As our chili adventure begins to wind down, we’re hitting up some of the popular chili joints we’ve been saving up for near the end of the tour. Our stop this week brought us to Blue Ash Chili which recently won fame by being featured on Guy Fieri’s show, “Diners, Drive-In’s, and Dives,” a fact you will become instantly aware of upon entering the restaurant. Guy’s name and image is everywhere. In the menu, on the walls…we’re pretty sure they kidnapped him and are keeping him in the basement. Blue Ash Chili’s layout is a little different than most. There are two rooms, one containing a couple rows of booths and a couple rows of tables, the other has one row of booths and one row of tables where lunch stools once stood. The place is packed most days for lunch and today was no exception. 5 members of the chili team plus 7 guests descended on Blue Ash Chili like a chili apocalypse. The menu includes some interesting chili items — a 6-way featuring deep-fried jalapeno caps, chili lasagna, and a chili philly. They also serve up among the biggest double-deckers you’ll find in town and some tasty looking burgers. Vegetarians might look elsewhere. Amid all the hoopla, the chili team focused in on their usual chili orders and the results can be found below.Overall Rating:
The food had decent flavor, but they were not too generous with the chili. A bit overloaded with spaghetti. I did enjoy the 6-way today, yes 6-ways; it includes jalapenos. It’s definitely outside the range of a usual lunch stop from Downtown, but if you’re close try it out. I do think they could do better, maybe ask for extra chili.
This is a tough one to rate for me. It is the tale of two chilis. My bowl of chili arrived at the table a little late, so I started with the cheese coneys. They were phenomenal. Best so far. Everything balanced out perfectly — each bite had chili flavor, a stab of tang from the schmear of mustard, a little bite from the onion, and plenty of gloriously fluffy mild cheddar. I could eat the cheese coneys at Blue Ash Chili all day. My bowl of chili on the other hand was surprisingly average. There was nothing objectionable about it, but the flavors seemed a bit muted and there was very little spice to it at all. The chili is about a 6.5 for me, but the coneys were as close to a 10 as I suspect I’ll find.
Not my first trip to BAC, and not my last. BAC is usually heralded amongst local chili-heads as one of the better in the area, probably why they’ve wound up on multiple TV shows and in magazine articles as a true Cincy Chili joint. Blue Ash Chili deservedly stands out amongst the others for a few reasons, but not all of them chili, per se. As where the chili is definitely good, it’s everything rolled into BAC that makes it trip worthy.
- Variety. No where else in town are you going to find the variety of chili offerings they have. The 6 way with fried jalapeno chips. The kinda boring “Guy Way”, and of course their insane challenge, the “No Freakin’ Way”. And they’re right, no freaking way am I going to punish my body with that for a T-shirt. Throw in a couple of different styles of coneys (one with cole slaw), a “Chili Philly” and the rather decadent looking Chili Lasagna and you have a smorgasboard of chili-concoctions.
- Everything else. Their double deckers are huge. Their Entrées tasty. Their parlor feel (minus the beloved counter seating). It’s a true chili parlor.
But we aren’t here to judge a carnival show of a menu, we’re here to judge chili. So let’s break it down.
- Cheese: Abundant, sharp, and freshly shredded.
- Chili: A good, meaty chili. With a small heat it’s not overbearing in flavor, yet definitely stands on it’s own.
- Coney: One of the better one’s I’ve had on this tour, maybe the best. Great buns (heh), Great dog, not too sloppy, not too not-sloppy, and a GREAT mustard finish.
- 4-Way: One word, Noodles. Lots of them. They’re good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s really a noodle plate with a splash of chili. And since the chili is very meaty, it stands triumphantly atop the noodles, and refuses to ooze to the bottom of the plate. When you cut through the noodles you’re left with absolutely no chili at the bottom and made me wonder “Should I have ordered extra chili?” Disappointingly too much noodles, not enough chili.
- Oyster Crackers: My favorite kind, the New England Oyster Crackers. Hearty, and fluffy, these are awesome. Although, they are in some new packaging I noticed.
- Hot Sauce: Served in a non-descript cruet on every table, this hot sauce is good, maybe great. More flavorful than Tabasco, hotter than Red Hot, yet not too hot. Perfect for the task at hand.
- Service: Pretty Great. I mean, it took long to get our order to our table, but we had a ton of people! They worked as a team, were very courteous, my drinks NEVER went dry, and not a thing was needed throughout our meal. One of the kitchen crew was even wearing a “Rev Horton Heat” hat, which may or may not give them an extra half point.
Overall, a good showing. I give them a solid 7. Truthfully, I was thinking Blue Ash may get an 8 or higher, and really give a run for the money. Maybe it was an off day and the chili spoon was too heavy for the cooks. I’ll give them another shot next time I’m up BA way.
Dave: [Rating TBA]