Revolution Rotisserie & Bar started as a small operation selling rotisserie chicken on grilled pita bread at a stand in Findlay Market. It can now be found at its full-service permanent location on Race Street, just a block south of Washington Park in Over-the-Rhine.
The brick-and-mortar Revolution still specializes in hormone-free, preservative-free roasted Amish chicken, now offered on a number of pita sandwiches named after revolutionaries — Mother Teresa, Thomas Jefferson, Gandhi, etc. — as well as in chicken-centric house specialties, indulgent appetizers, fresh salads and traditional sides made with a twist.
“The concept originally had nothing to do with chicken,” owner Nick Pesola told CityBeat late last year. “I wanted to introduce something unique to Cincinnati and I thought that it would be cool to reinvent gyros, one of my favorite foods from my youth.”
The sandwich options run the gamut as far as flavor profiles go. There are Greek options, Asian nods, Mexican varieties and classic Americana combinations.
I’ve actually dined at Revolution twice now, and each time I’ve been extremely impressed by the staff. Pesola, armed with a degree in psychology, strives to elevate the concept of restaurant employment by ensuring his staff has a work-life balance and is learning transferable skills — problem solving, empathy, multitasking, etc. From the hostess to our server to the runner clearing off our table, every last person was knowledgeable, kind and accommodating. When dining, I’m the type to ask for suggestions — someone who is willing to follow a recommended lead — and each person I encountered at Revolution felt inviting without being overbearing.
I’ve had both the Nelson Mandela ($8) and Marie Curie ($8) sandwiches. Of the two, I prefer the Mandela, comprised of chicken, pepperjack cheese, black beans, corn chips, cilantro, tomato and chipotle ranch. Bites that were heavier with the crunch of the corn chips were just as good as those that were more about the tomato and cilantro, but the housemade chipotle ranch is what really sealed it all together perfectly. The Marie Curie, with chicken, smoked Gouda, bacon, red onion, pineapple and cilantro was good, but if I were to order it again, I’d ask for extra pineapple.
When it comes to specialties, the Homestyle Platter ($13) is an obvious choice if you want to focus on Revolution’s signature meat. It consists of half a roasted bird served with housemade barbecue sauce, mashed potatoes and creamed corn. The chicken alone was extremely juicy and moist, flavorful and noticeably fresh. A bite with the skin also yielded the same satisfaction, one that was well-seasoned and gratifying. The server suggested a number of additional housemade sauces, which included a ranch, tzatziki and honey Sriracha, and I gladly took him up on the offer of all three. The tzatziki was lemony and fresh, the honey Sriracha sugary with a manageable kick, and the ranch was light with notes of dill.
Each time I dined, I was told the tater tot poutine starter ($8) is one of Revolution’s most popular menu items, so I ordered it. True to its description, it is a generous portion of tater tots, cheese, gravy and chicken, but each time I was underwhelmed by the gravy — it’s a little runny, and the guilt of the indulgence didn’t seem worth it.
Beyond the food menu — which does offer accommodations for vegetarians and those with gluten intolerance — there is also a full drink menu with draft and bottled beer, wine and house punch. Disclaimer: I am currently eight months pregnant, so my husband took one for the team and made sure to sample a cocktail. His choice was the Big O ($8), made with Bulleit Rye, triple sec, honey ginger, fresh lime and ice tea. He described it as a good summer option, easy to drink, light and fresh, with flavors that really complement the whiskey.
If there is anything for certain about Revolution Rotisserie & Bar, it is the quality-focused product. No matter what we ordered — the poutine, the platter or the sandwich — the chicken itself always sang. This, coupled with the receptiveness of the staff and the very respectable price points, makes it a spot perfect for a weekday lunch or relaxed night out on the town — just the kind of middle-ground OTR needs.
Revolution Rotisserie & Bar
Go: 1106 Race St., Over-the-Rhine;
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.