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Fat Patty's serves up delicious burgers, fries

Oct. 05, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

Good morning! Sit down, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and take a breather.

I enjoy reviewing restaurants for this column (especially good ones!). It takes me a while to review a place sometimes, for various reasons. Often I just don't make it there for a while; like many food writers, I have to find the delicate balance between experiencing new things, and wanting to return to restaurants where you have had many good experiences.

In the case of the new Fat Patty's in Teays Valley, it took a month for this review because until I showed up at 3 p.m. in the middle of the week, I could never get in the parking lot, much less the door.

I have never seen a regional restaurant command such fanatical devotion as what my Marshall friends call "Pat's," which began between the football and basketball stadiums in Huntington, grew to Ashland and Barboursville, and has now arrived in our own neck of the woods, occupying the former Shoney's location just off I-64.

Fat Patty's secret to success is that they don't really seem to have one. There are no tricks or gimmicks. The place is a sports bar, like a Buffalo Wild Wings but with actual local character...well, with actual character: wood-paneled walls sagging under the weight of neon beer signs and tons of Marshall memorabilia. It is noisy and dark even in its off hours. The menu is solid "Amurrican" grub, full of what Julia Child (who I don't think would have set foot here with a gun in her back) used to call "butter and fat and taste," and served up beside the longest list of beers I've seen in the area.

So how good is the food?

Jalapeno poppers are...jalapeno poppers. Take them out of the freezer, fry them up, and serve them hot, and they're delicious, although the dipping sauce here -- which tastes like, and may very well be, a mix of barbecue sauce and raspberry jelly -- is weird beyond description.

Cheese fries here set the standard, at least in this area. The fries are always hot and crunchy, and come buried under a load of sticky cheese and bacon, with plenty of ranch dressing.

My friend's West Virginia Steak Sandwich -- fried bologna -- was impressive, with big hunks of crusty meat, lettuce, tomato, and onion inside toasted bread. I preferred the Lava Burger, which lived up to its name with a scary orange crown of cheddar cheese mixed with Buffalo sauce, smothering grilled jalapenos and a hamburger. Both came alongside fries that were fresh and hot.

Hamburgers here are hilariously large, and yes, they taste good -- well-browned on the outside and juicy inside -- even without the half pound of toppings.

The common line with all the food here is that none of it is surprising. It is exactly what you expect it to be -- hot, well-prepared, consistent bar food, served with your favorite cold adult beverage. That is the secret of Fat Patty's success. They don't try to surprise you. They don't try to coddle you. They just serve what you want them to, and they do it well.

It's well worth a visit.

Chris Summers can be contacted at cordhaven@hotmail.com.