One winter-time attraction in Blue Ash is the skating rink in the open-air space outside the Brown Dog Café, located in Summit Park.
Shawn McCoy, owner-chef at Brown Dog, is assisting and complimenting the skating rink attraction in two ways, and Jewish diners wanting to skate and eat may enjoy both.
“The room where people can rent skates is actually our space for private dining events,” he said. “We have (temporarily) turned over that space so that they (the city) can set up their skate rental there,” McCoy said. “That makes it much nicer for people coming here to skate on the rink. And they (Blue Ash) have done a much better job this year with the rink and that whole area, making it look more attractive with decorations like boulders and trees and those things.
“So, we are going to offer discounted pizzas to the skaters. Also, having it just outside our door (the rink) is going to be good too. We want to invite everybody in to eat after skating,” or invite parents and/or grandparents in while the kids skate outside.
Speaking of the temporarily surrendered meeting space, McCoy said that Brown Dog still will be able to cater special events while the rink is in place, doing so at the Tower rooms, across the Great Lawn commons at the park. The Tower is the iconic 150-foot high structure purported to be the highest spot in Hamilton County, and from which spectacular views are to be had in every direction.
“Events such as New Year’s Eve, we have a full house in the restaurant, and we have also done a good job on weatherizing our patio,” he said. “Last year (for New Year’s), we served out there. We will have a price-fixed menu that night and the menu will have a lot of choices for diners; and, of course, it will be a sellout,” so people wanting to participate should make reservations in advance.
After talking about events, McCoy shifted his attention to food in general, and specialized vegan items, burgers and brunches. First, the general, a menu change: the traditional salmon dish has been changed up for winter. It is a jerk salmon treatment with pineapple salsa, complemented by sweet potato-banana mashed potatoes and crispy fried kale. Sounds delicious to me! Also, he mentioned the steak, the halibut and grilled lamb chops as delicious choices on the current menu, along with grouper and snapper specials that diners give high marks.
Next, he said, “Burgers can get really complicated, and we have a really good burger here, so I wanted to make it simple for our guests. So, it’s a simple base, the burger on a nice bun served with a smoked garlic aioli. And if you want, for free, we add sliced tomato, grilled or sliced (raw) onion, lettuce and pickle.
“And then, there are other items, like cheese and bacon, which kosher-style diners would not want anyway, and other stuff you can add for a cost. That way, we keep the price of the burger lower, we don’t waste food, and people get exactly what they want on a burger.”
McCoy said that his kitchen has added pickle to the burger plate for years, and most of them wind up uneaten.
“The other thing is the bun, which some people don’t want either. We say: ‘No bun, no problem!’ and we serve the burger on a salad bed, which is a really good deal, price-wise, and I think it is a better way to do a burger without a bun.”
For those who are vegan, Brown Dog Café may be a destination, especially on Thursdays.
“We put a lot of effort into creating great vegan dishes here, such as the vegan shepherd’s pie, and our gatto-gatto, which is brown rice and black quinoa with peanut sauce and an array of fresh vegetables, avocado and cashews. It’s wonderful, it’s delicious, and we have gotten lots of good feedback when people order it. On Thursdays, we feature vegan specials (in greater number) so that there are at least four entrees to choose from.”
The other notable mention is the 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday brunch at Brown Dog Café. “We’ve simplified that too, really, so we invite people to come in and enjoy a leisurely brunch.
“Brown Dog Café is good at satisfying guests who want gluten free and vegan dishes,” McCoy said.
And that is why Jewish diners-out will find a sympathetic ear when kosher style dining is the issue. The kitchen is versatile and accommodating to all with special dietary needs. “In fact, we bend over backwards to help those who have dietary issues,” he said.
See you at Brown Dog Café!
Brown Dog Café
4335 Glendale Milford Road
Cincinnati, Ohio, 45242