03 December 2008

3-Ways, Two Ways

As part of my decades-long research project on chili spaghetti I have recently tried a few 3-ways at Blue Ash Chili and Pleasant Ridge Chili.

Neither tastes like Skyline, which I've heard is because Skyline uses cinnamon and the others don't. I cannot confirm or deny this but it sounds right.

More than a mere chili parlor, it has an extensive menu with sandwiches, burgers, salads and soups. There was a daily special all three times I was there. Here is the 3-way breakdown:

Spaghetti: cooked more than Skyline (i.e. beyond al dente) but not a factor in overall taste.
Chili: not spicy and not cinnamon-y but has well-balanced taste without any particular kick. Like the 6th batter in the lineup, it won't thrill anybody but it can be counted on for dependable performance. A little greasier than the others.
Cheese: imagine ordering two 3-ways with extra cheese. Take the cheese from one and put it on top of the other. You now have a 3-way with double extra cheese which is how they serve it at Blue Ash Chili. Seriously, it got a little out of hand on my second visit.

Here is shot of my first Blue Ash Chili 3-way:

I actually don't know what is on the menu here because I just sit at the counter and order a 3-way (note: the diet plan is a little fucked up right now). However, I do remember they have a copy of their original menu on the wall which is interesting to peruse. And by "original" I mean from 1964. I don't think anything was over a dollar.

Spaghetti: Skyline-esque-ly al dente.
Chili: the taste is different from Blue Ash, but it is similar in that it has no particular kick. I like the fact that Pleasant Ridge has bottles of Tabasco as well as Frank's. But I don't like the fact that they're a tad stingy with the chili.
Cheese: this is the weak link. It's slightly hard and rubbery, as if it has been lying around for a while. The competition's cheese, by contrast, always seems fresh because it is soft and has a cheddar aroma. It is possible that Pleasant Ridge buys their cheese pre-grated and this is the cause of the difference. Also, Pleasant Ridge's cheese is milder whereas the competition's is sharper.

The servers at both places were super friendly, as if they were genuinely glad I came in to eat there. Good stuff.

UPDATE: An important review of PRC's gravy fries at Get in mah belly.

Blue Ash Chili on Urbanspoon

Pleasant Ridge Chili on Urbanspoon


mandy jeanne said...

i always heard the secret ingredient in skyline was instant coffee...

also:: how do you like camp washington chili? what about chili time? ((note: not challenging, just asking))

Anonymous said...

Oooh, I'm so putting you on my upcoming Chili Panel.

Also, email me. Have something that might interest you-- but it's tomorrow night.

WestEnder said...

Camp Washington: Great chili, my favorite for several years. But either they changed something a few years back (switched meat providers?) or I just had too much and need a break. I also notice my urine smells like chili the next day which doesn't happen at other places.

Chili time: Been there, liked it, recommend it.

Chili panel: Hell yes.

Anonymous said...

"6th batter in the lineup"

Great description.

liz said...

i have only ever tried skyline or gold star. what is your overall ranking of chili places? i need to know where else i should go. i remember julie recommended dixie.

Anonymous said...

Gold Star are the ones who use a lot of cinnamon in their chili, for the record. Jean-Robert tried our chili for an enquirer tasting panel some years ago. He told me that he tasted some chocolate in the chili. He doesn't like it, btw.

Camp Washington is the best, period. They have even won a prestigious James Beard Award.

Kate The Great said...

Blue Ash Chili - my absolute favorite. Screw the three-way, go with the Six Way. Yes, that's right. Six Way. Picture a Five Way with deep fried jalapeno rings on top. DYNAMITE!

We always went there when I was little (grew up in the area) and I swear my youngest sister's bone cells are made of Blue Ash Chili's Beef and Beef and Swiss sandwich - that's what my mom craved when she was pregnant.

Which was kind of a problem when they got shut down by the health department...

But it was a long time ago and a long story if you're interested.

We were there the Friday night after they reopened.

WestEnder said...

A 6-way with fried jalapeno rings is love on a plate. That is happening.

But getting shut down? You gotta be BAAAAD for that to happen. I look forward to hearing that story.

Wes said...

I miss Cincinnati-style chili in general, though we can get canned Skyline at the Kroger's a mile away from our home just south of Atlanta.

And yes, Camp Washington Chili was my favored place during my MM work (1994-96), when insomnia was rampant.

(Coincidence to my job alert: the anti-spam word is "faculti.")


B. Sherm said...

Camp Washington is indeed king.

This is my first time checking the blog out, WestEnder. Good reading!

LMJ said...

Great meeting you at the party on Satuday night!

Another place for you to try for you Chili test is Chili Time in St. Bernard. I'm not a chili fan, but I've heard it's good.

Hope to stay in touch! ~Lenna

Anonymous said...

Me and my wife Amanda had a 3-way with Betsy the Cow. It was great! Thank you for this thread.