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6040 Colerain Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45239 (513) 923-9800
I scoured the net looking for the who’s who in westside BBQ and Walt’s BBQ just kept coming up. Time & time again this was the predominate name on the lists, from urbanspoon to yelp to the local rag sites, Walt’s was the word. So me and my co-reviewer decided to see how real the deal is with this multi-location westside BBQ joint.
On a Wednesday, we had to park in the grass, right under the street sign. “Are we allowed to park here?” I was asked. “If they get in a huff about, they can valet the bastard.” I replied. Turned out we were fine but man, zero open spaces on a weekday! Either the lot is way too small, or the food is just that good. I had high hopes before I ever got inside.
The big barn-like interior was wide open and chock full of tables, all full. We snagged the last open one, tucked in a busy corner by the server station. Our server dropped off one full menu and one half one, got our drink order and sprinted off. A 10 second greeting/drink order at best. She was pushed to the limit, jogging and sprinting between tables. A few minutes later she came back, skidded to a quick stop, we rattled off our order, took a couple of her recommendations on the side items and 7 seconds later she darted off to punch it in. Whew! This is no place for inexperienced newbie servers. You need nerves of steel, running shoes and toned legs to hang here. Not to mention a Rain Man memory and serious organization skills. Slackers or crying babies need not apply. These folks are the Marines of the service industry.
Our order was simple; A cod loin fish dinner with baked potato casserole and mac & cheese ($8.99), plus a beef brisket dinner with fried okra and red beans & rice ($9.99). The server recommended the casserole and mac & cheese, she also confirmed Walt’s does indeed bread their own fish. Enough said for me, hand breaded fish is the only fish to order. Usually most folks go for ribs in a BBQ joint but I know better, brisket is the real test of the kitchen, and a step up (when done right) over any rib meal. Often it’s far from right though.
We sat sipping Arnold Palmers, looking at the autographed famous folk wall photos and admiring the servers breakneck pace as they whizzed by the tables with furious haste. “Imagine what a weekend night is like here!” I said. Any two of Walt’s servers could most likely take the place of six servers in a Fridays or Applebee’s. No kidding, these folks kick ass and don’t bother taking names. Throughout our meal we saw our sever a total of about 2.5 minutes. Service was spot on though.
The food came out fairly fast. Just as ordered as well. The fish looked fantastic. A fat, near foot long cod loin, big around as a kid’s calf. It was breaded in a light crisp batter. Inside it featured chunks of pure white fish that flaked off with a gentle pull. Easily one of the top 5 pieces of fish I’ve had in Cincy, easily. The baked potato casserole was a good choice. It featured skin on smashed bakers with a scallop potato-like creaminess, and diced green peppers. The mac boasted fine cheese sauce but the super soft noodles were boiled about 10 minutes too long for me. My partner loved it though. For 9 bucks it was a steal.
The brisket was quite edible. It was tender for sure, but in a pot roast sort of way. Not the usual Texas style texture. The flavor was good but the fall apart fork tenderness was odd to me. I ate it all happily but it was not what I expected. Way better than the pulled brisket bull sh!t they serve at “Jim Dandy’s” but not my style at all. The fried okra was obviously homemade and satisfying.
The red beans & rice was a bust. The rice was cooked to mush, very few beans and some chunks of sliced mett-like sausage were mixed in the mush. Too bad too because the smoky flavor and spices were spot on. My Southern sweet corn meal muffin was the only thing that I would call perfect. Maybe I should have got the ribs.
All in all, who ever sauces and spices is an expert. The three BBQ sauces are decent, the Carolina sauce was the star by far. Whoever boils the noodles and rice needs a kitchen timer. Whoever fries the fish is THE MAN. The fish still brings back good memories, damn fine. Maybe The Best In Town by many standards. Walt’s also serves several other kinds of fish. Next time we’ll be dining on fish, more fish, and a side of ribs (1/4 slab $5.99). Not to mention at least one side of that baked potato casserole (good call girl).
The prices are decent, the service is a thing to be seen and I’m certain there is more to discover on the plain paper menu.
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