Cheap Ass Downtown Lunch!

My buddy Eric is the connoisseur of the $5 foot longs...he goes like 3 days/week. Luckily - he breaks out of his shell once in a while and he recently introduced me to something new! Chinese Combo King in the Food Court of Tower Place Mall.

Here's the hustling and bustling food court in action...okay - not really but hey - it's the best shot my camera phone would take.

The combo gets you rice and or noodles and 2 entrees. This is a ton of food! I chose noodles with spicy shredded pork and teriyaki chicken. It was awesome!!!! The teriyaki mellowed the spiciness of the pork which made it a good combo.

Its mall chinese - so it's not HOLY COW AMAZING - but it's way better than chickenJoy. And that food combo - $5.26 (no drink). You can't beat $5.26 for all that food - and it's good!

Chinese Combo King on Urbanspoon

Where the hell is Mt Orab? And what's there?

Again with my adventures to the far far far east side of Cincinnati I found myself in Mt. Orab. We were hungry and needed food. There's one "cool" place (Butterbees) but it was PACKED and we didn't have the endurance to wait an hour for we headed back into the main part of town and came across Geppetto's.

The outside looks sort of like a bank and there weren't many folks there - but we decided to check it out. They stay pretty busy with take out orders it seems by the foot traffic we saw during our meal.

Lar-Dog got the steak hoagie. I don't understand it - but it's his standard order. He always always ALWAYS gets the steak hoagie. He did mix it up a bit with the waffle fries - always a good choice. I do have to say - this steak hoagie was better than most. Why?

The real key is the bread - Geppettos' makes their own bread!!!! We saw them kneading the dough in the back and it was all on a pan ready to be baked. It was really delicious! Homemade bread - DEFINITELY WIN!

I went for a small pizza - combo style. It was good. Not amazing but solid. Not something I would usually order but I was in the mood.

I also got breaded mushrooms...was hoping for them as an app - they came with the pizza. They were flavor. Worst part was the ranch sucked - it was runny. I'm a picky-ass ranch connoisseur and this was not good.

Not sure I'll go back to Geppetto's but that's mostly cuz it's way the heck out there and we don't go that way too often. But if you live in them there parts - then stop in - it was pretty good.

They also have Cheesecake Factory cheesecake - which is always a good thing.

Geppetto's on Urbanspoon

Bang Bang What?

I had never been to Bonefish Grill yet kept hearing about it. Bang Bang Shrimp Bang Bang Shrimp - it's all I heard about! Last weekend - I finally gave in and had to try it! After work - we headed to the one in West Chester in Voice of America...

First up, fresh warm bread with olive oil & pesto. Delish! The olive oil is a little strong...but the pesto was great. The bread was really good! Crispy on the outside and warm and soft on the inside.
TA-DA! There it is - the Bang Bang Shrimp! It is all it's cracked up to be. It's a mayo-based sauce covering perfectly sauteed shrimp. There's also a nice bed of lettuce underneath so it's a bit salad-like. Hindsight being what it is - I should have just gotten this and soup...I did have leftovers the next day as a cold salad and it was still tasty then. It is spicy - so if you hate spicy - then avoid it. But I would highly recommend it as an appetizer. They also have Bang Bang Shrimp Tacos - which were really cheap (like $8 or something) - that would most likely be what I got next time.
The salmon entree with Lemon Butter was okay...but not as good as the salmon from Red Onion last week. It was a bit greasier and just not as good. The vegetables were pretty good but the lima bean mix - ick - really - who likes lima beans????

I got the shrimp & scallops with the chimichurri sauce. (Side note - with seafood - you pick your seafood - then you pick your sauce. You choose between lemon butter, chimichurri, warm mango salsa and pan asian.) It was okay. The shrimp & scallops were cooked wonderfully. The sauce didn't really have much flavor. I think I'd have much preferred the Bang Bang Tacos...

I didn't finish all the BBS or the entree to save room for dessert because I saw they had Creme Brulee. I love CB! It was a HUGE portion but it has eggs so I had to eat it alone. It was a bit large for just one person but I couldn't let any of it go to waste. It was very good. I think I'm now to the point where I want more flavored creme brulees rather than just vanilla. But it was very very good - especially if you have someone to share with.

Overall - I did like Bonefish. Sort of has the PF Changs feel about it as in it's a "nice" restaurant but is still a chain. I think the Bang Bang is a deal and I'd go back for that if I was with someone else that really enjoyed seafood.

Our check for 2 beers, bang bang and 2 entrees was in the $60 range...

Bonefish Grill on Urbanspoon

Hungry & Haunted Houses - what a combo!

Last weekend we decided to head up to Middletown for the Land of Illusion - a haunted Halloween extravaganza! (FYI - good fun - definitely jumped out of my pants, even BF got scared - worth the money!)

On our way we wanted to grab a bite to eat and he said he knew of a place in Monroe and was so excited to take me someplace I hadn't been and didn't know about! He couldn't remember the name...but he knew where it was.

Then we pulled up and I deflated his dream - cuz I've totally been there! It was the Red Onion! Poor guy - he should know better...but we went anyway. It's been a while and we were starving!

It's on Main Street in Monroe and attached to the Brandywine Inn. I haven't been to the Brandywine but Red Onion is a bit more affordable so we decided to stick with it - even though there was a wait.

We each got a salad with our meal - I heard someone raving about the Caesar as we waited so I chose that. It was pretty darned good for a Caesar salad. Lots of toppings, good amount of dressing - really great.

House salad was also good - decent Spring mix, ample veggies and good far so good!

The boy got the salmon - even though there were vegetables involved. He said it was the best salmon he's ever had. That's a pretty bold statement - I tasted it. Not best I've ever had - but it was good. He even ate all the vegetables - including the spinach. I nearly fell off my chair.

I got the manicotti with crab Alfredo. I wasn't as excited as he was. It was good but a bit one-note - the whole thing sort of tasted the same. There was way too much Alfredo and not near enough crab. It was good and I enjoyed it - but I wouldn't get it again. It doesn't need to float in Alfredo for me to eat it.

What is this? Well - the building is very very old and I thought it was interesting to see an old meat grinder being used to keep a door shut. Hey - whatever works! Cool picture I thought...especially since the floor was right at eye level.

So - the Red Onion - good place. It's a tiny little bar/restaurant and they do a very good business. Most people there are regulars - so you might get a few stares if you're from out of town. But - if you're headed to West Chester for something - take the extra 10 minutes and stop for lunch or dinner.

Even though I didn't love the manicotti - I do like the atmosphere, the staff and the food overall. The one note I have for them - their menu is very vegetarian un-friendly. I remember going with my vegetarian friend Jen and there was basically one thing she could order. They've got some culinary chops - I'd love to see them add at least one entree with some flare for the vegetarians.

Red Onion Café on Urbanspoon

Romano's Macaroni Grill Creamy Basil Parmesan Chicken & Pasta

I'm changing it up today just a bit - last week I cooked dinner! (I know - WTF?) and am going to walk you through idea why - just feel like it.

I got a free box of Romano's Macaroni Grill Creamy Basil Parmesan Chicken & Pasta. Okay - could it have a longer name??? They have five varieties...but I was sent this so I didn't get to choose. All you have to do is add chicken, butter and milk.

Here's what you get - it's all labeled and prepackaged into all the components. Helpful!

First, I cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and sauteed them in a little oil (nice pan eh? too bad it doesn't get used much!).

Now you stir in the milk and the seasoning packet. Let it simmer...

All the while - boiling water and then adding the pasta packet.

Then you mix in the Creamy Sauce (foil packet) and the Sun Dried Tomatoes. Stir and heat through.

Mmm - looks pretty good!

Drain the pasta (duh)

Throw it in...

Stir it up and put the Parm on top...

And there you have it. I had a bowl for dinner and a bowl for lunch the next day. Says it serves 4 but I'm too lazy to make vegetables or side dishes for myself.

So what did I think?

It was pretty good for a box mix that a monkey could throw together (yes - even you Edith). I added salt and it really could have benefited from some mushrooms.

They cost about $4/box. Will I buy it? Nah...probably not. It was nice to have for a quick meal that took no planning. But - $4 seems like a lot when I still have to add stuff to it.

It did heat up fairly well for the leftovers...

IHOP - more like ICRAP

The title of this blog was inspired by Marvin from Big Brother 5. At one point during the show, one of the cocky guy contestants said people always mistook him for Brad Pitt. In a diary room moment, Marvin exclaimed, "Brad Pitt????? More like a arm pit!" That stuck with me and sums up my feelings of this trip to IHOP.

So why did we go? Well, we're trying to be more budget-conscious as of late and I decided to clip some coupons for a change. There was a coupon for Free Breakfast/Dinner with purchase of one entree for IHOP - so why not? That's about $7 free - so let's go!

We hit the Ridge location in Oakley (near Target). I guess that was mistake #1. (Note the 5 votes on this locations Urban Spoon rating - 0% like it.)

Here sits a nice pot of fresh coffee on our table - right? No - it's not fresh. And when we decided - because it wasn't fresh - we didn't want coffee - they left it there - the whole meal.

Also - it took at least 15 minutes for our server to come and take our drink order. (We contemplated leaving twice.) Then another 10 minutes to take our meal order. Then another 5 minutes to get our drinks on the table. Don't even ask about refills.

I ordered the Pancake Combo which is 2 pancakes, 2 eggs, hash browns and 2 sausage or 2 bacon. I got scrambled, bacon and cheese on the hashbrowns. And let me say - the food tasted as pitiful as it looks. The hashbrowns were undercooked, the bacon was overcooked and the eggs were cold.
For pancakes you can choose from: Original, Strawberry, Strawberry Banana, NY Cheesecake, Double Blueberry, Cinnamon Apple, Chocolate Chip or Harvest Grain 'n Nut. All of these come with crap on top and then whipped cream. I guess I'm a purist - I like mine with butter & syrup - that's it. Anybody?

I got double blueberry and they were good - definitely the best thing about the meal. They were a little cold, they came 5 minutes after the platter of crap shown above and my table had 2 jars of the Butter Pecan syrup and none of the Old Fashioned. (wtf eats butter pecan syrup?)

This is the Double BLT - it had a lot of bacon and the fries were good - not really hot - but tasty.

But you see - he ordered onion rings - not fries. So 20 minutes later, the onion rings came. They were fine - he liked them but I thought they tasted like old grease.

Our server didn't write down the order and then proceeded to come out 3X and ask us questions. What kind of toast for his blt, I wanted blueberry - right? and ironically - she came back and asked if he wanted fries or onion rings - and yet - it was still wrong.

You don't even want to know how long it took for the check to come...we just left cash and got out at that point. Who cares about an extra buck when the football game is coming on?!

I understand a lot of people hate chains - but to me - it's inevitable that I'm going to go to one every now and again. This was just a really crappy experience. If we decide to try and IHOP again - it won't be the one on Ridge!

IHOP on Urbanspoon

Guest Blog - Erica heads to the Country Cruz'en!

So this week - my great friend Erica and I decided to swap blogs for a day! Her new blog is about rediscovering Cincinnati! Check it out at and find out where I went last weekend! And today - check out Erica's own dining adventure!
When my boyfriend and I were heading to Owensville for the
Old West Festival, we wanted to stop somewhere local for
lunch instead of hitting up a fast food chain. Thanks to a
shake on the ol' Urbanspoon app, we found ourselves at
Country Cruz'en.

The "cruise in" is a bit of a lost art in Cincinnati, but
this place had charm. We pulled up and they brought us a
menu... we then ordered and sat talking in our car until
the food was ready. The food was of a greasy-and-delicious
nature, as you might expect-- I had a burger, peanut butter
milkshake and fried macaroni & cheese, Dan ordered a hot
dog, chocolate shake and fries. Everything tasted good,
un-microwaved (a big thing for me) and homey.

In the picture of Dan, you have to notice the window tray
perched by his head. It was this kind of detail that made
me fall for the kitsch of the place. In the 40 minutes we
were there, I watched cops, locals, families pull up and
have trays placed on their windows like it was an everyday
thing for them. The closest I'd ever been was going to a
Sonic and ordering through a speaker. Not the same feeling
at all. I loved Country Cruz'en both for the food and the
experience. I recommend swinging in with an open mind,
patient mood and empty stomach!

Guest Blog by Erica from Cincinnati Readventure:

Country Cruz'en on Urbanspoon


As you can tell - I've been exploring the easterly side of our city lately as I've had a few trips to the Williamsburg, Bethel, Amelia, Eastgate area as of late for personal reason. Last weekend I headed to Great Scott!

First - was curious about the saying "Great Scott" - here's what Wikipedia said:

The expression is of uncertain origin. It is believed to date back at least as far as the American Civil War, and may refer to the commander‑in‑chief of the U.S. Army, General Winfield Scott. The general, known to his troops as Old Fuss and Feathers, weighed 300 pounds (21 stone or 136 kg) in his later years and was too fat to ride a horse.

We had driven by a couple of times on our trips out this way and were finally here in the dinner time frame so we decided to head on in. The bottom of the sign also mentions that the "diner" was getting ready to open. This is a more casual version of Great Scott and is also on the same road but about 10-15 min away. Haven't been there yet...

It was Friday at like 6 so it was PACKED so we ended up out front on the patio - it was cold! Thus - I got the chili ($2.99). Now this is more "Texas" than Skyline but it was REALLY GREAT! There was a touch of sweetness to it - it was chunky, tomatoey, beany, warm - just really excellent. I would definitely get this again!

I ordered the Rueben ($9.99). It was greasy and the meat didn't have much flavor. There also wasn't near enough of the thousand island dressing - like so little I could barely taste it. :-(

The youngin got the batter-dipped shrimp ($4.69 - includes drink) and isn't much of a food connoisseur but she did finish it - so it couldn't have been too bad.

The big guy got the Family Favorite - Fish & Chips ($9.99). This was EXCELLENT. Menu says it's tilapia. It was battered just the right amount and was just damn tasty! (I only had one bite - he wouldn't let me have any more because he liked it so much!)

Overall - for being out in BFE - I'd say Great Scott was worth the trip. There are a lot of funky independents on this drive so not sure how soon I'll go back but if someone else suggested it - I'd definitely agree.

Re: atmosphere - inside has a "nice sports bar" feel - although we didn't see much of it. The patio/porch is really great. There's a back patio as well...I liked it - very family friendly.

Great Scott on Urbanspoon

Noodles and Company - will this chain surprise me?

A couple weeks ago, me and the BF were up near Kenwood and hungry. Not having a lot of time we popped into Noodles & Co on the corner of Kenwood & Montgomery.

They do have a fun website - it's all Flash based but it's like a little town you walk through. They not only list full nutritional info but also have some things like "bowls under 400" and "watching sodium" so that's nice.

BF got the mac & cheese with chicken and I have to say - it was AWESOME! I was a huge fan of it and ended up eating all of his leftovers! This is a "regular" and I must say - it's big! If I didn't want leftovers - I'd just get a small. The chicken breast was okay - but the mac & cheese was really good on it's own.

I got the Pesto Cavatappi (basil & garlic pesto tossed with cream, parmesan & olive oil). There was supposed to be mushrooms in it as well but they were n early non-existant. I added shrimp. This was good but not near as good as the M&C. I think it was just a little lacking in the sauce department and thus flavor but it wasn't "bad" by any means. Again - regular size here is AMPLE!

Overall - for a chain - it's pretty darned good. Especially figuring I could get the small size in most instances - the price is pretty good. It's a nice cross between fast food and a sit down. You order at the counter and they bring it to your table.

There are lots of options as well - which is nice. Most of the "healthy" choices are from the asian menu - if you pop in and don't have time to look online first.

Noodles & Company on Urbanspoon