Cincinnatti, Ohio         Date of Visit: 09/06/14 

The hotdog quest continues. Food and Wine listed 28 places…we won’t visit them all, but we are getting to the local options. After Dirty Frank’s last weekend we are now in Cincy for diner en blanc and Senate (from the list) is in the hopping Over the Rhine district. I had read the menu online and had high hopes and expectations. We arrived with luck on our side…found a parking space in front of the restaurant and walked in minutes before the place started to overflow.



The interior is thin and lengthy with piles of hipster. The service wasn’t as efficient or saliva free as I would have hoped and seemed to come with a complimentary side of arrogance, but we were here for the dogs. Well, not just the dogs. We started with four appetizers.

Disappointing in a tremendous way were the roasted marrow bones. Served with grilled toast and a cranberry & onion jam, they looked beautiful. The toast was manufactured from excellent bread and took on a nice char from the grill. The jam was a great compliment. The problem was one of the bones had been finished so poorly it would take a jackhammer to get 90% of the meat jelly out of the middle of it. Tremendous waste.

Marrow Bones Looked Fabulous

But Were Filled With Concrete Instead Of Meat Jam

We also tried the housemade pork-ginger potstickers, sweet chili, miso cream cheese & sesame seeds. These were much better but less remarkable than we had hoped. Crispy skins were filled with familiar pacific flavors but didn’t really pop.

I found the last two appetizers to be much more interesting. The crispy pig tails were not anywhere as good or complex as those from Lolita but they were still the wing of the oink machine. They were also glazed with a sticky and spicy sauce which complimented the pork very well. The last app was the poutine. I have had better at Bachi Burger and The Public House, but this was still an excellent version. French fries are topped with local cheese curds, braised shortrib & gravy. We added the local free range egg because, why wouldn’t you? Tasty fries, rich meat and gravy, just melted curds and yolk lava. This is what I was hoping for from Senate.

Unfortunately we had about the same ratio of wow to ehh with the dogs.


Pot Stickers Weren't Bad

Nice Spice In The Pig Tail Sauce


A Top Notch Poutine

Gets Even Better When The Yolk Meanders In

We tried four. The lindsay lohan, the croque madame, the hello kitty 2.0 and the Korean. First, the actual dogs themselves are fantastic. Rich, juicy, wonderfully seasoned. They are served on brioche buns, which are nice but are nearly a loaf of bread apiece and didn’t often do much to contain the toppings. There was a lot of bread left on the table when we were done, and much of it was a torn and soggy mess. Then there were the toppings. They sounded so interesting on the menu. They were copious atop the dogs. Only one of the four really met expectations. For two of them I would rather have just had the dog plain.

The lindsay lohan was topped with goat cheese, caramelized onions, bacon, arugula, balsamic & tons of drama. Unsurprisingly, this was a wet mess with little reward in the flavor department. The hello kitty 2.0 was topped with a wasabi mayo, ponzu-wasabi slaw, bacon, wasabi peas & sesame seeds. This had a bit more flavor but was generally flat and quickly boring. It did manage to hold together, for a while.

True Or False. The Lohan Is A Sloppy Mess

No. It's Not A Trick Question

The Hello Kitty 2.0 Was Better

But Just Like Recent Revelations, Not Everything You Thought It Might Be

I was excited about the croque madame. Béchamel, black forest ham, brioche bun & a poached egg on the dog. Like the sandwich, thought I would love the dog. There were thick and grilled slices of ham, the same egginess from the poutine, rich sauce, but it really didn’t come together in a wealth of flavor, it sort of melded into enough blandness to subdue even the sausage underneath.

I Had High Hopes For The Croque Madame

But There Was No Apple Pie In The Sky. Damn Rubber Tree Plant.

Redemption arrived with the Korean dog. Topped with house made kimchi, braised short rib, and pickled cucumber, this is what I was hoping for. The kimchi wasn’t very spicy but did have a nice fermented funk to it. The cuke slices were thickly pickled and sharply cut through the dog, bun and kimchi. The only one I would order again.

The Korean May Have Looked Less Appetizing Than Others

But It Was The Only One Which Made Me Glad We Came

We had a glass of ducky fat fries, which were functional, there are better. To finish, we ordered a dessert. A runner brought a paper bag to our table, gave it’s contents a shake and then performed a five minute lecture in origami, tearing and folding the bag for improved access. I was almost giggling by the end of the folding…how many people haven’t been able to get treats out of a paper bag? Inside the bag were what they call warm pretzel beignets. I have it on the authority of Orleans natives that the NOLA version are light and airy, well textured fried bread with a blizzard of sugar. These were leaden heavy and dense lumps of what appeared to be fried cake donut batter. The bag contained cinnamon sugar and oats and came with a cup of awesome. A caramel mascarpone dip. Oh, they came with instructions too. These made more sense. I would have found my own way into the bag but I don’t think I would have gone with the dip and return to the tasty sand at the bottom of the bag on my own. The dip was the star by far and made for a functional dessert, part of a functional meal, in a place that didn’t live up to the hype.

Not Great But Still Duck Fat Fries

Came With Aioli For Richness

You'd Be Surprised How Long It Took To Make This Tableside

First Dip Into The Caramel/Cheese Triumph

Return To Gritty Flavor Enhancer

It Might Weigh 1#, But It Is Still Tasty



What's Best

What's Worst

  C+ D B- A F C-  
        Korean & Poutine Too Much. Esp. Marrow    
All Restaurants By Ranking Restaurants By Date These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things Steph's Favorite Things
Home List of Restaurants by City The Ratings What's Rated Random Thoughts