A bevy of new dining options that are not part of restaurant chains opened in Butler County in 2019.
Here’s a look at a few that offer distinctly different experiences.
Crispy Fish & Chicken
Crispy Fish & Chicken opened in May at 1304 Breiel Blvd. in Middletown, the former site of Long John Silver’s, which abruptly closed in March.
The new restaurant serves fish, chicken, gyros, shrimp, squid, clams, butterfly shrimp, crab cake patties, burgers, Philly steak sides, desserts and more.
The restaurant is planning a new location in Trenton.
The Spinning Forchetta
A traditional Italian eatery that has been a Butler County mainstay for nearly 40 years recently found a new home.
The Spinning Fork started in Fairfield in 1981, but moved to 4444 Hamilton Middletown Road in Liberty Twp. inside Hamilton Elks Lodge No. 93, renaming itself The Spinning Forchetta (which is Italian for “fork”).
The restaurant serves numerous Italian specialties, making its own sauces, meatballs and lasagna in house, all from longtime family recipes.
The banquet center menu features not only Italian dishes, but American dishes, as well.
Books & Brews
A Butler County business that combines literature and beer opened in late June.
At the new Books & Brews, 107 E. Court St., Oxford, all of the books customers see are for sale, but Mug Club members can enjoy the added bonus of using the business as a lending library.
The new location replaces Quarter Barrel Brewery & Pub, which closed in January.
The Books & Brews menu features a prologue (starters), chapters (artisan grilled cheeses on sourdough then pressed on a panini press), naan-fiction (flatbreads served on naan bread and grilled, with a choice of red sauce, barbecue sauce or buttermilk ranch). There’s also a “children’s stories” section that features five choices for kids.
A bar sells Books & Brews’ own craft beers, all named after books.
The book chain, whose motto is “read • drink • converse,” has numerous locations in Indiana. This is its first Ohio location.
Caruso’s Ristorante & Bar
Caruso’s Ristorante & Bar opened at 6765 Dixie Highway in Fairfield It serves traditional Italian and American-Italian dishes
The menu offers sandwiches, pizzas, soups, salads, and a couple of featured pastas per day, plus pizza and pasta dough that are made fresh by hand.
It takes the place of The Spinning Fork, a longtime eatery that now operates as The Spinning Forchetta in Liberty Twp.
Award-winning restaurant Tano Bistro opened in August at 150 Riverfront Plaza in Hamilton’s downtown.
Located on the corner of Dayton Street and Riverfront Plaza in the first floor of The Marcum, a new mixed-used development, the new 100-seat dining space offers a seasonally changing offerings with daily specials, all crafted from locally sourced ingredients.
The restaurant’s menu says its owners believe in making “wholesome good naturally and responsibly.”
Craft beer bar Casual Pint opened in late August at 130 Riverfront Plaza in Hamilton, in mixed-use complex just across from award-winning Marcum Park, with its RiversEdge amphitheater.
The new business offers 35 draft beers on tap, the bulk of which include brews from around the region and the state. Also available are packaged craft beer, cider and wine.
Casual Pint Hamilton also features a menu with customized to that location and includes starters, burgers, brats, flatbreads, wraps, salads and crispy beer-battered potatoes with a variety of toppings.
Recently renovated and revamped Forest Hills Country Club at 791 4th Ave. in Middletown opened to the public its new restaurant, Vue 791, which features traditional Mediterranean cuisine such as shawarma, falafel, hummus, kofta kebabs, baba ghanoush and baklava.
It also features Italian favorites like pasta, Spanish favorites like empanadas and American classics like New York strip steak and filet mignon. There’s a pomegranate glazed salmon topped with fresh herbs and an 8-ounce peppercorn-crusted filet mignon with merlot mushroom sauce.
Vue 791 also features a hookah lounge area. The restaurant is open, as of now, on a reservations-only basis.
Agave & Rye
Agave & Rye debuted in late October at 7125 Fountain View Drive in Liberty Twp.’s Liberty Center offering a menu that features 17 “epic” gourmet specialty tacos, seven street tacos, plus more than 120 liquor options for tequila and bourbon lovers.
Tacos use traditional ingredients like ground beef, grilled chicken and pork, along with adventurous fare, such as butter poached lobster with mac ‘n’ cheese and soy and ginger kangaroo tenderloin.
The majority of the tacos are double-shelled with crunchy corn and soft flour.
The new restaurant also offers entree bowls, chips and dips, sides and “street fair,” plus a Liberty Twp.-location exclusive: corn tortilla street tacos made from scratch. Agave & Rye also offers a selection of beer, wine and craft cocktails.
Restaurant and sports bar chain Twin Peaks opened its new location at 9424 Civic Centre Blvd. in West Chester Twp. in November. The 9,800-square-foot restaurant features 68 high-definition flatscreen televisions, 32 taps and a variety of beer and spirits.
It features multiple fire pits on an open-air covered patio.
Twin Peaks, which launched in suburban Dallas in 2005, boasts “made-from-scratch food and the coldest beer in the business, served by friendly and attractive Twin Peaks Girls.”
The opening of the new location gives it 85 locations in 26 states.
A popular, longtime restaurant reappeared on Hamilton’s dining scene in November after a more than yearlong absence.
Kostas, 221 Court St., was back in business with a new kitchen and renovated dining room, courtesy of new ownership, which purchased the business in January.
Customers said they were happy to see the restaurant reopen after a more than year-long hiatus.
The revamped diner, which debuted in 1950, was damaged by fire Dec. 17. There’s no word yet on when it will re-open.
A Game Knight
Board game parlor and tavern in Hamilton’s German Village reopened under new ownership in November at 345 N. Third St. with a new focus on being a gathering place for the entire community, not just gamers.
It serves a selection of domestic, import and craft beers from 20 taps, as well three nitrous taps serving nitrogenated beer. Its menu includes appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches and subs.
A Game Knight still offers the same game selection, but also will draw the art community to the business by highlighting local artists, including musicians, spoken word, poetry, flow artists, drummers and more.
Fretboard Brewing & Public House
Fretboard Brewing & Public House at 103 Main St. in Hamilton combines upscale, scratch-made pub fare and award-winning craft beer.
Public House menu main courses include burgers, fish and chips, steak frites, chicken salad wrap, Southern fried chicken thighs, barbecue macaroni and cheese, pasta scampi, blackened salmon and a pulled barbecue and pretzel bun.
Also offered are a wide array of shareable appetizers, salads, sides and desserts.
On tap are 14 selections of Fretboard Brewing’s award-winning beer. For non-beer drinkers, there’s a choice of craft cocktails, wine by the glass and wine by the bottle.
Hamilton Diner is a new eatery at 2535 Pleasant Ave. in Hamilton even if the sign still reads Dean’s Grill for a little while.
The new restaurant offers a menu that includes traditional diner breakfast, lunch and dinner food, including omelets, salads, sandwiches, burgers, chili, fried chicken and steaks. There’s also a handful of aromatic and savory Ethiopian and Eritrean dishes, including lamb and beef entrees. All dishes are served with two sides.
A sampler plate of all dishes, which can be a meal for two or three people, is served atop injera, a sourdough-risen flatbread with a slightly spongy texture, traditionally made out of teff flour.There’s also a selection of vegetarian dishes, including vegetable stew and red, green and yellow lentils.
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