Monday, April 25, 2011

Poll Results: Hot or Mild

In our latest poll we asked our readers if they preferred a hot/spicy cheese coney or a mild coney. This turned out to be one of our closest polls yet as there was only a one vote difference. Hot ended up victorious with 52% while Mild finished with 48% of the vote.

A recent trend at the local parlors is the launching of hotter chili options. Based on this completely unscientific survey,  it appears there is definitely a market for these spicier choices. There are also almost as many who prefer to stick with the standard coney option. The newly launched Gold Star Hot Mett Coney is only available for a limited time, it will be interesting to see if it can be successful enough to find itself on the menu permanently.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

West Side Chili Parlor Review

For Quest stop #14 we once again returned to Glenway Avenue, this time to try the West Side Chili Parlor which is located in Bridgetown. West Side Chili is relatively new to the Cincinnati chili scene, July 10th will be their 4 year anniversary.

When we first approached West Side Chili we had flashbacks to JK's Chili, both were located in a small strip mall and both have similar window fronts. However the interiors couldn't be more different. West Side has a nice homey, brand new look inside. One of the very few, maybe only, places we have visited that has a carpeted floor. West Side embraces that it is a Cincinnati restaurant as the walls are covered in photos of Cincinnati, there is even a painting of Union Terminal on one wall. When we visited there were only two people working. Our waitress was very nice but we did have to wait for our food a bit longer than usual. This might have caused a problem with Alison's coneys (more on that in her review).

West Side Chili is best known for the variety of chilies they serve. Along with the standard Cincinnati style chili, there is spicy, Tex-Mex, vegetarian and spicy vegetarian. If you would like to try all 5 chilies you can order their chili sampler. If a standard cheese coney is just too "healthy" for you, then West Side has an alternative you may enjoy. "The Ripper" is a deep fried cheese coney! I guess you really can deep fry anything. They also feature a really hot coney called the "Atomic" coney. Another unique item on their menu is the Glennway, which is their 6-way. Diced hot dogs are the addition to this way. If you have ever wanted to combine a coney with a way, you now have that choice. Aside from the chili dishes, their menu is the standard Cincinnati chili diner menu, which is double deckers and grilled items like burgers.

Clint's Review

While West Side Chili features 5 varieties of chili, I stuck with the standard Cincinnati style for my coneys. Their standard chili is on the sweet side of the Cincinnati chili spectrum. I thought the chili tasted fine, but there was one problem I had: the amount. Much like at Empress, our very first quest stop, I felt there was not enough chili on the coneys. I enjoyed what I tasted just wished there was more of it on the coney. Balance is very important that can make or break a coney.

One standout feature on the coney was the cheese, it appeared to be a freshly grated sharp cheddar. Typically you get mild cheddar at chili parlors, I liked this unique touch of sharp instead of mild. Nothing else too noteworthy with my coneys. I felt the buns could have been a little softer but didn't think they were too hard either.

I really like what West Side Chili Parlor is trying to do here. Being a newcomer they do a lot to stick out from the other chili parlors in town. Overall I liked their product but left wanting more. I give West Side a 3 out of 5.

Alison's Review

Since Westside Chili is known for their multiple chili options, I opted to try three different types on our visit--Cincinnati Style, Cincinnati Spicy, and Tex Mex. I've heard a lot of good things about their vegetarian chilies, but knowing very little about going meatless, I will let someone with better veggie tastebuds review those varieties.

The Cincinnati Style was a simple and sweet chili. Nothing too complex or outstanding, but not bad. The Cincinnati Spicy had a pretty big kick to it. I couldn't pick up much flavor behind what just tasted like a lot of hot sauce. The Tex Mex was also hot, though not as much, and it wasn't particularly interesting. It very well might be the Cincinnati Style with ground beef chunks, beans, and jalapenos mixed in.

The hot dog, mustard, and onion were all pretty good, but again, nothing particularly special.  The fresh-grated cheese was a little better than average.

Leave it at that and Westside might have gotten a solid middle-of-the-road ranking from me. But there was one factor that really distracted me throughout my meal. The fastest way to ruin a cheese coney is to let it sit more than a minute before it gets to the customer. Especially with more watery chili, the bun can become soggy and doughy pretty fast. I'm not sure if I'm bothered by this more than most people, but this single factor really detracted from the quality of the overall product. I'm giving the Westside Chili cheese coneys a 2.75 out of 5 starts.

West Side Chili Parlor on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 18, 2011

Poll: Hot or Mild

A popular trend at the local chili parlors are spicier options for those who enjoy their chili with more kick. Today Gold Star launches their Spicy Hot Mett Coney and at Skyline you can add Extreme Habanero Cheese to your coney or way. We visited West Side Chili Parlor over the weekend and they feature a spicy variation of Cincinnati style chili along with 4 other chili options.

In this poll we would like to know if you prefer hot options like those mentioned above or if you prefer to stick with a milder* cheese coney?

*Using "mild" as a generic term here. If you prefer the standard cheese coney over a specialty "hot" coney, this would be your vote.

Friday, April 15, 2011

New Coney from Gold Star Chili

I recently took a look at the Gold Star Chili Facebook page and noticed a new interesting product. Apparently they are introducing a new cheese coney. If you are a looking for a hot and spicy coney, this might be the one for you. It is called the Spicy Hot Mett Chesse Coney. It features a hot mett, jalapeño cheese, and hot sauce. The new coney will be available Monday April 18th.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Quest Stop #14

For Quest Stop #14 we will return to Glenway Avenue, aka The 3-Way Highway. West Side Chili Parlor is our 14th destination. West Side is known for their variety of chili options as they serve Regular, Spicy Regular, Tex-Mex, Vegetarian and Spicy Vegetarian. We are looking forward to sampling their twist on Cincinnati style chili.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Gourmet Chili Review

Quest stop 13 took us back to Monmouth Street to another Newport institution, Gourmet Chili. Before going to the chili parlors I usually do some research about where we are going. No place has had such polarizing reviews as Gourmet Chili. People seem to either love it or hate it, so we had no idea what do expect.

While it is on the same street as Dixie Chili, Gourmet has a completely different atmosphere. If you were to picture a greasy spoon hole in the wall diner in Kentucky it would probably look similar to Gourmet Chili. Some have complained they felt Gourmet is dirty and unsanitary, but we didn’t feel that way. The restaurant felt old to us, I don’t think they have changed any of the décor since they opened, but we wouldn’t classify it as dirty. There is a variety of wall decorations varying from photos of ancient Greece, Cincinnati and flowers. However, one negative about our experience is we were the only patrons there not smoking. Dixie Chili has their dining area split off for smoking and non-smoking, but since Gourmet is basically just one open space there isn’t a non-smoking section. This isn’t a deal breaker for us, but it is a turn off.

The menu isn’t much different from the other diner style parlors we have visited. They have breakfast, double deckers, burgers and of course the classic Cincinnati chili options. One Gourmet Chili menu item that not many other parlors feautre is the gyro. Everything is reasonable priced and there was even a special on cheese coneys.

Alison's Review

Gourmet Chili is not one of the most talked about chili parlors in Cincinnati, so I had no idea what to expect. As it turns out, however, this little diner offers a solid cheese coney that is among the better ones we've had on the quest.

The chili was loaded with the flavor of beef and onions. It was also a little sweet. Though not particularly unique or bold in flavor, it was definitely a very good chili recipe. The cheese was a standard cheddar, but perhaps a little better than the average. Two of the three buns were soft and fresh. The third must have been kept too close to the grill because it was a little hard.

The hot dog, mustard, and onions were not much to comment on, but none detracted from the overall product.

This was a standard Cincinnati cheese coney. Though there were no surprises and nothing that particularly stood out about the Gourmet Chili coney, it was still a very good product that I will give a 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Clint's Review

Gourmet’s chili is on the sweeter side of the spectrum. I do enjoy the stereotypically sweet Cincinnati style chili. I didn’t think Gourmet’s chili was as good as the other sweeter chilies we have tasted (Blue Ash and Pleasant Ridge) but I enjoyed it.

Where Gourmet excelled at in my opinion is the cheese. The cheese had a good flavor, a nice fresh texture and you got a lot of it. After the lackluster cheese at Sam’s Chili, it was very nice to get some high quality cheese. The rest of the coney was average, the buns and hot dogs were fine, nothing to write home about.

While most either love or hate Gourmet, I just liked it. Because of the smoking situation I don’t think I would intentionally return but at the same time if someone were to say, hey let’s go to Gourmet Chili tonight, I would be ok with it. I give Gourmet Chili a 3.5 out of 5.

Gourmet Chili on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Pudintopia's "-Way Quest"

One of my favorite Cincinnati based blogs has been inspired by the Cincinnati Coney Quest. Jason Rust's blog, Puddintopia, is looking for some volunteers to help him conquer a quest of his own. While me and Alison love our cheese coneys another favorite staple in the Cincinnati Chili scene is the 3-way (or 4/5/6-way, whichever you prefer). The 3-way is Jason's favorite dish when he visits a local chili parlor and he wants to find the best 3-way in town. However, he doesn't want to do this quest alone and is looking for a couple of Cincinnati chili lovers to join him. He plans on using the same order of chili parlors from the Coney Quest so you would get to try all of the parlors we have.

If you are a lover of "the ways", click here to find out more details on how you can contribute. Good luck to Puddin and whomever may join him on his journey!

Gourmet Chili History

The history of Gourmet Chili begins in way that is quite similar to some of the other chili parlors we have visited: An immigrant travels to the United States to find a better life for himself and his family. Working odd jobs and struggling to keep afloat, he ends up working at one of Cincinnati's many chili parlors. Seeing the business as a great opportunity in a town that truly loves its chili, he opens his own chili parlor and it stands for decades.

The man in the story this time is Steve Stavropoulos, a Greek immigrant who worked at Skyline for awhile when he first came to America. He opened Gourmet Chili in 1986 on Monmouth Street in Newport, Kentucky. Though he has since passed away, he is still remembered in his community as having been a very spiritual and kind person. His restaurant carries on with the original recipes Stavropoulos created when founding Gourmet Chili.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Quest Stop #13

The next stop on the Quest is lucky number 13. Typically we do a drawing to determine where we will go, but not the case this time. We have a pretty tight schedule this weekend so we needed a parlor that is nearby. This means we will head back to Newport to visit Gourmet Chili on Monmouth. This is located very close to one of our favorites, Dixie Chili. We look forward to see how Gourmet stacks up to their neighbor.