Mini-Review: Burnell’s

It’s not often I read something on Facebook that goes like this:

To the Friends of Burnell’s:

Due to lackluster sales over the summer months, we are on the verge of becoming another statistic of the restaurant industry. It is said that 30-50% of restaurants do not make it through the first year and we are close to joining the list of restaurants in that percentage. We need your support now more than ever. If you are a fan of Burnell’s and would like to see us become a permanent fixture here in Cincinnati, please call and make your reservation for this weekend. We love what we do and we love doing it for our guests. If you share that Love, let us 



Nathan Jolley

It was shared around Facebook, by everyone from local food writers to fans of the restaurant.   I’d had Burnell’s food before at several events but hadn’t yet written about it.  No better time than now, right?  So when Carla and I decided to go to lunch today, this was the spot.  Burnell’s is in the former Mayberry space on Vine Street, and with Hamburger Mary’s closing, that block has lost a lot of its dinner foot traffic and with Le Boxx Cafe’s closing, some of its lunch traffic.  Thank goodness we heard construction on the old Hamburger Mary’s site, so perhaps that block can gain a little life. Here’s hoping that a social media plea from a local chef helps some, too.

A 1 PM lunch means we were towards the tail end, but several tables were full.  It’s a little tight, but cozy, and our server was friendly.  Neither of us could resist the Balsamic, Tomato and Goat Cheese soup: an upscale tomato soup that was richer and more complex than a standard tomato and the balsamic added some nice depth, but familiar enough that it had me craving a grilled cheese sandwich (which is, for the record, on the menu).

Carla and I decided to split two sandwiches: the Churrascaria flatbread and the Cuban sandwich on challah.  The flank steak on the Churrascaria was a little dry, but its vinaigrette topping was incredibly flavorful.  The Cuban sandwich, however, was stellar– the right balance of salty ham, savory mustard, tart pickles and cheese. We both agreed: this was the standout sandwich of our choices.  Each sandwich was served with some mixed greens and vinaigrette (thank you for not having chips as a default!).

I’d heard that the Chef and owner, Nathan Jolley, was famous for his cookies, so we ordered the cookie of the day: lemon shortbread.  It was a sweet ending to a good meal. For beverages, they have microbrewed sodas (diet included) and birch beer.  Two drinks, two sandwiches, two soups and cookies? $25.  That’s a steal for a sit-down lunch downtown.  They also serve dinner Thursday through Saturday: no liquor license, but the dinner prices are equally affordable.  I’m looking forward to taking them for a spin for dinner. Bonus: they take reservations. What a revelation.  If you’re downtown this weekend for Midpoint, drop in and grab a bite.

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