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InCahoots (Review)

Pleasant service can't make up for sub-par entreés

By Heather Smith · November 3rd, 2009 · Diner

There are people who own restaurants in Cincinnati who are so phenomenal with detail that they actually coordinate the linen napkins to the color of your clothes. If you’re wearing something dark, the napkin is black; something light, it’s white. And there are restaurants like this that aren’t any more expensive than InCahoots, which reopened in a new Blue Ash location this summer.

At InCahoots, entrée prices average $16, unless you order a sandwich ($8). So maybe that’s why we were so surprised by our experience.

First, we were seated at a table in the middle of the bar right next to the pool table. By the soft florescent glow of the Miller pool table light, we perused our menus and surveyed the scene. At the bar were a few retired frat boys and, at 6:30 p.m. on a Friday, a lot of people who looked like they’d just gotten off work from one of the nearby office parks. They looked tired and grateful for a beer.

“It’s definitely a sensible shoe crowd,” my dining partner keenly observed.

Which was fine with us. At first we were excited by the eclectic menu, which could best be described as multi-ethnic bar food. Some of the appetizers and entrées sounded delectable. Take, for instance, the Portuguese Shrimp Empanadas ($9), shrimp morsels in a rich creamy sauce rolled in homemade pastry. Or the Portabella Tempura with Crab Dip ($7), the special for the night.

We ordered both, as well as two drinks we were told were some of the best in house — the special, an Apple Martini ($4), and a Bellini ($5). They came out quickly (the service was excellent). Along with this came complimentary bruschetta.

The tomatoes were pale and mealy, there was only one tiny shred of basil and it came in a tiny white bowl in the middle of a large pale plate with some bread haphazardly tossed on it like an afterthought. And, no, it wasn’t beautiful on the inside.

Meanwhile, our drinks arrived.

Looking at my friend’s Bellini, I was confused. Why wasn’t it peach? Instead, it was clear except for a dash of pink sparkle. After tasting it, my companion realized why: “It’s peach schnapps” “I’ve never had peach schnapps in a Bellini,” she added diplomatically and a bit forced. She only had a few sips and then ordered a Diet Coke.

Ditto on my Apple Martini. Green as St. Patrick‘s Day beer, it tasted like a marriage of Green Apple Jolly Rancher and the chemical flavor you always find in store-bought drink mixes. I didn’t finish it. I ordered a Pinot Noir ($5) instead. Our waitress didn’t ask us why our half-finished drinks sat on the table as we ordered new ones, although she delivered friendly, efficient service the entire meal.

At this point, we were skeptical about the appetizers. While the Portabella Tempura was good — we finished it — when the Empanadas came, they were very pale. Generally, they’re a bit browned and toasted, but they appeared to not be completely cooked. Inside, was puréed shrimp with cheese. It was a sort of gray mixture and it made for a soggy, Dickensian eating experience.

“I’m actually kind of scared about dinner,” my friend ultimately confessed after we ordered our entrées. “I’m really not looking forward to it.”

We told our server we weren’t happy with the Empanadas. She got the manager, who kindly stopped by our table and took the Empanadas off our check.

The same didn’t happen later when our entrées came and my friend found out that her Ropa Vieja ($12.50), recommended by our server, was anything but Cuban style, as the menu and name had suggested.

“This is like a deconstructed version of my grandmother’s pot roast,” she proclaimed.

And it was. “Lightly spiced in tomato, onion and bell pepper sauce and served over Jasmine rice with a hint of fresh lime” tasted instead like pot roast. With carrots.

“I guess what made it Cuban was the rice,” she added.

Meanwhile, my Cajun Chicken Pasta ($17), blackened chicken breast on penne with chorizo alfredo sauce, was delivered. Spicy and satisfying, I wanted to take it home. And I would have if I hadn’t committed to avoiding Styrofoam takeout containers for environmental reasons.

We were surprised when we got the bill ($59) and found that the Ropa Vieja wasn’t taken off. My friend barely took a couple of bites of it and told the server about it. We also told the manager on the way out when he asked us how our experience was. He apologized and said it was supposed to be spicy. He also gave us two coupons, each for $5 off, which almost made up for the cost of the entrée.

We were disappointed, overall, with our experience, but couldn’t help wondering what would have happened had we treated InCahoots like a bar and just ordered sandwiches (The Reuben and the Veggie Philly sounded good). Also, the Brownie ($5) we ordered at the end was gooey and lovely.

Our recommendation? If you’re going to go, stick to sandwiches, beer and wine.


Go: 4110 Hunt Road, Blue Ash
Call: 513-793-2600
Hours: 11 a.m.-midnight Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Friday and Saturday; 4-10 p.m. Sunday
Entrée Prices: $10-$20.
Payment: Major credit cards
Red Meat Alternatives: Several vegetarian options
Accessibility: Fully accessible



11.04.2009 at 03:23 Reply
Smug alert


11.06.2009 at 11:52
I have also been to InCahoots and I love it! Not only has the service always been exceptional, but the food has also always been delicious. In response to this review, I would like to know what exactly these reviewers were expecting from their drinks. If you look at the Bellini on the drink menu it clearly states that it is made with peach schnapps not peach puree. I have been a bartender and I realize that peach puree is usually used in Bellini's; however, peach schnapps is a very well accepted substitute and was clearly stated on the drink menu. If you didn't read that then I don't think you can blame that on the restaurant; on the contrary, I would call that your own fault. As for the Appletini, once again if you read what it consisted on the drink menu and know anything about alcoholic drinks (which I assume you would or you wouldn't be critiquing them) you would have known that it was not meant to be a traditional Appletini but instead a slightly more sour version with apple pucker and a splash of lemonade. Lastly, with regards to the food, every time I have eaten there the food has been nothing but wonderful. So you didn't like the empanadas, ok that's a matter of personal taste, but the manager did take it off your bill. Then you complain about the ropa vieja which you stated tasted like pot roast with carrots. First of all, it is pot roast so I would have expected nothing less than for it to taste like pot roast. And was there carrots in the ropa vieja because the menu doesn't state anything regarding carrots so I am surprised it tasted like carrots. All in all, this review sounds to me like a couple of unhappy people who were looking for something to complain about and a free meal.


11.05.2009 at 02:03 Reply
This is one of the more ridiculous, condescending thing I have ever read. The food is good and reasonably priced, the drink menu says that the Bellini has peach schnapps in it, the staff is nice, and the crowd is decent. I've been to Incahoots enough times to know that this judgment (not review) of the restaurant has too much to do with sitting by a pool table, "retired frat boys", "the sensible shoe crowd", and Blue Ash in general to give Incahoots a fair shake. Incahoots is my favorite new restaurant and no one has to take my word for it but I'd suggest trying it. (PS - I also know, from experience, that you can ask not to be seated by the pool table and that the menu itself compares the Ropa Vieja to pot roast in its description so I don't understand where the surprise came from)


11.28.2009 at 09:00 Reply
I went to InCahoots with some coworkers for lunch and was terribly disappointed. The service itself was fine and the decor was very nice. The food was horrible. We ordered the bruschetta as an appetizer and it was overwhelming with pale tomatoes and garlic from a jar. For lunch I opted for a trio of salad, tomato soup , mac and cheese. The salad was pretty blah. The soup was gross. The mac and cheese was so bland there was no amount of salt/pepper that helped. Personally I would not recommend this place for a good lunch.


02.02.2011 at 01:07 Reply