The Banks is starting to fill out with its newest retailer – Johnny Rockets is finally open for business. This is, however, no ordinary Johnny Rockets.
One of only six locations in Ohio, Johnny Rockets at The Banks has some uniquely Cincinnati specialties.
The two main stars that are unique to this location are the Lotta Domata burger and the Dusty’s Bacon Burger, named after Bengals Defensive Tackle Domata Peko and Reds manager Dusty Baker respectively. The Lotta Domata burger is 100% ground beef topped with a sweet Pan-Asian sauce, Applewood smoked bacon and grilled pineapple rings. Dusty’s Bacon Burger is ground beef mixed with bacon, grilled with cheese, lettuce, tomato and I believe the waitress said horseradish sauce. One dollar from each sale of these two burgers will be donated to Peko and Baker’s favorite charities.
There are some other Cincinnati-exclusive menu items, such as the Banks Shanks, Fried Pickles, Fresh Cooked Potato Chips and Spiral Pass Potatoes. The rest of the menu consists of standard Johnny Rockets fare.
During the media preview on Wednesday, October 26th, Peko, Mayor Mark Mallory, Johnny Rockets CEO John Fuller, and franchise owner Rick Thompson gave speeches welcoming the new location. Peko in particular professed his love of Johnny Rockets’ burgers and the Lotta Domata. Thompson has also announced that he is closing the Johnny Rockets location in Newport on the Levee in favor of the new location at The Banks.
We had the opportunity to try the Lotta Domata, Dusty’s Bacon Burger, Banks Shanks and the fried pickles, as well as two of the specialty bar drinks, the Fumblerooski and Kentucky Peach Tea.
Both burgers were amazing – well above what I ever would have expected from a Johnny Rockets. They were juicy and not overcooked, and the flavor combination of all the toppings was superb. The Lotta Domata burger was wonderful, but stacked so high that it was difficult to not spill its contents everywhere. By contrast, Dusty’s burger was a bit more solid (I credit the bacon being in the patty, rather than atop it) but just as tasty.
The Banks Shanks, little ribs of meat fried in a Pan-Asian sauce, were served on a bed of shredded lettuce. The ribs we had were a bit dry but still had a nice flavor thanks to the sauce. The Fried Pickles however, were really great. The batter on them was savory and had a slight spice to it. The Fried Pickles also came with ranch dressing on the side – a bit unexpected but it paired excellently with the pickles’ slight spice.
Our drinks were quite interesting; the Fumblerooski is Finlandia Raspberry Vodka with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and squeeze of orange juice, topped with cream soda and garnished with an orange slice and mint sprig. I think the best way I could describe it would be to imagine drinking a raspberry cotton candy ice cream float with only a slight suggestion of alcohol. By contrast, the Kentucky Peach Tea was heavy on the alcohol. It contained Woodford Reserve small batch bourbon, peach schnapps, and Gold Peak iced tea garnished with a mint sprig.
This particular location is decked out in sports memorabilia and even features a sports bar – making it one of the few Johnny Rockets in the country to have a bar. There is also a patio and walk-up window serving coffee and breakfast. Johnny Rockets at The Banks is located on Freedom Way, right across the street from the Reds Hall of Fame and underneath the apartments.
There are a few spots to park on the street, as well as a garage that runs underneath. The garage itself is clean, bright and has great access points – but it can be expensive unless you are going to be there a while. The daily max is $8, but it’s $1 per half-hour up to that.
Johnny Rockets is the second retailer to open at The Banks so far, and we can’t wait to see what the others are going to be like.
As you may have noticed, we did not give Johnny Rockets a plate rating – considering that all we ate were samples, we think it would be most fair to go on a separate occasion and have a full meal before we gave them an official rating. Our visit to Johnny Rockets was a media event specially for its grand opening.
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