Monday, January 3, 2011

Terry's Turf Club

If you live in Cincinnati and like burgers you have heard of Terry's Turf Club, there is no way around it. But it seems like people either love it or hate it and I believe it is because it has so much hype that goes along with it. I FINALLY got to go with just my wife a couple months back and we were very excited. We were expecting a long wait since that is what I always hear, but we walked right in and got seated right away around 6 PM on a week night.

Right away I noticed how small the place was, it had maybe 10 total tables, about 6 tables and 4 booths. I do know they are trying to expand but I haven't heard yet if they got the "OK" or not. When we were there they were knocking down the house next door. I did notice also that the entire place was lit up by neon signs only. I couldn't find a regular light in the entire place which I thought was very unique.

As an appetizer they give you peanuts which you can make a mess with and throw the shells on the floor or you can eat the shells like I do (I hear it is the healthiest part). We were waited on right away and ordered a couple of beers. They had a pretty good beer selection which I wasn't really anticipating. I had a seasonal beer while my wife had her regular Corona Light or Extra if they didn't have the light. We already knew we were getting burgers but we didn't know which ones or what the options were going to be. The menu basically had the main burger and then a bunch of cheese and sauce combinations to choose from to put on it. I wanted a normal american or cheddar so I got the peanut sauce (that is the shortened version of the sauce, they were all pretty wordy) which was paired up with one of the two cheeses (I can't remember) and Joanna chose the mushroom sauce with swiss cheese.

The hype definitely was high and the anticipation was unbearable. Finally they brought out our burgers with what I can best describe as a machete knife (the knife was HUGE). But the knife had to be big because the burgers were very large to say the least. I saw it and thought there was no way I would be able to eat both halves. We also split a fresh cut fry which they just divided in half for us on each of our plates.

We took our first bites of the burgers and .. drum roll ... we loved them. It is hard to put into words but it is a perfect burger. The burger itself is amazing and the combinations of Terry's "magical" sauces and cheese just puts it over the top. I didn't have any trouble finishing the whole thing (even though I probably shouldn't have). I might have left a few fries on my plate even though they were very good as well, but I wanted to make sure I had enough room for the burger.

I have been wanting to go back, but I am not sure if I will stick with my burger that I had last time or order a different one just to see if it is the sauce that I love or the burger or both. It isn't that it is too far away, but it is also that I am afraid that I will be waiting an hour or two to get seated. But believe me, I will be back and I hope it is soon because looking at these pictures makes me want to go back tonight. It would be hard to say that this isn't my favorite burger I have ever had. It is no doubt in my top 5, I would say no doubt in my top 2 or 3. I will have to have it a couple more times to make sure. : D

Terry's Turf Club on Urbanspoon


We took a trip to Toot's one lunch not realizing how long the drive form downtown would actually be. For some reason that day I was thinking of being healthier than usual or I may have just had a burger, so I went with a chicken caesar wrap, or so I thought that is what I ordered. The menu made it look like it would be a caesar salad in a wrap, with lettuce, grilled chicken and cheese. But that is not what I got. I got what looked like a normal chicken wrap with tomatoes, shredded lettuce, not romaine and some different sauce. I didn't complain because I wasn't up to it and every one else got what they ordered. It wasn't very good to say the least so I will leave it at that.

However, the fried pickles were very good. Some of the best I have ever had. That was the main reason why we made the trip up in the first place. I think if I ever made the trip back up there, it would be to just have some drinks and some appetizers. I don't think anyone really enjoyed their main dishes, but everyone loved the appetizers we ordered.

It has a real fun atmosphere and looks like it would be a fun place to watch some sports. I did like the decoration of random signs and funny jokes. So go for the pickles, but leave for the entrees.

Toot's on Urbanspoon

Raymond's Pizza

We were up in West Chester awhile back because we were out petting puppies with the kids (since we don't actually want a dog and this is the next best option) and we heard of a place up there that had a lot of pets that you could take out and play with. I can't remember the dog place, but the reason it is relevant is because it was right next door to Raymond's Pizza. So after we played with some puppies we walked next door to get some pizza.

I guess we were there before the lunch rush because there was only one other table when we arrived. This worked out to our benefit because we were able to have them change one of the TV's to a kids channel for our tow young kids while we waited for our pizza to arrive. They also had a pizza game where you could build your own pizza with Velcro. At first I thought it was going to be a modern version of the old "Pizza Party" game I used to play as a child, but turns out it was nothing like it.

Anyway, we got some wings and some pizza. Both were actually very good. It made the idea of moving to West Chester ever, not such a bad one. I don't think there are any Raymond's around on the West Side, but I haven't actually checked. The wings tasted like I was actually at a wings place and the pizza was a nice change from the normal Larosa's or Domino's. But now that we have Romeo's I just go there when I need to change it up.

But if you are ever in the area, or if you want to pet some puppies, stop by Raymond's for some pizza and Velcro pizza toys.

Raymond's Pizza on Urbanspoon

Paula's Cafe

Paula's Cafe is located in downtown Cincinnati. It has a sign outside that says Best Burger Downtown. I am sure they aren't the only place that has the same sign, but I now agree with their sign. Now I am JUST counting places actually downtown. I do not think is the best burger I have ever eaten, but I do believe that it is the best burger that I can get during my lunch downtown without having to get in my car and drive anywhere.

They call it the "7 minute burger". They call it this because that is how long it is on the grill for to make it how the cook wants to, which I believe is Medium. It is $6.95 for the burger and chips, to upgrade to fries it is $1.75 more. For cheese, caramelized onions or mushroom sauce it is $.50. And finally for $.95 more you can get an egg or bacon on top of it. I have had the burger now 4 or 5 times. I have it different each time. My last time I had it with just cheese and an egg, the first time I had it with cheese, onions and pickles. No matter the combination the burger has been delicious each time. I would recommend springing for the fries unless you like the traditional plain ruffle potato chip. Expect to pay close to $10 for everything and go all out for the best built burger you can think of. I don't go here much, but when I do I want to like it a special experience.

Usually when I leave (and sometimes even when I don't eat here) I grab a piece of their homemade carrot cake for my wife. She LOVES carrot cake and after she had theirs the first time (and every time since) she has said it is the best she has had (in Cincinnati). I have had their homemade brownies and they weren't the best, but usually I am too stuffed for dessert anyway.

If you haven't been here before, it is worth checking out. It is on 4th street in between Vine and Walnut.

Paula's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Chuck E. Cheese's in Colerain

So I just got back from Chuck E. Cheese's. As an adult with children I have been here about 3 or 4 times now. Every time I go, I wonder how they keep people coming back. I don't know if it is just the "magical" aspect and that this is the closest thing to Disney World around here, especially in the winter. But the game selection for young children is awful. Almost 80% of all the games there are just driving games where you have to be like 4 feet to even reach the pedals or games that require a push of ONE button to try and time it right to get a "prize" or the SUPER BONUS! We all know those games are rigged and almost impossible to win these awesome prizes and in turn just get 3 tickets for every token you waste. There is little to no fun involved in those games. Then 10% of the games are for newborns where you just strap your baby in to a machine and let it rock back and fourth for 15 seconds.

So after trying out EVERY game, my kids finally know which games they can play and have to go back and fourth from the 2 or 3 games they can actually play and have some sort of fun with. Maybe Chuck is marketing to teenagers now, but I always thought it was for the young kids and arcades (such as Doc Holidays, RIP) were for the real arcade gamers and for the older kids.

None the less something is working for them. The game selection is poor, the robot singer and dancers usually just scare the kids and it costs 4000 tickets to get a Barbie, but one thing I can't complain about is their pizza. I have always been a fan of their plain as can be pizza. And now that I have found online coupons, we can get a large pizza, 3 drinks and 45 tokens for $20. So that is what Grace and I did today. We ate, we played, she thinks I am the greatest dad, we got our prize of cotton candy (200 tickets) and we only spent $20, not a bad day I'd say.

So I will give Chuck some credit. Somehow they stick around when the Doc Holidays, the Choo Choo's, the funky dunks and whoever else I am forgetting fail and close. We will be back and I will continue to complain until my kids are older and they can play the driving games and like wasting a token at a time with one push of a button. But of course by then, they will have changed everything.

Chuck E Cheese's on Urbanspoon

Gordo's Pub & Grill

Before I get too far into this post I do want to say that I have only been to Gordo's Pub & Grill ONE time. I went there with a group of about 4 friends and my two kids. I had heard so many good things about their burgers that I had to try them out for myself.

First of all, we probably shouldn't have brought the kids, don't get me wrong I don't remember anything going wrong or it not being kid friendly, but it was more of an adult place and more of a bar than say a bdubs or willies or something of that nature. It was pretty dark and my kids don't do well at many restaurants period.

We ordered a couple appetizers, I got my favorite saratoga chips and bbq sauce and I believe my friend ordered their Nanay Egg Rolls. I couldn't complain about my appetizer (it is hard to screw up chips and bbq sauce) and from what I heard, everyone liked the egg rolls as well.

For my meal I can't remember the exact burger that I had, I believe it was the Gordo's Burger since I wanted to try their main burger. My wife got the Surf & Turf and she really enjoyed hers. Me on the other hand had the opposite reaction. I actually couldn't even finish the burger. I am really hoping it was just a badly cooked burger for just me and not usually like this. But my burger was not just undercooked so that there was a ton of pink (that would have been ok and manageable) but it was so undercooked that the burger itself wasn't cooked and you could still see the shininess and the goo of the fresh burger. It reminded me of when I started trying to make my perfect burger at home and didn't want to keep it on the grill that long as to over cook it, then later find out with my first bite that the burger is not cooked through and even though it is pink like the pros, it is grossly gooey and almost not editable. (I tried to take a picture of it below, it looks like this guy I had the same experience)

The fries weren't much better. It is much harder to describe why I wasn't a big fan of the fries like I can for the burger, but it was probably just the fact that they were large steak fries and I am more of a thinner fry fan. That is just a personal opinion and the fries would have been great if I liked that style.

All in all it was not a good experience for me, but I did find one bright light in the trip. They have a very large and good beer selection. I would probably go back for that reason alone. I am sure I will give it another chance sometime down the road since everyone else seems to like the burgers, but it is going to take awhile to get that image of the burger out of my mind.

Gordo's Pub & Grill on Urbanspoon

Herb & Thelma's Tavern

The hardest part about not blogging for 5 months is it is hard to remember which restaurants I have already reviewed. I have still been eating (don't worry about that), and I still have been taking all my normal photos, I just haven't been sitting down to write everything out.

When I looked back at some of my pictures of when I stopped blogging, I was shocked that I never reviewed Herb and Thelma's Tavern. We visited here on July 22nd (or right around there) even though we actually tried visiting there a week earlier but found out they were on vacation that week.

Herb and Thelma's is a hole in the wall bar in Covington. It has MAYBE 5 or 6 tables and one main bar area with a very small and dark second room (I think it is only there for emergencies). When we arrived there was only one other table that was occupied so we sat in the main area right by the bar. I sat with my back to the bar and to my right was a huge bobble head and sports collection all behind glass. You could tell this bar has been around for a long time.

The bartender is also the cook (which is how it normally is at these types of places, just like City View Tavern) and he was very nice and helpful. We came for one reason only, the burgers. Even though they did have $1 cheese coney's we stuck with our choice to get their double cheese burgers.

The burgers were hand made right behind the bar and I actually got to see how they were cooked. They use a cup/bowl (I am sure there is a name for it) to cover each individual burger while it is on the grill to help cook the whole burger and not just the one side at a time. The burgers were very thick so I can see why this was needed, almost turned it into an individual oven.

The burgers are thick but not very wide and stacking two of them on top of each other makes it a VERY tall burger. It was served with a bag of chips and a can of pop. I do believe we got all 3 items for right around $5 (which was another reason we wanted to check this place out).

The burger was good, very juicy and different than most burgers. I wouldn't put it in my top 5, but it might fall into my top 10. For the money, it is hard to find a better burger. It is just a simple burger, no crazy flavors or additives. Sometimes that is all you need is a good plain bar burger and Herb and Thelma's truly delivered.

I am sure we will be back, maybe even to try out their $1 coney's. It is hard not to return to a place that serves great food for a great price all while making you feel welcome.

Herb & Thelma's Tavern on Urbanspoon

Too Long

It has been too long, over 5 months to be exact. I have been very busy with family, work and life in general. But I want to continue what I started and get back to blogging. Over the holidays I made something special. A one of a kind HTM mug. My cousin Tim won it in a gift exchange on Christmas eve, but you can get your very own mug here!

Anyway, it is good to be back and I am going to get writing now so all 3 of you can stop bothering me about it.