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Cover Story: The Hot Buffett

Café Cin/Cin offers the closest thing to a free lunch

By Felix Winternitz · October 10th, 2002 · Cover Story
Jymi Bolden

There's no such thing as a free lunch, but how 'bout a $4 all-you-can-eat lunch? That's the deal offered at Café Cin/Cin New World Bistro during the month of October, as the restaurant celebrates its fifth anniversary. Available 11 a.m.-3 p.m on Mondays and Wednesdays, the deal includes your choice of any lunch entrée off the extensive menu. Or you can opt for unlimited trips to the buffet bar, which features a half-dozen hot items and a dozen cold salad, fruits, vegetables and slaws.

Four bucks, lots of food. What a combination.

Located on the ground floor of the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Café Cin/Cin takes its moniker from Italian "cin-cin" toast.

The place is casual, though not nearly as casual as the former incarnation once housed here, Joe's Bar, where discarded peanut shells littered the floor and the decor was dark and dingy.

Things have lightened up considerably. Wide glass storefront windows now allow natural light to illuminate the bar and billiards area at the front of the large L-shaped room. The restaurant is decorated with huge, colorful paintings, and mellow Jazz pipes in from the sound system.

Comfortably upholstered booths are plentiful at Cafe Cin/Cin, though the ones located by the exhibition kitchen (where we were seated) are subject to the noisy clatter and rising steam you'd expect to find in any busy restaurant's kitchen.

The crowd seemed to be primarily guests and staff from the hotel, though a few locals hung out at the bar swapping tales of the late, great Riverfront Stadium. Veteran chef/owner Henry Warman was on site, as he almost always is -- the rest of the waitstaff were in their early 20s and appeared eager to please.

The lunch menu includes Oriental Chicken Salad, Turkey Reuben, Roasted Pork Sandwich with lemon cumin mayonnaise, a Sirloin Steak Sandwich with caramelized onions and horseradish creme, Spaghetti and Grilled Mushrooms, and Seafood Pasta (entrée prices hover in the $6 to $7 range, not a bad deal on any day).

But surely the best bargain -- and quickest lunch -- is the buffet ($7.99 on any other day of the week). There's no wait for those on a limited noon break. You can begin immediately with the cold salads -- a fresh cantaloupe and pineapple medley, marinated whole mushrooms, a cucumber and tomato salad, cole slaw, egg salad and the standard lettuce/cheese/crouton mix (dressings include a tasty raspberry vinaigrette).

Then heap another plate with your choice from the hot buffet: meat loaf with steaming gravy, baked potato skins, a chicken and bow-tie pasta mix, roasted sweet potatoes in a sweet sauce, green beans, pizza and the like.

If you skip the $1.50 soda or raspberry iced tea -- the water's free -- you're still at four bucks. To miss this would be a cin.

Cafe Cin/Cin New World Bistro, 25 W. Sixth St., 513-621-1973.


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