Last Friday, SO and I decided to try Slims for lunch. After riding around the block twice without spotting it (I had left the address at home but knew the block of Hamilton Ave it was supposed to be in), we parked and got out of the car. I went north, SO went south. Just then a happy PO worker came out of one of the doorways (perfect timing) and he pointed us to the place.
It's on the very SE corner of Hamilton and Blue Rock Rd next to American Heirloom Antiques and across from Crazy Ladies Bookstore - not easily noticed while driving. The entrance from Hamilton Ave was through a propped-open glass door with slims' in white paint (which didn't help finding it) into an industrial-appearing plain vestibule with two mesh-embedded-windowed metal doors and a yellow Honda C70 motor scooter for the only adornment. The vestibule is ~6-8 paces across to the door on the left.
The interior is a spare longish space with a low counter and the open kitchen/prep area on the right and two long communal tables about 6 or 7' from the counter along a row of 5 large windows on the left looking onto Blue Rock Rd. Neat stacks of take-your-own photocopied lunch and dinner menus are on the counter. There were a total of four people in the place: 1 woman pressing dough for flatbread into a sheet pan behind the counter, a man prepping something (presumably owner Patrick McCafferty) also behind the counter, a guy drawing in a sketch book at the first of the tables along with a woman reading a newspaper.
We had taken a copy of each of the menus and seated ourselves at the second table across from each other. Each of the tables was set with an earthenware water pitcher, a galvanized lined ice bucket and a shallow woven basket containing a stack of paper napkins. As we looked around we noticed there were 5 squatty, but comfortable wooden chairs on each side of the two tables with a few more chairs scattered elsewhere in the room. There were a few pieces of hewn wood sculptures and a few prints on the walls. Under the picture windows was a ledge with the retrieve-your-own institutionally plain silverware, carafes, glasses, stemware and corkscrew along an assortment of cookbooks, magazines and newspapers including the Herald Trib and the NY Times.
The menu states: "Guest participation encouraged at lunch." Don't know how often the menu changes, but Friday's read in its entirety as follows:
Strawberry soup 3.25
Fresh tomato bisque 3.25
Mussel chowder 4.00
Summer vegetable stew, herb butter 4.00
Special appetizer 5.00
Corn cakes, whipped goat cheese
Add salad or soup 6.50
Special salad 4.50
Rocket, grapefruit, Parmesan flatbread
Green salad 2.50
Panini: grilled Italian sandwich 4.00
Beef, chicken, pork
Special panini 4.50
Avocado, green chili, tapenade
Add salad or soup 6.50
Ohio City black pepper pappardelle, corn,
Tomatoes with salad
Large (no take-away) 3.00
Marsala peaches, mascarpone 3.00
Apricot pudding 3.00
Gâteau noix 3.50
Oatmeal Sundae Mickey Rooney
Macaroon McVouty 3.00
Groove juice special 1.00
Fresh squeezed orange 1.50
Fresh tomato bisque
Corn cakes, whipped goat cheese
Seasonal Green Salad
Choice of vinaigrette
Lamb shank, apple fennel potatoes
Lime-crusted Yellow Fin tuna, wild mushroom pasta
Ohio City black pepper pappardelle, corn, tomatoes
Monday - Thursday $22.00 plus tax
Friday - Saturday $22.50 plus tax
5 pm til the food's gone
I first gathered the requisite silverware and glassware, then from the lunch menu, we decided to start with the Mussel chowder, the Special appetizer and iced tea, The SO stepped to the counter and requested the items. (This isn't a "Order Here" and "Pick Up Here" situation, you simply tell whoever's available what you'd like to have. I would guess dinner involves a little more service - we'll see.) When the chowder was ready, the woman announced "Mussel chowder" and we took it from the counter. This was a black peppery, flavored clear-broth chowder with chunks of unpeeled Yukon Gold potatoes, corn, onions and mussels served in a broad-rimmed dark blue shallow bowl. Very tasty with each of the ingredients maintaining its character and taste but coming together on the spoon and in the mouth. Next up was the Special appetizer which was two ~4" very light and hot corn cakes filled with corn kernels, each topped with a small ice cream scoop of whipped goat cheese which was melting onto and into the crisp exterior of the corn cakes. The plate was garnished with ~6 lightly dressed microgreen leaves (would have appreciated a few more, will request next time). The iced tea was a very refreshing, lightly steeped brew served in a carafe with ice.
We then requested the large crème brulee and Special panini. The panini came first and consisted of two hot-from-the-panini-press wedges of the house-baked flatbread which had been slit horizontally and filled with black olive tapenade, slices of avocado and something like a green chile paste. The tapenade provided the salt and the avocado mitigated the bite of the chile providing another tasty dish. The garnish for this were just two very thin slices of peeled cucumber - visually appealing perhaps, but useless as part of the meal. The crème brulee was flamed at the counter and presented in a chunky white china bowl-like container. I am usually in the flat and broad container camp for the extra crunch of caramelized sugar, but this was a light, but very good rich vanilla bean-based custard with a half-strawberry garnish.
While we were eating the man with the sketch book kept drawing, the woman ordered the pappardelle (which looked interesting) and continued to read, and two more customers came in and sat at the other end of our table (a total of 5 paying customers between ~1130h and 1230h for a Friday lunch?). The food was quite good and priced right (~$20 with tip), the atmosphere was casual and welcoming, and the experience was one we'll repeat.
We were back on the interstate heading south near the Hopple St exit and I noticed 2 or 3 small signs stuck in the berm alongside the highway reading "Dog House Open." I had heard that Mr. Gene's had reopened after a school bus demolished the original stand, so I exited Hopple and headed west across the viaduct to Beekman. Went north on Beekman and sure enough, the place is rebuilt. This time with stone and two walk-up windows. Well, I just couldn't stand it. Even though we'd finished lunch just 10 minutes before, I had to have a chili dog with mustard and onion. This is NOT a Cincinnati-style coney (thank god!), but a full-sized wiener on a soft, yellow sesame-seed bun topped with real hot dog chili. It was a beautiful day so we took the lone dog to one of the picnic tables out back and it was as good as the place's previous incarnation. The menu still lists essentially the same items: hot dogs, metts, wings and soft drinks. Half the orders seemed to be wings, so I'll try them next time along with hot dogs, and the next time will be soon...........Enjoy.
Slims - 4046 Hamilton Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45223 - NO PHONE - Modern American - BYOB for dinner - Owner Patrick McCafferty - Eat in or takeaway - No phone, no res - $-$$$ - M-Sat L>11-1400h, M-Sat D>1700h until food runs out ~21-2300h, closed Sun
Mr Gene's Dog House - 3703 Beekman St, Cincinnati, OH 45223 - 513/541-7636 (Non-classified) - Drive in - Eat in car or few outdoor picnic tables in rear - $, cash only