Friday, December 30, 2005

Oakley Pub & Grill

Review #9 @ Stop #19
Oakley Pub and Grill
3924 Isabella (Just off Oakley Square)

Since posting this review, the Oakley Pub and Grill changed owners. We have received several concerns about the current burgers, which prompted one of the Burger Guys to visit. He noted that the burger had undergone significant enough changes that it should be removed from the Burger Honor Roll and be re-evaluated by the team. This review is not meant to endorse or criticize current ownership, but to only inform readers of the situation.

Bucky previously visited one of its siblings, the 915 Pub and Grill in Ft. Thomas, and raved about the burger and recommended a trip here. Talk about a corner bar. The Oakley Pub and Grill has a funky shaped front on a corner. After seeing the front for the first time, how could one not anticipate the inside?

The inside is a small, dark but neat bar with several TVs positioned so everyone could see. Although one can visualize the primetime excitement, professional workers arrived for lunch. The menu offers a variety of half-pound hamburgers (as the Black and Bleu) and all are served with fries or their unique house slaw.

The burger topped with lettuce, tomato, and onion and served on a toasted Kaiser bun, has average diameter - but this burger was thick! Bucky takes a bite and exclaims, “Just how I remember the 915.” Freddie follows with, “Yes – Another burger with flavored meat!” There’s no mistake here − this was one tasty, juicy burger oozing with freshness. Intern Wolfy could not attend that day, but received his marching orders to proceed to Oakley Square because these burgers serve as a good reference point for excellence.

Freddie appreciated the meat’s flavor, but wondered if more could be done. Bucky, with his tendency of exhibiting fussy-old-woman behaviors, openly wondered if a perfect score (10) is even possible. Readers should be thankful that Freddie is along to be the voice of reason.

Bucky's gut feeling is that everyone will find quality burgers at Oakley's two siblings: 915 (Ft. Thomas) and Zola’s (Covington). On the other hand, Freddie trusts his friend, but also stand by his "only time will tell" mantra. Maybe they'll be reviewed in future back-to-back postings? Hmmmm ....

Hats off to the Oakley Pub and Grill for receiving our highest honor! Don’t forget to mention the Cincinnati Burger Guys when you visit.

Points: 9.0
CBG Rating: Exceptional

Next Review: Burgers Not Even for Wimpy

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Reader's Mind

Reader Comments

Burgers in Mount Lookout, like real estate, are overpriced. Get to the West Side and grab a tasty bargain.

At Price Hill Chili, try the Big Sam (named after the owner and founder). It is a fully loaded burger, which is what I like. I understand that one in your taste group focuses on the meat. I consider the whole package: burger, bun, condiments, and toppings.

Try the Brew House (at the corner of Park Avenue and McMillan in Walnut Hills) great group of regulars, twice voted Best Neighborhood Dive by City Beat. My wife is a burger connoisseur and the Brew House is one of the very few places where she will have them outside her own kitchen. Try asking for it medium rare; it will actually be pink inside! Ask for it rare, and it will be perfectly seared on the outside, hot throughout, and dripping red juice when you cut into it. Jack gets his beef from his pal Louie at Louie's Meats up the street; Louie takes good care of him. It's all fresh, never frozen, and the patties are formed by hand in the kitchen by Jack and cooks Roy and Dan. Wonderful, wonderful!

Not to introduce a down note, aren't you worried at all about mad cow? Also, Wolfy’s desire for the rare: again, no worries about salmonella or hepatitis?

My favorite burger is Herb and Thelma’s in Covington. It’s a no frills, dead serious burger house. The only adult beverage offered is long neck domestic beer and they accept only cash. It’s a one man show (Chip, second generation owner and chef/bartender). He uses fresh ground beef daily. Take note how he cooks the burgers within sight of his customers. It’s a one of a kind restaurant that offers the freshest tasting burger in the area.

It wasn't so bad crossing HWY 75 was it? Now try the Bierhaus House in MIamitown as their burgers are fantastic. Juicy, hand-made - Perfect! Go in warm weather because the deck in back makes this place amazing. If you're lucky the singing cowboy and his horse will be in the "backyard" next to the river.

I am a burger lover and they have to be really, truly medium rare. Try these two totally different delights. Try the burger at Clough Crossings in Anderson Township. Then try the Bill burger, at Walt's Hitching Post in Ft Wright, KY (named after the owner Bill Melton).

I used to live in Newport and I made it a point to go to the Pepper Pod every weekend for the Super Big Eddie, a big, greasy burger, Yum!

I saw someone recommended Blue Ash Chili. Don't bother as the hamburgers are small and should be avoided (think of a McDonald's regular hamburger). They do have great double-decker sandwiches and BLTs though!

(New) I saw the comment that one of your readers wrote about Blue Ash Chili having small burgers. Obviously, they have not tried the Colossal Burger, which is huge! You have to try it, they are great!

If you want a good burger, visit the Pepper Pod in Newport KY and order the Super Big Eddie with the works - its one of my favorite places to get a big greasy burger (and I consider myself an expert on the subject).

(new) Lake Nina off Pippin Road has a great hamburger at an unbelievable price for today. During lunch hour, you can get a cheeseburger with two sides (salad, hot slaw, coleslaw, green beans, home fries, french fries, etc.) for $3.89! Try it. You might like it! We've been going there for 30 years.

I do have one issue to raise with you. I saw the Main Street Grill on the list of sites that people have recommended you visit. Please don’t go there - - I love it and if you go you will probably give it a good review and then it will be even more crowded than it is now and who needs that. At the very least don’t go anytime soon. Put it at the end of your list. Thanks

Next Review: Oakley Pub & Grill

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Saturday, December 10, 2005

Friendly Stop

Review 8 @ Stop #10
Friendly Stop Cafe
985 Congress Ave

Located in Glendale, this quaint tavern is a popular lunch spot. There are two signs to notice in the window when approaching the Friendly Stop. The largest promotes its signature Garlic Burger and the other notifies visitors of the smokeaters. To provide an air of nostalgia, the owners decorated the smoky interior with collectables and the many old license plates arranged high along the wall. Definitely a lot of stuff to see and talk about.

The Cincinnati Burger Guys and our lovely guests avoided the much-heralded Garlic Burger. Other than the company and the lively pictures in the restroom, the rest was downhill. The average-sized burger on a regular bun was dry and without flavor beyond the meat. It was thick, but only average diameter. Although disappointed, not very memorable, worse burgers are out there. Neither Bucky nor Freddie is anxious about returning to the Friendly Stop.

FYI: Interestingly, a reader commented to us about the Friendly Stop and mentioned similar thoughts, but was very turned off about the smoke. On the other hand, the Friendly Stop is probably a haven for smokers working in the Tri-County area.

Points: 3.5
Rating: Low Average

Next Posting: For the holidays, notes from our readers