Our weekly survey of Cincinnati chili has taken to us to some interesting places. Pizza joints, hole-in-the-wall diners, cookie-cutter chains, you name it we’ve been there. And yet here we are, nearing the end of our tour and we wind up at a seafood restaurant. Easily the most bizarre setting yet for Cincinnati chili, Lake Nina Restaurant & Tavern, known for their “fish logs,” is situated just off of Pippin Rd. along the shores of a small lake. If you’re traveling north you can’t really see the restaurant from the street, so keep your eyes peeled. The interior is one room filled with booths along one wall, tables in the middle, and a long bar stretching across the the other wall done up in dark wood paneling. The menu is focused on seafood, highlighting their popular fish logs along with an assortment of fried chicken, double-deckers, and sandwiches. Amidst all the seafood, inexplicably, you’ll find chili available by the bowl or 2, 3, or 4-way. Coneys are not on the menu, but can be had upon request. So can a place focus on fish deliver the goods? Read on to find out!Overall Rating:
Yes, we went to a fish house on a lake for our chili tour. If you have plenty of time then the pace set for geriatric won’t bother you at lunch. It’ always a bad sign when chili is a small blip on a menu. Fish and Americana are definitely the focus. Lake Nina’s is definitely eclectic in one way, and old school in another. It’s not chili you smell when you walk in the door though, it’s fish. I went back to my standard fare of a bowl of plain chili and added some breakfast potatoes with onions. While I was expecting sliced and homemade potatoes with grilled onions, I instead received the frozen variety potato chips with a small pile of cold onions dumped on top. Did I miss the secret code word required? The chili itself was just there and not very flavorful that day. Portion sizes were small, prices were high, and there was some grumbling at the table about the coneys. I wouldn’t go back for the chili, but would stop in for other items like the fish.
I’m still kicking myself for not getting a fish log. Who in their right mind orders chili at a seafood restaurant? We do, I guess. But I assure you we only do it once. My bowl of chili was inoffensive. On the sweeter side with a pleasing texture and very mild spices it did nothing to offend, but nothing to please the palate either. I’ve had worse on the tour but certainly many, many better. The cheese coneys, on the other hand, were there worst I’ve had thus far. Light on the chili in strangely spongy buns topped with some mix of thickly shredded cheese obviously from a bag. Not good at all. I will say the other entrees I saw being served looked pretty good, just stay away from the chili.
Lake Nina disappointed in the chili department. Their specialty is probably breakfast or fish during lent. It was serviceable though. Portions were ok. Price was average.
Ben: [Rating TBA]
I have nothing positive to say about Lake Nina’s cheese coneys. The cheese fries were passable but barely…and since I have no interest in their “World Famous Fish Log”, I don’t see a repeat visit in my future.