Located on the first level of the magnificently deco Carew Tower, where pleasant music wafts through the lobby to encourage shoppers into the high-end retailers, Hathaway's is the sort of come-one, come-all coffee shop that once proliferated in cities' downtown shopping districts. Seating is at one of three U-shaped counters or at steel-banded dinette tables against the wall. In addition to plate lunch, sandwiches and well-respected hamburgers, there's a nice soda fountain menu of sundaes and banana splits, plus traditional malts and yogurt shakes. These latter include a banana whisk, a pink cloud (made with strawberries), and a crème sickle (orange juice and milk). The yogurt shakes evoke an era when yogurt was an alternative to normal food. The menu touts them as "Healthful Pick Me Uppers," for when one needs that sweet supercharge in the middle of the shopping day.
Breakfast, starting at 6:30 on weekdays, 8am on Saturday, is especially good, including French toast bright with cinnamon flavor and freighted with melting butter. Make it local by adding the Cincinnati favorite, goetta, in lieu of bacon or sausage. Goetta is a pork-and-pin-oats loaf that is sliced thin and fried crisp. It takes a while to sizzle on the griddle, so goetta is not the thing to order if you're in a hurry; but if you are a fan of pigmeat, it is a must. Despite the plebeian setting, Hathaway's goetta is elegant.
Watchful waitresses make sure that coffee cups never are allowed to fall below half-full.
"The pork and oat loaf known as goetta may be an acquired taste. Hathaway's is a good place to acquire it. The long-sizzled goetta is crisp and deliciously unctuous."
"That's fine French toast in the foreground with ample butter melting on top. In the background is a slab of goetta, the breakfast meat unique to Cincinnati. To complete the picture: syrup, served hot alongside."
"Bad news for Michael Stern and other slim waffle fans... Hathaway's now serves Belgian waffles."
"Shopping arcades -- and the pleasant coffee shops that used to occupy them -- are increasingly nostalgic."
"Hathaway's serves its coffee in sturdy mugs with a spoon ready to stir. Note the classic boomerang pattern Formica counter."
"A seat at one of the U-shaped counters at Hathaway's puts you in easy striking distance of waitresses armed with coffee pots serving refills."