Sunday, February 22, 2009

Cincinnati Trip, Part I

Some very good friends from Cincinnati were involved in a community theater production of 1776 that was wrapping up this weekend. A friend and I decided to come down to Cincinnati to help them close out the show. So today, after my friend got off of work, we headed down good 'ol I-71 and managed to make very good time despite Mother Nature's attempt at thwarting our effect by placing a storm consisting of snow and freezing rain in our path. We persevered.

And we arrived in enough time to stop for dinner before the show. Nothing fancy, but we decided on a definite Cincy classic: Skyline Chili. Now I know there are probably better representations of this classic Cincinnati dish than this chain, but unfortunately, I hadn't had time to do my homework ahead of time and by the time we got here, it was the closest thing that Google maps showed us.

My friend decided to go with the 5 way, which consists of spaghetti, chili, cheese, onions, and beans. I went for the classic 3 way, spaghetti, chili and cheese. Not surprisingly, the 3 way and the 5 way look almost identical because they are both covered in a mound of shredded cheese. Here is my 3 way:

This was the large. In retrospect, I probably should've ordered the regular sized plate as I didn't finish this. Even though we do have a Skyline Chili chain up in the Cleveland/Akron area, I don't really eat here, ever. I just don't care for this version very much. However, being in Cincinnati, I figured, "Why not?" The chili had flavors of cinnamon, clove, and various other fairly strongly flavored spices. It's honestly not something I would just sit down and eat an entire bowl. This is also served with a side of oyster crackers. The chili is so spiced (not spicy, spiced) that several times throughout the meal, I had to eat a few oyster crackers just to cleanse my palate a bit.

I guess this is one of those things that I will order here in Cincinnati, but don't really find it something that I would seek out if I were anyplace else. The one thing that both myself and my traveling companion noted was that by the time we got to the end of our entrees, we both really craved something sweet.

When we asked our server what dessert options were available to us, she pointed us to a cooler full of pre-made frozen desserts, still in their wrappers. She did add that the owner made chocolate chip cookies from scratch every day and they had baklava. Now, never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine I would eat dinner at a Skyline Chili and hear that they had baklava for dessert. My friend rightfully pointed out that that Skyline Chili was actually started in the late 1940's by a Greek couple.

So, with a bit of hesitation (and needing something sweet to cut all those spices), we ordered a cookie:

and a baklava:

Honestly, the cookie was ok. It wasn't super fresh, but considering we were ordering from a Skyline Chili, it was ok. The baklava had nice crispy layers of phyllo. My friend felt it didn't have enough honey flavor to it. I actually liked the subdued sweetness. My complaint was there wasn't enough flavor from the nuts. Overall, it was a surprise considering where I purchased it. The waitress did admit that the owner bought the baklava from a local bakery and that they didn't make it in house. Had they made it in house, I would've been fairly impressed.

Overall, I'm glad I got to sample a staple of the Cincinnati food dining scene. However, my choice to only experience this one whenever I am in Cincinnati remains firm in conviction. I know there are some better more local places to experience this delicacy. Next time I come down, I plan on finding some of those spots.

I'm very much looking forward to the best French Toast ever tomorrow morning with my friends from the show! More pictures to come.

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