Review: Keystone Bar and Grill

I used to live in Covington, back when Scalea’s was around. I loved the deli area (the guy who always worked in the deli now works in the bakery area of Greenup Cafe, he’s great), and always got a sandwich involving rare roast beef, cheddar and coleslaw. I found my cat Mooch a couple of blocks from that area, and went to Wildflour on many Sunday mornings.

The neighborhood has changed a bit, but I was glad to head back for Happy Mouth’s June (yeah, I’m behind) meeting at Keystone Bar and Grill. I can’t remember all of the things it’s been in the past ten years, but I had heard some good things about it– and their specialty is macaroni and cheese in various exotic ways. This can’t be a bad thing.

We had a pretty big crew– 14 or so– so we got our own table. It was a big group, but service was a bit slow– things like drink orders and appetizer orders lagged, but that’s not something I’m horribly critical of in a big group. I’ll try it again with two or so people to see if the same problems occur.

We started off with onion rings. Terry is quite the onion ring aficianado, and these were some of the best we’ve had in a while. Called the Ascent (well, in our case, a half-Ascent, which was plenty), they were hand battered, freshly fried, and served with two dipping sauces: a spicy chipotle and house ranch. The clear appetizer winner.

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Our friend Carrie picked up one of the interesting mac and cheeses– Fleetwood Mac, which included pesto, fresh mozzarella, and tomatoes. It was pretty good– a stovetop macaroni and cheese, with no crispy edges (sad), but with good, fresh basil flavor and a generous portion of fresh mozzarella on top. It would have been a great entree, and after getting our entrees, I should have stuck with their specialty.

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For my entree, I chose the barbecue chicken quesadilla, which was made with homemade barbecue sauce. The sauce was a little too hot for my tastes– eventually, I just tasted hot, and the other flavors were overwhelmed. That said, it was a fairly bland presentation– quesadilla, on a plate, with chicken, cheese, onions, and barbecue sauce inside. It was lackluster and really quite boring– I was expecting something a bit more interesting after the mac and cheese.

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Terry picked up a patty melt– again, boring and lackluster. A flavorless patty, bland cheese– you get the idea. The house-made kettle chips were nice, though– very thin, crispy, and well seasoned.

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If I went back, I would stick with appetizers and macaroni and cheese– all of the people who chose those items were very happy. Those of us who got sandwiches and entrees were less-so. I could see this as being a great place for happy hour– pick a couple of apps, get some cocktails, and nosh before going someplace else for dinner.

Keystone Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

  • http://www.foodiewannabes.blogspot.com k

    i had pretty much the same feelings. i was not overly impressed, and i love mac and cheese.
    .-= k´s last blog ..kentucky butter cake =-.

  • brian

    I remember the old scaleas and a nice coffee shop where keystone is now located – when I lived in Covington (riverside dr.) 10 yrs ago. Our family got a restaurant.com gift cert a few months ago and we were looking forward to this place. But we had a very similar experience. Not even average. Molly Malones across the way is about as bad. Too bad this could be a very cool place to eat. Has anyone ever been to ‘down under’ which is right around the corner from keystone? My prediction: keystone will be closed in 6 months.

    • common sense

      Brain, I also live in the neighborhood and the Keystone is a great asset to the community. I am almost positive it opened a couple of years ago and always has a great crowd. So, your pretty far off on your prediction. The food is consistently delicious and timely. The staff is friendly and professional. Brunch is outstanding and the beer/drink menu is incredible. It is owned by a local group who have several other successful businesses so, I’m pretty sure Keystone will be in our neighborhood for several years!

      • brian

        I hope your right. It’s a great building and great location. Just get the food right (ps: i’m not the only one saying this) and the rest will follow. Maybe I’ll give it a new shot once I hear on urbanspoon some posi-reviews. cheers.

  • Nikki

    Julie – you should go back for the brunch sometime. They’ve recreated the Inn The Wood Potato Crisp – in fact, that’s what it’s called on the menu. They have the standard and several other varieties on the same concept. As a student at UC in the late 90’s, that trip up to Calhoun Street for the Potato crisp was always worthwhile, and Keystone has done a GREAT job of bringing it back to life. Additionally – Keystone has a great beer selection at night if you can handle some frat boys. If not, just go before 11…that’s my usual trick! ;)

  • vudutu

    This is stumbling distance for us, our Keystone experience has been the same, yawn, plus our ahole neighbor hangs there. Molly Malones is also average. Down under I can’t speak for but nice owner and bartenders.

    Sigh, Julie we miss our old neighborhood. When Ezra opened Sanoma it was great, Scaleas (now Chalk) was happening then, we loved the deli, Cocos rocked and Wildflour (now Greenup Cafe) was great before they got an attitude. As to “The bar formerly known as Cocos” (we locals refuse to accept the new name) it flat out sucks, ruined, most of the locals refuse to patronize it. A few weeks ago we were sitting at Chalk and a flood of people streamed out the door, they had some obnoxious white rapper comic annoying everyone, he cleared the building!

    Nikki I can’t believe you brought up Inn The Wood, used to be my fave for breakfast. We will have try it.