I bit the bullet and made a reservation at Brown Dog Café. The fact that I even have to make a lunchtime reservation is a bit insane, but alas, here I was. Also, a Yelp commenter mentioned the “exclusivity” of this Blue Ash eatery—even during lunch—and I felt it was best to make sure I secured a seat. To my surprise, the time slots (for one!) of 12:15, 12:30, and 1:00pm were already taken, so I opted for 12:45 to ensure that I could eat before its afternoon 2:00pm closure.
Initial thought: does this place have any relation to Green Dog Café in Columbia Tusculum? From the looks of the menu, they certainly have similarities, but some differences as well, so I’ll go with no. It’s on the pricier end, too, which definitely compares to Green Dog (and even Melt Eclectic Café as well). But hey! I finally have a job … so pricey lunch, it is! (And, consequently, restaurant by new job, it is, too.)
Location: Brown Dog Café is located in a strip center adjacent to other restaurants and retail stores, and behind a flagship restaurant in Bob Evans. Thus, it can easily be lost amongst its surrounding establishments. It was because I was perusing restaurants on Yelp that I even found this delicacy to begin with. Situated on Pfeiffer Road off of I-71, it is conveniently located for all Cincinnatians, and because it is located decently far off the road, the private parking lot is pretty easy to get to and navigate. Not extremely easy for the unfamiliars of the area, but easy enough. (A traffic light makes it easier to locate and leave the establishment.)
Atmosphere: I was pretty impressed with the interior because it was much nicer than the initial picture I saw led on. While the interior design isn’t one of the more substantial I’ve seen, this locale is pretty impressive in its own right. With booths and tables situated throughout, it is obvious that Brown Dog is there to serve good food, and not necessarily to impress its patrons by sporting trendy decor. Because of its unassuming façade and interior, I think that’s why I was all the more impressed by it. I guess that’s kind of the point of a café, but I like to hold those particular brands of restaurants to a higher standard. That’s what they get for having [what I consider to be] a pretentious name, right?
Food: For lunch (so it had to be pretty quick), I decided on the 6-ounce hand-formed Angus burger cooked medium; served on a grilled Blue Oven Bakery bun (yum) featuring white cheddar cheese, lettuce, relish (eighty-six that), and honey curry mayo (QUADRUPLE YUM) with Brown Dog Fries on the side (+$1). Additional fare includes a multitude of vegetarian options as well as choices catering to your everyday carnivore (yeah, meat-eaters!)— y’know, for the discerning and variety of restaurant goers. I have a feeling this honey curry mayo will linger for a long time (literally and figuratively), as it—in addition to the fresh-cut Brown Dog Fries—was easily the standout of the meal. A post-meal conversation with Date was necessary, to which he had to say, “Linger Factor on a condiment? That’s pretty impressive.” Yes, yes it was.
Overall Grade: I can’t decide between a B- and a C+. Perhaps I should let an official burger score settle this.
Burger – 3/5
Overall pretty good flavor, but a little too well done for me.
Toppings – 3/5
Nothing substantial. Good enough, though.
Bun – 5/5
Any establishment that uses a grilled Blue Oven Bakery English muffin as a bun is perfect in my book. Wasn’t soggy, had fantastic flavor, and was the perfect addition to a pretty good burger.
Sides – 5/5
The fresh-cut fries and honey curry mayo were outstanding. Fresh-cut fries are undoubtedly my favorite kind of fries and, oh,
The Linger Factor! – 3.5/5
The rest of the meal I could easily live without, but the fries and honey curry mayo I will talk about for a while; especially the latter. The non-food experience didn’t leave the same great taste in my mouth, unfortunately.
Total: 19.5/25 or 3.9/5 … B- it is!
The service was pretty slow for it being the lunch crowd. It took nearly 25 minutes for me to receive my food, which would not otherwise bother me for dinner, but I was in a time crunch, and honestly it bothered me. And I was alone! For the cost of the food (quite high for lunch at $17, which included tip and a pop) and the lackluster service, I’m not sure that I will return. The food, however, was really good and well worth trying. The honey curry mayo and hand-cut fries were outstanding. So much so, that condiment alone may have been worth the $17 for the trip. Obviously I’m kidding, but it was that good. If you go, you must try it.
The food is this grade’s saving grace, because the slow service and high prices are quite the deterrent for my return.