Our intention today was to swing by Park Chili in Northside, but a power outage in the neighborhood thwarted that venture so instead we headed over to Norwood where we visited the Bluebird Restaurant on Montgomery Road. The Bluebird is the first place we’ve stopped at that is not a traditional chili parlor. They make their own Cincinnati-style chili and serve it up in all the normal ways, even including six (tomatoes) and seven (jalapenos) ways, but the chili items are relegated to a small corner of their large, multi-page menu offering up everything from breakfast to sandwiches and full dinners. The Bluebird Restaurant has convenient parking behind that it shares with the adjacent Walgreens making it an easy place to visit. Inside the restaurant contains a large assortment of tables and booths along with two large lunch counters. The booths along the wall all have small jukeboxes on the table which are, amazingly, in working condition.Overall Rating:
The Chili Biddy was good, even scolded Ben for not cleaning his plate; just like Grandma Larkins used to do. My order was accurate without reminders, a little slow though. Food was tasty and delicious and the portions were big. I could repeat visit without too much objection. If we didn’t wonder when we were going to get our food, a seven could have been achieved.
First, a word of warning: if you want a bowl of Cincinnati-style chili, ask for a bowl of plain chili. Otherwise you wind up with a bowl of “traditional” chili. It’s excellent as far as that goes, but most definitely not Cincinnati chili. Once you succeed in getting a bowl of Cincinnati chili, you are rewarded with a meaty chili, on the thicker side, loaded with flavor from a fairly distinctive blend of spices. The chili on its own rates among the top contenders thus far on the chili tour. The cheese coneys on the other hand are a little disappointing. The Bluebird puts less cheese on the coneys than most chili parlors do, and the cheese is shredded in short segments which prevents it from puffing up into a big soft orange cloud like Cincinnati chili enthusiasts are so used to. The coneys were also a little light on chili for my tastes and the buns seemed to be approaching their sell-by date. Overall I was quite satisfied with the experience, but ultimately what is a pretty great chili is pulled down by a lack of execution on the coney side.
I love the country diner feel for Bluebird Restaurant, but you can tell just by looking at the place that chili is an addition to their menu, and not what they focus upon. Their varied menu has many options that you would find on your typical diner menu, but we weren’t here for their version of a Big Boy, we were here to rate them against the city’s finest chilis. First thing I notice was that there not just your typical 2-5 ways, but also a 6 and 7 way, which included tomatoes and jalapenos respectively. Since I always add heat to the top of my 4 ways that I’ve been judging, I opted to do a 4 way with jalapenos and a coney. My version of a 5 way came out in a very large bowl and was filled to the brim with an oversized portion of decently prepared noodles that were just a bit more than I was expecting or needing. The chili itself was meaty by design and had a wonderful aroma that struck the nose with a heavy cinnamon waft. Not overly spicy, the chili by itself could be a top contender. The cheese, however, wasn’t piled high and appeared as though it came from a bag plucked from the dairy shelf at Kroger. Short, obviously not freshly shredded, the cheddar left a lot to be desired. The onions were cut fresh and quite flavorful and aromatic. The newest addition to my meal, the jalapenos, were a bit of a disappointment. I was kinda hoping for fresh jalapenos that seem to be everywhere these days but instead was given a small bowl full of pickled peppers that lack the punch of their fresh sliced bretheren. Albeit they were plentiful enough to share with my neighbor, they just could have been better. Then, late in the meal, the coney made it’s unfortunate entrance. The bun wasn’t steamed, the dog was small, the cheese was the same that came on the 5 way, and the chili was sparingly striped across the top. For $1.60, I felt just a bit cheated. Service was an A+ (except she told me since I didn’t finish my noodles I couldn’t have dessert. Who are you to judge my sweet tooth!) The atmosphere was a solid A, and at under $7, I was pretty happy, but a chili parlor they are not.
Taste: Very Good
Quantity: Very Good
Quality: Very Good
Service: Fair at best
Notes: Coney’s needed additional chili
Bluebird’s Cheese Coneys rate at a 4 for me…they were definitely below average. The bread was slightly stale, and there was a serious lack of both chili and cheese on them.