Just a couple of days shy of the OTHER big Opening Day this month – Kings Island’s opener on Saturday – OMGReds’ favorite amusement and water park welcomed media types, bloggers and local dignitaries to the new Reds Hall of Fame Grille – a Reds-themed restaurant located in Rivertown (if Rivertown doesn’t do anything for you, think right between White Water Canyon and the Diamondback).
The biggest thing that struck me (and my wife and mother-in-law, who are also die-hard Reds fans) was how impressive an effort it was by Rick Walls and his Reds Hall of Fame and Museum staff, providing the images and graphics used in the establishment in addition to many of the game-used items on display. Our friends at CEI Sports also procured vintage memorabilia that you’ll find at the RHOFG (or, Ar-HOF-Gee).
There are some really cool items in RHOFG. It’s too long a list to get into specifics, but it’s kinda going to blow you away. “Like Reds Hall of Fame or Green Diamond Gallery or CEI Sports or Sports Gallery blow me away?” It’s in the same ballpark. I really like the way they compartmentalized each corner into specific decades (except for the 1800s corner, which, for obvious reasons, is just 1800s). And even if you’re in RHOFG and don’t have to go to the bathroom at any point, you’ll want to at least stroll over to the lavatory to take in the fantastic Reds’ 1990 wire-to-wire tribute in that hallway.
So, while we were there for Thursday’s preview – rubbing elbows with the likes of Reds Hall of Famer Jim O’Toole (by the way, can we give a quick tip of the cap to the 76-year-old former Reds pitching great for attending as many of these events as he does!) – we asked the hard-hitting questions. Like what’s going to be shown on all of the TVs in this place. Because there are A LOT of TVs. A manager told us the Reds game will be on many of the TVs when they’re playing. When the Reds aren’t playing, some of the TVs will show Fox Sports Ohio, ESPN, and programming you’d expect to see at a sports bar. And there’s a great documentary about the Reds (that was being shown on all of the TVs during the preview event) that will be shown on a loop on some of the TVs (but trust me, it’s a long enough documentary that you will not even know it’s being shown on a loop).
So what about the food? Don’t mistake me for a foodie; I’m not going to write about the texture of the friggin’ noodles or anything. We’re OMGReds, we prefer our food in helmets. And there is – thankfully – a helmet sundae (see the photo gallery above) available that’s pretty outstanding. Our only suggestion would be to maybe try out a few other food items in helmets. Even larger helmets perhaps. Montgomery Inn pulled pork is one thing, but Montgomery Inn pulled pork in a helmet? The helmet is a game-changer. (And the same suggestion/challenge we’ve posed to the Reds. We’re ready for the next step after meatless nachos.)
We were probably most impressed at RHOFG with the bullpen dip. It’s a creamy buffalo chicken/cheese dip that’ll knock your socks off even if you’ve just been rocked by the nearby Diamondback. Everything was very good, really. Great seasoned fries covered with nacho cheese, bacon, green onions and sauce. Chicken wings, Saratoga chips, wraps. A very tasty chocolate cake garnished with (whoa, that’s as foodie as we’re going to get here) raspberries. A great looking cheesecake I was too full to try. Very impressive all the way around.
And there’s a strong beer selection. There were four on tap today, but a bartender said they’re going to change out draft options from time to time, maybe go to the ‘pen for a Summer Shandy when June or July rolls around. There are also eight bottled beers and wine available, and a bartender said RHOFG hopes to add liquor in the near future (it is, after all, a bar/restaurant).
I should add that the Diamondback was up and running during the preview event for anyone interested in riding. When we first arrived, there was actually a run with one person in the very front of the coaster. (How cool would it be to ride the Diamondback by yourself?) I was too full to ride it when we left RHOFG, but by the time we walked to our car and I was out in the parking lot, I was wishing I’d have just chilled for an extra five minutes to let the food digest and done it. We’ll be back, though, and we’ll definitely be back to RHOFG. It’s just really nice to see the way everyone collaborated and got it right, as opposed to doing it halfway and slapping a Reds logo on it and calling it a Reds-themed restaurant. This place is first class – nothing halfway about it – and Reds fans are most definitely going to want to slide head-first into RHOFG early and often, starting this Saturday.