AnsweredHot!WhereToEat: Cincinnati and N.Ky (open chat)

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TJ Jackson
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RE: WhereToEat: Cincinnati and N.Ky (open chat) 2006/03/08 21:25:16 (permalink)
I can't eat slaw, or other mayonnaise or mayonnaise-ish things

I have heard it is unusual and good

The menu was far fancier and more extensive than most bars -- things like crabcake stuffed portabella mushrooms, and suchlike
TJ Jackson
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RE: WhereToEat: Cincinnati and N.Ky (open chat) 2006/03/10 12:04:50 (permalink)
The wife had to work late last night, so I decided to take my young'uns out to one of the many newly opened real smoked bbq places that are popping up like crazy in Cincinnati of late. I'd just about call it an explosion...maybe 5 years ago, I think we had one, maybe 2 such places in all of Cincinnati. In the past 6 months, at least 6 more have opened and seem to be doing well

Tonight's foray took me to Jimmy's BBQ,



Their website: http://www.cincybbq.com/
Their online menu: http://www.cincybbq.com/menu.php
A map to their location: http://www.cincybbq.com/location.php

which is located in a long-abandoned former Hardee's location in Hartwell, less than a mile from I-75. It's gotten a good deal of mention in the press in the short time it has been open

http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/AB/20060217/ENT01/602170474/1026/rssenq0502
http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/AB/20060317/ENT01/603170311/1026/rssenq0502
(couldn't find the Cinweekly posting)

and I noted the parking lot was PACKED when I drove by about a week ago, so I was eager to get over there and see for myself

The interior has been redone nicely, with lots of roomy wood booths. The only thing on every table is salt, pepper, and a fast food style napkin holder, which I thought odd for a bbq place, but what the hey.

If you check the menu, a few things will leap out at you. One, the prices are pretty high. a combo plate for 20 bucks? Yep. Then again, I am finding real BBQ to be on the pricey side here in Cincinnati. And this isn't a plate to feed 2-3, its maybe a person and a half or so. Second, they offer a smoked vegetable - a big portabella mushroom. Vegetarian bbq - who woulda thought? Third, no smoked sausage, which I thought and oddity when they make the claim to include the Texas style of bbq in their offerrings

I ordered the pulled pork and pork ribs platter with mac n cheese and fries (had to make sure my little darlings would be willing to eat something) and asked for and was granted a sampling of the brisket. Having noted the absence of sauces on the tables, i asked if they sauced the food in advance and was told they didn't - rather a portion of the sauce (regular, or a hotter mesquite sauce by request only) was provided with each meal. When my tray was loaded up and presented to me a few minutes later, and having noted the tiny sauce portion provided, I asked for and was given some extra sauce.

The food was a mixed bag

The brisket - very light on smoke, but tender and flavorful. Good, but not great.

The pulled pork - I could clearly see smoke ring, now that I have grown accustomed to what to look for, but suprisingly there was almsot no smokiness to the pulled pork. Puzzled, I picked up a piece with visible ring and bit off a piece that was nothing but smoke ring, and still - nothing. All that said, it was tender and juicy, but had little flavor. My daughters were in agreement with me - they swabbed theirs with sauce after eating the first bite.

The ribs - by far the hit of the evening. My daughters hadn't had ribs before, and both begged for more after they sampled the first pieces of the meat I pulled off and offerred to them, red with smoke all the way to the bone. The smokiness was strong and good here, almost as if all the flavor of the pulled pork had somehow been magically transported into the ribs. The rich red color of the moist rib meat was in striking contrast to the black blanket of tasty dry spice on the outside. These definitely passed the "great bbq needs no sauce" test.....even my preschoolers thought so, and they did nearly EVERYTHING in catsup. I have yet to sample dry ribs in Memphis, but I think these ribs are very much of that style. These were also perhaps the meatiest ribs I have ever had, with perhaps a 3 to 1 meat to bone ratio. Just outstanding. If you go, get these.

The sauce - deep rich red with few if any distinct flecks of spice, ever so slightly thinner than catsup, with some smokiness, distinct vinegar taste, and little to none of the sweetness generally found in most Cincinnati bbq sauces. I liked it, but remain puzzled why they are so stingy with the portioning of the sauce. I did not try the mesquite sauce or the vinegar sauce they mention in connection with ordering the pulled pork "carolina style"

The fries - skin on, freshly fried, and sprinkled with some kind of in house spice. It may even have been the same spice mix used to coat the ribs. Not bad, not great. Another oddity, and maybe just a detail that the owners have not attended to yet - no catsup was available anywhere as near as I can tell.

The mac and cheese - very dry, with very large, thick macaronis and cheese close to the consistency of taffy. I do not recommend this.

Bread - I was disappointed that with a meal this expensive that they did not include any bread, but cornbread was available for a 2.00 per piece upcharge. I didn't order any as I assumed they'd include some.

Service - you order at the counter, wait for them to fill a tray, and then take the tray to your seat. The age and demeanor of the staff were further evidence of an almost "McDonald's" type apmosphere. To be fair, tho, this is also true of other recently opened bbq joints like Jim Dandy's and CityQ. I couldn't shake the "this is a chain" feeling even though I know this is a single location establishment.

Overall - the ribs were of course excellent, but everything else was really only decent at best. I think they need to sharpen their focus a little bit, and not try to represent so many different styles of bbq - carolina, texas, and memphis, and kc are all in play here - to improve their product overall. I'd like to see more side options offered, particularly green beens. I got a "that was a GOOD dinner daddy!" comment from the 4 and a half year old - which is a rarity. I will make a return trip back with the wife at some point to see how she likes it....she likes slaw, baked beans, and greens, all things I generally don't like and so she'll be able to give me an opinion on these.
tjr
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RE: WhereToEat: Cincinnati and N.Ky (open chat) 2006/03/10 22:56:01 (permalink)
TJ, one possible answer to why your pulled pork had lots of smoke ring but little smoke flavor: They threw some TenderQuick or the equivalent in their rub. Sounds like you've studied up on smoke rings, but don't know if you've heard of this trick. No harm to doing this, it's why Chinese BBQ pork looks like it has a smoke ring even tho it's not smoked.
TJ Jackson
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RE: WhereToEat: Cincinnati and N.Ky (open chat) 2006/03/11 15:33:54 (permalink)
The owner of Jimmy's BBQ has emailed me a response after I left him a message via the "Contact Us" page on his website and notified him of the roadfood "review" I posted in this thread. He asked that I not cut and paste from his email, and so I won't, but I will say he was pleasant and addressed several of the concerns I brought up.

I'll add that the response came back in like 3 hours. Wow.

I've also asked him to consider registering here and responding directly to the many Cincinnati readers.
TJ Jackson
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RE: WhereToEat: Cincinnati and N.Ky (open chat) 2006/03/23 14:31:36 (permalink)
The endless search for a good burger in Cincinnati took me today to a chain.

Well, not a big chain, but a chain nonethless:[url='http://www.rockbottom.com/RockBottomWeb/RBR/Index.aspx?PageName=/RockBottomWeb/Controls/Location/DisplayLocationRBR.ascx&SectionName=Root.LocationFinder.LocationResults.LocationDetails.OurPlace&LocationID=10062']Rock Bottom Brewery[/url]. They offer a 1/2 pound burger for 7.79 with fries or another side, cheese or other toppings (other than the typical) are 50 cents or more extra. The waiter informed me they wouldcook the burger to the ordered degree of done-ness

What arrived at my table was impressive to look at, but not to eat.

The large crusty elongated bun made the thick burger too tall to get the jaw around, and ergo had to be squashed down to fit. The bun was also very dense, vey dry, and just a tad bit stale and crumbly, all in all detracting substantially from the burger itself.

The burger lacked flavor and juicyness, and was cooked to medium WELL rather than the requested medium RARE. I am coming to beginning to expect this in Cincinnati, and am starting to take some offense to it. If you cannot cook to order, ie if everything has to be at least medium well, then just say so....don't lie to me and say you can cook it to order when you can not or will not.

The cheese I picked was described as "smoked cheddar" which implied it would impart a good amount of flavor, but it was blander than most slices of plain old american cheese.

The fries came out cold, and they forgot the grilled onions. The waiter made it right a few minutes later. The replacement fies were indeed fresh and hot, but otherwise unremarkable.

10 dollars poorer, I walked out knowing the search would go on, and I wouldn't be returning here.
45013
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RE: WhereToEat: Cincinnati and N.Ky (open chat) 2006/03/24 03:24:51 (permalink)
What's this I hear about the Golden Lamb in Lebanon being for sale? The restaurant is for sale, but the building is not.
TJ Jackson
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RE: WhereToEat: Cincinnati and N.Ky (open chat) 2006/03/24 08:48:29 (permalink)
It's true

The building is owned by an individual, the restaurant business is owned by the Comisars - yes, those Comisars, the ones who allowed the Maisonette to close.

http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060322/BIZ01/603220313/1076

Sandy Thruthegarden
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RE: WhereToEat: Cincinnati and N.Ky (open chat) 2006/03/25 08:56:28 (permalink)
I met some friends at "Honey" in Northside Thursday night. I hadn't been to Northside in years and was impressed with how the neighborhood is evolving into a lively bohemian neighborhood. Reminded me a little of Dupont Circle or Kalorama in D.C.

Anyway, Honey is in the space vacated by Boca ( on Hamilton Avenue)when the latter moved to Oakley. The place was packed for a Thursday night. It's good that we got there at 5:45 because Honey doesn't accept reservations and soon all the tables were filled.

I had read Polly Campbell's review in the Enquirer and was intrigued but somewhat sceptical about the "eclectic' nature of the menu. There are some places that make a point of serving esoteric and contrived combinations meant to "startle" the palate and the result is often bizarre rather than tasty. Fortunately Honey is not one of those places. Some of the dishes were composed of a novel combination of ingredients but everything was full of flavor and delicious.

One of my friends had the braised shortribs. They were plentiful and very tender and served in a sweet gingery sauce along with a mixture of mashed potatoes and parsnips.

Another friend had one of the specials, pork chops served in a subtle pina colada flavored sauce. Again, the serving was generous. She commented that the pork chops were moist and flavorful but perhaps a little overdone. She found them a little difficult to cut.

The third friend had fish and chips consisting of tilapia in a flavorful breading with the thin Honey house fries which are made with Yukon Gold potatoes and sweet potatoes served together. She also had the celery root soup which contained bits of bacon (NOT bacon bits!). It had a deep earthy flavor and we all sampled it and thought it was wonderful.

I had the herbed chicken breast which was also moist and the combination of herbs (rosemary, tarragon?) nicely complimented the chicken which was probably free range since it wasn't huge, hormonal, and flavorless like most "modern" chickens. it was served with "Jarlsburg Potatoes Dauphinois" which turned out to be a dense wedge of cheesy potatoes (quite good) and fresh al dente green beans.

With the exception of the soup, we decided not to order any of the appetizers: lime-cured salmon with vanilla, the Provencal platter (more middle eastern than Provencal), or the crabcake special although they sounded good. We were celebrating a birthday and decided to spend our calories on desert. We ordered one of the specials, a layer cake with dark chocolate, orange, and vanilla flavors, and the waiter warned us that the slice would easily satisfy two people, so we each split a slice. The cake itself was dense, moist white cake with a combination of vanilla and orange flavors. The icing was a dark chocolate shell lined with orange creme. It was really really good.

Honey's prices are reasonable, by and large, especially in light of the size of the servings. Appetizers ranged from $7 to $12. Main dishes hovered around the $15 to $20 range. The most expensive item was a steak served with wasabi which was $25. Our huge slice of cake was $7, which worked out to $3.50 per person which was reasonable given its quality.

I've attached a link to Polly Campbell's review:

http://news.cincinnati.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051110/ENT01/511110302/1026
mcunnin777
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RE: WhereToEat: Cincinnati and N.Ky (open chat) 2006/03/25 09:29:01 (permalink)
As long as you are eating in Northside you should really try the Comet (4579 Hamilton Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio. Ph:513-541-8900). They have the best Burritos in the city or anywhere else in the area for that matter. It is a San Francisco style buritto and is about the size of a small child. It is hard to finish a whole one. They also serve Quesadillas, chips and homemaid salsa and they offer a huge selection of beverages including over 150 beers, the hippest jukebox in the city (according to CityBeat), 2 pool tables, work from local artists, and live music weekly and there is never a cover.
The prices are all reasonable and the kitchen is open from 4:00pm to 1:30am so if your hungry late in the evening this is the place. I've attached a link to their menu...

http://www.cometbar.com/2006_menu.htm
Sandy Thruthegarden
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RE: WhereToEat: Cincinnati and N.Ky (open chat) 2006/03/25 15:32:16 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by mcunnin777

As long as you are eating in Northside you should really try the Comet (4579 Hamilton Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio. Ph:513-541-8900). They have the best Burritos in the city or anywhere else in the area for that matter. It is a San Francisco style buritto and is about the size of a small child. It is hard to finish a whole one. They also serve Quesadillas, chips and homemaid salsa and they offer a huge selection of beverages including over 150 beers, the hippest jukebox in the city (according to CityBeat), 2 pool tables, work from local artists, and live music weekly and there is never a cover.
The prices are all reasonable and the kitchen is open from 4:00pm to 1:30am so if your hungry late in the evening this is the place. I've attached a link to their menu...

http://www.cometbar.com/2006_menu.htm


Sounds good. We'll have to try it. I'll probably have to split the small child with my friend. It was chilly and starting to get dark when I got to Northside so I didn't get to look around. I want to go back on a warm spring afternoon. Would you recommend any other bars, shops, or restaurants in the area? Thanks.
TJ Jackson
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RE: WhereToEat: Cincinnati and N.Ky (open chat) 2006/03/25 21:08:33 (permalink)
The Comet is one of those places that's definitely on my list of places to try, but I never seem to be in that area at mealtime.

I've got to get over there sometime

Of course, the big talk in Northside is about Slim's, but I am not a fan of experimental/eclectic fare. I would like to know more about the NY style pizza place over there.....NYPD or something like that?
TJ Jackson
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RE: WhereToEat: Cincinnati and N.Ky (open chat) 2006/03/27 12:39:25 (permalink)
The neverending search for a good burger in Cincinnati took me today to a diner-style operation called[url='http://www.google.com/maps?num=30&hl=en&lr=&safe=off&q=cafe+devine&near=Cincinnati,+OH&radius=0.0&cid=39161944,-84456944,7822753116941995988&li=lmd&z=14&t=m']Cafe DeVine[/url], on Vine Street (naturally) between 3rd and 4th. I had been avoiding this place for a while because the prices seemed a dollar or two out of line on the wallet-draining side, but a recent article in the Downtowner (a weekly free newspaper circulated mostly downtown) piqued my interest, and I decided to drop by

The menu is very diner-ish: liver and onions, lasagna, meatloaf with brown gravey, several vegetable sides to choose from as well as 3-4 different soups. They seem to do a brisk business selling salads and cold sandwiches, at least this was the case as I took the place in while sitting on a stool at the counter. They also offer a half pound burger (6.50, 40 cents extra for cheese) on a toasted kaiser roll, which like all of their sandwiches includes a choice of pretty much any side-type dish the offer, or a cup of soup.

Right there on the menu, printed plain as day, it reads "cooked to order" but given my recent experiences with this locally, I had to question the waitress, who confirmed I could get it rare if I wanted it that way. Cautiously optimisitc, I ordered my usual medium rare with swiss, american, grilled onions, and lettuce, and chose one of the soups of the day - chicken with wild rice - as my side

The soup was pretty good, broth style rather than the more commonly found creamy style, and required only a bit of salt and pepper to bring out it's full flavor. It came out with steam wafting off the top, and I had to let it cool a bit before getting to it.

The burger gave me pause to hope when it came out. The meat was hand pattied and appeared fresh, with none of the molded look of a frozen patty, and there was clearly some bright red on one of the edges. The bun was soft, fresh, and high quality, toasted n buttered, and was perfectly sized to hold the large patty. Grilled onions were indeed included, and had become one with the melted swiss on top. The lettuce was a dark green solid piece of fresh leaf lettuce, almost decorative. So this burger held considerable promise

Unfortunately, the burger itself was fairy bland, tasting as if it had been cooked on a low teperature part of the grill, ensuring that it cooked but had no outer char. Fortunately, they have A-1 on hand to lend some flavor. The red I saw on one edge was the only red place on the burger, and I was perplexed how and edge could be red but still the middle was cooked completely through, solidly medium well. They also failed to include the slice of american cheese.

This was good enough to go back for a second try at a less hectic time, which I will do so when time permits.

Update 3/30/2006: I returned for another burger, and this time asked the waitress to specify not only medium rare on the burger, but to ask that the cooks err on the side of rare. She sympathized and said she'd make sure it was right this time. And indeed it was.



Very, very good, albeit still pricey (7.77 with tax and before beverage and gratuity) as shown.

The fries were ok, the large homemade crisp-edged cookies (3 in a wax paper baggie for a buck) that I snagged at the checkout were excellent.
Wallyum
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RE: WhereToEat: Cincinnati and N.Ky (open chat) 2006/03/28 19:50:56 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by mcunnin777

As long as you are eating in Northside you should really try the Comet (4579 Hamilton Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio. Ph:513-541-8900). They have the best Burritos in the city or anywhere else in the area for that matter. It is a San Francisco style buritto and is about the size of a small child. It is hard to finish a whole one. They also serve Quesadillas, chips and homemaid salsa and they offer a huge selection of beverages including over 150 beers, the hippest jukebox in the city (according to CityBeat), 2 pool tables, work from local artists, and live music weekly and there is never a cover.
The prices are all reasonable and the kitchen is open from 4:00pm to 1:30am so if your hungry late in the evening this is the place. I've attached a link to their menu...

http://www.cometbar.com/2006_menu.htm


One of my old co-workers suggested this place to me quite a while back. My son and I were going to try it one night when my wife and daughter were at the Aranoff, but he got panicky and nixed the idea in favor of Chipotle. He was a little intimidated by the fact that it was a bar.
Well, I'm pretty sure he's my kid.
Wallyum
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RE: WhereToEat: Cincinnati and N.Ky (open chat) 2006/03/28 20:02:48 (permalink)
I gave Shane's Barbecue a try tonight. This is a new chain place that opened in the Crestview Town Center. It wasn't quite what I was expecting or hoping for. I got a full rack with mac & cheese and slaw as my sides. There was was fairly strong vinegar smell to the ribs when they arrived, but very little smoke smell. They tasted fine, were served hot and were very meaty, (in fact I'd have been happy with a half slab,) but I'd only rank them as marginal. The sides were nothing special either. The overall experience left me with the impression that I could have done as well here at home with the whole meal. (I just bought a new smoker, so I'll get the chance to prove it very soon.) I'd be curious to know more about the cooking process. Judging by the smell in the parking lot, something was smoking in there, but based on my meal I'm not sure what it might have been. I'll give it another try some night, but this time I'll try the pulled pork sandwich.
TJ Jackson
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RE: WhereToEat: Cincinnati and N.Ky (open chat) 2006/03/29 13:31:22 (permalink)
The neverending search for a good burger in Cincinnati took me a dozen blocks from my office today to the Plaza Cafe, sister restaurant to the Cafe DeVine, which I had visted on Monday

Unfortunately, this was a much smaller burger, did not include optional sides, and the owner revealed upon questioning that it is precooked due to the small amount of flat grilling space they have at this location.

Breakfast looks promising, but I doubt I will ever be up in that area during their limited breakfast service hours

Ah well
TJ Jackson
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RE: WhereToEat: Cincinnati and N.Ky (open chat) 2006/03/30 12:55:43 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by Sandy Thruthegarden

I met some friends at "Honey" in Northside Thursday night.

Honey was voted by Citybeat readers as the best new restaurant of 2006, per the issue that just hit the stands this week
TJ Jackson
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RE: WhereToEat: Cincinnati and N.Ky (open chat) 2006/04/04 15:53:15 (permalink)
When I ventured out in search of something interesting for lunch today, browsing sidewalk placards advertising daily lunch specials, I was suprised to find that a long-closed Wendy's Hamburgers location on Vine Street between 6th and 7th had reopened as a fast food hot dog\burger\fries place named Dinks.

Mind you, there are very few fast food places in town that are independently owned and not parts of a chain, but this one definitely is



Noting the special (4.50 for a dbl cheeseburger, fries, and a drink shown on the sidewalk placard on the lower left) I headed on in and checked the simple but very interesting menu



Lots of cool roadfood-ish stuff!

Chicago style all beef dogs (need to get the brand before John Fox quizzes me)
Frito pie
deep fried twinkie
home made onion rings
gravey fries

I didn't get a good pic of the burger and fries, but it was decently good for the price, and definitely cooked when I ordered it rather than from a bin, and presented in a wax-paper lined basket. Grilled onions were available, and at no extra charge. The fries are shoestring, and were hot and tasty.

I saw someone else with an order of onion rings, and these were of the very large, hand breaded variety. They looked absoutely great.

I was told on inquiry that the chili is bean-less (yeah yeah, I know, someo of you feel chili should never have beans, but that's just it, some places do put beans in there, so sue me) and thicker than cincinnati-style chili.

I will be back again soon to try more things and get some non-blurry food pics.

Update 4/11/206: I have been back to Dink's several times since my original report, and have found that in general, we have a good idea here that is still a bit rough around the edges, but I think - and hope - it gets worked out by the omnipresent owner/manager

(oh, and no....I didn't eat this all in one visit, hehe)

The regular burger (is very thin and preformed but tasty, and grilled onions are available and free. Unfortunately, whatever method they are using to store hamburger buns is leaving them dry and crunchy on the edges, and usually concentrated on one side. I intend to speak to the manager about this. Still, a good looking burger. Pricey at 1.75, 1.99 with cheese, for the size. Oh - and the cheese is a swiss/american blend.



I had noticed on every visit that the onion rings looked fabulous, so I had to get an order myself. These are the real deal; large whole ringlets of yellow onion batter dipped and fried golden brown. Very, very tasty. But despite the quality, I still argue with the 2.00 price tag.



Because of the packaging, I can't show you much more on the Frito pie other than it is as genuine as it gets - chili and cheese dumped into a real honest to goodness bag of Fritos. Got to love it :-) The chili is not Cincinnati style, but rather a much thicker, much meatier beanless concoction that reminded me to an extent of really good (americanized) taco filling. Tasty.



The weirdness continues with the fried twinkie. I swear, if I eat here again tommorrow I think my oil to blood ratio will approach 1 to 1 :-) Anyway - it's cheap (a buck) and interesting and worth a try. The folks at CinWeekly agreed -[url='http://cinweekly.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/a1/20060524/ENT01/605240359/']Link[/url] . Dink's batters a genuine twinkie, then they deep fry it, then drizzle it with raspberry sauce and sprinkle on a bit of powdered sugar. Reminds me of something one might find at a food vendor at a state fair, only doesn't taste quite as good.



Of course, the focus of the menu here is on the dogs. I asked the owner(Ken - a very friendly and always-there owner, a good sign for any startup business), and he says he uses a Best brand dog and a Vienna Beef polish, but I didn't get the weights - sorry JF :-). He grills the dog, and he deep fries the polish. I think I'd prefer it the other way around, but decided to check them both out in their normal configurations. I like the dog with the chili and cheese - kinda like a really big, more substantial,meatier cincinnati-style cheese coney. The polish, less so - the dry hoagie bun is too large and doughy and kinda overwhelms the taste of the sausage itself. I'll have to ask if I can get this grilled and on the regular bun next time.





They make their shakes (1.90) on one of those old fashioned mixers ( that sound almost exactly like the drill at your friendly local dentist's office) one at a time, not from premix from a spigot. Oddly, no malts, just shakes. Thick enough to keep my straw from moving, and much more a rich chocolate flavor with less sweetness. I'd like to see them pick up some malt powder, tho, as I certainly prefer malts to shakes, the powder is fairly shelf-stable, and would add little to food costs. Heck, it could even be a 5-10 cent upcharge :-)



The cheesesteak is the highest priced item on the menu at 4.99, and is unfortunately pretty nondescript and a bit small for the price. For some reason, many vendors selling cheesesteaks out this way seem to think that green bell peppers are something automatically included. Dunno why, but it's true here as well. I'm all but certain they are just one of many optional toppings you can request (and sometimes pay extra for) in Philly. It's not bad, but it needs more cheese (it's barely visible under the meat - this is a CHEESE steak, you know?) and less cooking time for the crisped-edge and dry shaved steak. I should add that I am almost certain the cheese is the same swiss-american blend sliced cheese used on the hamburger (pictured above). In a conversation I had with Ken later, he indicated that he has cheese wiz available on request in place of the swiss-american slices. He also said he's considering slicing his own steak meat on premises, with the hope of providing a bigger and better sandwich (as he puts it "I want to have a really BIG cheesesteak"), but is weighing the feasibility of it for now.



Ken tells me he is going for the look, feel, and taste of a retro 50's dog and burger type joint, much like what one might have found at a drivein back then, and I think he is on the right track but needs to rework some of his pricing and get a few quality issues under control. I have high hopes, and will be visiting again in the near future.

Update 5/17/2006: I knew Ken was going to offer a half pound dog called a Homewrecker at some point, but I guess he has it on the menu now....the following snippet appeared in the local Cinweekly free newspaper

from http://cinweekly.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/a1/20060517/ENT0105/605170352/1047/rsscin13

DOWNTOWN

"Cheap, fast, fun, good."

That's what you'll get at Dink's, according to owner Kent Vandersall. The new restaurant (located in a former Wendy's on Vine Street) is a retro 1950s-style eatery specializing in hamburgers, hot dogs and milkshakes. Dink's also carries treats like cherries jubilee ($1.88) and deep-fried Twinkies ($1).

Vandersall says customers enjoy Dink's hot dogs - the Chicago ($2.49) and half-pound "Homewrecker" ($4.99) varieties in particular. "If you can picture a half-pound hot dog, you can imagine why we call it the Homewrecker," he says.

Dink's is located at 628 Vine St., downtown. Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday. For more information, call (513) 621-1461.


Update 5/30/2006: I had to stop by when the board out front said the special was a filet mignon sandwich with fries and a drink for 5 bucks. FIVE BUCKS! Great sandwich, good tender beef cooked medium, and of course an excellent value. My only complaint is that the flimsy standard hamburger bun Dink's uses dries quickly and has little body to it, so it falls apart quickly. I'm hoping they'll switch to a bun with a little more substance to it - not larger, just a stronger body - although I realize that food costs have to be kept minimal.

I also noted today that the menu has some new additions: the aforementioned "home-wrecker" half pound hotdog, a grilled cheese, and a tossed salad. I imagine the menu will be in flux for a while as this fledging enterprise finds it's footing at a location where two chains.....Wendy's and Empress....have both failed.

Update 6/2/2006: Our local dining reviewer, Polly Campbell, concentrates most of her efforts on very pricey restaurants where the chefs are minor local celebrities, but this week she stopped by Dinks and gave him some love. The article includes a picture of Ken (the owner/manager) at the pick up counter with a couple ofhs specialities.

Here's the link: http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/AB/20060602/ENT01/606020306/
TJ Jackson
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RE: WhereToEat: Cincinnati and N.Ky (open chat) 2006/04/05 14:20:48 (permalink)
I revisited[url='http://www.cinweekly.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050105/ENT0105/501050301/1047/archive']Gondola Pizzeria[/url] today when I found that Dink's special of the day was tuna and chicken salad sandwiches. Mayo. Yuck. :-)

The pizza by the slice has improved MARKEDLY since my last visit, roughly a year ago. The owner says he has changed nothing, but the sauce was much more flavorful and the crust better tasting and had an much better texture and much more browning on the bottom and edge crust. Very, very good; but still a bit pricey at 4.75 for the two slices.

The special is actually for 2 one-topping slices, but I was able to talk them into putting two toppings (sausage and onion) on one slice and leave the other plain cheese. Also, they tend to underbake the slice - the slices pictured were ordered well done - so I advise ordering your slices well done.





I've edited the capsule review on the [url='http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=6632']Cinti\N Ky Review thread[/url] to reflect this improvement.
TJ Jackson
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RE: WhereToEat: Cincinnati and N.Ky (open chat) 2006/04/06 16:07:22 (permalink)
Earlier this week, I was able to get over to Newport, Ky (just across the river from the eastern end of downtown Cincinnati) to continue the search for a good burger at a little hole in the wall bar in Newport named the Mansion Hill Tavern. I had read a good review of their pan fried chicken, offered only on Wednesdays, a couple of years ago; and had heard someone more recently mention that they had a good burger. From the looks of the place, you might even suspect this was a bar only - no real signs that they serve food



The building appears to have an interesting history, as per the backside of the carryout menu, which is printed on a very high quality glossy paper, making it hard for me to get a good/non-blurry photo of it :-)



Indeed, they have only a very limited regular menu



and a couple of daily specials that don't appear follow any kind of schedule - except the chicken, which I definitely want to get in to try sometime. They do serve food one night a week only - Friday - and then, a steak dinner is always on the menu. This is a real oddity, as nearly 100% of eateries in Cincinnati who serve food on Fridays generally add a vegeterian and/or fish offering due to the large Catholic population and the "meatless friday's" tradition that brings along. MHT adds more meat rather than taking it away :-)

The other thing you need to note on the menu is the prices. Keep in mind when I describe the burgers below, that they are priced under 5 bucks each - not a special, regular priced.

Still, I was here for a burger, and could not settle on either a "Pub Burger" (adds swiss and thin shaved ham, ala a Roy's Double R Bar) or a "Best Burger I've had all Day" (a fancy name for your basic cheeseburger) so I told the waitress to bring me one of both. Each medium rare, with lettuce and grilled onions (no extra charge).

Here's the beauties I received



First, the chips, which you see in the background. You'll note that the menu indicates that each burger includes Hussman's Potato chips. This is a very ordinary local commercial brand, a cheap freebie. But look at the pic - these were fresh cut and cooked in house, what is known locally as Saratoga Chips, as made famous by Montgomery Inn, and are served with a side of bbq sauce. So fresh and crispy on the edges and generally a bit chewy towards the center, so very very good. A gratis with the burgers! Got to love it!

Next, the pub burger.



This was an half pound hand-formed patty perfectly cooked to a nice medium rare, with a generous helping of deli ham stacked on top. Notice the crisp green fresh leaf lettuce. The bun was soft and well sized to the patty. The whole thing was fairly bursting with juices as I strained to open my jaw wide enough to get around it, eventually settling on squashing it down just a bit to eat it. Just fabulous. My one sole complaint, and a minor one at that, was that the grilled onions were chopped fine rather than in rings or in coarse chunks. However, they were running a chili burger special that day, and I was coming in at the end of lunch, so it was understandable that they were probably just trying to use up some of the finely chopped onions rather than chopping up a new one. I'll come earlier next time :-) This burger got better as it cooled, as the ham flavors become more pronounced the cooler the burger became.

Finally, the cheeseburger



This was also a half pound hand formed burger, also cooked to a perfect medium rare, on the same bun and etc. Also extremely good, same onion "problem". Not as good as the Pub Burger because the cheddar used was of the finely shredded mild cheddar variety you see in Cincinnati on chili plates......ie iwas getting cheese left over from the chili burger special. It was blnad and really didn't add much to the bburger as a result. Again - I need to come earlier or substitute swiss or american, which they also have available. But the burger itself - just absolutely oustanding.

I figured I'd leave with some leftovers, but these burgers were so good (and my lunch was later than normal) that I ate all but a few bites of the cheeseburger, and completely polished off the saratoga chips and the Pub Burger.

I have no qualms pronouncing the burger here to be among the top 5 in all of greater Cincinnati. I'll add that at a mere 4 bucks a pop, this is perhaps the very BEST lunch value in all of Cincinnati! Can't wait to go back, and hope I have enough willpower to get the friend chicken next time instead of one of these wonderful burgers. Wally....this is a hop skip and a jump for you, and you're off during regular lunch hours.....you need to get down there pronto for a cheap, wonderful lunch!

{Edit: I've added Mansion Hill Tavern to the capsule review thread[url='http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=6632#187902']here[/url]}
Jimeats
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RE: WhereToEat: Cincinnati and N.Ky (open chat) 2006/04/06 17:35:37 (permalink)
TJ, I know this is a bit off topic but just wondering what your useing to shoot these great pictures? Do you also have an all purpose lens or do you change lenses? I am going to Umbria in a couple of weeks so I ran out and bought a Nicon D70 body. I have yet to buy any lenses and really don't have a clue. This is an upgrade for me I always used a Brownie instamatic, I'll have to figure out what to do with the stored photos when I get back. Anyway, great shots and feel free to email me if you don't want to post here. Thanks, Chow Jim
TJ Jackson
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RE: WhereToEat: Cincinnati and N.Ky (open chat) 2006/04/06 22:40:32 (permalink)
JimEats: No problem

First, I have never been big on photography, and never even owned a digital camera until last year.

I purchased a cheap used 2MP camera - a Nikkon Coolpix 2100 (http://www.steves-digicams.com/2003_reviews/nikon2100.html) - off EBay about a year ago for 40 bucks. My wife would have skinned me alive had I spent big bucks on a hobby she sees as a waste of time and money. It came with a 8MB card, and I purchased a 64MB about a week later, which works ok as I dump the pics pretty often. It has a 2.5x Optical zoom, and I learned to turn off the digital zoom right away.

I spent a good deal of time researching what models would be best on Steve's Digicam Reviews site before starting my bidding. The model I ended up with wasn't my top pick - I wanted a Digital Elph - but it's worked out ok. It's a BIG plus that it uses standard sized batteries - I bought rechargeables and it charges at my desk every day.

No real secrets - mostly, I've learned to take the same pic at least 3 times for a decent chance of getting a decent pic, and of course I use the best pic I get of the batch here. Even then, I still get bad pics and just have to return - if I can - later to reshoot. I wasn't going to get a chance to reshoot at Mr Beef in Chicago, so I took like 20 pics of that sandwich before eating it.

One other thing - I usually turn off the flash first thing. I've taken same shots with and without flash, and unless it is very dark, the flash does not seem to ever produce a better picture. That said, hehe, the burger pics above required a flash because this bar has a very dark interior with very limited lighting.
Miss Freddie
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RE: WhereToEat: Cincinnati and N.Ky (open chat) 2006/04/08 02:19:58 (permalink)

Oh, I am now very homesick.
I lived in Ohio for the first twenty plus years of life, but have spent the last twenty-two years in NC.
I miss Mio's Pizza in Hyde Park. Is it still in operation? They had the best pizza and garlic bread my tongue ever touched.
I miss folks understanding what a Chili Parlor is and not having to explain a 'four-way'.
And how about the Ice Cream Parlor on Madison Road in Oakly?
Is Izzy Kadets still in business? I know Izzy died several years ago, because it made local news here.

Oh, for the days of good, really good food.
Jimeats
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RE: WhereToEat: Cincinnati and N.Ky (open chat) 2006/04/08 05:21:25 (permalink)
TJ, Thanks. I see you like your burgers the same way as I do, I see those little traces of red juices just seaping out of that burger. You also have great patience, I would have had a bite or two out of that before I shot. Nice Job and thanks for the info. Chow Jim
TJ Jackson
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RE: WhereToEat: Cincinnati and N.Ky (open chat) 2006/04/08 18:31:47 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by Miss Freddie


Oh, I am now very homesick.
I lived in Ohio for the first twenty plus years of life, but have spent the last twenty-two years in NC.
I miss Mio's Pizza in Hyde Park. Is it still in operation? They had the best pizza and garlic bread my tongue ever touched.
I miss folks understanding what a Chili Parlor is and not having to explain a 'four-way'.
And how about the Ice Cream Parlor on Madison Road in Oakly?
Is Izzy Kadets still in business? I know Izzy died several years ago, because it made local news here.

Oh, for the days of good, really good food.
[url='http://www.miospizza.com/']Mio's Pizza[/url] is still in Hyde Park, but the Famous recipe that was next door has closed and been reopened as Taco Casa. Both are favorites of mine. I wish the Hyde Park Mio's had more table space. The one closer to me - in Mt Washington - is very, very good, probably the best location in Cincinnati. I am particularly found of the stuffed pizza's, which a native Chicagoan I know has sampled and assured me are every bit as good as Giordano's.

The Ice Cream Parlor in Oakley is [url='http://www.aglamesis.com/']Aglamesis Brothers[/url], and is still much the same as it was in the early 20th century. I have always felt that they make a much better ice cream than the much more famous Graeters, and I hope the Stern's will check them out the next time they are in Cincinnati

[url='http://www.izzys.com/']Izzy's[/url] is still going and has been slowly expanding, with a new location just opened on Beechmont. I acknowlege it's popularity despite never having had a good sandwich there myself, and give it another try every year or so to see if I can change my mind. No such luck yet :-)

Wallyum
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RE: WhereToEat: Cincinnati and N.Ky (open chat) 2006/04/10 15:32:48 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by TJ Jackson

quote:
Originally posted by Miss Freddie


Oh, I am now very homesick.
I lived in Ohio for the first twenty plus years of life, but have spent the last twenty-two years in NC.
I miss Mio's Pizza in Hyde Park. Is it still in operation? They had the best pizza and garlic bread my tongue ever touched.
I miss folks understanding what a Chili Parlor is and not having to explain a 'four-way'.
And how about the Ice Cream Parlor on Madison Road in Oakly?
Is Izzy Kadets still in business? I know Izzy died several years ago, because it made local news here.

Oh, for the days of good, really good food.
[url='http://www.miospizza.com/']Mio's Pizza[/url] is still in Hyde Park, but the Famous recipe that was next door has closed and been reopened as Taco Casa. Both are favorites of mine. I wish the Hyde Park Mio's had more table space. The one closer to me - in Mt Washington - is very, very good, probably the best location in Cincinnati. I am particularly found of the stuffed pizza's, which a native Chicagoan I know has sampled and assured me are every bit as good as Giordano's.


Uh, no.
I've had the stuffed pizza at both Mio's and Giordano's, and while Mio's is good for Cincinnati, it isn't anywhere close to Giordano's (or Gino's East or the little place I wandered into on the way back from Wisconsin last year.) There's good, and there's GREAT.
TJ Jackson
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RE: WhereToEat: Cincinnati and N.Ky (open chat) 2006/04/10 16:27:08 (permalink)
Tastiness is on the tongue of the eater, I suppose.... :-)

TJ Jackson
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RE: WhereToEat: Cincinnati and N.Ky (open chat) 2006/04/12 13:34:25 (permalink)
The Jimmy John's on 4th Street between Walnut and Vine had a "soft opening" today, and gave away free sample sandwiches. I had a ham and cheese, and found their fresh baked bread to be quite good

They will open for real sometime between tommorrow and Monday, or so I am told by the manager on duty

Sandy Thruthegarden
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RE: WhereToEat: Cincinnati and N.Ky (open chat) 2006/04/12 21:53:40 (permalink)
The Living section of today's Cincinnati Enquirer has a feature on The Echo restaurant at Hyde Park Square. This was my after school hang-out when I was in high school. As an adult I became fond of the meatloaf sandwich. I hadn't thought of the place for years until I saw this article. It's always been a real neighborhood place with reasonable prices. Besides the meatloaf sandwich, I remember you could get a good chocolate soda there. Anybody out there have any current input on The Echo?

Enquirer article link below:

http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060412/LIFE01/604120315/1086/LIFE
TJ Jackson
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RE: WhereToEat: Cincinnati and N.Ky (open chat) 2006/04/12 22:25:59 (permalink)
Also, had a mediocre breakfast there with my three ladies about a year ago - haven't managed to get back for a followup
Sandy Thruthegarden
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RE: WhereToEat: Cincinnati and N.Ky (open chat) 2006/04/13 06:33:39 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by TJ Jackson

Sandy: I would have emailed if you had a email available, but failing that, if you simply paste the entire fully qualified url into a message

http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060412/LIFE01/604120315/1086/LIFE

it'll show up as a clickable link after you post it, like it does above.

Feel free to try it in this thread, if you like.....we can delete these somewhat off topic messages later :-)


Thanks, T.J. The solution to the absence of the "www" had eluded me. You cleared that up for me. I'll edit.

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