Review - Corner Cafe - Mt. Healthy, Ohio
URGENT - GO HERE NOW, DO NOT EVEN READ THIS, IT IS AMAZING!
1817 W Galbraith Rd
Cincinnati, OH 45239
8am - 3pm every day
Cue the “Welcome Back, Cotter” theme song as I have returned to grace you with another wonderful review. It has been a few months but things should get more regular here in the next week or so. I have some very exciting announcements coming so I hope anyone reading this is also excited!
Today I have come to share with you an experience I had a few Saturdays ago at a place named the Corner Café inMount Healthy,Ohio. I know I have been one for hyperbole in my reviews of things, I know I say a lot of stuff to get people to go out to restaurants and maybe sometimes I get a little carried away but this time I am sincerely NOT being hyperbolic or trying to get you to go to the business because it’s small and struggling. I am honestly saying to you that this is the cutest, nicest, tastiest and most fantastic breakfast place in the city and you should go out of your way to support it.
Food Secrets of Cincinnati business and whatever.
I have been quite busy at work and so I haven’t had time this week to make a list. I will be back next week, however, with a new list and some reviews of some other restaurants, so just hold your breath and wait AND DON’T YOU BREATHE ONE TIME.
Food Secrets of Cincinnati, Vol. 6: Fried Chicken, #1
The Hitching Post
2715 Madison Rd.
Cincinnati, Ohio 45209
Chicken in the morning, chicken in the evening, chicken at supper time, etc. That is the Hitching Post summed up in a concise fashion, they serve it all hours of the day and it is delicious every time. The Hitching Post has been around a long time and encompasses two locations, though the Hyde Park one is arguably the better of the two. There is ample seating, the people are very friendly and know what they are doing and as an added bonus the whole place smells like mouthwatering fried chicken. Do you get cravings for things? You know the type of craving where nothing but that exact type of food you want will do and then you go to that perfect place and you find the thing you wanted and it sates your lust completely? The Hitching Post is like that to me.
The mashed potatoes are fluffy, the mac and cheese is creamy and their gravy is absolutely peppery and delicious but it’s that chicken, my friend, that really makes it all sing together. I never watch them prepare the chicken but I think they are using an herb mixture similar to Sullivan’s only maybe a little more spicy, it is fried until it is golden brown and it is as crispy as you’d ever want a piece of fried chicken to be. The flavor of the pepper and salt in the crisp of the breading, the juiciness and tenderness of the chicken all come together for an exactly correct, perfect chicken dinner.
Try the Hitching Post any time of the day or night, get this chicken and be a happy person. I’m not saying the Hitching Post is the best fried chicken in the city (I firmly believe that honor goes to Sullivan’s) but I am saying that if you are looking for a fried chicken that satisfies, that is the picture in your head of a fried chicken dinner when you consider it, with a plate heaped with mashed potatoes and maybe some greenbeans or mac and cheese and a couple pieces of chicken sitting there in the middle, then the Hitching Post is the place for you.
Another week in the books, a whole 5 days of chicken dinner and I didn’t make a winner winner joke! This weekend you should go out and have some fried chicken, I bet a lot of you haven’t even considered it in a long time, doesn’t it just sound wonderful? The nights are getting colder, the days shorter and comfort food like this could keep you genuinely warm and happy. Go out and enjoy yourselves and support local businesses. Until next week, friends.
Food Secrets of Cincinnati, Vol. 6: Fried Chicken, #2
345 Ludlow Ave
Cincinnati, Ohio 45220
A lot of people will balk at this choice and a lot of people are welcome to be wrong in their interminable and miserable knowledge. People have a stigma about Clifton, myself included, that not a lot of good comes from there, and they are correct. There is a lot of shit in that part of town but there are also gems such as Adriatico’s, Camp Washington Chili, Olive’s and, as a matter of fact, Proud Rooster, thank you very much. Now I dunno if I’d go there for breakfast, it was never really the best, and a lot of their other diner-esque menu items are on par with something like The Pepper Pod or Anchor Grill in Kentucky, two places I dearly love but still understand it’s working class food for working class and drunk folk. Proud Rooster differentiates itself in one way: fried chicken. In such a small place with such a small kitchen and such dingy trappings you wouldn’t expect to find such a crowning achievement of chicken making glory, but here we are.
You can order your chicken in halves or wholes or just in pieces, however you’d like it. It comes with sides and things, the normal mac and cheese or maybe some potato wedges and all of it is delicious but that chicken, my friend, that chicken is truly the star of the play. As far as I’ve ever seen they dredge in a flour and herb and spice mixture and then batter it and then dredge it again and fry it, this makes for an incredibly crispy and crunchy outer breading and a tender and juicy inside, it’s not hot or overly spicy, it is just a delicious combination of salty and crunchy. Proud Rooster is what you think of when you think of American fried chicken, it is not so overproduced as a KFC or as understated as some of the others on my list, it strikes a correct balance of herbs, spices, juiciness and satisfaction that you come to expect when there is true fried chicken afoot.
Again, some people may have a problem with this choice, but since it is not a list of the best places in Cincinnati and only one of where you should go then Proud Rooster fits this mold, it is small, it is never very populated, it’s friendly and does the theme of this week incredibly right and I unabashedly love everything about it. Support the Proud Rooster, the small sampling of places I have named in my list this week are something of a rarity these days. There are so few independent chicken places, or independent places at all that it is nice to keep an American tradition alive.
Food Secrets of Cincinnati, Vol. 6: Fried Chicken, #3
Homer’s Original Smorgasbord
9972 Reading Rd.
Cincinnati, Ohio 45241
My dad used to always call everything a smorgasbord, a bunch of food, a bunch of lottery tickets, a bunch of cats, whatever you wanna say. I never really understood smorgasbord or what it really was, what a dumb word, like something Dr. Suess would have left on the cutting room floor, “The feeblebord had a time with his portisnord at the smorgasbord” or some such thing. Later in life when I would go eat with my dad at places I realized that what the word actually meant was a buffet. Outside of a breakfast buffet you won’t generally find me at one, I have nothing really against people going there it’s just that for my taste I would like to go have a meal that tastes like something and not just shovel food in my gob for the hell of it. In fact there are only two buffets I will go to, the one at Hollywood Casino (because they give out ham, and I love a good ham) and Homer’s Original Smorgasbord. I chose to talk about the latter because they have amazing fried chicken and I do mean to use the word amazing because I am truly amazed that a place that could skimp on everything has decided to go the opposite way and make something truly wonderful.
Among the myriad delicious food items on their buffet the chicken reigns supreme. I don’t know how they make it, I have no idea what is in their breading but I can tell you that whatever it is tastes really great. It’s a bit salty but there’s also a bit of a temperance to it in some of the other parts of the spice mixture, it is not hot or spicy it is just tasty and makes you want to eat more of it. The chicken itself absorbs part of this mixture and it permeates down to the bone, it is always hot and juicy and they do not waste time bringing more out. Truly this chicken is great and for $6.99 all you can eat access the only real drawbacks are either a massive coronary or a limited stomach capacity, whichever one bugs you more.
This is the thing, Homer’s might be one of the last truly great and homemade buffets around this area, it has changed ownership many times since I started going there when I was a kid but it has never lost the flavor and homemade feel of everything in it and I think that counts for a lot. So bring out your friends or your family and let someone else cook dinner for you, I promise it will be a SMORGASM! Okay, that was a terrible ending, but this place is awesome and deserves your support, plus they have lots of pies and everyone should appreciate that.
Food Secrets of Cincinnati, Vol. 6: Fried Chicken, #4
863 Central Avenue
Hamilton, OH 45011
There’s something I really enjoy about the kitschy “down home” thing. I always like a little story with my meal, I like when a place will describe the food to me, spin me a little yarn if you will. So when the entire place is predicated on this idea? Even better. Welcome to Mahogany’s, a Hamilton based soul food joint that deals exclusively in trying to sell you the idea that mama is in the kitchen and she’s bringing you out something heavenly. I also love when a place can talk about their food and back it up and at Mahogany’s there is no problem in that department; between the various southern staples (oxtails and grits) and the normal faire (like porkchops or shrimp) this place has all the bases covered and they play them like they were gunning for a golden glove.
The main base, in my mind, that they play to perfection is their chicken and waffle. You will not find a true southern restaurant without this staple on the menu and if you do you should leave it immediately. First, lets get it out of the way, their Belgian waffle with brown sugar in it is out of this fucking world, I would eat a stack of these for breakfast, especially with this honey butter cream stuff they give you with it. Now that the plate is out of the way lets talk chicken, they use wings which I generally don’t care for but on chicken and waffles is completely acceptable and encouraged. They are put in some kind of dredge or batter that I can’t quite identify, I just know that it has a little bit of heat to it that should be present in all southern cooking. Their chicken is totally golden brown, crunchy, flavorful down to the bone and totally leaves you wanting more. It is lucky they gave me a waffle with it or I would have ordered more and more chicken until I rolled out the door and down the way to the little Miami.
Mahogany’s does things right, kitsch or no kitsch you cannot doubt their food. Being in Hamilton it’s a bit less accessible than most people would like it but I promise you that you will really love it if you go. I will end by saying this, I am not a spiritual man by any means, I do not understand transcendence, I will most likely not get the idea of being thankful to a higher power, but at Mahogany’s, having this dish, I can almost come to that sort of understanding and I think that’s what mama is trying to serve up to us.
Food Secrets of Cincinnati, Vol. 6: Fried Chicken, #5
Sullivan’s Family Foods
3803 Shady Lane
North Bend, OH 45052
A great many people know that I am not overly attached to my family, I think in some ways being from the west side of town this makes me a bit of an anomaly because everyone leaves there and then returns and their kids have kids and you live in a house near to that part of town blah blah blah. But I was never really into that, I won’t go into a rambling fathom of my family history but suffice it to say I limit it mostly to holidays, however when I was younger this was not the case. We used to spend a fair amount of time on the west side in North Bend and Bridgetown as my uncle and grandma lived in these places, respectively. We would have parties and picnics and go to the park, we would ride and visit horses on my uncle’s land and we’d always get a big chicken dinner from Sullivan’s. Sullivan’s is not a sit down joint, it is in fact a grocery store but it just happens to be a grocery store with a deli counter to die for. They hand pack their own burgers there, these burgers are complete with cheese and pepper stuffing, they make kabobs and chops, they have local ham and turkey, they are a really interesting place kind of stuck out of time in this day of the mega mart or the smaller Goessling market franchise.
This deli counter is, above all, known for their fried chicken and they damn well should be as it is some of the best I’ve ever had. I usually go for drumsticks and theirs are meaty and crunchy and perfectly seasoned. I don’t know what kind of dredge they use, I’m guessing it’s probably just simplistic with flour, pepper and salt but whatever it is they are using they have stumbled upon a holy grail in my book, a crispy and crunchy outside with a flavor that makes my mouth water thinking about it while also adhering to the chicken and sealing the juices inside. From first bite to last struggle gnaw at the bones while you feel too fat to move this chicken will deliver.
Sullivan’s is a place well known to an enclave of west siders but it is not very known beyond that. Supporting locally owned small business is a point of pride and effort for me and I’m happy to continue doing it today. If you think of it, you should travel to the west side, pick up some of this chicken and head down Bridgetown to the park off Powner road, remember what it was like to have a picnic as a kid or maybe take your own kids and show them, as I may not like my family too much but I do like tradition and starting one with Sullivan’s as the first step is never a bad idea.
Food Secrets of Cincinnati, Vol. 6: Fried Chicken, a preface
Ah chicken, among all the foods I will rave on and on about, amongst all the blathering about burgers and pizza that I will do to anyone that would listen to me chicken is still my hands down favorite meal anchor. While I know some of you disagree on moral/ethical grounds you cannot disagree with the prevalence of this particular animal in our diet. Few foods are this imitated, I don’t think any food is ever compared as much, “tastes like chicken” is a staple of the American English lexicon after all. Chicken can be used in so many ways, grilled, roasted, boiled, baked, on and on and on and on, but in my mind the true king of all ways to prepare it would be fried.
Fried chicken is a wonderful thing, it is what I consider to be the ultimate comfort food, you dive headfirst into a perfectly fried piece of chicken, crispy and juicy, salty and sometimes spicy, a flavor explosion that makes you remember picnics and family outings fondly even if you fucking hated them at the time.
So lets talk a stroll through some of the hidden fried chicken gems of the city, shall we?
Food Secrets of Cincinnati, Vol. 5: Tacos, #1
La Dinastia Latina
11277 Reading rd
Sharonville, OH 45241
I love a little place that could, ya know? I think everyone should find places like those and support the hell out of them. They may be small and cozy, sometimes cramped but they are full of so much goodness that they need to succeed, you don’t just actively want them to but you need them to in order to keep your faith in humanity. La Dinastia Latina is one of those places, it is small (all of 7 tables in the place), it is cozy and it smells of all the wonderful delights that a Mexican place can and is full to brimming with a lovely energy from the people who work there who truly want to serve you a splendid meal and nothing else, the owner has even told me not to tip her before because she was just glad I liked the food (she got a bigger tip because of this [I am a sucker for the humble]).
Believe me, there is a lot to like about the food at this place, much like La Mexicana they have a lot options for proteins from tongue to the regular ground beef they will probably suit almost any taste. I get a beef, a chicken and a steak taco usually and they are gone in all of 3 seconds, I dunno what they do to their food but there is some kind of magical thing going on in that kitchen. Any of the taco stuffing that you get is bound to be juicy, tender and extremely flavorful, I cannot describe it to you this is something you have to experience, they use only the freshest ingredients and every single thing you get is cooked when you order it, this means very little grease and super great tasting food. They also have the best tortilla chips I’ve ever had and my friend, that I have been there with a few times, says they have the best refried beans available anywhere in this city.
La Dinastia Latina is not just a good Mexican restaurant, it is not just a great place for tacos, it is undeniably the best taco in this city, it just so happens that no one seems to go there and so you can hop on this train while the hoppin’ is good and track yourself down one of the best meals in this city. There has not been a person I have taken here that has not been blown away completely and there is not a person that doesn’t want to go back almost immediately after leaving, this is culinary delight at its finest and I implore you to go check it out, disappointment is not even listed in the dictionary of this place.
So there ya have it, 5 more days, 5 more places you should be eating. The taco is a wonderful food that can be shared by anyone, I tend to believe it is the perfect social food, some people say the hot dog or the piece of pizza but I dunno, I’d rather stand around with a taco and a beer, myself. So go out this weekend, try some of these places and enjoy yourself, I know I definitely will!
Food Secrets of Cincinnati, Vol. 5: Tacos, #2
7133 Montgomery Rd.
Cincinnati, OH 45236
It’s an odd thing to walk away from a restaurant that you had an absolutely stupendous meal at and be sad about it. It wasn’t because the food was bad (as I think was clear from the “stupendous” in the last sentence), it wasn’t because the service was less than good, it wasn’t because the price was bad, it’s because you know somewhere deep inside that this place is going to tank soon, you know that there is little support for it and that it sucks because these people will not have their jobs and you won’t have awesome food. That being said I truly hope that these little looks into places fall on open ears because there are some places that should be supported and buoyed and El Establo is one of them. The place clearly used to be something else, I do not know what it was before but nowadays it is a charming place with fun little paintings on the wall and a faux brick façade on the archways. It has an odd looking, sort of out of place tiki looking bar in the back that serves mango margaritas, which I recommend, and a huge dining area that would be big enough to serve almost any size party, and could because it’s always empty.
If you order their taco plate you get three tacos, a big helping of refried beans and a huge thing of rice all for about six bucks, can I just reiterate how fucking awesome Mexican food is if for no other reason the sheer volume v. price ratio? Well I did reiterate soooo suck it. Their taco shells are crispy, their cheese is delicious and plentiful and their meat, while a bit on the greasy side for my taste, is super flavorful and cooked to a perfect consistency. I also have been known to have a chicken quesadilla from here and they are just fantastic, they use really good tortillas here and everything just kind of screams quality. I would also implore you to try their queso dip, it says it’s made with jalapenos but it is a very mild affair and totally awesome, my only complaint is it doesn’t come in a bucket.
El Establo, for a good sized Mexican restaurant that’s trying to compete with places like Cancun, El Pueblo, El Rancho Grande and the like stands on its own and crushes these places, not only because it is an independent single store, not only because it uses a repurposed building (which I love), but mostly because it has a great flavor all its own and there is obviously someone behind it that believes in it. So go, give your business to a place that wants to be part of the fabric of our city, find out that some places are still trying to carve out a niche and find an audience using nothing but their culinary expertise, experience something better than your usual taco spot!