[Pudn's note: I've known the author of this 3-Way post, Brooksy, aka Mark, for the better part of almost twenty years. I worked at the retail chain that Dustin Hoffman said sucked in Rainman; Mark dated (and later married) someone who was close friends with someone else who worked there. Come to think of it, I don't really know how it all worked out that we've known each other so long. It's kind of lost in the college-era fog. At any rate, for nearly two decades, he and I have been politely disagreeing about the best place Cincy chili. I was thrilled, then, when he said he'd happily contribute to 3-Way Thursday.]
I have driven past US Chili thousands of times, literally. It is situated right across the street from Camp Washington Chili, so given the choice I always chose Camp Washington. I walk in to US Chili by no means the toughest looking hombre in the place. There are some definite blue collar types here. Until semi-recently this was me. I give them the knowing nod. How goes it? I am shunned, then I realize I no longer look like “that” guy. I even shaved off the scraggily beard I had going on. They see this bald guy wearing khakis and a button down, not very blue collar. Oh well, at least I respect them. I go to the counter to order. Why? Because I don’t know any better, noob. I order my 4 way and am promptly told to sit down and that I don’t pay until I leave. Oh the hole keeps getting deeper. I make my way the bar along the window. The place is old. Not the old of the halcyon years but more of the 70’s when the drugs made the décor palatable. At least it was clean.
My 4 way is brought to me by a pleasant waitress. The food looks good. I inspect it. The proportions seem right and it smells pretty good, although the first bite was odd. Along with the tastes I expected I got a vinegar taste akin to that in Worthmore’s Mock Turtle Soup. I am happy to say that this taste faded. It is followed up by pepper, lots of black pepper. Definitely not too hot to eat but definitely the primary spice. I got just little hits of cinnamon. The onions were not that great. I must be really picky but I don’t think you should chop up the middle of the onion unless it is chopped finely otherwise it is too dense. The cheese was good but a little on the mild side. As I have said before, I prefer a sharper cheese. The chili was very meaty mainly because it isn’t ground as much as the other parlors. Although, one-dimensional, the taste seemed to permeate the meat, which is a good thing. I also think they may cook the spaghetti with the chili too. Why? Because of the sauce. At first inspection it looked good but the more I ate it the odder it seemed at least for Cincinnati Chili. It was a more of a gravy then a sauce, very thick, as if it had been thickened with corn starch, flour or maybe gluten from the spaghetti. Anywho it was very weird to my palate. My overall rating of this 4 way is 2.5 out 5 oyster crackers. There are some ok things about it, but the odd bits are dragging it down. I would still cross the street for Camp Washington.
US Chili did get the parting shot at my dignity though. When I went to leave I couldn’t get out. I pushed, I pulled, and the door didn’t budge. I had to ask the table of blue collar workers what was up. They looked me up and down and the biggest one said push…..hard. Thank God I was leaving because I didn’t want to see them laughing at me.