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Cincinnati Bites
Deluxe Pizza from Marion's Piazza

Posted Sunday, April 20, 2014

We Cincinnati foodies tend to trip over one another whenever a new restaurant opens in Over-the-Rhine, clamoring to be among the first to experience it and talk about it and blog about it and post photos of it, until it all feels like a lot of white noise. We lustily spray our seed of excitement over a new place, roll over, take a nap, then immediately move on to the next "new thing." The latest target of our affection is The Eagle Food & Beer Hall, a bar and free-range fried chicken joint conceived by the same folks who brought us Currito and Bakersfield OTR.

The Eagle Food & Beer Hall (whose long name and hint of exclusivity reminds me of Pancho's Happy Bottom Riding Club) lies near the 14th and Vine intersection downtown. It's across the street from a Graeter's and two doors from a Holtman's Donuts. Actress Cate Blanchett was seen crossing the street here just a week ago, on break from filming her 50's-era movie, "Carol."

Eagle Food and Beer Hall sign
The Eagle

The Eagle's interior is dark and rustic, riddled with reclaimed wood and sporting fixtures apparently borrowed from the old post office the owners had purchased next door. At dinner-time, the place can be quite loud and crowded, so it was great to learn that, as of Reds' Opening Day 2014, they are also open for lunch.

A third of The Eagle's front menu and the entire back of it are allocated for alcoholic drink listings, including cocktails (e.g. OTR Iced Tea), a multitude of beers, wines and champagne. The remaining is a short but formidable list of food options, including appetizers, salads, sandwiches, sides and, most prominently, The Eagle's signature fried chicken. Non-alcoholic drinks are unlisted, so you'll need to ask the server to discover that they also serve a very fetching draft root beer along with the obligatory Coca-Cola products.

The menu arrives looking like a placemat. I've seen a couple variations of it floating around online, each new edition sporting updated, higher prices for particularly the chicken dishes. Still, for Over-the-Rhine, their prices remain competitive, and a $9 sandwich at The Eagle is far more food and a better value than the $11 sandwiches at other nearby venues.

For our first visit, we stuck to their much-ballyhooed, brined and "pressure-fried" Amish chicken. I chose a quarter of white meat, served with a spicy honey sauce, as well as a side of collard greens. My girlfriend opted for the fried chicken breast sandwich topped with cole slaw, spicy mayo and house pickles, along with a small arugula salad.

For starters, we chose the Brown Sugar Bacon. The three long strips flecked with cayenne and brown sugar lent them a pleasing, sweet edge that was fine for a few bites but grew tiresome and cloying by the second strip.

The chicken, however, was nothing short of delicious. Forget the spicy fried batter for a moment, which was good in its own right. The meat alone was moist, tender and needed no flavor enhancement from the honey sauce. It was as though we could savor the joyous contentment brimming from the bird's short-lived freedom. My girlfriend's sandwich was enormous: two towering halves of gorgeous chicken, colorful (not over-creamy) slaw and a hearty, grilled crusty bread that she said really made the sandwich.

Chicken sandwich
Fried Chicken Sandwich
1/4 chicken
1/4 Chicken

Of course, my 1/4 chicken was smaller by comparison, but no less tasty. I would have appreciated a fluffy biscuit on hand to sop up the spicy honey sauce, a la KFC. The closest thing on the menu is the "Spoonbread," a 10-inch iron skillet filled with exactly the kind of cornbread I like: sweet and moist, with an intense corn flavor and a pleasing, down-home grit between the teeth.

The collard greens were particularly good, a small bowl packed with large, tender, substantial leafy greens. Bits of ham hock imparted meaty flavor to the slightly spicy broth, making this one of my favorite collard green preparations.

In a subsequent visit, I tried the pork sandwich, with its heaping of pork shoulder topped with broccoli rabe (a fascinating, tasty, slightly bitter green), house made hot peppers and provolone on a toasted Italian roll.

Pork sandwich
Pork Sandwich and Spoonbread

The sandwich was just as substantial as my girlfriend's chicken variety. In fact, I've witnessed three people, all big eaters in their own right, who'd failed to polish off both halves of any of The Eagle's sandwiches in one sitting. I'm a fairly big guy, but could barley finish half my pork sandwich. Anyone who's managed to devour a complete one is either super-human or in tragic need of portion control intervention.

The Eagle Food & Beer Hall exceeded our expectations, with delicious chicken and hearty sandwiches that make it a welcome addition to an already impressive line of Over-the-Rhine eateries.

The Eagle Food and Beer Hall on Urbanspoon
The Eagle Food and Beer Hall

Price: Moderately Expensive ($11 - $16 per person)
Service: Good
Rating: 3.53.5 stars






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Ratings Legend
four stars = Outstanding
three stars = Good
two stars = Fair
one star = Poor
  • From Tom about Delhi Palace:
    Agree with your take on this place. Nice variety on the buffet, owners aim to please, great location. Was quite full for lunch on our visit. Hoping this one is a keeper!
    posted: Fri., Apr 18th, 2014 @ 10:44 PM
  • From Cincinnati Bites about Elephant Walk Injera & Curry House:
    Great advice, Rhapsody. Thanks for the education!
    posted: Sun., Apr 6th, 2014 @ 7:58 PM
  • From Rhapsody about Elephant Walk Injera & Curry House:
    Teff is gluten free, however most injera in this country also has wheat flour and sometimes other flours, such as barley, which are not gluten free. You should ask any restaurant if they have "teff only" injera if you have a gluten sensitivity.
    posted: Sun., Apr 6th, 2014 @ 8:21 AM
  • From Don Wellmeier II about Marion's Piazza:
    I'm a die-hard Cassano's fan. I have lived out of the Dayton area for over 30 years but I make sure to eat as much Cassano's as I can when I'm in town. Love the salted crust and it tastes just as I remember it.
    posted: Sun., Jan 12th, 2014 @ 1:06 PM
  • From Gary about Marion's Piazza:
    Since Casannos started using conveyor ovens they are not near as good as the old hearth oven baked pizzas. I like Marions the best.
    posted: Mon., Jan 6th, 2014 @ 1:55 PM
  • From Jennifer about Chuy's:
    We live about 10 minutes from the Taqueria Mercado location in Fairfield but for some reason find that we crave the food at Taqueria Maya even more so we often make the drive to Fields Ertel.
    posted: Fri., Jan 3rd, 2014 @ 3:09 PM
  • From Tina about Taste of Belgium Bistro:
    Hi: Just a heads up that someone swiped your photo above and posted it to imgur.com. I'm assuming this was done without your permission. You can find the post here: http://imgur.com/gallery/YvzfnZ4
    posted: Fri., Dec 6th, 2013 @ 2:30 PM
  • From Chef Michael Belanger about Barrio Tequileria:
    I did two events using Barrio a Match.com/Dishcrawl and a Taco Crawl they were great and all of the crawlers gave them excellent reviews, which were well deserved
    posted: Fri., Jul 12th, 2013 @ 11:11 AM
  • From Beth about Taco Casa:
    Thanks for the review on Taco Casa. Taco Casa started in Cincinnati 45 years ago by Polly Laffoon, a local Cincinnati gal whom spent 2 years in Texas while her husband served in the military. She came back to Cincinnati and wanted to open a Mexican Restaurant but realized that she would have to alter the recipes to be more attractive to Midwesterners. Back in those days spicey food was not a "HOT" item. She ingeniously invented the Taco Salad, the Tuna Boat Supreme and the Burrito Boat. A happy combination of midwestern cooking with a mexican flair. Which, no matter what you call it Mexican, CincyMex, AmericanMex it still taste incredibly good even 45 years later. ( Maybe we should call it MidWesternMex?) To this day, taco meat, ranch dressing, taco sauces and salsas are STILL 100% made in house with the original recipe. Taco Casa Owners
    posted: Wed., May 15th, 2013 @ 2:18 PM
  • From Ginna about Bobby's Burger Palace:
    Thanks!
    posted: Sat., Apr 20th, 2013 @ 2:08 PM
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