Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Chili Time Review


Cincinnati Coney Quest stop #6 took us to Chili Time in the neighborhood of St. Bernard. I haven’t been in the Saint Bernard area in a long time because I never really had much of a reason to. There wasn’t anything wrong with St. Bernard during our visit, it’s just a fairly non-descript residential community with a couple of high schools. Would Chili Time give us a reason to make more stops in St. Bernard?

The best description for Chili Time would be it’s a classic greasy spoon diner. It’s open until 4AM, has a full menu that not only features Chili, but also burgers, sandwiches, omelets and other breakfast items. So if you are looking for some food after a late night out, or if you work nontraditional hours, Chili Time is the type of restaurant you would be looking for. Since Chili Time goes for that greasy spoon feel, we liked the menu, however they have been the priciest parlor thus far. We expected the opposite to be true.

The interior is pretty bland. A couple of wall decorations, everything is white and brown. Nothing offensive to the eyes, but nothing memorable either. The dining area is fairly large with a variety of seating options from small booths to large booths, and regular table seating. Chili Time is the first location on the quest to have televisions in the dining area. At most of the previous parlors we have visited, TV’s would’ve seemed out of place, but they fit in at Chili Time. The kitchen area is out in the open, next to the dining area. While we were there the employees were friendly and seemed to get along well as some were having fun discussing the football game which was on the aforementioned televisions.

Alison's Review

My two favorite chili recipes have coincidentally fallen back to back in the quest. Camp Washington wowed me last week, but this week Chili Time has presented itself as a legitimate contender. Both chili sauces captured that perfect balance between spicy and sweet, but the recipes vary somewhat. The most noticeable difference is that Chili Time has a meatier base. It also had a slightly different spice combination, which I believe was simply more onion and garlic than Camp Washington. It wasn't a huge difference, but it was enough of a a difference to make the mustard and onions work better on the coney than they did at Camp Washington.

The other highlight of Chili Time's cheese coney was the bun. It was melt-in-your-mouth soft but held up to the chili without a problem.

The cheese on top was good. I'm learning that there is little variance in the shredded cheddars that chili parlors use. None have been bad, but none have been particularly outstanding. What it usually comes down to is getting the right amount of cheese on the coney, and in my opinion Chili Time had it right.

The only factor that kept this from being my favorite coney to date was the hot dog. It was pretty plain and flavorless. It seems that they use high quality meat in their chili, so it was a let down to not find the same with the dog.

Despite that, this is a chili parlor that will surely be high on my list by the end of the quest. I give their cheese coneys 4 out of 5 stars.

Clint’s review

For the 2nd time in a row I noticed the heat spices of the chili right away. Even though they aren’t direct relatives to Camp Washington, there were some similarities in flavor. Just like Camp Washington, the heat level stayed consistent and is never over powering. However, Camp Washington had better sweet undertones in their chili than Chili Time does. Overall it’s a solid tasting chili, not quite as great as Camp Washington or Dixie, but its better than average.

There are some pluses and minuses with the other pieces of the coney. The buns were fantastic. Definitely the best we have had since Empress. They were soft, fresh and held everything together very well. The amount of chili and cheese on each coney was also balanced very well. The one negative would be the hot dog, which was bland even for Cincinnati coney standards.

I give Chili Time a 3.5 out of 5. Chili Time has a good coney which I would recommend, but at the same time with each bite I took I just felt like there was something missing.

*Update* We visited a second time and I enjoyed the Chili Time coney a lot more. The chili is definitely one of the better ones we have tasted during the quest, cheese was freshly grated and a great balance of chili and cheese. I upgrade my score of Chili Time to 3.8 out of 5.

Chili Time on Urbanspoon

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