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The Journal Gazette

  • Don Hall's Factory has a fine selection of booze-infused coffees.

  • Crab-stuffed mushrooms at Don Hall's Factory on Coldwater Road.

  • The steak on my steak and spinach salad at Don Hall's Factory on Coldwater Road was badly undercooked.

  • Chopped steak with a side of whipped sweet potatoes at Don Hall's Factory on Coldwater Road.

  • The Debrand's Raspberry Torte at Don Hall's Factory on Coldwater Road.

  • Don Hall's Factory has a bit of an outdated, stodgy look that screams old-school steakhouse

  • Don Hall's Factory has a bit of an outdated, stodgy look that screams old-school steakhouse

  • A steakhouse wedge salad at Don Hall's Factory on Coldwater Road.

  • A side Greek salad at Don Hall's Factory on Coldwater Road.

  • Steak and spinach salad at Don Hall's Factory on Coldwater Road.

  • The Cadillac Burger at Don Hall's Factory on Coldwater Road.

  • Loaded cheddary fries at Don Hall's Factory on Coldwater Road.

  • A prime rib Manhattan at Don Hall's Factory on Coldwater Road.

  • Gulf shrimp with a filet at Don Hall's Factory on Coldwater Road.

  • Friecracker shrimp at Don Hall's Factory on Coldwater Road.

  • Round, crusty loaves of bread are served during dinner hours at Don Hall's Factory on Coldwater Road.

  • Long, salt- and herb-topped loaves are served at lunch time at Don Hall's Factory on Coldwater Road.

Saturday, February 18, 2017 10:01 pm

Desserts, service solid at Factory

Ryan DuVall | Restaurant critic

I often hear criticism when I mention dishes lack salt.

I understand some people have restrictions on salt, and I don’t have a salty palate, it’s just that a lack of basic seasoning can make a perfectly acceptable dish into a completely forgettable one.

And when I dined at Don Hall’s Factory recently, the lack of seasoning had this effect on many dishes.

The Factory is a steakhouse through and through. From its retro, somewhat stodgy looks to its menu, it just feels like a place your parents took you to for steaks as a kid.

So I expected the beef to shine. But it didn’t.

My 6-ounce filet, which I added to the Gulf Shrimp, was a nice cut. It was cooked to the right temperature, was juicy, had a nice charred sear and had that robust, iron-rich flavor I expect from a filet.

But the steak was not seasoned at all. It was topped with a garlic compound butter that did its best to give it flavor, but it was still pretty much forgettable.

The Cadillac Burger I had for lunch also had the makings of a great selection. It came on a nice pretzel roll and was topped with white cheddar, grilled onions and a balsamic reduction – all of which were great flavorful additions. It also had a coffee crust that made each bite almost crunch.

But that crust needed something. You guessed it – salt. No matter how good the toppings were, the meat still came off as bland.

The Steak and Spinach Salad also had the makings of something great. Blue cheese, cherry tomatoes, crispy potato wedges, egg and red onion were artfully plated with the fresh spinach, and it had a spot-on hot bacon vinaigrette.

But the steak not only had nary a speck of salt or other seasonings, it was sliced way too big, making it clumsy and a steak knife necessary. And that steak – requested medium-rare – was also undercooked and blue.

I did, however, find a couple of beefy selections that I had no qualms with.

The Chopped Steak could not have been better. This 8-ounce patty was covered with a yummy wild mushroom and peppercorn sauce that could have made the sole of my shoe tasty. The patty was seared and had plenty of seasoning. I don’t think a chopped steak is what Hall’s would want to brag about at the Factory, but it was better than any other steak I had. The whipped sweet potatoes with candied walnuts I had with it were also fantastic.

The Prime Rib Manhattan was a winner, too. Sandwiched between buttery slices of Texas toast with a mound of the Factory’s wonderful garlic red-skin mashed potatoes, it had a rich brown gravy and the sliced prime rib was tender, flavorful and not at all dry, which is often the case with leftover prime rib.

Also, be sure to choose those mashed potatoes over the andouille potato cake, which spent too much time in the fryer and was rock hard on the outside. I also could not find any sausage in mine.

All of the appetizers at the Factory were worth having again.

The Loaded Cheddar Cheese Fries were made with the same crispy wedges that were in my steak salad, but these were covered with gooey cheddar, a hefty portion of crispy bacon and chopped scallions.

The Crab-stuffed Mushrooms were more cheese – stringy melted white cheddar – than crab, but that crab did come through just fine. I would have a hard time not ordering these next time.

The Firecracker Shrimp were much better than the mediocre Gulf Shrimp, which were no better than a frozen variety from the grocery. The Firecracker had a light, crunchy Asian breading that stood up to the creamy, spicy sauce coating it. They were on par with similar versions I have had at Asian restaurants.

I also loved both versions of the complimentary bread. Hall’s uses different styles at lunch and dinner. For lunch, the long loaf topped with salt and herbs was the better of the two. I guess the Factory has no problem salting its bread, unlike the steaks. The fat, round, crusty loaves at dinner were also top-notch but not as good as the lunch bread.

The Greek Salad I had with one of my entrées was not interesting. It was kind of sad-looking. It had three pepper slices, two pieces of canned pineapple, a few diced beets and kalamata olives, crumbled feta and one anchovy, but its greens were drab – some of them were actually yellow – and I lost interest quickly.

The Steakhouse Wedge wasn’t much better. The iceberg was accompanied by two tomato slices, a sprinkle of parsley and a little crumbled blue cheese, all off to the side. The wedge itself was buried under way too much blue cheese dressing which ruined it from the get-go.

As always when at a Hall’s restaurant, the desserts were flawless. The best new item I tried was the De­Brand’s Raspberry Torte which had layers of light, airy raspberry cake, fudge, raspberry gel and was topped with a buttercream frosting and chocolate ganache. Sitting on top was a single De­Brand’s raspberry chocolate. It gave my all-time favorite Hall’s German Chocolate Cake a run for the money.

Another great wrinkle at the Factory was the variety of booze-infused dessert coffees. I struggle as to why more places don’t offer them. I particularly loved the Tony & Jerry – coffee infused with Kahlua, Creme de Cocoa, Brandy and cherries topped with whipped cream.

The service was exemplary – another thing I expect from Hall’s – during both of my visits, but there was a shocking twist.

A hostess was dressed inappropriately, which is something I did not expect at a Hall’s establishment. It was not just that she was dressed inappropriately, she did not carry herself very well considering how she was dressed and it created a buzz among some men and women in the lobby waiting for a table.

Restaurant: Don Hall’s Factory

Address: 5811 Coldwater Road

Phone: 484-8693

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday

Cuisine: American

Handicapped accessible: Yes

Alcohol: Full bar

Credit cards: Yes

Kid-friendly: Yes

Menu: Stuffed mushrooms ($8), Firecracker Shrimp ($8.50), loaded cheddar fries ($7), Steak & Spinach Salad ($12), filet ($12), chopped steak ($13), Manhattan ($14), Cadillac Burger ($9), shrimp ($13.50), raspberry torte ($6)

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