Reviews on restaurants you never knew existed.

Cincinnati Bites
Enchiladas at Jalapenos Mex-Mex

Posted Sunday, November 28, 2010

Montgomery Inn at the Boathouse is the kind of place Cincinnati executives like to take out-of-town clients to showcase their city. And what better venue: the stylized, rounded building offers excellent river views. With two floors of tables arranged around the periphery, there's not a bad seat in the house.

The Montgomery Inn name itself is renowned in Cincinnati: it's the go-to restaurant for celebrities and at least five past U.S. Presidents, photos of whom adorn the lobby. Some celebs swing their limo on by to retrieve a large carry-out order. Take a gander at the photo of a beaming George W. Bush proudly holding his big sack.

I'm one of those Cincinnati transplants who never quite understood the mesmerized wonder and general deity-like status natives bestow upon Montgomery Inn's ribs. I can think of several barbecue places in town that don't cost as much and taste a hell of a lot better. Can't you? Really?

So why am I reviewing this place at all? Well, after visiting the Boathouse for the first time in more than a decade, I can honestly say I actually enjoyed what I had this time. Whether it was an anomaly I leave for you to decide.

Here I met a couple friends for lunch one recent, sunny weekday. Both are named Ed, the same guys with whom I'd dined for the El Pueblo review.

Ed #1 was leaving us for an extended period in his native UK, so we got together one last time before his trip. The three of us were led to one of the linen-covered tables along the first floor, a curved wall of glass revealing panoramic views of the Ohio River and Newport, Kentucky.

A basket of various sliced breads from Servatii's Bakery was placed before us. The slice of rye I retrieved was coated in herbs, its pleasing saltiness making it taste much like a pretzel.

Ed #1 had once worked at Montgomery Inn and recommended a rarely-chosen appetizer, the Crostini. A plate of six toasted crostini arrived topped with melted bleu cheese, diced tomatoes, basil, oregano and sprinkled with four additional Italian cheeses. The bread in the center had become slightly soft from all the melty cheesiness, making the crostinis easier to eat. They were delicious, the slight bite of bleu cheese offset by the refreshing tomato and herbs.

For our lunch entrees, Ed #1 and I ordered the Smoke House Trio, three pillowy mini buns each stuffed with a different meat: pulled pork, beef brisket and smoked chicken. I chose a side of Macaroni & Cheese while Ed #1 picked a baked sweet potato. Ed #2 ordered the pulled BBQ chicken sandwich and a side salad.

Smoke House Trio
The food arrived fairly quickly. I was impressed with how much meat was packed and overflowing from each of my minis. The accompanying cole slaw was crunchy and light on the mayonnaise. The mac & cheese side looked generous, a pleasingly creamy concoction with plump-yet-al-dente elbow pasta. Think of it as a slightly higher-brow version of the revered Kraft Macaroni & Cheese.

Ed #1's baked sweet potato looked a bit overdone to me, but then again baked sweet potatoes don't typically look all that attractive to begin with. He didn't seem to be complaining. Ed #2 liked the flavor of his pulled chicken sandwich.

Given my past, consistently mediocre Montgomery Inn experiences, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the seasoning of each of the meats. The pulled pork and smoked chicken were shredded and juicy; the beef brisket was tender and liberally slathered in barbecue sauce. And yet despite the sauce's strong presence, I didn't mind it in this context.

This visit forced me to reconsider my low overall opinion of Montgomery Inn. I've long considered their sauce to be too cloyingly sweet, their ribs gray and tasteless. I still do. But there's more to barbecue than just ribs. And though Montgomery Inn claims to be "The Ribs King," you'll probably have a better time if you order something else.

Montgomery Inn at the Boathouse on Urbanspoon
Montgomery Inn at the Boathouse

Price: Expensive ($17 - $30 per person)
Service: Good
Rating: 2.5 out of 42.5 stars






Other Recent Reviews

  1. Sandwichy Impressions: Fond: Lunch & Deli
    -posted Tuesday, April 3, 2018
  2. Our first look at Cooking with Caitlin's restaurant
    -posted Monday, March 26, 2018
  3. Chicken Impressions: Revolution Rotisserie & Bar
    -posted Saturday, March 17, 2018
  4. Seitan Worship: Losantivill3
    -posted Wednesday, March 7, 2018
  5. Chinese Impressions: Kung Food Chu's AmerAsia
    -posted Monday, February 26, 2018
Ratings Legend
four stars = Outstanding
three stars = Good
two stars = Fair
one star = Poor
  • From Leslie about El Trio Mexican Grill:
    El Trio closed last week :(
    posted: Tue., Apr 3rd, 2018 @ 3:19 PM
  • From TJ Jackson about Bourbon Smokehouse:
    Best pulled pork in town: webbs bbq in Newport, open ONLY on Fridays. and cheap.
    posted: Thu., Feb 1st, 2018 @ 12:39 PM
  • From Natasia Malaihollo about Dope! Noodle and Dumpling Shop:
    Thank you for the review and background on the restaurant history! I was a huge fan of huit and super disappointed when they “closed.” Was wondering what’s going on with this musical chairs of a restaurant strategy so thank you for clarifying!
    posted: Fri., Jan 26th, 2018 @ 6:50 PM
  • From Jeff about Dope! Noodle and Dumpling Shop:
    Thanks for the thorough review! It honestly does seem like a new restaurant is opening every other day..but the thing about the wait staff..they might be getting paid a higher hourly rate because they are only open for lunch. I’ve worked at a restaurant where I was paid $10 an hour but the owner kept the tips, it sucked but sort of made sense for the lunch shift.
    posted: Fri., Dec 22nd, 2017 @ 9:00 PM
  • From heather about Wild Eggs:
    we liked it too - things are fresh and made from scratch and high quality - good experiences all around
    posted: Wed., Dec 20th, 2017 @ 10:55 AM
  • From Cincinnati Bites about Dope! Noodle and Dumpling Shop:
    Thanks for writing, Heather. I definitely like their other restaurants. Lalo's pazole and fish taco are better than Mazunte's, I think. But I agree they are definitely hit-or-miss. I'm still rooting for them, though. There's talent there. :)

    posted: Mon., Nov 20th, 2017 @ 1:30 PM
  • From Heather JOhnson about Dope! Noodle and Dumpling Shop:
    I tried Huit & Lalo and they were both expensive and so mixed - one thing great - another thing barely mediocre. More of the same it sounds like - hits and misses for a really expensive lunch. Nope on Dope.
    posted: Sun., Nov 19th, 2017 @ 12:41 PM
  • From TJ Jackson about Udupi Cafe:
    I do not know if it is truly a match for the product you remember, but Frostop Root Beer is sold at Jungle Jims and is a personal favorite of mine.
    posted: Fri., Sep 29th, 2017 @ 6:00 PM
  • From Jones about Haru Korean Restaurant:
    As a long time reader, I found this review to be one of your loveliest and most enthusiastically vivid. I can't wait to try this place!
    posted: Tue., Aug 29th, 2017 @ 9:48 AM
  • From Jordan about Grand Central Delicatessen:
    yes!
    posted: Sat., Jun 3rd, 2017 @ 12:16 PM
Where The Locals Eat featured blog
Cincinnati Web Design | Cincinnati Mobile Web Design