Google+ Badge

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Original Rib House in Vandalia

 I have driven past this place several times over in Vandalia, but never stopped by to eat until this week.

  They have a sort of local history vibe, with many photos of the National Trapshooting association (which used to be right next door), as well as lots of photos of the airport, which used to be on North Dixie Drive.  It turns out that the owner had an ancestor that worked for one of the early airplane companies at what eventually became known as Dayton International Airport.  I always enjoy learning a bit of local history when I stop by places.  I just wish that the photos had some captions.

  The owner also verified that the place used to be a Frish's Big Boy, and he has owned the location for about 32 years now.  It has a bar in the back, and a sit down slow food restaurant in the front. (as opposed to fast food)  Interiors make you think of the 70's, and could use some updating.

  Caesar Salad with Sirloin and Bleu Cheese for $11.  Rated an 8 out of 10.

  The day's special, 1/4 pound of Walleye with sides of onion rings (more like strings, but a lot of them, and very tasty!), plus the sauteed mushrooms.  The mushrooms were also very tasty, but perhaps a tiny bit too salty.  The walleye really hit the spot, and I appreciate that they offered it broasted, without breading.  This meal was also about $11, and I would give it a 7.5 out of 10.  Taste was very good, but I feel it should have been a dollar or two less for a daily lunch special.

  Overall, it seems like a good place in a nice location near I-75.  The quality of food is better than I expected, and you can choose between the more private bar setting in the back, or the more open restaurant in the front.  I think the place would be greatly improved with some colorful painting, especially to update the look of the restaurant in front, which appears a bit worn.  The restrooms are very small, but were quite clean.

address: 275 East National Road   Vandalia, Ohio 45377
telephone: (937) 898-4601
hours: Sun. Noon-8,  Mon.-Thur. 4pm-10, Fri. & Sat. 4pm - 11:30pm

Copyright 2013 Dayton Dining

Monday, July 8, 2013

Kewpee Burger Lima, Ohio (located on Bellefontaine Ave./309 west of Interstate 75, take exit 125)

  When a burger place has been around close to 90 years, they must be doing something right.  Today I'll highlight Kewpee Hamburgers.  The closest Kewpee to the Dayton area is up in Lima.  They actually have more than 1 location there, but the easiest to access is the one on 309, just about half a mile west of I-75. (exit 125)

The outside looks pretty much like any fast food place from the 60's, and less like the diners that made the name Kewpee famous starting in the 1920's.  The chain was named after the Kewpee Dolls that were very popular in the 1920's, when they were brainstorming for a name.

  At one time there were over 200 different locations in the chain, which was founded in 1923.  This makes them the 2nd oldest burger chain in America.  (only White Castle is older, beating them by 2 years)  They still wear those hats that food prep guys wore back in the 20's, and you can see the food being fixed out in the open, not hidden in the back.  They use only locally produced beef.  A lady at the counter told me that the original Lima location was built in 1928.

The burger looks a bit messy, doesn't it?  However, that is the way I like it, with plenty of catsup and onion.  The iconic Kewpee Doll is featured on the wrapper.  Taste was good, and I could tell that the burger was not doctored up with fillers like a lot of chains do.  It tasted much like a homemade burger made with 100% ground beef.  I'll admit that I have some fond memories of this place - I grew up about 25 miles away, and we stopped to eat here about once a year when I was a kid.

  This is a really nice price for a double cheeseburger, especially considering that the beef for the burgers is locally produced.  It's also one of the few places where I've seen green olives as a burger topping.  For those who can't stomach the idea of killing a cow, they also have a vegetable sandwich.  Notice the Frosted Malts over on the left side?  Dave Thomas, founder of the Wendy's burger chain, grew up eating Kewpee Hamburgers in Kalamazoo, Michigan.  He probably also ate Kewpee's Frosted malts, and many say that he based Wendy's popular "frosty" on the Kewpee original above.

Have you ever seen buttermilk listed on a fast food menu?  You can get it here, and I happen to love buttermilk.  They also have grapefruit juice, and you can get a quart sized (quarter gallon) cup of pop for a buck.  They are also known for their slices of pie.

  Although there were more than 200 locations just before World War II, many of these went out of business during beef rationing during the war, and never reopened.  Others changed names and left the chain after the death of the original founder, when there was a long struggle over the future of the company.  Still others were sold off to other businessmen over the years.  Today only 5 locations remain.  3 are in Lima, with another in Racine, Wisconsin and 1 or 2 in Lansing, Michigan.

  I believe that if you're driving past Lima, it is well worth taking a half hour to try out some Kewpee burgers.  What surprised me the most is that they don't have a history plaque up on the wall, or anything like that.  Few burger joints, or frankly, restaurants of any kind stay open for close to 90 years.  I think they should spend a bit and put up a historical display on one of the walls.

Some further reading, for those who are interested:

Location: 1350 Bellefontaine Avenue, Lima, OH 45804
Telephone: (419) 229-1385

Copyright 2013 Dayton Dining

Monday, July 1, 2013

Brookville Grille

    The Brookville Grille is a fast food nostalgia diner, located in the Brookville Plaza.  When I first ate here a couple of years back, there was a working jukebox.  Unfortunately, the jukebox has been removed, evidently because the kids couldn't stay off of it.

   Even so, the interior walls are chock full of advertisements and articles from yesteryear.

   The place has a salvaged counter, and even a soda (or as we say around here, pop!) fountain.  Unfortunately, someone decided to stick an ultra modern high def flat screen tv up on the wall, which really jars you out of any imagined trip back to the 40's.  At least they didn't have the volume turned up loud.  It would have been really cool if they could have grabbed one of these instead, and combined it with a set top tuner that was out of sight, to match the other decor:

  While I was looking over the menu, I spoke with the owner, Jeff.  He said that the neon ice cream sign, as well as their ice cream making equipment came from the Shearer's Ice Cream shop that used to be located on route 48 in north Dayton.  I remember driving past that place and trying their ice cream back in the early 90's.  After looking over the menu, I decided to try something I'd never had before: a "pretzel-wurst", for $6.49.  It is described as a pretzel roll with sauerkraut, swiss cheese, onions and a bratwurst patty.  I also had a bit of an appetite, so I also requested a BLT for $3.89, and a cherry coke, which they made by adding cherry syrup to a regular coke.

  I ended up eating the BLT first, because the pretzel-wurst was so hot that I almost burned myself.  The bacon was crispy, and there was enough of it to compare favorably to what I would make at home.  I was surprised to find the bread toasted, which I usually don't do when I make them, but then again, I could have been proactive and asked for it not to be toasted, and I didn't.  The taste was good, the texture fine.  The tomatoes, like many places, were pink and firm, but not really ripe.  It would be great if they could get truly ripe, red tomatoes from a local place during the summer for these.  The main annoyance with this sandwich was that the lettuce was shredded, instead of in full leaves.  Because of this, it fell all over the place while I was eating, and was messy.  They could save themselves some preparation time and give a better sandwich experience by simply putting on a few sandwich sized leaves of lettuce.

  After I had finished the BLT, I tackled the pretzel-wurst.  Truly, at first I thought it was a boneless pork chop.  The texture is very firm, and not much like the sausage bratwurst we are used to.  However, the flavor is similar.  I'm wondering if it simply doesn't have as much fat as the sausage link variety does.  This was a very filling, meaty meal, and I can certainly see how customers could get used to the pretzel wurst.  The owner told me that they once removed it from the menu, but had so many regulars complain that they brought it back.

Brookville Grille
address: 428 N Wolf Creek St.  Brookville, Ohio
telephone: (937) 833-1940

Copyright 2013 Dayton Dining

Saturday, June 1, 2013

BB Riverboats Dining Cruise (Cincinnati)

  If the thought of combining a river cruise and an all you can eat buffet sounds like something you would enjoy, but you don't want to drive more than an hour and a half to do it, then you might want to consider taking one of the BB Riverboats cruises down in Cincinnati.

  We took the Belle of Cincinnati for their Tropical Dinner evening cruise.  Above you can see a sample of their buffet.  While I enjoyed the corn and bean salad, as well as the summer squash and vegetable medley quite a bit, I was not as excited over the fact that white rice and macaroni and cheese made up a full third of our choices.  Yes, there were exactly 6 items to choose from.  The food was fine, and I really did like the roast beef, though the barbecue sauce started burning my mouth, and they did not have any A1 sauce.  I think I've just been utterly spoiled by the choices offered at some of the mega buffets, such as Golden Corral.


  I really enjoyed the cruise itself quite a bit.  They had a nice mix of mostly 50's, 60's and 70's music, with some newer songs thrown in here and there.

  Here is an example of the excellent views you can expect as you travel up and down the Ohio River.  We got to see the sun set in the west, and then the moon rose up to the east as we floated past a Cincinnati Reds game in progress.  Nearby on the Covington side of the river you might want to consider visiting Mainstrasse Village (, or on the north side, see a show at the Showboat Majestic (

  As for the BB Riverboats cruise itself, I would give it 9 out of 10 stars for the scenic cruise, 7.5 out of 10 stars for the buffet food quality, and a 4 out of 10 stars for buffet variety. (really could have used some seafood, or at the very least 2-3 different choices of barbecue sauce)  Keep in mind that we only tried the Tropical Dinner Cruise, but there are a number of different theme cruises offered, including a Dixieland Jazz Brunch, a Beer and Barbecue cruise, and several others.

Address: 101 Riverboat Row, Newport Kentucky
Telephone: (800) 261-8586

Copyright 2013 Dayton Dining

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Pizza Factory review

  If you've ever looked over the menu at Dayton's Original Pizza Factory, you'll probably notice the variety.  They have a Reuben pizza, seafood pizza, whole wheat crusts, and nearly 40 toppings you can choose from, including 6 different cheeses.

  If you think that a pizza place that offers a choice between green and black olives is great, how about broccoli, pickles and lamb as options?

  We tried the Greek Gyro with double lamb, double feta cheese, onion, black olives, tomato and hand tossed crust.  Since it was buy 1 get 1 free Monday, we also got a Seafood Blanc with whole wheat crust, shrimp, imitation crab, with a bit of tomato and onion and some cheddar added.

  I'll have to say that of the two, we enjoyed the Greek Gyro pizza the most, and I enjoyed the feta cheese taste quite a bit, and the lamb. (probably because I grew up raising sheep for 4-H, and we had lamb several times a year)  I'd score it a 9/10 overall.  The Seafood Blanc pizza fared less well, and we had quite a bit left over.  I'm not sure if it was the onion, imitation crab, or exactly what.  All I could tell was that it simply had a somewhat strong fishy taste to it, and that's saying something considering that I like to eat canned fish occcasionally, and sheepshead (freshwater drum) caught from Lake Erie.  I think I might have preferred a seafood pizza with clams, fire roasted shrimp some scallops and oyster sauce.

  Overall, I would definitely suggest giving the place a try if you're tired of pizza the same old, same old way.  It's clear they are using quality ingredients, and they are really offering some unique combinations.

Note: take advantage of their Buy 1 get 1 free deal (for pickup) on Mondays!

telephone: (937) 224-4477
address: 1101 Wayne Ave. Dayton, OH 45410

Copyright 2013 Dayton Dining

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Trish's Cafe & Catering

  Here's another place that I had driven past dozens of times, but never quite found the time to stop and try their food.  We ended up going on Tuesday night, since there was a sign up advertising that as trivia night, starting around 6:30.

  The place looks pretty inviting on the outside - check out the menu photo:

  That looks a lot like a cafe, right?  However, as soon as you go inside, you realize it is more or less a bar, and not a cafe.  The lights were turned down too low, and the music was turned up too loud.  If you like 70's rock where most of the songs weren't popular enough to get replayed on the radio much, then this might be the place for you.  Well, that isn't entirely fair, since I did recognize a couple of the songs, including one by Bob Dylan.  Then again, how can you not recognize when Bob Dylan is singing anything?  I was also glad we did not sit anywhere near the door.  Even though we sat all the way across the room on the far side, we could still certainly feel a cold draft whenever anyone entered or left the restaurant.

  While we were looking over the menu, I noticed that the floor was missing quite a few floor tiles.  The place seemed to have loyal regular customers who were rather vocal.  I guess they were trying to talk over the music.  Waitresses were attentive.  I decided to try the ribeye steak, some onion rings and hash browns.  It took about 25 minutes for the food to arrive.

  The steak impressed me as far as flavor and portion size.  I believe they may have used a rub of some type, because it was juicy and didn't need any sort of sauce.  However, as you can see in the photo above, it had a bit more fat on one side than I would have expected.  I think they should trim a big section of fat like that rather than serve it.  Like so many other places, the hash browns weren't really browned very well, even though I asked them to please make them crunchy.  They tasted fine, but the texture throughout wasn't crispy like I'd like.

    The side salad was ornamental, cute, didn't skimp on the tomatoes, and had more than just 1 type of lettuce.

  I truly enjoyed the onion rings.  I guess I have gotten to the point where I expect places to bring out "pieces parts" onion rings, made out of onion bits instead of true rings.  These were crispy, thin and very tasty!

  Oh, I almost forgot, we did hang around to take part in the trivia contest.  It was not digital or online like it is at some of the sports bars around the area - where you compete against players all over the place.  Instead, a guy on crutches who most of the regulars knew came out and read the questions.  The first round questions were easier than expected, but the second and third rounds had a lot of tougher questions.  I enjoyed it overall, but unfortunately, the guy reading the questions kept getting the numbering messed up.  He would finish question 4, then suddenly he was saying we were on number 6, etc.  How hard is it to use a pen to check off the ones you have finished?  This really got annoying, because it happened on every round at least once.  Of course, then you're wondering if you're going to get marked off because your answers are on the wrong line, or something like that.

  I would probably give this place a 6 out of a 10 on atmosphere, 8 out of 10 on the food, and 8 out of 10 on the service.  If they would have a better variety of music and not play it as loud, it would go a long way towards improving the mood of the place.

Address: 112 South Main Street   Union, Ohio
telephone: (937) 836-1093

copyright 2013 Dayton Dining

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Have you ever run into a restaurant not accepting cash?

  Last weekend, I went with a group to the Trotwood McDonald's for lunch.  I was the first up to the cash register, and placed an order for just over $10.  I looked in my wallet, and all I had was a $50, a couple of $1's, and about a dollar in change.  I got out the $50, then fished around for exact change so they could just give me bills back.

No, the one I was trying to use didn't look like this.
There is an official proposal to replace the current
Grant $50 with something like this one, though.

  The cashier said "Sorry, we don't take that here."  I said what do you mean - you won't take cash as payment?  She suggested that I walk all the way over to Lowe's, get change, and then come back, or that I use a credit card. (we try not to use credit cards for restaurant spending - too easy to go over budget)  I was spending over 20% of the bill on their food - it's not like I was just buying a burger or two and trying to get the rest back as cash.  After a little bit of back and forth, they suggested I just get change elsewhere.  I told them that was exactly what we would do, and the group went across the street to Burger King, where I used the exact same 50 dollar bill and got change back for my purchase. (BTW, thanks guys, for being understanding when I wanted to stick to my principles, and not "go into debt" to pay for my meal)

  I was a bit annoyed at the time, even though I'll admit that the McDonald's does have a couple of signs posted saying they do not take 50's.  Evidently that location has either had trouble with counterfeits or robberies. (if they take larger bills, they have to keep more cash on hand to make change)  Anyway, I had to rethink the whole cash issue.

  I've always thought that places HAD to accept cash, since it essentially says right on the bills that they are "good for all debts, public and private".  However, if a place makes you pay BEFORE you get your goods, there is no debt, since you pay up front.  That means that they can legally refuse to accept certain bills if they want to.  Gas stations can be the same way if they want, since these days they tend to make you pay up front, instead of after pumping gas like they used to.  As far as restaurants go, the sit down ones that have you pay after eating must take any high denomination bill you offer as payment, whether they want to or not.  This is because you have a debt to them you are trying to pay, since you already consumed the goods, and now owe them.  Therefore, I guess I'll never have to worry about this at a sit down, slow food restaurant.  However, I may have to get used to it at fast food places.  I guess I learned something about cash this week.

  Looks like the cops nabbed somebody in the picture above, doesn't it?  Maybe the guy in the red and yellow was trying to pass a counterfeit $50 at the same Trotwood McDonald's, but it looks like he didn't get very far.

  In all seriousness, this is definitely not the first time that problems have arisen over the various cash policies in place at different McDonald's restaurants.  In fact, sometimes the disagreements can get quite ugly.  Take for instance this case of two drunk women trying to pass a fake $50 bill, then getting angry and slapping the cashier when he starts to check the bill for authenticity.  The women not only cuss him out, they go over and around the counter, pressing a physical attack when he retreats.  Things don't turn out the way they expect, though.  The cashier they are attacking is not some meek guy who will keep taking it.  He spent years in prison for assault and battery, and can only be pushed so far before defending himself.  (warning, rather violent youtube video with some cursing)

  If you think about it, $50 isn't a lot of money any more.  In fact, if you do a little math, you'll find out that a $50 bill today has the same buying power as 5 dollars and 23 cents did back in 1950.
(check out the CPI calculator below, to compare buying power through the ages)

   I can pretty much guarantee that none of the McDonalds restaurants back in 1950 would have rejected a $5 bill.  Since the $50 today has the same buying power, they shouldn't be rejecting it, either.  If they want extra assurance, perhaps the Trotwoods McDonald's should try what another restaurant in their chain did:

  I really wouldn't mind the quick hassle of flashing my wallet, and I'm guessing that anybody else paying with a genuine bill wouldn't mind that much, either.  It's a lot better than being told to walk over to Lowe's to get change, or being told you HAVE to use a credit card.  A sign like this would probably also get rid of a lot of the trouble with anyone thinking they could easily pass off a counterfeit bill, but doesn't restrict good citizens from using cash, either.  I think this would be a much better solution for everyone.