We met up with a friend, and Blue Ash resident, on a Saturday afternoon for lunch. So far on our quest all of the establishments have been fairly empty. This was not the case at Blue Ash Chili, as the place was packed. We got there just in time to find a table, when we left there as a line waiting for seats. Blue Ash definitely has a loyal following. Another first for the quest is Blue Ash is the first service to have a wait staff, as all of the other parlors have had counter service. At this point in the quest we aren't too sure which we prefer, both have their positives and negatives, maybe we will know what our preference is by the end of the quest. The waitresses at Blue Ash were friendly and were very attentive despite how crowded the restaurant was.
Humphrey Bogart and Marilyn Monroe and behind our table was a Ponch (Erik Estrada from CHiPs) love meter. The menu also captures an old time diner as well. Along with their signature chili you can order burgers, chicken tenders and other standard diner fare. They also have some menu items that stand out such as their giant double decker sandwiches, the chili philly (a philly cheesesteak sandwich topped with chili) and a 6-way which is their 5-way with the addition of fried jalapeño caps. They are definitely proud to be featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives as Guy Fieri's face is plastered throughout the menu. Thus far on the quest Blue Ash has the largest menu and I would be tempted to go back to try some of their non-chili items.
Blue Ash Chili knows exactly what defines Cincinnati style chili. Their food brings the flavors that we're expecting to the forefront.
This chili is unapologetically sweet. It is heavy on spices like cinnamon and cumin--spices that are usually apparent only as undertones in the chili sauces we've tried up until this point. There is no heat level, and the chili pepper, onion, and garlic spices are probably used in moderation.
The fresh onions and mustard stuck out in the overall taste of the coney. I'm finding that this seems to be the case with chili recipes that go lighter on the onion. The mustard and onion are not unwelcome tastes, but I personally enjoy when they succeed in enhancing the chili's flavor rather than just standing beside it.
The cheese especially soft and melted quickly, probably meaning it was loaded with oil. No complaints here. It was very good, and this kind of cheese is another defining factor in the traditional Cincinnati cheese coney.
The hot dog was steamed without any grill marks. I missed having the bit of grilled taste that we got at a couple of the previous parlors. The bun was a bit lacking here. It was soft and fresh but didn't hold up against the chili very well and the sides were collapsing.
Blue Ash Chili makes a genuine coney, and I'm glad that this parlor represented all of Cincinnati chili on Guy Fieri's show. However, the coney could have been a little better balanced and I'm still searching for that unknown "wow" factor. But Blue Ash Chili deserves a solid 3 out of 5 stars.
As Alison stated, Blue Ash is the sweetest chili we have tasted thus far. When people think of Cincinnati style chili, the flavors represented in Blue Ash's brand is what they think of. I'm not as good at picking out particular spices as Alison is, but I could definitely detect the cinnamon flavor. After last weeks hot US Chili that stayed with me all day, I felt the sweetness of Blue Ash to be a welcomed change. It probably could be a little hotter spice wise, but I found all the flavors to be enjoyable. It also wasn't as meaty as the last two parlors on the quest.
This was another messy coney, not quite as messy as US Chili, but they definitely don't skimp on any toppings. You get a mound of cheddar cheese on each coney. The cheese was nice, soft and fresh tasting. Some might think they could dial the cheese back a little, but not this guy. Only problem you can have with a lot of cheese is if it overwhelms the chili flavor, and it did not in this case. I liked the hot dog a little more than Alison, it wasn't anything amazing, but I didn't think it tasted quite as bland as other coney hot dogs have and the flavor from the hot dog complimented the chili and cheese well. I also didn't have the same problems with the buns as Alison did, but I am also a faster eater than she is, so maybe I scarfed them down before they had the chance to break at the seams.
Overall I enjoyed the coneys a lot and give it a 3.75 out of 5. Right now I have Dixie with my highest rating because they do a good job of balancing sweet and heat. However if you are craving the stereotypical sweet Cincinnati style chili, you need to make a trip to Blue Ash.
Our friend Mandy joined us on this quest stop and tried a slight variation of the Cincinnati cheese coney. She chose to top her coney with fried jalapeño caps. She enjoyed her coney a lot and felt that the jalapeño caps added a nice crispiness and spice to the coney. She also liked her salad which was topped with the same cheddar cheese on our coneys.