We headed East for Quest Stop #7 which was in impromptu visit to Pleasant Ridge Chili. PRC is one of the most iconic chili parlors in town, however chili isn't the main item they are known for, many go for their gravy cheese fries. However, we did not get a chance to try the gravy fries this trip, I am cutting out fried food for my marathon training, and Alison wasn't hungry enough. Next time we go, we will have to try them.
Pleasant Ridge Chili is probably the smallest parlor we have been to thus far (it does have more tables than US Chili, but appeared to have less square footage). It also has a look and feel of a restaurant that hasn't changed anything in 30 years. I liked this, made us feel like we were stepping back in time. Also as the old saying goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Above each table is a picture of Cincinnati and up front by the counter are various magazine and newspaper articles about Pleasant Ridge Chili.
The menu is similar to many of the parlors we have visited, breakfast is available all day, they also feature double decker sandwiches, the previously mentioned gravy cheese fries, and of course all the typical Cincinnati chili dishes. One thing to keep in mind before visiting, PRC only accepts cash, they do have an ATM inside if you don't have cash on you. I would make sure to plan ahead and bring cash so you wont have to deal with any ATM charges.
One word to describe the flavor of the chili would be SWEET. This is your stereotypical sweet tasting Cincinnati chili. I enjoyed the flavor of the chili a lot. I would've liked a hint of heat level spice, just to give it a little more flavor and balance. However, I did like the sweet spices and flavors they use, it is a very tasty chili. I also liked the texture, wasn't thick but not too thin and watery either.
The other ingredients of the coney complimented each other very well and you get a generous amount of chili and cheese. The cheese tasted fresh, the buns weren't anything remarkable but they held up for me which was necessary because you do get a lot of chili on each coney. The hot dog was ok, nothing spectacular but not so bland that it took away from the coney. One more plus for Pleasant Ridge Chili is they give you a bag of oyster crackers while you wait for your food. I always assumed this was standard, but at this point its only the second parlor of the quest to do so.
I give Pleasant Ridge Chili a 4 out of 5. The one thing holding PRC back from getting above a 4 (and taking the highest score thus far) is the lack of any heat. Ideally I would like some balance, however it is the best of the sweet category I have had, and they were tasty, so I give them a solid 4.
Pleasant Ridge Chili undisputedly falls into the sweet category. There is no heat in this recipe. Onion and garlic are not abundantly used, and the flavor is very bright. I don't think I could guess what balance of brown sugar, cinnamon, chocolate, paprika, or other sweet ingredients goes into the chili pot, but Pleasant Ridge Chili offers a surprisingly complex and delicious sauce without the need for a tang or zip.
The onion variety used on the cheese coney, which I'm guessing to be vidalia, was the perfect zesty compliment to the sweetness of the sauce. The balance was really great. Every ingredient after this, however, ranks about average. The hot dog was fairly plain. The bun was fresh but fell apart on me a little bit. The cheese was I've come to expect from every chili parlor in town. And the mustard was undetectable. Nothing bad, but nothing outstanding.
At this point in the quest, however, this is my favorite chili of the sweet variety. I give the overall coney a 3.5 out of 5