and the sauce was not that original taste. Come on folks get it right. Cant be all that hard. If need be charge more. Thanks, Scrappy

Unknown said...

Here is the thing with the sauce at Midways. The recipe for the sauce was never, ever written down. The only way to make the sauce is to have worked with Bob, Smitty or one of the women that worked the kitchen. I still like to go when I am in town but since Granny and Grandpa moved. I have to make a special trip. I have made that trip a few times and plan on another one this summer. I can't wait to pull up in NJ's 1975 Chevy convertible and see if I freak out any of the older customers.

See you soon...Bobby S.