Huntington Prime

A new steakhouse in the heart of downtown Huntington proudly uses fresh ingredients from local farmers

By Cory Jackson

Huntington Prime Steak

For Huntington Prime owner and executive chef Michael Bowe, a successful restaurant has four components, the first three of which are location, location and location. And the fourth? Great food.

Although Huntington Prime located on the ground floor of the West Virginia Building on the 900 block of Fourth Avenue opened its doors just four months ago, the name and the concept have been in Bowe's head since 2005.

"It was really just looking for the right spot," Bowe said. "I wanted something small and quaint on Fourth Avenue so I could pay close attention to the food and the customers."

Huntington Prime's signature dishes, Bowe said, are the rainbow trout, the beef brisket and the prime rib. What separates Bowe's restaurant from the pack is his insistence upon preparing food with local, fresh ingredients.

"We buy fresh, local, sustainable food from farmers," Bowe said. "All of our produce is grown in West Virginia.

I don't know of another restaurant that does that."

"Everything's so elegant," said Emily Rowe, a Marshall student from Parkersburg, W.Va., "but the food is what makes the place. It's incredible."

This dedication to quality does not end with produce, however. The signature rainbow trout comes from Wilson Mills, W.Va., while the lamb shank, another of Bowe's signatures, is brought in from Waverly, W.Va.

Bowe, a certified chef and Marshall University graduate with a degree in management, is a veteran of both the business and culinary sides of his venture. The former corporate chef for Hartman Tyner Casinos, Bowe has also managed a casino in Detroit, Mich., served as a sous chef in Louisville, Ky., managed a small fine dining restaurant in Indiana and taught culinary arts.

His restaurant is already making waves from its convenient location in downtown Huntington. With a small soup and salad bar at its center, the restaurant is dominated by two room-length booth seats that run along either wall, with chairs on the opposite sides of the tables. In full view is the hearth oven used to cook the pizzas offered on both the lunch and dinner menus. Next to the oven is a full-service bar.

Huntington Prime Steak

"It's a shame this place wasn't here when we lived in town," said Dana Welty, a former Huntington resident now living in Memphis, Tenn. "The food, the atmosphere just everything about it is awesome. Huntington needs a place like this."

Bowe said this was his goal. He said he knew that a lot of people were in the market for a fine meal; and now, Huntington Prime is mentioned in the same breath as other local staples like Rocco's and Savannah's.

"I don't want to come off as arrogant," he said, "but that's where the name 'Huntington Prime' came from. I want this place to be Huntington's finest."

Though Huntington Prime has a maximum seating capacity of 50, Bowe said that his customers are usually extremely patient during wait times. While the restaurant initially took reservations, Bowe realized this meant that nearly the entire restaurant would be booked nearly all the time, with small gaps during which it would be almost empty. Now, it is strictly first come, first serve.

Even with Huntington Prime's location only a block from Pullman Square and the many popular restaurants surrounding it, Bowe said Huntington Prime has had an overwhelming amount of business in its first few months, certainly enough to alleviate any concerns about competing with the chain restaurants nearby. Citing the recent development of Third Avenue, Bowe expressed an interest in doing the same for Fourth.

"Third Avenue looks awesome now," he said. "Now it's Fourth Avenue's turn, and I think we've been a big part of it. This is the old cruiser strip of the city that sort of runs down the center of it. To me, this street represents Huntington."

Sitting in the restaurant and gazing out at the street, there's evidence that there might be something to Bowe's words. The floor-to-ceiling windows give the restaurant an open-air quality, and, during the afternoon, the sun pours in and blurs the boundary between inside and out. But when the sun goes down and the lights of downtown dot the landscape and blur in the glass, the essence of Huntington is apparent and intoxicating.

Huntington Prime is open for lunch from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Its dinner hours are 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. Friday and Saturday. The lunch menu primarily features fresh-baked, hearth-oven pizzas and sandwiches, while the dinner choices include signature entrees as well as filet mignon, cast-iron chicken dishes and surf and turf. The restaurant also offers a Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information and a complete menu, visit the Huntington Prime website, www.huntingtonprime.com.

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