This past Sunday afternoon, after working up a sweat on the trails around Lunken Airport and Armleder Park, I finally made it to Terry’s Turf Club for a very late lunch. This restaurant on Eastern Avenue has been very popular since it’s opening over five years ago and many view it as the best hamburger in Cincinnati. Since I don’t eat hamburgers Terry’s was never on the top of my list of places to visit, but I was convinced when my brother-in-laws wanted to check it out.
Since our party was nearly bigger than all the seats put together in this tiny restaurant, we split into two groups. My group arrived first around 3:15 PM. I was joined by my wife, my two-year-old son, and one of my brother-in-laws. The majority of the tables in Terry’s are high top, so we decided to wait a few minutes for a booth to open. There are less than a handful of booths available, but our wait was only five or ten minutes. Fortunately there is an outdoor waiting area with newly installed heaters and plastic sheets to block out the cold.
A few other smaller groups arrived while we were waiting and were seated immediately. Terry’s utilizes a community table seating method, so you may be sat at the same table as another small group. The inside of the small dining room and bar is completely covered with neon signs. There is definitely plenty to look at while waiting for your food to arrive. Plus a complimentary basket of peanuts is provided to each table for snacking.
The menu has a dozen or so appetizers followed by the sandwich offerings: burger, filet mignon, grilled chicken, portabella or shiitake mushroom, blt, grilled cod, lump crab cake, grilled boneless halibut, grilled Mahi, and pork loin. All sandwiches are served with choice of lettuce, tomato, pickle, onions, banana peppers, mayo, and two slices of American or Swiss cheese. In addition there are many add-on toppings, cheeses, and sauces. It was a little intimidating for a first timer and perhaps a list of some customer favorite combinations could help.
I went with the grilled chicken sandwich ($8.50) and had it covered in all the standard toppings including Swiss cheese. I also had the onion and banana peppers grilled before being added on top. Potato chips are offered on the side or you can upgrade to fresh-cut fries for $2, which I did. Meals are served on paper plates, no silverware is provided, and one large knife is given to the table to share to cut the sandwiches in half if desired. The sandwich was large and the toppings were fresh, however it seemed a little expensive at $10.50 for my plate. I also found it to be a little dry and probably should have added a sauce to the sandwich, but those cost at least $2.25 more.
I was disappointed to find out that there is no kids menu at Terry’s. If they are already creating their burger patties by hand, why not add a cheaper version for the kids? Their answer was to order a grilled cheese ($4) but there was no way my demanding two-year-old wasn’t getting his cheese burger. We had no option but to order the $8.50 burger for him and hope he would like it enough to eat the leftovers too. He did seem to enjoy the burger, but with a 100 word vocabulary I’m not sure how much of a review he can give.
My wife ordered the lump crab cake sandwich with fries ($11.50). She said that the crab cake was good, not the best she’s had in town, but still a solid alternative to a hamburger. I did not try her sandwich but I did steal a few of her fries after I had finished mine. These fresh-cut fries reminded me a lot of fries we used to make at home when I was growing up. They were relatively thick cut and fried well to a golden brown. These are definitely an upgrade over the included Wavy Lay’s style potato chips.
Overall I found Terry’s Turf Club to be overpriced and not very kid friendly. The burgers may be one of the best in the city, but their other sandwiches leave a little to be desired. I doubt I will return.