Lucky town's tavern

75-year-old Greyhound serves up homey atmosphere for Fort Mitchell

BY POLLY CAMPBELL
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Every neighborhood should have a neighborhood restaurant -- a comfortable place where you always see someone you know; where you eat reliable, familiar food; a place that reflects the character of a community and helps create it.

Fort Mitchell is lucky. It has a restaurant that meets that description to a T: the Greyhound Tavern on Dixie Highway.

They've had it for 75 years. The Greyhound began as the Dixie Tea Room, located at the end of the trolley line from Cincinnati.

The rambling old white-frame house has had rooms added over the years. The newest, the Williamsburg Room, is among the most graceful spaces I've sat down to dinner, with its colonial colors, draped windows, wide plank flooring and lamps and fresh flowers on the table.

There are three other dining rooms, plus a bar, in varying traditional decor that hits just the right comfy note.

This is not an undiscovered, out-of-the-way place. It is packed, largely with locals. Owner Butch Wainscott says he has customers who eat there seven days a week.

Few trendy dishes

The Greyhound manages to serve everyone professionally and remain homey.

It borrows some trendy things, such as servers in ties and long aprons, without becoming a one-location Bennigan's.

The heart of the Greyhound menu is in Kentucky: country ham, fried chicken and hot browns.

There are forays into restaurant standards, such as taco salads and shrimp cocktails, plus original creations for dinner specials. The closer I stayed home with what I tried, the happier I was.

I had just left my kids at home with a bucket of drive-through fried chicken, so I had a point of comparison with the Greyhound's Fried Chicken ($9.95). Except there was no comparison. Greyhound's was not loaded with grease. It had a light but crunchy coating and was moist and tender inside.

Eating salty, cured country ham as a dinner entree can be intense. I rarely order it. But the Greyhound's Kentucky Country Ham ($11.75) might change my mind.

Thin and chewy, it nevertheless is juicy, not too salty and is covered with a slightly sweet redeye gravy. Also good are pork chops ($9.25 for one, $11.25 for two), boneless, grilled and served with warm apples.

Like many of the side dishes, the apples are Southern-sweet, but they're real apples, skin-on, not poured from a can.

Broiled Halibut ($15.50) is firm but moist; Rib Eye Steak ($15.50) has plenty of flavor and juice and comes with sauteed mushrooms and crispy slivers of onion. Chicken Dijon ($12.95), with artichoke hearts, mushrooms and a light mustard sauce, has too much cheese on top.

Entrees come with two side dishes, including good creamy coleslaw, and a vegetable-of-the-day that might be sweetened yellow squash or buttery sugar snap peas.

There are also sandwiches and salads, including barbecue on a bun ($4.50), chicken or tuna salad croissant ($5.50) and spinach salad ($4.50).

OK appetizers

I'd say appetizers are optional: shrimp cocktail ($7.50) is standard, stuffed mushrooms ($5.25) are good except they have too much cheese.

The onion rings ($2.25 or $3.25) are distinguished: huge slices battered, fried and piled high.

Desserts are made out of the restaurant by Calories Galore -- an apt description of the company's work.

Apple pie ($2.95) surprised us in the same way our waitress' English accent did: It's an upscale version with Granny Smith apples in a custardy filling, with caramel sauce. Double chocolate chip cake ($2.95) was as chocolately as it had a right to be, and moist, too.

Several of the restaurant's rooms are non-smoking, but we weren't asked our choice when making reservations or being seated.

There was more than one kind of smoking going on the second night I visited -- someone blowing out candles on a birthday cake in a friendly, family group, the kind you'd expect in a good neighborhood place.

My neighborhood should be so lucky.

map Reviews are done anonymously at Enquirer expense. Ratings take into consideration quality of food, service, presentation and atmosphere, balanced against price.

IF YOU GO


Greyhound Tavern

***

Food: Good

Service: Good

Atmosphere: Excellent

Value: Good

What: Popular, comfortable neighborhood restaurant in a rambling old house with a homey menu.

Where: 2500 Dixie Highway, Fort Mitchell.

Hours: 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday and 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday.

Recommended dishes: Kentucky Country Ham, Greyhound's Fried Chicken, pork chops with warm spiced apples, onion rings.

Vegetarian choices: Pasta with vegetables, steamed veggie plate.

Prices: Sandwiches and salads $3.95-$7.50; dinner entrees $9.25-$16.75; desserts $2.95-$3.95.

Paying for it: American Express, MasterCard, VISA.

Miscellaneous: No-smoking section; children's menu, highchairs, booster chairs; full bar; wine list; carryout; wheelchair-accessible dining rooms and restrooms.

Reservations: Necessary for weekend dinner.

Phone: 331-3767.


Comments? Questions? Criticisms? Contact Greg Noble, online editor.
Entire contents Copyright (c) 1996 by The Cincinnati Enquirer, a Gannett Co. Inc. newspaper.