UPDATE summer 2022: Marshall’s has CLOSED.
Marshall’s Restaurant | Facebook
1105 W. First Ave. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43212
Bfast served Mon-Sat, 7a-2p; Sun, 8a-1p (buffet offered Sat, 8a-2p & Sun, 9a-2p)
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Date of Visit: Saturday, May 4, 2013 at 10:30 a.m.
As a Columbus and a Grandview institution, Marshall’s has been on my radar for sometime. It’s one of those restaurants with the longevity to automatically stake a claim on the geographic and culinary map of Columbus. They have a history of over 25 years, which is very respectable in the restaurant business, so they are naturally known and appreciated by generations of customers.
We visited for their Saturday breakfast buffet, which again is known to regulars. Marshall’s occupies a large space at the end of a curving row of shops along First Avenue, which includes an Old Bag of Nails and the excellent Luck Bros Coffee Shop. I’m guessing that the restaurant started in one section of the building, and then the owners bought out the other half. It feels like half swanky bar/half neighborhood cafe, and at times it can’t seem to make up its mind. The main entrance leaves you in the bar facing a large fish pond, curving neon lights, and big screen TVs. A second room to the right is decorated in a similar style. However, if you turn to your left you’ll end up in…
…a wood-paneled space packed full of tables that feels more like a casual cafe than a bar.
The contrast between the two is a little jarring. It does give them lots of space for seating (they have a patio attached to the bar, too), but sometimes it’s hard to know what the restaurant is trying to be.
If you’re ordering the weekend buffet, you’ll most likely experience both sides of the building. The buffet lines are in the bar side billiards room.
There’s also a Bloody Mary bar (not included in the buffet price). When you order, the server will give you a glass with vodka, and then it’s up to you to choose your mixings near the buffet line.
One of our table members chose the buffet, while the others ordered off the menu. I was not in a buffet mood (odd, I know), so I ordered the steak and eggs. It was a 8 oz ribeye with potatoes, eggs, and toast. Steak and eggs can be dicey, especially in small diners. Unless you’re ordering at a steakhouse, there’s a good chance that you might be stuck with a lesser cut. The key is also to order it less cooked than you would like (so order medium if you want medium-rare), because smaller restaurants tend to use thinner cooks that are more easily overcooked. This was the case here: the steak was medium well even though I ordered medium, and it was under-seasoned. All in all, this was a filling plate of breakfast: the eggs and toast were fun, and the potatoes were a little soft and (dare I say it) too buttery.
Here’s plate #1 from the buffet: biscuits and gravy, eggs, sausage, potatoes, a Danish, and more. All decent, but nothing mind-blowing.
Plate #2 from the buffet: eggs, sausage, bacon, more potatoes.
My wife ordered a Bloody Mary, too, and went through the awkward motions of having the server disappear then return with a glass full of ice and vodka. Sure, it’s nice to be able to customize your own Bloody Mary (mimosas, too), but it makes for a lot of up-and-down through your meal.
All in all, it was a so-so experience at Marshall’s. Not horrible, but we’ll keep exploring other spots before we come back. The food wasn’t remarkable enough to be a strong recommendation, and it took a while to get anything from our server. Maybe it was an off day – it was a busy Saturday, after all – but most places really thrive on those busy weekend days. Combined with the hybrid space, it was hard to tell what Marshall’s is trying to be: a bar with lots of grub for breakfast, or a neighborhood cafe where you can take the family.