- 915 Vine St., Cincinnati, OH, 45202
- Overall User Rating:
- (2 ratings)
- Lunch: 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday; dinner: 6-9:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday.
- Official Web Site:
Nathan Jolley, a former executive chef from Teller’s, opened up his own eatery inside Mayberry’s former Vine Street digs. Specializing in American small plates and comfort food sides, Burnell’s exudes a quaintness lacking in the Over-the-Rhine scene.
The mood: Since Burnell’s is currently BYOB, Adam and I made a quick stop to nearby City Cellars and grabbed a bottle of Three Floyds Brian Boru Old Irish Red Ale to share. We wandered into the non-descript location where, besides a couple finishing their dinner, were the only ones there. That’s okay, it just meant more individual attention.
Akin to most new places along Vine, it’s pretty small. A communal long table with 10 black wooden chairs lined one side of the restaurant with a few more tucked into the window area and a few other tables scattered throughout.
The food: Every week Burnell’s rotates their dinner menu (posted on their website) with a few staples recurring. They also offer lunch during the week consisting mainly of sandwiches for $8 and under. At dinnertime, diners can get three small plates for $33, or $12 a piece.
Adam and I decided three plates weren’t enough, so we augmented our order with a side and soup. We ordered the white bean hummus plate, salmon filet with wax beans, mussels, Yukon potato soup and a side of mac ‘n’ cheese.
The hummus arrived first and came with cheesy and crunchy pita strips, olives and cucumbers to dip into the creamy spread. The potato soup was made with rapini and chunky potato wedges that hit the spot. We quickly gobbled everything in view and waited for the rest.
They were out of sumac, which was supposed to be drizzled on top of salmon, but they substituted paprika instead and topped the fish with a rub and oil. Everything was really good, especially the mac ‘n’ cheese, which had a nicely breaded crust and wasn’t too cheesy.
Despite being full, we couldn’t resist their homemade white chocolate macadamia cookies, especially since they were only $1 and the chef made them from scratch. While the cookies were baking, Jolley removed himself from the three person-sized kitchen and told us he wasn’t much of a baker, but he wanted to reproduce baked goods from the defunct Covington spot Donna’s Diner. The fresh-out-of-the-oven cookies were slightly browned, soft and chewy -- just the way they should be.
The drinks: They had soft drinks and coffee on the menu, but we took advantage of their BYOB policy and sipped beer. I ordered an iced tea from their bottled options.
The verdict: A new spot in OTR can entail up to a two-hour wait, but instead, try Burnell’s no-wait twist on homecooking. I haven’t stopped thinking about those cookies.