Review: Kenning’s Circle K

Terry and I headed over to the West Side– deep West Side– for dinner with my parents at Kenning’s Circle K.  I had a really hard time trying to figure out what to do with this review, because honestly?  The food is mediocre at best.  It really caters to an older crowd– the chef is the old chef from Habigs (a West Side institution that catered to the blue-haired crowd until they closed in the late 90s), which should tell you something– so it wasn’t up to either Terry’s or my tastes.  My mom, however, likes it.  And sometimes, you just have to defer to your mother.

However.

Their hot slaw?  Freaking phenomenal.

Hot slaw is a very German dish– I ate a version of it while in Munich this past winter.  It’s also a very Southern dish– google “hot slaw” and most of the recipes are Southern.  It’s just cabbage, a dressing made of bacon grease, vinegar, celery seed and sugar topped with bacon bits.  Some people say it sounds sort of like Southern pepper hash, which is basically the same thing, plus green peppers (yick).

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And actually, this mix of Southern and German is my childhood cuisine– though Grandma spoke German only until she was about 4 and lived in OTR in various parts of her life, she grew up partially in Owenton, KY, which is firmly Southern.  No wonder my food tastes are so schizophrenic.

I hear they have good ribs, which I will try this summer.  In the meantime, unless your mother takes you or if you have the craving for hot slaw, drive by.

Kenning's Circle K on Urbanspoon

  • Krystal

    I’ve loved Circle K since I was a little kid (that was the late 80’s). I LOVE their hot slaw and they have some of the best prime rib.

  • CincyCapell

    OMG, i haven’t been to this Westside relic since I was like 14 years old. We used to take my Grandmother to Kenning’s all the time when I was a kid. I bet that that nothing has changed there, neither the decor nor the cuisine. I’m guessing that the wait staff was made up of one or two old timers, plus a bunch of teenagers. Am I right?

  • CincyCapell

    BTW, Ron’s Roost, which is nearby, has kick-@ss hotslaw as well. Their fried chicken is pretty darn good as well, but I would avoid anything else there.

  • http://joshknepfle.blogspot.com Josh

    I agree with CincyCapell — Ron’s Roost has great hot slaw and fried chicken. Their “saratoga chips” (which are actually more like ribbon fries) are also pretty good, but how bad can chips be?

  • Keith

    Yeah, Kennings is dreadful. They did used to have one decent item, the hot brown. Try it if you’re forced to return.

  • Keith

    Oh. Forgot to say. I used to eat at Ron’s Roost regularly, but it really went downhill about the time they remodeled the dining room. Even the chicken’s not worth a trip. Just go to Popeye’s and save some $$$.

  • Jaime

    Ron’s Roost sucks, whoever said Popeye’s has better chicken is telling the truth. My in-laws love the place so I end up eating there a few times a year, but its glorified nursing home food at best.

  • Rob

    I just cannot believe these reviews. Kennings barbecue ribs one of the best ribs in town. The prime rib is awesome. these are two of my favorites. The hot slaw is phenomenal. I have sampled other menu items with a bite here and there when tasting what everyone else in the family orders and I have to say that evreything has been great. They have updated the decor and the people that work there especially in the kitchen take great pride in what they do. I will go back again not because my mother told me to but because the food there is great!

  • Rob

    Also I have eaten at Ron’s Roost and there chicken is very good and my wife loves the pork chops.Popeyes has good chicken but Ron’s is better and you can relax in a nice clean resteraunt and enjoy a family dinner.

  • Lauren

    My family owns Kenning’s.. My grandma started it in 1976, and my dad currently owns it. My parents both work full time there, my mom makes all the desserts from scratch, my dad works 80 hour weeks, my brother works in the kitchen, I work as a server, hostess, and sometimes bartender, and this review is insulting. Just an FYI, the chef at kenning’s isn’t the chef from habig’s.. there are two members of the habig family working at kenning’s (who are both very talented and very valued members of our staff), but neither hold the chef or sous chef title. I know this review is from almost two years ago, and I don’t know if the author still checks this post, but I’d be curious to know (if you remember) what entree you ordered at the restaurant. If you weren’t satisfied with your service or your food, you should have mentioned it to your server or asked to see a manager. We hate to see any customer leave unsatisfied. I understand that everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I still find this review offensive, especially some of the comments.. to CincyCapell, how can you comment on our waitstaff or our decor if you haven’t been to our restaurant in years? In fact, there have been MANY changes to the decor, including a full remodel of our bar area, and a lot of changes to our main and side dining rooms. Even the party room is different. Believe it or not, the menu has probably changed over fifteen times since you have been to our restaurant. (it changes once a year on average) As for our staff? The only teenagers we have working in our restaurant are bussing tables and washing dishes. “Old timers?” I’m not sure what you mean by that.. our servers have experience, they’re good at what they do, but they’re not using walkers to get from table to table. Our restaurant has many valued customers.. and yes, many of them are older. Kenning’s for some reason is stereotyped as an “old people” restaurant. We don’t understand why, and have been working for years to break that stereotype. There’s only so much we can do with the decor. You can paint wood paneling, but it’s still wood paneling. We’ve added a lot of modern touches with the bar, such as a glass wall with the city skyline etched into it.. the bar area is very popular with our customers. And we don’t do to badly with our dining room areas either. The most important part of a restaurant is the FOOD. And we have that. Every single bit of food that is served at our restaurant is homemade. The steaks and seafood are hand cut. We make all of our sauces and salad dressings. We make all of our soups.. and of course that homemade barbeque sauce. We slow roast our prime rib overnight.. we cook our own ribs.. Bev, our pastry chef, spends about 20 hours a week just on desserts (she’s also a prep cook, and a server).. we cut our own salad.. I can’t even think of anything that comes pre-packaged, except for things like pasta, cottage cheese, sour cream, and apple sauce. We make the coleslaw. Everything is made on site. Isn’t that what people want from a restaurant? Or would you rather go to a chain where everything is shipped in frozen? We also cook to order. Don’t want tomatoes in your pasta? No problem. Allergic to gluetin (dairy, shellfish, etc)? We can accomodate that. I guess what I’m saying is that we’re a family owned restaurant that really cares about each and every customer that comes through our door. You will see Rick, the owner, there just about every single night. He’s supposed to be off on Tuesdays and Sundays, but often, he will be up there, because he cares about his business so much. He greets his customers by name, checks on them after their meals are served, and always thanks them for coming in. Where else can you find that? Give us a chance. You won’t regret it.

    • http://winemedinemecincinnati.com julie

      Lauren, thanks for writing. I’m sorry you were offended, but Kenning’s menu, in general, is not to my taste, which isn’t something the chef can help. It wasn’t bad, it wasn’t poorly cooked, the service wasn’t bad– it is just not the style of food that I tend to like. I admire that it’s family-owned and most everything is homemade (including the hot slaw, which I raved about). What the post was about was that phenomenal slaw. I’m glad to have learned from the commenters that I can get ribs (which I am sincerely meaning to try). I don’t edit comments, so I won’t speak for the commenters, but I’ve learned to take criticism with a grain of salt. If they haven’t been there in 15 years? They can’t really judge. But what can you do to get them back in?

      If you’ve read other posts in my blog, you’ll know that I support local business and much prefer local restaurants to chains. What can you do to change the impression of the place as catering to older folks? I’m not sure. There’s nothing wrong with that being your demographic, you know? You’ve been open for almost 35 years and have a clientele that likes you. Listen to them, but also consider what tweaks you can make that can draw in a different crowd without alienating your current clientele. Sounds like more barbecue is in order…

    • E QUEENB

      I TOTALLY agree wit laureen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And, from experience!!!!!! I personaly MYSELF, WORKED FOR kennings FOR ALMOST 2 YEARS, AND THE FOOD………LET ME TELL YOU IS UNBELIEVEABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!   in THOSE YEARS I ATE DINNER THER every night< BECAUSE, IT IS THE best!!!!!!!!!!! Like Laureen said, Rick her father works and owns the place, and is there NO LESS THAN 80 hours a week……..He makes sure his resturaunt is in top order as the food, like she said is …….UNEXPLAINABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Now, im beein 100% honest and totaly nutral, as i WAS fired…. and dont beleave i should have been, so i do have my animosity…..I Still am very upset, i LOVED  the family and what we did, BUT……… rEGUARDLESS, i KNOW GOOD FOOD AND I KNOW KENNINGS IS THE BEST!!!!!!!! i HAVE WORKED IN MY CAREER LIKE 12 DIFFERENT RESTURANTS, AND NOONE COMPARES TO THEM………..AND BEV……SHE USED TO RAISE A FAMILY, AND TAKE CARE OF HER HOME, GRANDBABY, AND STILL MAKE TIME, THEY R LOVING FAMILY PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SO, i am saying from FIRST HAND,  I would love to be back there in the kenning/"bendgen" family!!!!!!!!!! So, DONT EVER TALK FIST, BEFORE U KNOW!!!!!!!!!!!! MY NAME IS erica chandler FEEL FREE 2 CONTACT ME, BECUZ I KNOW……..I WORKED, AND WAS I MEAN "was''" THE FAMILY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  513-587-9801/ 513-244-2814/ 513-407-8110!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! tHEY HAVE BEEN THERE FOR YEARS, AND I KNOW WILL ALWAYS BE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Diana

    There is no better restaurant on the west side of cinti than Kennings. It is a family-owned, local restaurant where everyone from the owner to the servers know you. We frequent this restaurant a few times a week…they have daily specials, including appetizers. We have never had a bad meal there. On Wed. they have Rick’s homemade lasagne…my husband says it is the best anywhere! In terms of mixed drinks…no one makes a better Woodford Reserve Manhaatan nor Lemon Drop Martini. Desserts are also homemade by Bev, Rick’s wife. All are fantastic but her cupcakes and coconut cheesecake ROCK! So if you want reasonably priced, excellent taste, and the hometown feel…EAT AT KENNINGS!