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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Buy 1 Get 1 Free offers at Burger King, through Amazon Local

* ALIVE AGAIN, Monday October 22!*
 looks like folks are getting a 2nd chance at it... but a limit of 1 certificate for each this time around

Today only Amazon Local is offering buy 1 get 1 free offers for Whopper, Original Chicken Sandwich and smoothies at Burger King.  Although the deal is only good for today, there are two things to keep in mind:

1) you can "buy" (for zero money) as many of these as you want
2) You can start redeeming the certificates tomorrow (October 19) through November 4

Here's the link:

  I called a couple of Burger King restaurants in the Dayton area, and the folks who answered the phone at both restaurants said they definitely would accept these certificates.

  Although this is the first time I've ever heard of Amazon Local, evidently it has been active for months.  It is pretty much like Groupon and Living Social.  Usually you buy very discounted offers, and have a limited time to use the certificates.  If you already have an Amazon account, it is very simple to log in, "buy" your certificates for free, and then view and print the certificates within a few minutes.

  In this particular case, you can get a dozen if you want, then print them out and use them later.  Don't try to rush right out and use them today, though, because they are not valid until the day after you purchase them.

  If you like Burger King's Whoppers, Original Chicken Sandwiches, or smoothies, this might be a great deal for you, especially if you have a big appetite, or often have a second person to feed.  You'll have 17 days to buy 1 and get 1 free.  Limit is 1 coupon per visit.  This might also be good for an outing for a small group or club.

Copyright 2012 Dayton Dining

Monday, October 1, 2012

China Hut, Trotwood

  We stopped by China Cottage in Trotwood recently.  I had no idea what I was in the mood for, exactly, but I do tend to like Chinese food.  One of the first things you'll notice when you go inside is the large saltwater aquarium that dominates the center of the restaurant.  There is a large fish that reminds me of a huge variation of an angelfish that swims around in there.  It is probably a foot tall and a foot long, and fun to watch while waiting for the food.

  Of course, the finest ceramic ware historically came from China, which is why you may have heard of it referred to as "fine china".  This restaurant has a nice ornamental display.

  After looking over the menu for about 8 minutes, I decided to try something I don't believe I've ever had before, the moo shu beef.  The description said something about plum sauce.  I know from a trip to Chicago's Chinatown that I love plum sauce, though when I tried it from another source at a later date, I was less impressed, so it must depend on the recipe.  Of course I also love beef, so I thought it might work to mix them together, along with cabbage and other vegetables, in a sort of crepe.

  Our food arrived after about a 15 minute wait.  Mine involved some preparation, so I took a couple of pictures.  Our waiter, Wen L, did a fantastic job of presenting the food.  He made little circles of the plum sauce, added some of the beef and vegetable filling, and then folded the crepes.

Eventually, after a bit of folding that reminded me of origami, we ended up with something that I guess is essentially a Chinese version of a burrito, but with one end open.  The food was excellent, as was the service.  My Moo Shu Beef had a taste that was not overly sweet, and not dominated either by the beef or the vegetables.  The meal was very filling, so we had leftovers.  Instead of just handing us a doggie bag to fill ourselves, Wen took our leftovers and boxed them up himself.  I was not expecting this level of service for a meal under $10, and heartily recommend trying one of their 4 Dayton area locations.

My apologies for the menus - they essentially show the prices and item names, but not the descriptions.  While the menu says copyright 2003, the prices are current.  Also, these prices are the same for eating in.  If you need greater detail, you can visit the restaurant's website at
China Cottage
location: 1983 Shiloh Spring Road, Trotwood
telephone: (937) 854-8033
hours: Sun-Thur 11A-10P,   Fri & Sat 11A-11P
locations in Kettering, Centerville, Trotwood and Springboro

Copyright 2012 Dayton Dining

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Rattlesnake Chili, Old West Fest

  Have you ever had a hankering to taste rattlesnake?  I'm guessing that most folks think it would be more likely for a snake to take a bite out of them than the other way around.  However, I was down at the Old West Fest recently, and came across Grub Slingers Food.  It was pretty hard to resist a sign saying "Rattlesnake Chili", but since I don't handle pepper spice particularly well, I had to ask if the name meant that it just had a hot pepper bite, or if it really had rattlesnake in there.

  The proprietor told me that the chili doesn't have a lot of heat, at least not on the way down.  He also explained that the chili does indeed contain a mix of chorizo sausage and real rattlesnake.  That sold me, so I tried a bit.  The flavor had some slight sweetness up front, followed by a moderately salty taste of tomato and meat.  I would say that this chili would be fine even for those who stay away from hot peppers, and it made me long for the Chili King restaurant that I used to dine at occasionally on Main Street just north of downtown Dayton. (BTW, if anybody has a photo of the old Chili King restaurant, I'd love to see it - I never thought to take a picture when I ate there)

  For those who haven't heard much about it, the Old West Fest is a festival that happens on weekends.  It has similarities to Renaissance Festivals, but is set 300-500 years later.  The Old West Festival is themed on Dodge City in 1878.  There are still 3 weekends when folks can attend, through October 7.  Location is east of Cincinnati, route 32. (Appalachian Highway)  Adult tickets at the gate are $12, and kids are $6.  The festival would probably provide most folks with about 4-6 hours of entertainment.

copyright 2012 Dayton Dining

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Jerri's Restaurant, Englewood

  If you have ever gone to the library in Englewood (Northmont branch), you have been right next to this place.  Jerri's is in the Englewood shopping center, next to Kmart and the Englewood Cinema.  I have driven by it dozens of times, but never took notice of it until they purchased a sign and put it out by route 40 saying they were open for business.

   This place was a very pleasant dining experience.  From the Frank Sinatra background music played at just the right volume to the excellent food, I would have to say that it qualifies as a hidden gem.  Even the bathrooms were clean.  The men's restroom, by the way, had numerous metal nostalgia signs up, including several comic book covers.  I believe they may have one of the best Superman comic book covers I've ever seen up on the wall there - I think it was #41, but my memory may be off.

  Anyway, we had a bit of time one afternoon and decided to try Jerri's out for lunch.  The inside is rather plain and not too large, but there was enough room for almost a dozen tables.  They are open every day except Sunday, and they have a different special every weekday.  Monday is Swiss steak, Tuesday pork tenderloin, Wednesday meat loaf, Thursday chicken fettucini and Friday is ocean perch.

  After looking over the menu, I almost selected the perch, which was the special of the day.  However, I picked the chicken teriyaki served over rice instead.  I also got some mashed potatoes as a side, and added an order of onion rings.  I've always hoped to find a place that serves onion rings like they make at the county fairs.  They also offered cans of pop with the meals, and I believe they were a dollar each - pretty reasonable.

  The food took about 15 minutes to arrive from when we ordered.  I may have been a bit hungrier than usual, but I can safely say that the chicken teriyaki was excellent - probably the best I have had.  The roll was a typical white bread roll, and probably the only aspect of the meal that I could suggest improvement to. (a choice of rye or whole wheat roll would be greatly appreciated)  The mashed potatoes were also better than average, with a yummy and slightly sweet gravy.  The onion rings weren't the large sized fairground type, but at least they were not made from "pieces parts" like they are at some places.

  I left Jerri's very satisfied with the service and food.  There was enough to fill me up for lunch even though I hadn't had much to eat for breakfast.  If you are in the area, you might want to consider a combination meal and movie.  Jerri's is only about a 30 second stroll down the sidewalk from the Englewood Cinema, which shows movies for only $1.50 on Tuesdays.

Jerri's Restaurant
address: 320 west National Road
Telephone: 832-2765
hours: M-F 11-7,   Sat. 11-3

Copyright 2012 Dayton Dining

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

$2.99 buffets at Cici's Pizza

  If you like pizza, then you might want to consider swinging by Cici's Pizza tomorrow (September 6) for their guest appreciation day:

  The asterisk means "if your local Cici's participates".  Don't worry, I gave them a call, and the one in Huber Heights is definitely doing this.  The Dayton area used to have a couple more of these, but this was the only one in the area left standing after the great recession.

  A small salad bar with a couple of selections of pasta is also included in the price.  When I say small, I mean about 5 feet long, but it is still surprising with the selections that are included along with the buffet price.  The location also has a game room.  One of my favorite aspects is that for no extra charge you can get a pizza made to order.  They will even bring it out to your table, if requested!  In the past, I have usually asked for a combo pizza with green olives on it, since they don't often have one of these out for everybody.  Anyway, this is a chance to fill up for not a lot more than you'd pay for adding a single topping at some pizza places.  Definitely try out some of their dessert pizzas while you're there.

Address: 7631 Old Troy Pike      Huber Heights, Ohio 45424
Telephone: (937) 236-2424
Hours: 11 am to 10 pm

Copyright 2012 Dayton Dining

Friday, August 24, 2012

Clifton Mill Restaurant

  Set in the small village of Clifton northeast of Dayton (south of Springfield), Clifton Mill is a working mill that is probably best known for its Christmas light display.  However, there is also a restaurant inside that features pretty good breakfast selections.  I had eaten there before, but it had been quite a while, so I decided to try out their lunch fare.

front of the mill

  The original mill was built way back in 1802, and provided grain grinding services to local farmers.  Today it still grinds grain, some of which is offered in the gift shop.

  While I have some nice memories of eating at the Clifton Mill Restaurant back when I was in college, as I said, I hadn't eaten here in quite some time.  I decided to stop by with my family and try a burger.  We went in the afternoon on a Sunday, at around 2 PM.  There was 1 person in line before us, and about half of the tables were occupied.  Our experience was rather poor, to say the least, because we ended up waiting nearly 45 minutes before our food came.  That's a bit too long to wait with kids, and it was much longer than we expected.  Food was decent, and portions were a little smaller than expected.  Management gave us 15% off the check, which was appreciated, but I still think we should have been notified up front to expect a long wait, and not just left to become disgruntled.

  On the plus side, there is an outdoor viewing area that lets you have a nice view of the covered bridge, the river, water wheel, etc.

                          view of the rear of the mill

  I thought that perhaps early Sunday afternoons are just too busy, so I decided to go back and give it a second try on a weekday at about 3:30 in the afternoon.  I decided to make things simple, and just grab a burger with a friend.  This time there was no wait at all to be seated, and all but 2 of the tables were empty.  Unfortunately, the table we were seated at was sticky, and the waitress was not very apologetic when I asked her to clean the stickiness off or seat us at another table.  In addition to this, the place had a fly problem.  I realize it is difficult to completely keep flies out in the summer, but everywhere I looked I could see 2 or 3 flies.  One kept landing on my arm, which was also annoying, since I don't go to restaurants and hope that I get to swat flies while I wait for the food.  I'm hoping they have since fumigated the place.

                                               half pound angus  burger and fries, first visit

 I enjoy burgers quite a bit.  On my first visit, I ordered the angus beef burger for 8 bucks.  Adding the fries was another $1.75, cheese another buck, and tomato and onion 45 cents each.  So that $8 burger became almost 10 bucks with cheese, tomato and onion.  Thankfully, the lettuce was no extra charge, and I was allowed to put on as much catsup as I wanted without an additional fee.  Yes, I'm being a little sarcastic here, but in truth I did feel a little bit "nickel and dimed".  The burger was very good, however.


                                 half pound buffalo burger

  On my second visit, I went with the half pound buffalo burger for $9.25.  Since I wanted a bit more, I elected to get a pasta salad instead of the fries.  It turned out to be the tiniest "pasta salad" that I had ever seen in my life - about 3 inches across, and maybe 4 ounces.  Again, the cheese on the burger added a buck, and the onion and tomato about half a buck, bringing the price up to over 11 dollars.  The burger was cooked just the way I like it, and it was very juicy, not dry like another buffalo burger I had eaten elsewhere.  The total wait for the food to come this time was about 20 minutes.

  I'm left with mixed feelings after eating here.  I'd say don't visit on a Sunday, especially if you have young kids.  I'm hoping the fly issue was just temporary, and no longer a problem.  The breakfast menu is probably the big draw, since it is less expensive, with variety, and some of the offerings will really fill you up.  The lunch menu is a bit sparse though, and the amount you receive is somewhat on the small side.  I would really like to see them add meals to the menu that have everything included for one price.  Keep in mind that the cost of drinks (pop, etc.) can add up quickly here.  When I looked over the receipt later, I saw that about $6 had been added for pop, which only 1 person at the table had ordered.  The pop was supposed to be about $2, so all I can figure out is that they must have charged the full price every time a waitress came by and asked if a refill was desired.

  On the way out of the place, I grabbed a menu and noticed that Clifton Mill is selling wine with their name on the label.  I remembered seeing that there is a local winery nearby, and asked if they obtained the wine there, or if they actually owned the winery.  The lady told me that the wine is actually from California, and they just put their label on it.  I'll give them points for honesty, but anyone thinking they are buying locally produced wine will be sorely disappointed.  Hopefully they can work some cross promotion out with the local winery, or at least start selling one from Ohio.

  Just a couple of blocks west of the restaurant you will find a parking lot for Clifton Gorge State Park.  It offers a very nice, mostly shaded walk with a lot of informative signs along the path, and some very nice photo opportunities.

the nearby Clifton Gorge State Park

Bottom Line: visit for the Christmas light show or the view, but avoid Sunday early afternoons.  If money's not an issue, plunk down $27 for their "Big Breakfast", which will easily serve 3 people.  There's no way you'll go home hungry after ordering that one!

location: 75 Water Street     Clifton, Ohio 45316
hours: Sun. 8-5,  Mon.-Thur. 9-4,  Fri. 9-8,   Sat. 8-8
telephone: (937) 767-5501

copyright 2012 Dayton Dining

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Hattie J's - American food in Trotwood

  A couple of times last year I drove past a place on Main Street in Trotwood, and saw that someone was renovating it.  Now I see that it has opened as a restaurant called Hattie J's.  For some reason I was expecting hot gumbo or cajun food - possibly because it says "Louisiana style ribs" on the door.  However, the focus is really American.

  This is not a fancy place.  It is basic and clean.  While I was there eating, several people came in, but they got takeout.  I got the feeling that a good number of the clients are looking for something they can grab quickly and go, yet have a meal that seems home cooked.

  The setup is really more like a Subway than a sit down restaurant.  You move along and tell them what you want, and they quickly get it for you.  You don't have dozens of choices - there are about 9 total, including the sides.  I guess you could argue that this is a lot smaller selection than is typical, but I suppose it is better to do a great job on a few things than to try many and not excel at any of
them.  To be fair, the cook says he will cook to order in about 12 minutes, so if you like something a little different, you can get it that way.  The food is prepared and waiting under a warming lamp for people to come in and take it out.  Since I hate waiting, I like this setup.  By the way, they are currently open to 8pm, not 9pm as it still says on their menu.

  I decided to try a double order of the swai, which is a type of fish I had never heard of before.  I also had green beans and a sort of "california medley" (carrots, broccoli, cauliflower) for my two sides.  The green beans were buttery and enjoyable, while the veggie blend needed a bit of salt and pepper.  I enjoyed the double order of swai enough that I purchased a third fillet, after which I was quite full.  It turns out that swai is also known as "iridescent shark" in southeast Asia.  What?!?  Did I just eat shark?  It turns out that no, it is actually in the "shark catfish" family.  In other words, it is a catfish which looks a little bit like a shark.  Anyway, I love catfish, and so it is no wonder that I liked this fish.  The breading wasn't too heavy, and it was not overcooked or too greasy.  While these are farmed fish, adults in the wild can reach up to 4 feet in length.  I would personally enjoy pulling one of those four footers in with a pole!

  The owner and cook, Standford Nelson, told me that the restaurant has been open for about 7 months now.  Back in 1974 he opened a restaurant shortly after moving back to the area, so this is his second time as an eatery proprietor.  He decided to open Hattie J's after retiring last year.  I also asked about an ice cream bar that I saw inside the restaurant, and was told it would be up and running once the weather has warmed up a bit more.

  If you like fish, then come by and try the swai! (marinated pork chops are pretty good, too)

Hattie J's
846 E. Main Street
Trotwood, Ohio 45426
Telephone: (937) 837-1212
hours: 11-8 every day except Thursday, when they are closed
note: Entertainment Book online has a "buy 1 menu item, get one free, up to $6 value" coupon

Copyright 2012 Dayton Dining

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Broadway Cafe, Trotwood

  We stopped off at the Broadway Cafe for lunch.  I have passed by probably 8 or 9 times, and they always seem to have a loyal fan base.  This was my second time eating here.  It has a brick interior, and is part of a very small strip mall on the west side of the street. (Union Road becomes Broadway)  After parking, I noticed something that is a little unusual in this day and age - one of the businesses is a training facility for boxers.

  Visually, the place looks clean and tidy, though I did notice a bit of something sticky on the table.  I was surprised at how much carryout business the place is evidently getting - quite a few folks came in to pick up orders while we were eating.

  I learned a bit of local history as well - another benefit of the customization that is possible with locally owned restaurants.   This is a true "mom & pop" style place.  I had seen a camping trailer once that said "Trotwood" on the back, but I assumed someone had just added that on.  It turns out that there was actually a Trotwood Trailer company, which made recreational camping trailers for decades starting in about 1930.  If you eat at the Broadway Cafe, you can learn about some of the history of the company from various wall displays.

or you can read more here:

  It took about 18-20 minutes for all of the food to come out, which is about average.  Some of the breakfast specials I've seen advertised are very inexpensive, and the overall prices here are decent.  There are daily specials, plus the menus have additional ways to save, such as buy 4 subs, get 1 free.

  If you get the "chix rice", which turned out to be a rice soup with chicken, you may want to tell them to dial down the spices a notch.  I've had it twice here, and the first time it was almost too spicy for me to finish.  The second time I stopped by and tried it, it was fine.  Perhaps the first time someone just put a bit more of the spices in than normal.

  The mushroom & swiss burger had some huge mushroom slices on top, but not quite as much cheese as I would have liked.  The beef patty gave the impression that they made it up from scratch, which is the way I like it. (instead of a frozen patty from some multi-pack)  The reuben surprised me in the other direction - more cheese than I expected, and beef instead of ham.  It turns out that I grew up eating a variation of the classic reuben sandwich - my Mom typically made it with a slice of ham with Swiss cheese and sauerkraut on rye bread.  However, since the menu did not list the ingredients, I had to look it up when I was surprised.  It turns out that a classic Reuben typically has corned beef or pastrami, and not the ham I was used to.

  I'll definitely go back, and next time I'm trying one of their calzones.

Broadway Cafe
203 North Broadway, Trotwood
(937) 837-6555
Sunday 7-9
Mon.-Thur 7-10
Fri.-Sat. 7-11

Copyright 2012 Dayton Dining