When a celebrity opens a restaurant, customers likely fall into two camps: those who only go there for the celeb brand, or those who actually enjoy the food, drink and ambiance of a place that happens to be helmed by a famous person. For Over-the-Rhine’s new sports bar, Lachey’s, it works both ways.
Nick and Drew Lachey officially opened their namesake bar on Jan. 1. It’s a rather large space for Over-the-Rhine (3,500 square-feet), which means less of a wait than many places in the neighborhood. With its myriad TVs, a sports ticker wrapped around the elongated bar, large windows, framed Reds photos on the walls and a Pedal Wagon bay, the space screams sports bar, albeit a more refined one. The design of the interior features a red and black color scheme, persimmon leather booths and a women’s bathroom containing a TV and a chaise lounge — you know, in case you want to take a nap between games.
And as you may have heard, the brothers, along with co-owners 4EG, got TV channel A&E to film a reality show based on the bar’s opening, in the vein of Wahlburgers. On the night we dined there, a small camera crew filmed what appeared to be a faux bachelorette party. I say “faux” because it was a Tuesday night and who has a bachelorette party on a Tuesday night?
A gaggle of “bachelorettes” were escorted to various parts of the bar, while well-dressed men (bachelors?) schmoozed in the adjacent Pedal Wagon bay. Nick and Drew took directions from the crew and shuttled back and forth between the bay and the bar area.
Lachey’s had advertised on its Facebook page that a crew would be filming that night, but whether or not diners were there to catch a glimpse of the brothers or perhaps appear on TV, most carried on as if this was business as usual. Walking into a bar in Cincinnati and seeing a film crew seems surreal, but we know our little city is quickly becoming a bigger movie town, so we better get used to it.
Enough about the celebrity angle — let’s discuss food and booze. Lachey’s isn’t a typical sports bar because, really, how many sports bars have wine and cocktails on draft? This is what separates Lachey’s from the pack and elevates it to “gastro sports bar.” Wine on draft might seem like a trend, but it’s actually better for the environment (no bottles to throw away) and keeps the wine fresher.
Once the controlled chaos set in, my dining companion and I tried a couple of non-wine drafts: Triple Digit’s Chickow! ($6) hazlenut brown ale and a double rye Manhattan ($9). It was happy hour, which meant all drafts, including cocktails and wine, were $2 off. The real winner here is the extensive drink menu — along with the draft drinks, there’s a whole list of other wines, beers and cocktails, plus a section devoted to both bloody marys and boilermakers. You can also pair a shot of Old Grand-Dad with your beer for a measly $3. The only inkling of anything 98 Degrees-related is the Una Noche beer cocktail ($9), with White Rascal beer, tequila, pomegranate grenadine and Cointreau. (Sadly, they don’t serve a “Because of You” or “My Everything.”)
As for food, the menu wavers between fried foods such as wings, tater tots (one of the few things not housemade) and zucchini frites, but executive chef James Karlson integrates healthier dishes like a heaping kale, quinoa and edamame salad ($10) and a veggie grinder ($8). Most dishes on the menu are around $8-$10, with the most expensive entrée being a $16 bourbon-spiced flank steak. We started with their black bean hummus appetizer ($8), which had a pool of olive oil inside the crater-like hummus, surrounded by black and white sesame seeds, toasted pita points and a side of veggies. Then we got an order of Half-Pint Sliders ($10), which featured a mahi mahi slider with a lettuce leaf on top, a pork version too big for its bun and a bison slider with onion straws — the best out of the bunch.
I also ordered the veggie grinder ($8). It had three pieces of mozzarella atop chopped and grilled broccolini florets and stems (I hate stems) and Brussels sprouts spread on an open-faced hoagie bun. The sandwich said it came with roasted tomatoes and a basil caper mayo, but I didn’t see either in the sandwich, thus it tasted somewhat bland.
Despite the food hiccup — it probably wasn’t Nick’s fault — Lachey’s is a good place to watch sports, try different drinks and eat atypical sports bar grub, regardless of television cameras. It’s also is a great destination to nonchalantly hang out with friends in the midst of local celebs because the celebs actually want you there.
Go: 56 E. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine;
Kitchen hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday;