Friday, September 13, 2013

Restaurant Review: Lori Beth's Cafe

I have this tendency to work in the armpit locations of Downtown Cincinnati. Now these armpits may be wearing deodorant (i.e. they're not actually stinky) - but it's always in a spot sort of away from all the happening stuff. I used to work at 3rd & Plum - now I'm near the Taft Museum. There really are only 2 restaurants that you can get a FAST lunch on those days when you have no time but need fooooood! 

Deli720 was our go-to in the Northlich building across the street - but they closed this summer :-( Luckily - a new restaurant opened in the same spot a week later. Lori Beth's Cafe opened in it's place and got everybody talking!

The center case used to be filled with fruit and vegetables from the ingredients the Deli used in their salads/sandwiches. Now - it's filled with cake and pie. While I definitely crave cake (see yesterday's post) - I don't know that the quick lunch crowd is really going for a big ol' piece of coconut cake. I mean I want it - I just didn't have the courage to buy it. :-) It's also $3.50 a slice.

All of their sandwiches are $8 and come with one side (or $6 ala carte). I have heard rave reviews about the meatloaf (bacon, cheese, mayo, meatloaf, veggies) sandwich but I've also heard it's a heart attack on a plate - so I went for something a little less coma-inducing.

I chose the Chicken Salad Croissant and a side of potato salad. The chicken salad was good - it's simple. I hate funky chicken salad - leave the grapes and nuts out - just give me chicken, celery, mayo - done. This wasn't the best chicken salad I've had - but I ate it. It also had tomato and lettuce on it - which was nice. The croissant was fine - but it would really benefit from being toasted on the grill and being a little warm. The sandwich was HUGE. Portion size is not an issue here.

The potato salad was fine - lots of mustard and relish in it - also comes with eggs - which I like. It's good - nothing spectacular though.

A coworker got the Pear & Brie Salad ($8) - they were less than thrilled. I didn't even go to lunch with Susie that day - but she went out of her way to come in and express her discontent to the coworker known as Food Hussy. It's a huge amount of spinach with 4-5 thin slivers of pear (off to the left). Her words, "Dude - pears are cheap!" Then there were huge slabs of brie. The amount of brie was fine but serving slabs of brie isn't quite user-friendly when you try and eat it. I had to agree - $8 for this seemed off balance - and it's not very user friendly - dice rather than slabs would work much better.

Even though I said I was too chicken to get a piece of cake - I did sneak in a strawberry cupcake ($2.50). I saved this for later in the day and this was the highlight of the lunch. Strawberry cupcakes are my kryptonite (see also Abby Girl and Yum) so when they were on the counter - I couldn't resist.

The cupcake was FULL of pieces of strawberry - which I loved. The icing was also very strawberry-y and sugary - just how I like it. It also wasn't a huge jumbo cupcake - so it was easy enough to eat. So luckily, lunch ended on a high.

Why Should You Go? If you don't work in the area - then I definitely wouldn't make a special trip. If you like desserts and are driving by - stop in.

I'm also going to expand a little on this - hopefully for Lori Beth's benefit. This was my first visit - but I have heard a LOT of feedback from people at all the businesses around this building. When they know you're the Food Hussy - they talk. Here's what I'm hearing and seeing:
  • Their breakfast is good (I did have an omelette one day) but it's over-priced. The Book Building nearby has a cafeteria that's open until 9:15am and you can get a breakfast sandwich there for $1 - Lori Beth's is $5. #whoa (in my best Joey Lawrence voice)
  • They do have "foo foo" coffee - which before meetings or mid-afternoon - is a nice option since there wasn't any before. 
  • Nobody thought Deli720 was "affordable" by any means - I tried not to go unless work was paying because I thought it was expensive. That said - this is being viewed by others as even MORE expensive. #ouch 
  • Ad agencies abound and they're full of health-conscience girls in their 20s - those hussies are not eating giant slabs of cake at lunch. I think their start comes from the baking world - but they might want to try and find some healthier dessert options. 
  • It's disorganized. When you ordered at Deli - it was a well-oiled machine - like the Soup Nazi (haha). This is the opposite. It seems like it takes a while to get your orders and that the left hand isn't quite sure what the right is doing.
  • People are going back - but when you ask their opinion - they are often saying "Well so far - I'm not too impressed." 
I'm not saying these things to tank Lori Beth's or hurt their business - I really hope the owners see this and take it to heart and maybe rethink a few things and take it as constructive criticism. The proof is in the pudding (or cake as it may be) - the lines at Deli720 were HUGE. You would plan to get there early to beat the lunch rush. That isn't the issue for Lori Beth's. I hope they make it because it's really great to have something so close - but they need to look at their menu and their prices and make some tough decisions.

Lori Beth's on Urbanspoon




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