Thursday, December 29, 2011

Chili Revolution

Recently one of our readers emailed us and told us they have their own Cincinnati chili spice mix and run the website The reader wanted us to try a sample of her Cincinnati chili mix which she claims is the Empress Chili recipe. Since we want to experiment with various Cincinnati chili recipes and love free stuff, we took the reader up on her offer.

About a week later we received the spice mixes in the mail with the following instructions:

Chili ingredients

We followed the instructions exactly as stated (made it a day before serving) and it resulted in a pretty good Cincinnati style chili. The chili was definitely your stereotypical sweet Cincinnati chili, with cinnamon being the most prevalent of the sweet spices. I don't know if it reminded us much of Empress, but that is a bit hard to tell since overall our coneys weren't a copy of Empress'. This recipe called for more tomato sauce than other recipes I've seen. I didn't notice it while eating, but could after I was done. I will need to try one of the other recipes that calls for less sauce to make a verdict about which amount is more appropriate. Onion was the most prevalent of the savory spices and we could even see some onion flakes in the chili. 

The one downfall of our coneys was not the fault of the chili. The buns we purchased were sub-par. I do not recommend buying Butternut Golden Honey buns for cheese coneys, they got soggy way too quickly. Our freshly grated medium cheddar cheese and blue grass hot dogs were good and complimented the chili well.

Overall we liked Chili Revolution's take on Cincinnati chili. Even though it requires more effort than opening up a can of chili, we enjoyed the freshness of making it ourselves. We look forward to trying more recipes, and even tweaking some existing recipes, in an attempt to find a perfect homemade Cincinnati chili recipe.

All the ingredients before stirring together

Everything mixed together and simmering on the stove

Freshly grated cheese

Dogs and Chili warming up on the stove

Chili is ready to serve

Chili Dogs

Cheese coneys!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2012 Gold Star Chili Cook-Off

Good news for those who enjoy all varieties of chili, details of the 2012 Gold Star Chili Cook-Off have been announced. The event will take place at Findlay Market on Sunday January 15, 2012 at Noon. Gold Star Chili sponsors the annual event which features 30 different chili entrants judged by the firefighters from OTR Engine 5. After judges have made their decisions the public is allowed taste all the various chilies from the competition.  We attended the 2011 cook-off and enjoyed ourselves. It's a well run event and held at one of our favorite Cincinnati landmarks.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mr. Hanton's opens storefront

Earlier in the quest we tried the Mr. Hanton's food truck and were really impressed. It was by far the best hot dog we have tasted on the quest thus far. Apparently Mr. Hanton's business is doing very well as over the weekend they opened a store front in White Oak. According to their Facebook page, here are some of the offerings they will have:
Aside from over 30 varieties dogs/sausages we also offer Philly Cheese Steaks, Italian Beefs, Gyros shaved off the cone, Deep fried PB&J, a monster grilled cheese on Texas toast with fried mozzarella, provolone and Marinara, Flatbread Chicken breast salad, Gravy cheese fries, chili cheese fries, bacon cheese fries, sweet potato fries, Mr. Hanton fries. We will also have cheese cake and other fresh baked goodies.
Mr. Hanton's is located on 5826 Cheviot Road and their hours will be 11a.m. - 9p.m. Sunday - Thursday and 11a.m. - 3a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Everything we have tried from Mr. Hanton's has been very tasty and we look forward to visiting their new storefront. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Coney Mania and Cincinnati Chili in Portland

The other day I came across this flyer and had to make sure to pass the info on to fellow coney lovers. If you are looking for cheese coneys for a good price, Gold Star Chili has you covered next Wednesday. On Wednesday December 7th Gold Star will have another one of their popular Coney Mania specials. 99 cent cheese coneys all day long (limit 10).

If you are in Portland and have a craving for Cincinnati Chili, you are now in luck. The Oregonian reports Sandwich Island, a lunch stop in downtown Portland, recently added Cincinnati style chili to their menu. The Oregonian reporter had positive feedback and there is a 4 star review for the chili on Yelp. Sounds like a good option for any Cincinnati transplants in the Portland area.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Skyline Chili's Crosstown Shootout VIP Party Sweepstakes

One of the great Cincinnati sporting events of the year is around the corner, The Skyline Chili Crosstown Shootout. This year's battle between UC and XU takes place December 10th at Xavier's Cintas Center. There is another great annual event that is attached to the basketball game, The Skyline Chili Crosstown Shootout VIP Party. The VIP Party takes place the week of the shootout and as you would expect, features Skyline Chili as the meal, along with appearances by the coaches, cheerleaders and mascots. Attendees also have a chance to win various Crosstown Shootout related door prizes. We attended the party last year and can verify its a very fun and well run event. We will be attending this year as well and are looking forward to the festivities. Free cheese coneys and free beer with college basketball as the backdrop is an excellent night for me.

This year you have a chance of attending the Skyline VIP Party! We are giving away a free invite to one of our lucky readers. Just make a comment on this post that either says "GO MUSKIES!" or "GO BEARCATS!". We will randomly select one as our winner (the winner can also bring one guest). You have until 5 PM on Friday December 2nd to enter. Details about the event are below, only one entry allowed and please do not enter if you cannot attend the party.

  • The VIP Party is on Thursday December 8th from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The party is located at the Fourth & Sycamore location in Downtown Cincinnati.  
  • Attendees will have the chance to win Crosstown Shootout Prizes and enjoy a Skyline Chili buffet.
  • Mo Egger of Cincinnati’s 1530 ESPN Radio will broadcast live interviews with Coach Mick Cronin of UC and Coach Chris Mack of Xavier.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Demetrios IV Review

Until two weeks ago, I had never heard of Demetrios IV. Based on our research it was a family restaurant in Mariemont that also had Cincinnati chili items on their menu. Would Demetrios be a hidden gem or would we end up wishing we had never heard of it?

The best way to describe the atmosphere for Demetrios IV is imagine a rest home that serves cheese coneys. Yes, that sounds a bit harsh, but its the best description I have. We were the youngest patrons there by about 70 years and we could overhear a conversation next to us about hospice care. But, as long as the food is good and everything is sanitary, I don't really care what the age makeup of a restaurant is. The dining area was clean and our waitress was very nice. The menu was a typical Greek family restaurant/diner menu. Along with the chili options there was breakfast, gyros, dinner and gigantic double decker sandwiches. I caught a peek of one of the double deckers and it looked impressive. No, we did not find what the meaning of Demetrios IV was or if there is a Demetrios I, II and III.

Clint's Review
I go into each coney quest stop wanting to find the best cheese coney in town. If that isn't the case, I hope to find some positives of the coney even if other aspects fall short. I want to promote local businesses, last thing I want to do is write a negative review. Unfortunately, I can't think of one good thing to say about the coneys I ate (or attempted to eat) at Demetrios IV.

The chili was not enjoyable at all. I don't know what spices they use, but a new recipe is in order. To make things worse there was tons of chili on each coney. The hot dog tasted like it was nuked in a microwave. Very rubbery texture. The cheese looked good, but couldn't overcome the poor chili and hot dog. This was the only quest stop where I could not finish the food in front of me. I tried very hard to finish, hoping the coneys would get better, but after the first bite of the 2nd coney I threw in the towel...or napkin in this instance. (Alison with the quote of the night: "It looked like you were a contestant on Fear Factor!")

I hate to do this, but I give Demetrios IV a .5 out of 5.

Alison's Review

Unfortunately, I cannot recommend the Demetrios IV cheese coneys. Most of the ingredients were subpar. The chili had an odd bitter quality. The hot dogs were rubbery. The buns were not fresh. The onions were cut in long slices rather than diced. I couldn't taste mustard if there was any at all on my coneys. I suppose the cheese was decent, but there was no redemption at this point. And though everything was a little off, I plowed through two coneys simply out of hunger until I looked up at Clint and saw the disgust in this face. In seeing his abhorrence to the coneys, I struggled to take another few bites before giving up, realizing we'd probably be stopping at Frisch's on the way home, anyhow.

In all fairness Demetrios had a very nice restaurant and the service was fine. But the coney, which was the worst we've had during the quest, was also one of the most expensive at $1.75. I'm giving this parlor 1 out of 5 stars for their cheese coneys.

Demetrios IV on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Skyline Holiday Gift Card Promotion

As Thanksgiving approaches so does another event, "Black Friday". After Thanksgiving, holiday shoppers head to the stores to find great deals on gifts for their friends and family...or even themselves if they aren't in a giving mood. Skyline Chili is trying to lure in bargain hunters as well with a new promotion they are running. When someone buys at $25 gift card, Skyline will add another $5 gift certificate. If I remember Skyline's prices correctly, that should be good enough for 3 more coneys. This promotion begins November 22nd and runs til December 26th. (press release at bottom of post)

As always, we here at the Coney Quest give equal opportunity to any chili related deals. If any other chili parlors are running any specials this holiday season, please drop us a line and we will pass the word on.

Skyline Chili Offers Holiday Shoppers Free Gift Certificate with Gift Card Purchase

CINCINNATI – Skyline Chili is offering customers a free $5 gift certificate bonus with every $25 dollar gift card purchase they make this holiday season. The promotion begins tomorrow, Nov. 22 and will run through Dec. 26 – just in time for last-minute shoppers.
“This is a great way to give a little extra to our customers for the holidays,” said Sarah Lapham, director of marketing for Skyline Chili. “The gift cards are great for teacher gifts, holiday parties and gift exchanges, and are fantastic stocking stuffers for cash-strapped college students.”
A few restrictions do apply: the $5 gift certificates will be good at the location of purchase from Jan. 1 to Feb. 29, 2012. The promotion is valid in participating stores and is not available online.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Quest Stop #29

The next stop on the Coney Quest is a restaurant I just added to our list tonight. We will take a rare eastside quest stop to Mariemont and visit Demetrios IV. I've been to Mariemont many times, but never heard of Demetrios IV until I saw The Chili Report recently visited. Based on what I have read, it seems to have many of the same qualities of a Cincinnati chili parlor, so we decided to add it to our quest. Since it is one of the few remaining parlors on our list with evening hours, we will make it our next stop.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Santorini Review

Quest Stop #28 took us back west into the heart of Cheviot to try Santorini's Family Restaurant. As soon as you walk into Santorini's you know its a Greek restaurant. There are pictures and paintings of Greece and everything has a blue and white color scheme. The food is just not Greek as the menu indicates they serve Greek and American food. Santorini's probably has the largest menu out of all the restaurants we have visited. Like most family restaurants there is breakfast and American grill items, they also serve Greek specialties like Gyros and Baklava, and they have your standard Cincinnati chili classics. One item we found to be surprising was Pizza. Not often you go to a family or Greek restaurant and see pizza on the menu. The service was very good and friendly.

Alison's Review

Santorini offers a really flavorful coney. I had difficulty telling what kind of hot dog they use, but it had a great smokey flavor to it. The chili was a nice meaty texture and the flavor was pretty decent. The spice level could probably be a little bit bolder. I imagine it might taste a little bland on its own or on a 3-Way, but the overall flavor was a good balance with the tasty hot dog.

The soft, fresh bun was just about as good as they get. The onion and mustard were just strong enough to be tasted but not overwhelming. My only complaint was that the cheese wasn't very neatly shredded, and most of it fell off onto my plate. However, I'll take the fresh grated cheese, in any form, over the pre-packaged stuff any day.

It's great to find another parlor that well represents Cincinnati stye chili. I'm giving Santorini a 3.75 out of 5 stars.  

Clint's Review

When I saw how big the Santorini's menu I didn't have high hopes for the coneys to be very good. With such a large menu I was concerned that there wouldn't be too much care put into the coneys. Also I never knew about Santorini's until someone notified us about them in the comments section of a previous post. Luckily, Santorini's cheese coneys turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

The chili itself was ok. Not the most flavorful chili I have enjoyed on the quest, but good enough. It was on the savory side but had some sweet undertones as well. It did have a good thick texture and was not watery. While the chili didn't have a spicy heat level, it did come out piping hot. The cheese was tasty and freshly grated. However, the grating quality could be a little better. It reminded me of the cheese Alison and I grated on our first canned chili experiment. The cheese portion was generous which is something I do approve of. While the hot dog flavor didn't jump out to me as much as it did Alison, I did enjoy the hot dog. Only subpar aspect was the bun, I guess Alison got fresher buns than I did because they didn't seem that soft to me.

Overall Santorini's exceeded my expectations and produced a quality coney. I give them a 3.5 out of 5. Santorini on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Quest Stop #28

We have gone about three weeks since our last official coney quest stop. That is just far too long, so this week we will put a stop to that. As it stands now we only have 5 parlors remaining on the quest, but of course as you know by now, that is subject to change. The next stop on the quest we will head back to the westside and visit Santorini, a Greek restaurant in Cheviot that features Cincinnati style chili on their menu. Look for our review later in the week.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Empress Chili Downtown mini-review

Today I decided to have lunch at The Squirrel and check out their new Empress Chili offerings. When I saw The Squirrel was offering Empress Chili I was a little surprised. However, when I thought about it longer it made a lot of sense. A common menu item at many parlors is the double-decker sandwich. The Squirrel is specializes in double-decker sandwiches, this makes The Squirrel and Empress Chili is a great combo.

Aside from new signs advertising Empress, there isn't anything new with the interior of The Squirrel. So it doesn't have the look or feel of a chili parlor. The cheese coneys are chili parlor quality though. I've been to both the Alexandria and Hartwell Empress locations. Alexandria Empress disappointed me but I enjoyed my visit to Hartwell. Luckily these coneys had more in common with the coneys I had at Hartwell. We have covered the taste of Empress previously, not much new to report there. The chili here tasted good, only difference I noticed were larger red pepper flakes. The cheese was freshly grated and the buns were soft.

This doesn't really count as a true quest stop, but I would give the Empress Chili downtown 3.25 out of 5. If I were in the mood for coneys during my lunch break I would probably stick with Skyline. However, the new Empress downtown is a good option if you want to take a break from Skyline or Gold Star for lunch.

  The Squirrel on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Empress Chili Downtown and other news items

If you are in Downtown Cincinnati during the work week and in the mood for chili, there is one more option aside from Skyline and Gold Star to fill your chili needs. Earlier this afternoon we were taking our dog on a walk around town and noticed signs for Empress Chili. It appears The Squirrel (formerly Red Squirrel) on 4th and Walnut now has Empress Chili on their menu. At some point this week I will try to make a visit and will update you on which Empress items are on The Squirrel menu.

Looks like Gold Star is promoting their coney crates as the perfect food to bring to a Bengals tailgating party: 

Cincinnati-style chili appears as one of the 15 Beloved Regional Dishes in a recent article on The Huffington Post.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Eastside Chili Review

As we noted earlier in the quest, the west side of Cincinnati dominates the east when it comes to chili. The west side even has its own "3-way highway" (Glenway Ave) which features various chili parlors, while the east its mainly just Gold Star and Skyline. There is a new chili parlor that hopes to bring Cincinnati chili lovers to the east and is appropriately named Eastside Chili (also known as Fat Timmy's Eastside Chili).

Eastside Chili isn't just east, its pretty far east for many, located in a Withamsville strip mall off of the Beechmont/Amelia exit on 275. The owners of this parlor take pride in their east side roots and it shows on their walls which have various east side landmarks painted on them. You can tell the restaurant is brand new as soon as you walk in. With the newness and bright colors, Eastside has more of a fast food restaurant feel than they typical diner or parlor feel. However you are served by waitresses who were very friendly. The menu is similar to what you would find at the classic Cincinnati chili parlors, it even has gravy fries which another east chili parlor, Pleasant Ridge Chili, is known for. Whomever put the menu together is a fan of sexual innuendo humor, as their Fat Timmy mascot is featured in the menu holding signs stating "Nobody Beats Our Meat!" and "It takes two hand to handle our meat!".

Clint's Review

Born and raised on the east side it slightly pains me to admit the west has our number in the chili game. When I heard a new independent parlor opened on the east I was excited especially since its on the way to my parents house. For the most part Eastside Chili comes through but there is one major deficiency.

The chili was a complex but tasty one. It starts off tasting savory along with the typical Cincinnati chili spices and reminded me of other chilies I have sampled along the quest. At some point in my second coney I began to pick up on some heat. It wasn't spicy like Tex-Mex or even Camp Washington, but there is an underlying heat level there. Another aspect that reminded me of previous parlors was the hot dog. The dog was tasty and I'm fairly certain it was a Blue Grass hot dog, which is used at Gold Star Chili, Price Hill Chili and other Cincinnati chili parlors. The bun was soft enough and did an ok job of holding everything together.

Unfortunately there was one ingredient the Eastside coney fell short in: cheese. One of the big reasons I love cheese coneys is for the mountain of fresh cheddar cheese that lies on top the coney. As soon as I saw the coney I could tell the cheese came from a bag in the cheese section of the grocery store. If I'm at a restaurant that just happens to serve cheese coneys, this is something I can forgive. However, if you are a chili parlor and chili is your main dish, you gotta have fresh shredded cheese in my opinion. The cheese at Eastside didn't necessarily taste bad, but when I go to a chili parlor I just expect better cheese than I have in my refrigerator at home.

Overall I really did enjoy the Eastside Chili cheese coney. There were many things about the coney and parlor to like. I will visit again and hope Eastside does lots of business. It was a good coney, but unfortunately the sub-par cheese kept it from being a great coney. I give Eastside a 3.6 out of 5.

Alison's Review

Eastside Chili has added another highly competitive cheese coney to our quest. The chili, while not spicy, definitely had the zippiness of red pepper. The warm cinnamon undertones were also very apparent, and I would place this chili in the savory category. The hot dogs were very good and were mostly likely the Blue Grass hot dogs that Clint and I have come to prefer. The buns were not the softest we've had, but were still good. Likewise, the cheese was somewhat mediocre compared to the fresh grated cheddar that we've had a several parlors. The onions were exactly as I like them--crunchy but not a bit overpowering.

With a higher quality cheese, I may have ranked this coney in my top three favorites. However, I'm giving Eastside a 3.75 out of 5 stars (which is the same ranking that I've given to a few of the longstanding chili establishments like Goldstar and Camp Washington). Not a bad showing for the newcomer!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Christofields Family Restaurant Review

Christofield's, originally called Dayton Chili, has been serving chili since 1939. Despite the lengthy history, it was not a restaurant we were familiar with pre-quest. Christofield's is located in Dayton, KY, the block it is located on looks like it has seen better days. They would like to take you back to those days as there is a mural depicting an 1950's diner and sock hop and behind the counter you will find a collection of old model cars. The menu and atmosphere is consistent with the other diners that sell chili we have visited thus far. The service was a bit slow but they were friendly. One moment we witnessed that I must mention, they received a phone call and afterward I heard our waitress tell the other waitress "to make another burger cause someone just called to complain there was a bunch of hair on his." Luckily we did not find any foreign objects in our coneys.

Alison's Review 

The Christofield's coney had a few good elements but overall was not one of my favorites. My first impression was that the coney had a very good texture. The bun was soft and not soggy. The cheese was freshly shredded. The chili was meaty. And the onions had a nice crunchy bite to them.

However, the flavor in this coney was really lacking, mostly due to the chili recipe. The seasoning in the chili was nearly undetectable. The coney could have used a little more chili on it, but even then I don't think it would have boosted the flavor significantly. The cheese was also applied pretty lightly, which is a shame because it was a very good, fresh cheddar.

With a better chili recipe, Christofield's could have produced a much better product. I'm giving them a 2.75 out of 5 stars.

Clint's Review

Alison and I walked away from Christofield's with the same thoughts. There were aspects to like but overall it was a below average coney. The biggest complaint I have is the coneys need more of everything. There was not a lot of chili or cheese to be found on each coney. There wasn't anything offensive about the taste of the chili other than it was too bland. The cheese did taste good, the bun was fine and the texture of each component was very good.

With Christofield's chili history I was hoping for a little more but left disappointed. I also give Christofields Family Restaurant a 2.75 out of 5.

Christofield's Family Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 7, 2011

October is Chili Month

October is typically known for the season changing and trick or treating, but it is also National Chili Month. We of course celebrate every month like its Chili Month, but if you wanted another reason to enjoy your favorite chili, here you go.

There is one local parlor, Skyline Chili, that is doing a little extra for NCM, or as they are calling it "National Skyline Month". Skyline is giving away free meals all month long. Every week, 50 winners will be selected at random to receive a free, $10 Skyline Chili gift card and official Skyline Crew shirt. If you would like to enter, follow this link and fill out the form.

If any other parlors have specials going on for National Chili Month please let us know and we will pass the info along to our readers.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Ides of March and Man vs. Food

Here is some Cincinnati Chili related news that reaches out to a nationwide audience:
  • "Ides of March" starring George Clooney and Ryan Gosling will be at movie theaters nationwide this Friday. As most of our readers know, many scenes in Ides was filmed right here in Cincinnati. Enquirer TV and Media reporter John Kiesewetter talked to the cast of the film about Cincinnati and of course our chili.
  • As I previously reported, Adam Richman of Man vs. Food was in Cincinnati to film an episode of Man vs. Food Nation. That episode will air next Wednesday (10/13). Travel Channel now has a Cincinnati page up on the MvF website. I look forward to seeing what Adam thinks of  Camp Washington Chili and the other Cincinnati restaurants he visited.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Canned Skyline Chilli

The latest entrant in our canned chili challenge is the one canned product we have previously had, Skyline Chili. However in the past when we bought a can of Skyline it was typically for Skyline Dip, not coneys. Along with the Skyline Chili we also bought a bag of Skyline Chili cheese, Klosterman buns and Blue Grass footlong hot dogs (which we cut in half).

Overall we enjoyed our attempt at recreating a Skyline Chili coney at home, but of course it was not quite parlor quality. The chili definitely had that familiar sweet Skyline taste, however it was a little more watery than the parlor chili (which is pretty watery itself). The Skyline bagged cheese doesn't have much similarity to the parlor version. At the parlor Skyline has one of our favorite cheeses thus far on the quest. The bagged cheese taste fine, but not much different than a bag of Kroger cheese so you can save some money by going that direction.

The Blue Grass footlong hot dogs worked perfectly. When cut in half they are very close to the same sized dog you get at the parlor. We also enjoyed the taste of the Blue Grass dog. The Klosterman hot dog buns were also very good. However we wish stores would sell a hot dog bun more similar to what you find at the parlor as they are smaller and less filling.

The canned Skyline Chili isn't quite parlor quality, but we do recommend it for those who want to make coneys at home or for those who no longer live in Cincinnati and miss their beloved Skyline. Skip the bag of Skyline cheese and grate your own or go with a cheaper bagged option.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Taste of NFL

Taste of the NFL

Football and food is a great combination. This Thursday the Bengals are holding their annual Taste of the NFL event which benefits the Freestore Foodbank. This is a great event for those who want to try various local foods and even better if you are a Bengals fan. Wine Me, Dine Me Cincinnati is giving away a pair of tickets to the event, so if you haven't already, head over there for a chance to win!

Coney Mania

In cheese coney related news, this Wednesday is Coney Mania at Gold Star Chili. All day long cheese coneys are only 99 cents. (Limit 10 per customer)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cincinnati Chili on Restaurant Row

One of the recent developments in Downtown Cincinnati is Restaurant Row, which is the 6th street block between Walnut & Main and has space reserved for restaurants. Currently Bartini's, Trattoria Roma and Mr. Sushi are the only occupants but they will soon get a familiar name as a neighbor.

The Cincinnati Buisness Courier reports Tim Lambrinides will open a fast casual restaurant on Restaurant Row. If you think you recognize the Labrinides name, you should, it is the founding family of Skyline Chili. Tim Lambrinides is the general manager of Nick & Tom's Restaurant and Bar in Bridgetown and surprisingly has never worked for a Skyline restaurant. I don't know if Tim's new venture will have cheese coneys but they will have the Silver Ladle Way which is spaghetti, Cincinnati-style chili, homemade black bean soup, onions, jalapeƱos, and shredded cheese. Blue Ash Chili now has competition for the most creative "way" in town.

The new restaurant is scheduled to open later this year and if they have coneys on the menu we will give them a shot.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Remaining Timeline of the Quest

When we first started the Cincinnati Coney Quest we had a list of 12 parlors and expected to take about 4 months to finish our quest to find the best coney in Cincinnati. We are now a little over a month away from the one year anniversary of the Quest which now features more than 20 chili parlors. Today I made the decision that I would like the quest to end sooner than later. Not to delve to deeply into my personal life, but this is mainly due to me wanting to get back into a more healthy lifestyle which will include cutting back on not so healthy foods such as cheese coneys.

But do not worry loyal coney quest followers, we are not ending the quest. We would just like to ramp up the quest and finish by the end of the year. I have decided to make some cuts to the remaining restaurant list. We are cutting the following restaurants that don't really have a history as a chili parlor, just happen to be restaurants that have coneys on their menu: Lynna's Grill, Mr. Gene's Weenies on Wheels and Papa Dino's Pizza. If anyone does visit any of these three and would like to write a review for the Coney Quest, we would love that.

We still plan to visit the following restaurants that are either chili parlors or at one point in their history were chili parlors: Christofield's Family Restaurant, Cretan's Grill, Moon-Lite Chili, Patrick's Sports Bar and Grill, and East Side Chili (if they open by the end of the year). After we visit these restaurants, we will return to our Top 4 parlors to see if our previous rankings still hold up, then crown the best coney in Cincinnati. We will finish our canned chili challenge and also post any Cincinnati chili related news.

I often get asked if I ever get tired of the quest. I really don't, it has been a fun and mostly tasty journey. However, as delicious as I find cheese coneys, it just isn't in my best health interests to eat coneys so often. After what has become a longer journey than expected, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Poll Results: Cold vs. Melted

Our latest poll asked if our readers preferred cold cheese or melted cheese on their coneys. This became one of the most lopsided polls we have conducted. 81% said they prefer cold cheese over melted. While I figured cold would win, I did not think it would be by such a wide margin. I would also infer that most prefer the dine in experience, as it is difficult, maybe impossible, to not have the cheese melt if you get your coneys to go.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Angelo's Family Restaurant Review

When one hears the name Angelo's Family Restaurant for the first time, most likely they imagine an Italian eatery. However this is not the case here as Angelo's in Finneytown is a restaurant with typical American restaurant food with some Greek items as well. Some of those "Greek" items happen to be Cincinnati chili.

The best way to describe the atmosphere at Angelo's is picture a less chain like Bob Evans. There were many homey paintings hung up along the walls and we were definitely the youngest patrons in the restaurant. Angelo's is fairly spacious and was doing good business on the Monday night we visited, so it appears to be a neighborhood favorite.

Clint's Review

I really, really wanted to like the Angelo's coneys, but ultimately they fell short. There was nothing terrible about their coney, but nothing stood out either. Their ultimate downfall is the chili. The chili was on the sweet end of the spectrum but overall I found the taste to be bland. The texture was a bit different too, it wasn't watery but wasn't very meaty either. Kind of like a chili paste, which does sounds a lot more unappealing than it really was, but I can't think of a better word to describe it.

The other aspects of the coney were also very average and not enough to turn an average coney to a good coney. The cheese was freshly shredded, not a store bagged cheese, which is something I will always approve of. However the coneys could have used more cheese. At first Alison felt the buns might have been stale, but I don't think they were. I think the buns might have been slightly warmed up which gave a little crispness to them, but if they were toasted it wasn't for very long (I agree with Alison's assessment of them in her review). The hot dogs were ok, like most of the coney they did not stand out.

I give Angelo's a 2.5 out of 5.

Alison's Review

Angelo's cheese coneys had a good flavor in the first bite. The chili was mildly flavored but a nice combination of warm spices. The mustard and onion acted as complements to the chili, which was surprising because I usually find them to overwhelm milder flavored chilies like this.

Though a good product upfront, I enjoyed it slightly less with each bite. The cheese seemed to be a little harder than typical chili parlor cheese. Maybe it was a lower oil content. The bun had a slight crispiness as if it were kept a little too close to the grill. The chili, though it seemed at first to be more sticky in texture than watery, eventually began to make the inside of the bun a little soggy. Though none of these factors are all that offensive, the overall texture was off. I give Angelo's a 3 out of 5 for their coneys. Angelo's Family on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Poll: Cold or Melted Cheese

A while back someone on Twitter (I want to say @chilitownusa, not positive though) asked their followers if they preferred cold* cheese or melted cheese on their coneys. For some reason I was thinking about this the other day and thought since we haven't done a poll in a while, this would be a good question to ask our readers.

So which do you prefer? Do you like a mountain of shredded cheese on top of your coney or do you like it when the cheese is melted? Personally, I like both but prefer cold and that is the main reason I don't get coneys to go very often.

Poll is on right side of page and closes Friday at 11AM.

*By "cold" I really mean not melted, doesn't have to be right out of the refrigerator cold.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Quest Stop #25

Due to the end of summer being busy and some personal matters we had to take care of, the quest stops weren't as frequent this past month. Luckily after Oktoberfest weekend our schedule opens up and we can visit chili parlors on a more regular basis.

Quest stop #25 will be Angelo's in Finneytown. It sounds like an Italian restaurant but apparently its Greek and has Cincinnati style chili. We shall visit Angelo's early next week and should hopefully have a review by the end of the week.

In other parlor news, thanks to our friends at the Chili Report, we have learned that Crookshank Chili is still in business...kind of. Earlier I crossed them off the list because I saw they were no longer in business. While its true Crookshank Chili does not exist, the restaurant that is there now, Patrick's Sports Bar & Grill, still serves Cincinnati chili. So we will now add Patrick's to our list.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Canned Gold Star Chili

The 2nd chili in our "Canned Chili Challenge" was the offering from Gold Star Chili. Thanks in part to reader suggestions, we made some adjustments from our last at home experiment. Overall we made solid coneys and the changes did improve the coney, but still not quite chili parlor quality.

Last time we mentioned the hot dogs were a little too large. We wanted to buy the Queen City foot long hot dog as they are similar in size to a chili parlor dog, but Kroger was sold out. So we went with the regular Queen City hot dog and cut them in half. This was an upgrade as it allowed us to put more chili and cheese on our coneys. However, the Queen City dogs were not quite as good as the Blue Grass dog, which is what Gold Star uses at their parlors.

The other area we wanted to improve was the shredded cheese. Last time we should have gone with a finer shred. This time we used a microplane which produced shredded cheese that had more resemblance to the parlor cheese we are used to. Freezing the cheese a half hour before shredding was helpful too. We also went with a medium cheddar cheese and thought it was better than the mild we went with previously.

The Gold Star canned chili was ok, but not quite as good as what you get at the parlor. We thought the Dixie product had a very close resemblance to the parlor product, unfortunately can't say the same for Gold Star's. It definitely taste similar, you could tell it was Gold Star Chili, just not as satisfying. Alison felt the chili tasted salty.

Overall the coneys were an improvement over our previous attempt, but we still aren't quite at parlor quality yet. Even though we didn't love the chili, we would still recommend it to Gold Star fans.