Cincinnati – Findlay Market

Cincinnati’s Findlay Market is a diamond in the rough of the downtown Over the Rhine neighborhood and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1972.  While the neighborhood has had its share of issues over the years it’s slowly rebuilding itself and its image.

Findlay Market is the oldest continuously operating farmers’ market in Ohio and its one of the best ones I have had the fortune of visiting.  With specialty shops throughout the market you are sure to find just about any ingredient you are looking for.  One of the neat things about Findlay Market is it’s mix of permanent storefronts and indoor stalls as well as it’s ever changing outdoor farmers marker and open air bazaar.

The Market’s patrons are as varied as the products for sale.  All walk of life from rich to poor, and young to old are shopping at the market.  It’s a great place to people watch as well as learn about other cultures.  Everyone is there for the same purpose and it’s one of those times where people can gather, talk, and have fun.

Some of the specialty shops I like to visit at the market are:

Silverglade’s: Where a Deli employee works with you throughout your transaction and gives all the free samples you want.

J. E. Gibbs Cheese: This place has just about every kind of fresh sausage you might want like traditional brats and chicken sausage.

Busch’s Country Corner: This place gives a new meaning to “fresh” poultry.  While it’s not still breathing it’s about as close as you can get and, according to their stall description, their meat is never frozen.

Taste of Belgium: This is where I had my first Liege Belgian Waffles that were so good I purchased a waffle maker (and the special pearl sugar)  just so I could make them at home.

Markets like Findlay were once a lot more common than they are today.  With the recent foodie revolution and the increased interest that people are taking in learning about their food it would be great to see something like this come to Indianapolis.  The downtown City Market is trying to get there but I just don’t see it ever getting to a fraction of the size of Findlay.

If you’re ever in the downtown Cincinnati area and have a few hours to kill, I can’t recommend Findlay Market enough.  Be sure to bring a cooler as you probably won’t be leaving empty handed.

Cincinnati – Jungle Jim’s

On a recent trip to Cincinnati we traveled to the north side to re-visit one of our favorite foodie destinations.  Jungle Jim’s is a true landmark and worth a 2-hour drive from Indianapolis to the Queen City (we were in town for the Fourth of July holiday and a mini-summer escape).

Only until you get inside can you understand the size of this place.  Think 3 Big-Box stores stuffed with row upon row of grocery supplies to cater to all corners of the earth.  No matter what you are looking for it can be found at Jungle Jim’s

After you get through the huge deli and liquor sections (including $4000+ bottles of wine)  you are greeted by a larger than life produce section with products from all over the world.  A lot of it is unrecognizable at first but the price tags help you get it figured out.

One of the many unique things about Jungle Jim’s are the sections dedicated to world regions.  Indian, Asian, Mexican products are all well represented.  A new addition (since my last visit) are the hot sauce isles (yes more than one) with products grouped by alphabet.

Smaller countries get their own little rooms packed with their unique products.  Looking for something unique to Holland, France, or Greece?  Chances are you will find it.  The British section has teas and sauces that will make an ex-pat feel like they are home again.

I was even able to find the “Tiger” seasoning I have been looking for since my last trip to Madison, Indiana where it’s used on the outstanding burgers at Shipley’s Bar & Grill.

A new 2nd location in the Eastgate area is scheduled to open in 2012.  I’m really looking forward to this as it’s close to where we visit and will save me the 30-minute plus trip to the north side.

Below are some random pictures and comments from our last trip.

Cincinnati – Terrys Turf Club

Last weekend we made a trip to Cincinnati for a short Fathers Day visit with my dad.  Having been rained out on our Father/Son/Grandson fishing trip Saturday morning we quickly moved to the Plan B activity.

Just a small example of the outdoor signage

Located in the East End/Mount Washington area of town sits what some could say is a neighborhood eye sore but in this case Terry’s Turf Club actually improves the otherwise run down neighborhood.  As we drove to Terry’s for lunch I could not help but wonder if there was a mugging in my future.  When you see couches on the sidewalk and mattresses in the front yard you start to realize you might be in the wrong neighborhood (or we missed one hell of a party last night).

With it’s abundance of neon lights (inside and out) and motorized arm-waving signs it’s impossible to miss this place.  Diners Drive-ins and Dives did a segment in 2010 and the restaurant looked very intriguing.  I’m not a Guy Fieri stalker by any stretch of the imagination but I’ve been to a few places featured on his show.  There’s a lot of disagreement on the Internet about the places he picks, etc. but so far I have to say he’s exposed some gems to the Food Network audience.

Back to Terry’s…  We arrived around 2pm and there was a small group of people standing around outside.  We lucked out and scored a parking spot right in front of the place (including a perfect parallel parking job if i say so myself).  There were cars lined up and down the street a good 200-feet in either direction and a light drizzle was bringing people in under the awning.  We added our name to the list and settled in for a 30-minute wait (my limit to wait for ANY food by the way).  I’m curious if the DDD exposure contributed to the popularity of Terry’s or if it’s just one of those places that draws a crowd on its own.

My dad brought out a bowl of in-shell peanuts for the kids (and us) to help pass the time.  We watched groups of people going in and out of Terry’s and those exiting all looked happy.  My dad asked one lady how it was when she came out and she answered “wonderful”.

Neon, Neon & more Neon

It was our turn to be seated & we were placed right inside the door at a tall 4-top that was converted to a 5-top.  A little cramped but workable, plus it was right next to the electronic jukebox with 5 song credits ready to be picked and played.  I’m not a fan of the raised chair/table combo and prefer having my feet on the floor when I eat but I’m not going to let this ruin my experience.  Neon signs are definitely the predominant decor at Terry’s.

The menu at Terry’s is simple yet complex.  They are known for their burgers and the vast array of toppings, some of which are surprising (Fioe Gras, Halloumi Cheese, Crab, Pate, Scallops…).  If you’re not careful your $8.00 burger could easily exceed $15.  I went for the Burger (medium), Bacon, Swiss, lettuce, raw onion & a portabella cap ($10.75 total).  My son ordered a similar combo but with shitake mushrooms instead.

My grease stained slip

My dad ordered a burger with Brie (one of my least favorite cheeses no matter what you pair it with).  The girls ordered their burgers and we split 2 orders of fries among the table (plenty of fries by the way).  Each food order was written on it’s own slip and your name was added to the top for good measure.

After we placed our orders and selected a few songs on the jukebox it was time to start looking around the place in a little more detail.  There could not be any more than 40 people in the place and the noise level was a little high.  If you are thinking about bringing kids here be sure they can take a little noise without being uncomfortable.  I was a little concerned about how our son would react to the chaos (he’s not a loud noise fan)  but he was a trooper.

Unfortunately the humidity, air conditioning, and exposed HVAC ducts right above my left shoulder resulted in a few shockingly cold drips during our meal.  Nothing major but a little annoying nonetheless.  After the mixed reviews on Urban Spoon I was wondering how long it would take for our food to arrive.  10-15 minutes passed & our orders were delivered (not bad at all) .  All burgers were all cooked & dressed as requested & the fry’s looked great!

The final product

Everything was served on paper plates & the forks were plastic.  If you want a knife to cut your burger they bring you a giant slicer and return it to the holder on the wall after you use it.  I doubt Terry has a dish washer on his staff since the only thing that needs to be washed are the tables and the soda cups.  This was a little surprising considering the price of the food and toppings.   But, if you look at it another way, this definitely cuts down on the table turnover time which is important when you have a constant line of hungry patrons.  None of the customers really seems to care and it was served that way when DDD was shooting the segment.

The burgers were good really good.  Cooked to order, dressed to order and generous in size.  Lots of “Yums” at the table as everyone dug in and took the first bite of their sandwich.  I was surprised to find not one but TWO nice-sized portabella caps on my burger.  This created a mushroom to beef ratio nearing 1:1 and required the jaw separating ability of a snake.    A little squish, lots of juice, and some trial and error finally got this burger in my belly.  If I had one “complaint” it was the little-to-no seasoning of the portabella caps.  Everything else was spot on.  A little seasoning on the mushroom would have gone a long way.  Having tried a bite of my son’s (seasoned) shitake topped burger confirmed this suspicion.

Throughout the meal the staff was attentive and everyone had a good experience.  The check came & totaled just under $100 (5 burgers, 2 fries, 3 sodas & 3 beers).  A little steep but not unexpected after reading various reviews online.

Terry’s Turf Club was a great change from the “normal” burger joint. It’s quirky, uniquely decorated and efficiently run.  The burger “accessories” are over the top and the location is a little sketchy.  This  it all works to give residents and visitors alike something to talk about when discussing good food in Cincinnati.  Besides, how much can be said about Chilli, and don’t get me started about my disdain for Goetta.

We’re going to be back in the area soon and I’m going to seek out Zip’s which I hear is the local competitor to Terry’s Turf Club.  I’ll be sure to write up a review of that one as well.
Terry's Turf Club on Urbanspoon