Thursday, February 10, 2011
Gold Star Chili Review
For quest stop #9 we visited one of the major players in the Cincinnati chili scene, Gold Star Chili. Gold Star is the largest Cincinnati style chili chain in the world. As a life long Cincinnatian, I had been to Gold Star plenty of times. This is why we waited this long in the quest. It gave me more of an opportunity to look at Gold Star with a fresh set of eyes. Alison however had never been to Gold Star. Prior to the quest she had only been to Skyline, so she was excited to try Gold Star's take on chili.
As we have found out, there are plenty of options when it comes to chili in this town, but the biggest debate will always feature Skyline and Gold Star. A month ago I was getting lunch at Potbelly and two of the workers got into a spirited debate about Skyline and Gold Star. If I had a business card with the blog's address listed I would have definitely gave it to them. Gold Star refers to their chili as "The Flavor of Cincinnati", but does it live up to its bold claim?
Gold Star dubs itself the flavor of Cincinnati, and flavor is a good term to use when describing their chili. There are a lot of flavor varieties in the chili and while I can't pinpoint what all the ingredients are, I did enjoy its taste. There isn't much noticeable heat level spice, which is something I would have liked a little more of. Its also not an overly sweet chili, but it does have a nice sweet undertone to it.
Another aspect Gold Star prides its self on is that everything is local. They use Blue Grass hot dogs and they were certainly some of the best I have tasted thus far. The buns are made by Klosterman, they were soft, fresh and held up well. The cheese also tasted very fresh and was shredded well. Even the oyster crackers are locally made by Kroger. I was happy to hear that Gold Star stays in Cincinnati for so many of their ingredients.
Overall I give Gold Star Chili a 3.75 out of 5. Gold Star seems to have the savory and sweet spices down, only thing it is missing is a dash of heat. While they might not get my highest rating, I enjoyed the coneys enough that I don't have a problem with their claim of "The Flavor of Cincinnati".
It amazing to think that I've been in Cincinnati over 5 years without ever stepping foot into a Gold Star. And I must say that I was taken by surprise by this chili. Since Gold Star is the biggest chain of chili parlors in Cincinnati, and Cincinnati-style chili is notoriously sweet, I was expecting a very sweet chili sauce. This was not the case. Yes, there was sweetness, but only as a mild undertone. A couple of the previous parlors we've visited had much sweeter chili (Blue Ash and Pleasant Ridge). But Gold Star is set apart from the other less sweet, more savory chilis we've sampled (Dixie, Camp Washington, Chili Time) in that the prominent flavors are not garlic and onion but rather mustard and black pepper. There was no heat level. This was a very different chili from anything I've tasted to date.
The other winning ingredient in the Gold Star cheese coney is the Bluegrass hot dog. Though it was steamed rather than grilled, it was quite flavorful. The cheese, bun, mustard, and onions were of good quality and proportion to bring together a satisfactory cheese coney.
Though I'd prefer a little more complexity and kick to the chili recipe, this is definetly a product I'd revisit. I give Gold Star Chili a 3.75 out of 5.