Kings Island is hoping to hit a homerun with its new Reds Hall of Game Grille opening this season.
The Reds-themed restaurant — located in the former Rivertown Junction buffet restaurant — features Hall of Fame memorabilia, framed jerseys and photos and other bits of Reds history, dating back to the 1880s, while video highlights from World Series, playoffs and other games play on TVs through the restaurant.
On the menu: burgers, wings, Montgomery Inn pulled pork, baby back ribs, Saratoga chips, wraps, salads, desserts, draft beer and wine. Full restaurant? No worries. Leave a cell phone number and you’ll be sent a text when your table is ready.
- Photos & Video: Inside KI’s Reds Hall of Fame Grille
“One of the things our guests have been asking for for a number of years is a full-service, sit-down restaurant,” said Don Helbig, park spokesman. ”No matter where you sit, you’re going to see something different.”
Community reporter Rachel Richardson, Butler/Warren Editor Bill Cieslewicz, photographer Tony Jones, freelance photographer Tony Tribble and entertainment reporter Shauna Steigerwald got a first taste of the grille.
Click through to see what we sampled:
Rachel: I tried the Pitcher’s mound without chili and bacon. The fries were crispy and well-seasoned. The cheese is Velveeta-like and was a little congealed by the time I got to the fries, but I’m sure most folks will scarf them down piping hot. The fresh green onions added a nice tang.
Shauna: I liked that the pickles had a very mild flavor that wasn’t overbearing and the sauce they were served with had a nice spicy kick. The breading was a little on the thick side, but overall, these would make a nice shared appetizer.
Rachel: I’ve tried deep-fried pickles at a pub before and didn’t like them, so I was surprised to find I really liked these tasty medallions. The pickles aren’t too tart and the special sauce adds the right amount of kick. I recommend adding a side of celery and blue cheese, but then again, I’m a weakling when it comes to spicy foods.
Bill: Too heavy on the breading, too light on the pickle. It was difficult to find any pickle. But based on my colleagues’ rave reviews, I think I got an exception to the rule.
Tony Jones: I thought the fried pickles were either cut too thin or the breading was too thick, but had a nice tang to them.
Tony Tribble: The chicken wings were meaty and just spicy enough. I don’t like spicy food, but the wings were just right for me. I would definitely order again.
Tony Jones: The wings were cooked just right, not dry, but needed a little more crunch to the skin to be perfect. But that could have been due to the buffet-style (at the media event) and not when made to-order.
Bill: BBQ and mild were both flavorful. I preferred mild because BBQ were a bit messy to handle and had a very heavy tomato taste vs. barbeque taste.
Grand Slam Rib Platter and Pulled Pork Sandwich
Tony Jones: The ribs were Montgomery Inn all the way.
Bill: Hard to find issue with these classics. Impressed with portion sizes and amount of pork stuffed between the bun.
Fields Choice Wrap
Rachel: I’m vegetarian, so I ordered mine without chicken (as seen above). Apart from the Clubhouse Salad, this is the only entree item that can be adapted for vegetarians (C’mon, KI, how about a veggie burger?). It came with lettuce, tomato, red onion, shredded cheese and Ranch dressing — in other words, a salad in a tortilla. The portion size was impressive, but the wrap less so. I found it a little bland and think it would have tasted better without the Ranch dressing and instead with blue cheese dressing and a dash of the Buffalo sauce. It would make for a nice, light lunch option on a hot day — especially if you hop on nearby Diamondback post-lunch.
Bill: A disappointment. Difficult to eat, fell apart before I could get a bite and very light on chicken. Heavy on lettuce.
Red Leg Burger and The Gapper Burger
Tony Jones: The hamburgers had a nice, charred flavor and the Gapper burger had a nice level of heat with the jalapeno relish.
Tony Tribble: I liked the burgers very much and thought they had a good taste.
Bill: Home run? Outstanding, fresh and cooked medium well. Condiments crisp and thick, including onion, tomato and lettuce. I tried both spicy and (Red Leg) version, but couldn’t detect much of a difference.
Ice Cream Sundae in Reds Souvenir Cup
Tony Tribble: A good portion — I had a hard time finishing it!
Shauna: This is sure to be a big hit with kids of all ages. It’s a typical sundae, but the Reds cap cup makes it so much more fun.
Bill: Ice cream sundae was good, but not a knockout. I did enjoy the take-home Reds helmet they serve sundaes in.
Rachel: A perfect way to cap off a hot day, no pun intended. Be sure to ask for an extra spoon — this sundae is sized to share.
Four-Layer Chocolate Cake w/ Fresh Raspberries
Tony Tribble: The chocolate cake was good, light and fluffy.
Shauna: Chocolate and raspberry are a nearly unbeatable combination, at least in my book. It’s definitely rich, so it would be great to share. Though, true chocoholics might want their own!
Bill: The chocolate cake with raspberries was another knockout. Highlight of the day. Server said it was homemade in KI kitchens. If I had more room, I would have ordered another slice.
Rachel: This cake is super moist and sinfully chocolate, enough to satiate even the most die-hard of chocoholics. The fresh raspberries were the cherry on top of the, err, cake. Well worth the calorie splurge.
Service & Atmosphere
Bill: Service was outstanding. Attentive, frequent stops. Hope this service can be sustained come Opening Day.
Rachel: This restaurant is sure to be a hit with fans. It’s as much a history lesson as it is restaurant. Take time to peruse the well-loved memorabilia. But as tempting as it may be to stay inside this sleek, cool (ahh, air conditioning!) restaurant, be sure to check out the patio for a view to a thrill.