Having grown up in SpringfieldTownship (man, that sounds so much classier than saying “Finneytown”), I’ve been eating at JB’s (now deemed “Steak Nina” though I cannot bring myself to actually make the switch to such an awful restaurant moniker) since its days as Cruisers. As the restaurant evolved, changed owners, modified menu items, and changed owners some more, JB’s has remained one of my favorite local places (and definitely one of my all-time favorite sports bar and grills) to eat and socialize with friends.
Location: The location is a little sketch for any good restaurant, but don’t let its bowling alley (Brentwood Bowl) flagship sway you from trying out this gem-of-a-dive. Whenever I explain this excellent restaurant to people who’ve not been, I always point out that he/she should not let the fact that it’s based out of a bowling alley deter them. I can’t stress enough that the negative-connotation-of-a-façade is absolutely a misnomer. It should be noted that there is plenty of private parking and it is conveniently located on Winton Road, which can be accessed by side roads, Cross County Hwy, I-75, or I-275.
Atmosphere: The lighting is slightly low, which allows for maximum privacy despite its large and open eating areas. There is also a bar area where flat screen TVs feature all the big games, or total privacy in the back room, which can be reserved for events with larger groups for birthdays, family get-togethers, and/or work outings. I’ll be willing to bet it’s a lot nicer on the inside than what you’re thinking, but the décor certainly isn’t amazing.
Food: JB’s offers really great, inexpensive steaks and fish (thanks Lake Nina) as well as really good bar food. Try the burgers, wings, chicken sandwiches, salads, and potato pancakes. This place also features lunch and dinner specials, which are offered at outstanding prices; potato Rags, Saratoga Chips, and Pretzel Bites are all hits as appetizers. I understand this may all sound very basic, but JB’s does a really nice job of making the aforementioned fare (and then some) great. In fact, these are my favorite Saratoga Chips out of anywhere. Not hyperbole. They are less like “chips” (super, super crunchy like Montgomery Inn and everywhere else I’ve had), and more like thinly sliced deep-fried potatoes (some are crunchy while others are a little less done; I prefer the latter). The ranch dressing is also amazing. Also the honey mustard. Okay, fine, all the condiments are good.
Editor’s note: JB’s is home to my favorite wings (if you like Buffalo Wild Wings, they are cooked very similarly as the wings featured there—a little crispy on the outside and hot and chewy on the inside—except they are much meatier. They don’t advertise it much, but Tuesday night is “Wing Night” and the wings are very, very inexpensive during lunch (I believe it is around $5 for six wings and two sides; served 11am–3pm every day of the week). You’re welcome.
I talk up the wings and wing specials, but the steaks are also super reasonably priced (especially when they are featured as the nightly special—Sunday through Wednesday, I believe, but don’t hold me to it) and also come with two sides.
Overall Grade: B++ [out of possible A+]
The combination of a great, friendly bar and restaurant atmosphere together with good, inexpensive food makes JB’s a must try for all Cincinnati residents. The food is pretty inexpensive for the great quality, it is unpretentious and unassuming but still pretty nice on the inside, the service is usually pretty good (a few servers could use some work, but overall I don’t have a lot of complaints), and this place is well worth trying out. If you don’t like it, hey, you’re not out a ton of money for lunch or dinner.