The Ohio Club

For lunch today, Mom and I headed down the road into the heart of Hot Springs to try out the burgers at the Ohio Club.  These were recommended by one of the staff at our hotel as a can’t miss.  Who are we to argue with the locals?

One thing that I really commend Hot Springs for is the free public parking facility in downtown.  The location is central to the shops and Bath House Row.  The shops on Central Avenue are eclectic and welcoming.  It was fun just strolling down the street, looking in the windows.  What we didn’t expect to find was a small park between two buildings.

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The Kenneth Adair Memorial Park is a quiet oasis in the middle of this shopping and historic district.  It has a little stage area and benches and a waterfall feature that gives it a soothing feeling.

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We took a few minutes to enjoy the tranquility before moving off down the street in search of lunch.

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Upon entering The Ohio Club, we found ourselves in a cozy restaurant/bar with a 1930’s feel.

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We were quickly greeted by our server and allowed to choose where we wanted to sit.  Once again, Arkansas’ citizens proved to be some of the friendliest we’ve ever encountered.  After asking our server for her recommendations on beverages, Mom decided to try the house beer, known as Madden’s own, named after former gangster Owney Madden.  They brew it right across the street in an old bathhouse, using water from the hot springs.

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We put in our orders soon after our drinks arrived.  When I ordered the “Big Al” burger, I mentioned that I’m allergic to onions.  Our server got real serious then, asking a few more questions before going into the back to talk to the chef.

Now, in our time on the road, I’ve noticed that, at restaurants, I get two different reactions to my onion allergy.  Either I get a shrug and, if I’m lucky, they keep from giving me raw or fried onions, but don’t check to see if there is cross contamination.  Or, I get someone who is serious about making sure I can enjoy my meal.  This time, it went beyond that.

The chef came out and informed me that the meat is pre-seasoned and fries and onion rings cooked in the same fryer.  I couldn’t touch any hamburger and they couldn’t guarantee I’d be safe with chicken either.  But, they could make me a grilled cheese and a side salad, which they checked the dressing to make sure it was safe.  Now, normally I’d be bummed not to get my hands on a burger, but my grilled cheese was pretty darn awesome.

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Mom, of course, doesn’t have this issue, so she enjoyed a patty melt with grilled onions and a fry/onion ring side.

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My grilled cheese was cooked to perfection.  The combination of cheddar and swiss on rye, pulled apart with ooey, gooey strings of cheese.  Just the right amount of butter on the bread and the side salad was fresh with blue cheese dressing.  The chef said it was on their ‘secret menu’, but I think it should be on the regular one.  It was delicious.

If you’re in the Hot Springs area, I’d definitely check out The Ohio Club.  Between delicious food, great microbrewery beer and in the evenings, live music, it is a great place to go back in time and have a great meal.

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