Taft’s Ale House
Served up with a healthy dose of history for its namesake, Taft’s Ale House honors a Cincinnatian who just happens to have been President of the United States once. So it’s nice that this eccentric church-turned-brewery has an aura of history to it, and a heck of a lot of character. While the libations are what bring the crowds to this spot on the weekends, it has a huge menu of food to keep people returning, including a brunch menu that isn’t often advertised. The food here is really worth a special visit.
- The Big Billy: The first thing you should try; a sandwich that is part Philly Cheese Steak, part au jus, all delicious. That tasty tri-tip steak kicks it up a notch.
- French toast: The thing about this toast is that it’s crispy and crunchy to the extreme; heavy on the cinnamon, chopped up so it’s eaten better as crispy bites topped with whipped cream and banana. Fantastic but relatively speaking, not that heavy.
- Smoked Wings: I love these wings, with a strong smokiness thanks to the Taft’s Wood Chip smoker. A little bit of sauce on top gives character.
- Quiche: This stuff is cooked in a deep dish so the fluffy egg is served sky high with a choice of spinach or, if you really like it, the signature tri-tip steak. The key magic here is in that thick pie crust on the edges. Perfect.
- Breakfast burrito: The burrito is filled with breakfast goodies, eggs, black beans and the tri-tip steak. Small enough that it’s not overwhelming, but still a filling meal.
- Bloody Mary: One of the better takes on this great drink I’ve tried. Be careful! It’s spicy. But if you like the little bit of hear, this will be great.
- Craft beer: Through all the deliciousness, it can be easy to forget that Taft’s is, in fact, a craft brewery too. The beer menu is relatively small, but the place favors those delicious darker beers. I like the Maverick Chocolate Porter the best. Are you a special fan of the beers? A number of them have cocktail versions, too.
The atmosphere of the place is awesome. Of course it draws a huge crowd on the weekends, but the inside of the ale house is labyrinthine, with three different stories to enjoy. The upper floors have a wide open feel where you can share tables or rail space with a private group. The ground floor has something like a beer hall feel; long tables meant to be enjoyed by large masses of people. Then, there is a basement that feels very much like a close-in, dark pub. And really, each is very distinct.
Taft’s is a definite experience for Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine. And it’s an experience worth trying a few times.
- The craft beer here is great, a lot of darker varieties are good. If you like, a number of them come as cocktails with other kinds of drink.
- Overlooked are the three levels of the restaurant, each of which has a very different feel.
- Also overlooked: The delicious brunch options.