Sunday, March 16, 2003

Chili parlors push Lent-friendly menus


Campbell's scoop

By Polly Campbell
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Where a true Cincinnatian can eat on Fridays during Lent:

Many Greater Cincinnatians take Lent seriously. People faithfully turn away from metts, sauerbraten and Montgomery Inn ribs.

They eat fish sandwiches instead of fried chicken from Ron's Roost, macaroni and cheese at home instead of Steak Collinsworth at the Precinct or chateaubriand from Maisonette.

They don't go out for ham and turkey double-deckers at lunch. The really good ones don't even eat Servatii's macaroons for 40 days and eschew UDF cherry cordial ice cream.

But give up their Cincinnati chili?

Yes, even that.

Skyline would like you to know that it has meatless items on its menu. And Gold Star just introduced a meatless chili.

Unfortunately, neither quite comes through with a taste that comes close to a meatless version of the real chili experience.

Gold Star gets closer. It's created a chili with a similar viscosity to meat chili, using kidney beans, white beans and corn. It's served on top of spaghetti, with or without cheese. I guess you could get onions, though you wouldn't want more beans.

I got it in a combo, with french fries, (which were not only superfluous, but also under-crisp). It's an extremely mild chili - wimpy, really. It doesn't have the cumin-cinnamon-chocolate profile of real chili.

There also doesn't seem to be any tomato in it. It's worth a try, but it's never going to take over real Cincinnati chili.

At Skyline, if you want to eat meatless you have to go with its black bean chili, which goes in Skyline burritos. You can ask for it on spaghetti, with cheese, but it really doesn't work well that way. It's thick, and it's mixed with rice. You can get the chili in a bowl with sour cream and onions, but it's really best in a burrito.

E-mail pcampbell@enquirer.com




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