Ollie’s Place in Centerville

By Paula Johnson

Photo: The Ollie’s Burger at Ollie’s Place; photos: Paula Johnson

Everyone has heard the saying “Beer is evidence that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” (Myself, I’d substitute wine and a really good slice of cake, an indication of where I start when considering Ollie’s Place, a true beer geek’s haven for hoppy endings.) In thinking about beer and its place in our modern culture, it’s impossible not to notice there’s a craft beer joint on every corner, nearly ubiquitous as Starbucks. As I looked to the paragons of the past, I came to realize beer has always been of paramount importance. No less a personage than Plato gives it up for a brewski, saying, “He was a wise man who invented beer.” Martin Luther weighed in on the spiritual side of suds with “Whoever drinks beer, he is quick to sleep; whoever sleeps long, does not sin; whoever does not sin, enters Heaven! Thus, let us drink beer!” Forget the indulgences – you can imbibe your way into heaven. And to celebrate this political season, Abraham Lincoln advises, “I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer.” Come November, I guess we’ll see about that.

So Much Beer Here

In any case, beer is huge, and Ollie’s Place has a huge amount of it. A dual business featuring a retail beer store on one side, beer hall-style pub on the other where Ollie’s features 60 taps of craft beers, as well as 225 whiskeys from around the world, including Kentucky bourbons, single-malt Scotches, Canadian and Irish whiskeys – but back to the retail beer shop. A gargantuan 1,700 beverages, according to Ollie’s website. Oceanic amounts. OK, maybe that’s a little hyper-brew-le, but you get the picture.

On to the restaurant side of things, where if you’d like a beer, you can choose from a sample-sized 4-ounce draft or an 8-ounce, as well as an extensive bottle list. Ollie’s website and Facebook update frequently to let you know what’s available. Unfortunately PIP (Palate In Progress) and I aren’t beer geeks, so I stuck with wine by the glass. Not a place for an extensive list of wines by the glass, but that’s to be expected, and I find no real fault with Ollie’s in that arena.

You’ve probably noticed I’ve spent a good amount of space describing the beer, and that’s because it’s Ollie’s strong suit. The food we sampled on our visit left a little room for improvement. Ollie’s dining space is spare industrial beer hall casual with lots of hard edges and surfaces (with a few nice cushy wing chairs off to the side) done in autumnal oranges and reds. We were seated and greeted in good time and began with Saratoga chips ($3.00) and tempura bacon wrapped asparagus ($7.00). The menu states a side of salsa or guacamole can be added to the chips for $2.00 and $3.75 respectively, or a side of ranch, bleu cheese, or honey chipotle BBQ can be added at no cost. We asked to try all three and were charged 50 cents for each. By my estimation, it would be fine to charge for any more than one, but not for all three. In any case, the amount of chips was generous, but they lacked the saltiness a good chip should have.

Spare Me

Much less successful was the asparagus. Sloppily plated, they were overdone and greasy, completely lacking the fluffiness of tempura. Unpleasant and unappetizing, and to be avoided. We added on a flatbread pizza as it was a half price special that night, and at a well-priced $4.00 we couldn’t pass it up. The flatbread is deep-fried and was scattered with a scant amount of BBQ chicken topping. Though I would have preferred grilling to deep-frying the flatbread, I could say it was fair for a $4.00 appetizer, but not for twice the price.

Ollie’s does offer a few entrees including a cauliflower steak, a New York strip, pasta, and a salmon, but this stuck me as the kind of place to order a sandwich or a burger. PIP tried the Ollie’s burger ($12.00) and I tried the hot ham and swiss. It’s not clear to me what was in the mind of the person who was on condiment detail in the kitchen that night, but what is clear is that mustard is strong and pungent and probably shouldn’t be applied with a trowel. Therefore, the two inches of it that coated my sandwich prevents me from knowing what the sandwich actually tasted like.

Bet on the Burger

The best notes of the evening were PIP’s burger and cup of chili it came with. The chili was pleasantly meaty and spicy, topped with shredded cheddar. The Ollie’s burger, topped with bacon jam and smoked gouda on a pretzel bun proved to be a worthy choice. Other bread choices are available, and PIP would probably avail himself of one of those next time. I am also not the biggest fan of the pretzel bun, but in this case, I thought it worked well with the jam and smoked cheese.

I close with this from country singer Kinky Friedman: “Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.” If you like holding a beer, Ollie’s Place is most definitely for you. I can certainly recommend it for that. It’s the yeast I can do.

Ollie’s Place is located at 518 Miamisburg Centerville Road in Centerville. For more information, please call 937.723.8998 or visit OlliesPlaceDayton.com.

 

Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. 

 

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Paula Johnson
Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at PaulaJohnson@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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