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  • A cool wagon-wheel ceiling highlights the interior of Moe's Restaurant in Huntington.

  • The Peanut Butter Bacon Burger at Moe's Restaurant in Huntington.

  • Buffalo Bleu House Chips from Moe's Restaurant in Huntington.

  • Salmon patties from Moe's Restaurant in Huntington.

  • Corned beef hash at Moe's Restaurant in Huntington.

  • Pork tenderloin sandwich at Moe's Restaurant in Huntington.

  • Moyaki wings from Moe's Restaurant in Huntington.

  • The Onion Mountain at Moe's Restaurant in Huntington.

  • Moe's Restaurant in Huntington.

  • Broccoli soup at Moe's Restaurant in Huntington.

  • Frickles at Moe's Restaurant in Huntington.

Sunday, July 22, 2018 1:00 am

Salmon patties reel you in at Huntington spot

RYAN DUVALL | The Journal Gazette

Moe's

★★

Out of a possible five

$

On one hand, I had family members who had touted the place and a friend who even taunted me with pictures of a tasty-looking burger he had there.

But another friend whose culinary opinion I hold a tad higher said he had never had a good experience there and suggested I pass.

After visiting Moe's Restaurant in Huntington, I found out why the opinions were so split.

Nestled at the intersection near the Forks of the Wabash where U.S. 24 meets Indiana 9, this place, which has been home to other eateries over the years, had a nifty throwback look to it with brick walls and a cool circular front room with a wagon wheel ceiling. It was obviously dated in terms of architecture, but the floors and furnishings were new and modern, so it didn't feel old.

I knew I was going to try a burger after being taunted with those photos. I chose the Peanut Butter Bacon Burger and was not at all disappointed.

This half-pound burger was perfectly pink and medium-rare like I requested and had oozing American cheese covering the patty, sliced jalapeños and hickory-smoked bacon that added saltiness the timidly seasoned burger needed. There was plenty of peanut butter, but it was sort of glopped on the bun and not evenly spread, so it was missing in a few bites. The only other tiny flaw was that the bacon could have been crisper, but it was still worth having again.

I had cheesy tater tots as my side and they were OK, but the best side – and best appetizer, actually – were the Buffalo-bleu cheese house chips that I had during another visit. These thin, crispy chips were warm and lightly salted so they were great on their own. But when just drizzled with hot sauce and buried under generous globs of funky bleu cheese, they were magical.

I had those chips with a nightly special that really hit me with nostalgia – salmon patties.

My dad loved the patties, but my mom did not and would seldom make them because of the way they stunk up the house. But I, too, loved them and loved it the rare times we got them. The patties at Moe's were perfect.

They were moist and not filler-heavy, so the salmon – which had to have been a good quality canned salmon because it didn't have any of that tinny aftertaste – stood out. There were some red pepper pieces and herbs mixed in the perfect amount of black pepper. They were also nicely seared to be crisp but still creamy inside.

Though I normally steer clear of pork tenderloin sandwiches at places in Huntington – other than the legendary spot where they are said to have originated – the Moe's sandwich was more than respectable. It had a flavorful gritty breading, and it was thick, and the meat maintained its integrity.

My first taste of the breakfast menu was a good one and had me thinking those family members who touted their breakfasts were right.

The French toast was not your normal French toast. It was made with thick Texas toast and its egg wash was infused with cinnamon, which really set it off. It was crisp and was not drenched in the egg wash, so it seemed light.

My second breakfast dish nearly caused me to disown those family members.

The corned beef hash was awful. Not only was it made with canned corn beef that, unlike the salmon, tasted like a can, the potatoes were undercooked. It was a waste of time.

I also would not waste any more time on the signature Moyaki Wings at Moe's. Described as “a little sweet, a little spicy and a lot delicious,” they did not live up to their billing. For starters, there was not enough sauce on my wings, which were finished on a grill and were also not nearly crispy enough. I asked for more sauce and found it to be quite timid, with just a little peppery heat and sweetness, but way too much salt, from what I suspect was an abundance of soy sauce.

The Frickles (fried pickle chips) and Onion Ring Mountain appetizers were better. Neither was outstanding, but neither had any flavor issues. Calling the onions a mountain was simply wrong, however, as they did not come in a big stack. They were just loose in a basket like regular rings.

I also was not fond of the cream of broccoli soup. It had a nice layer of melted cheese on top that was very necessary, as the soup itself was quite bland. The creamy base also tasted quite floury.

I thought a side salad would be a better bet, especially since my server said I could make my own at Moe's little salad bar. But that bar was a desolate place with no bacon or other meat and few vegetables, so all I could basically make was a sub-par iceberg side salad, anyway.

The capper to my up-and-down experiences was the service. During one visit, it was fine, but it was dreadful during another. The wait for service, food and even to get my ticket paid at the counter with its long line and no employee ringing anyone up was brutal. The restaurant seemed well staffed that day, too, so the wait was confusing.

The inconsistency is what makes me wonder whether I will return to Moe's. I will for sure if salmon patties are the special, and, if not, I won't hesitate to get another burger.

One thing I don't have to wonder about is how much I trust the folks who told me about it. They were all right.

Restaurant: Moe's Restaurant

Address: 2990 W. Park Drive, Huntington

Phone: 260-200-1300

Hours: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday

Cuisine: American

Handicapped accessible: Yes

Alcohol: Beer and wine

Smoking status: Non-smoking

Credit cards: Yes

Kid-friendly: Yes

Menu: Wings ($7.99 for a pound; $12.99 for 2 pounds), pickles ($6.99), onion rings ($6.99), Buffalo-bleu chips ($5.99), peanut butter burger ($7.99), tenderloin ($6.99), salmon patties ($7.99), French toast ($3.49 for 2 slices; $4.49 for 3), hash ($6.49)

Rating breakdown: Food: ★1/2 (3-star maximum); atmosphere: 1/2 (1 maximum), service: 0 (1 maximum)

Ryan DuVall is a restaurant critic for The Journal Gazette. This review is based on two unannounced visits. The Journal Gazette pays for all meals. Email him at rduvall@jg.net; call at 461-8130. DuVall's past reviews can be found at www.journalgazette.net. You can follow him on Twitter @DiningOutDuVall.