I just got home from traveling on business to Cincinnati, Ohio. While I was in a new area, I made sure to check out the local cuisine among other things. Even though Cincinnati proper is actually smaller than Philadelphia, the “Cincinnati” title expands very deep into its suburbs where it is practically rural.
I tried to avoid chain restaurants that I can experience at home and other places. Most chains, the food is reasonably consistent at all locations with some minor changes for local flavor.
My first night, I went to a wine bar on main street in “downtown” Milford called 20 Brix. They were booked solid with Reservations for a couple of hours after I got there, however the Outdoor dining and bar are first come first served – and seats were available at both. It was chilly out and I left my coat at the hotel, so I sat at the bar. I kind of felt bad only drinking cola at the bar, but the bartender didn’t seem to mind; she kept my glass full without me have to ask for refills. That always makes me happy. It is a sign of great customer service.
The least expensive entrée was in the mid-teens; the 20 Brix Burger, which sounded fairly delicious, but I opted for something I never had before – Chicken & Waffle. I am difficult to impress when it comes to chicken. Usually I turn my nose away unless it is a bit extravagant. Something about the description of the entrée and the feedback from another patron told me to give it a shot.
The Braised Greens that were included with the dish seemed weird to me at first, but I think that was a matter of me getting familiar with how the vegetables were cooked. I’m not certain if it was kale or spinach, but the braising in olive oil with seasoning gave it a bright char flavor. When combined with the green beans and other greens it was tasty and fun.
The dish came with a sauce that I would describe as being halfway between sweet & sour sauce and pancake syrup. I poured it over the breaded fried chicken and the waffle. The chicken was tender and juicy; the flavor was wonderful. I truly enjoyed the dish and service was great.
Checking out the local Mexican cuisine, I stopped at Taco Casa in Harper’s Station on Montgomery Road. They are known for their taco salad, but I decided to get a combination platter with Chicken Chorizo Burrito, Beef Taco and Refried Beans.
I have never tried Chorizo before, so I cannot speak of its authenticity, but the burrito as a whole was large and very good. Towards the end I started losing control of it, so I finished it off with a fork. The queso they chose for this burrito was an excellent choice.
The taco was good, but it seemed somewhat plain, especially after that burrito. They offer mild and hot sauces in large pump units with the small plastic cups. I suspect that they kept the meat very mild to allow people the ability to adjust the spiciness themselves with the sauce. I used the mild sauce as I was looking for more tang and flavor rather than heat. That was the ticket. I even mixed some in with the refried beans.
Frisch’s Big Boy
I had heard of Bob’s Big Boy and some other Big Boy branded restaurants, but Frisch’s Big Boy was new to me. Into this restaurant near Loveland I went for dinner. After reviewing the menu, I went with their “New, Limited Time” Seafood Market Platter with Fried Pickles for an appetizer and Cherry Pepsi for a drink.
The fried pickles had an extremely thin batter coating on them. I could actually see the medium green skin and light green flesh of the cucumber through the batter. They actually were a bit too salty, but that was not the real problem with the fried pickles. The fried pickles were extremely greasy; to the point that there was a puddle of the oil in the bottom of the paper lining the dish.
The greasy condition of the fried pickles had me very concerned about the rest of the meal. Fried fish, Onion Rings and Fried shrimp … that’s a lot of grease. My forty-something digestive system doesn’t handle grease as well as when I was younger.
Sure enough the rest of my meal was greasy. Not quite as bad as the pickles, but enough that I had to keep wiping my fingers. The onion rings, fish and shrimp all tasted the same – like grease.
The greasiness of the food alone is bad enough to keep me from returning to this restaurant when I visit the area again. As a side note – I had to wait several minutes to pay at the register while the cashier was tending the drive-thru. Poor staffing in my opinion.
About in the middle of the Kenwood Towne Center (Mall) is a retail store for See’s Candies. Its offering was much less than some other candy shops I’ve visited, but still enjoyable sweets. Their prices are high in comparison to my favorite candy stores. I treated myself to a Milk Butterchew, Butterscotch Square and a Cherry Cordial.
The Milk Butterchew is essentially a caramel block enveloped in milk chocolate. It is a very chewy caramel with a lovely butter flavor. The texture is a little gritty; probably from their use of brown sugar in the recipe without proper heating/mixing.
Cherry Cordials are made by coating the cherry with a sugar paste-like glaze. When the glaze hardens the candy is coated in chocolate. A chemical reaction causes the sugar glaze to turn to a sweet liquid over a couple of weeks time. See’s Cherry Cordial either was very recently manufactured or their recipe does not allow the cherry’s glaze to turn to liquid. It was a delicious candy, but I would have preferred the liquid center.
The Butterscotch Square is just like the Butterchew, but it has a richer butter flavor and it is very gritty in texture. It is my favorite in flavor, but I imagine a lot of people would be turned off by the texture.
The candy was very enjoyable and I might get some again in the future, but I definitely know better candy makers back home that aren’t quite as expensive.
Near Miami is El Ranchero, a nice Mexican restaurant hidden behind a White Castle, just off route 28. There food is more authentic than Taco Casa and the restaurant was decorated in a more authentic styling.
I got an enchilada and burrito combination.They both contained ground beef instead of authentic shredded beef, but the tortillas were more authentic – possibly made in-house instead of bought. The burrito was prepared enchilado style, but it was barely larger in size and filling than the enchilada. The refried beans were a little runny and the rice wasn’t as seasoned as I am used to for a Mexican restaurant.