Chow, Baby: Wednesday, May 16, 2002
Pour Some Sugar on Me

The new coffeehouse in town, Java Dave’s, would be welcome for its lava cake alone. It’s not just the sugar overload that gives Chow, Baby the giggles: When the round portion of decadent chocolate cake is microwaved for a few seconds, the rich fudge innards come bubbling out of the top like an ebony volcano. It’s a gooey, delectable mess. Neater and sweeter is the Kentucky bourbon pecan pie, which tastes as fresh as if your drunken grandmother had just made it that morning. Save room for the tangy key lime pie and a couple slices of the umpteen varieties of cheesecake. (Desserts run $3-$5.)

Java Dave’s, at 6323 Camp Bowie Blvd., is the 27th outpost of the Tulsa-based franchise. Headquarters may boast of its award-winning coffee, and this cozy shop certainly does smell good. But Chow, Baby prefers to wash down sweets with more sweets, and took its own sweet time choosing from the smoothie menu of various fresh fruits blended with juice and yogurt ($2.95 and $4.95). Italian soda, teas, and four flavors of granita round out the bill of drinkable fare.

Chow, Baby’s hypoglycemic mania was soothed by the blues of Memphis Slim, Howlin’ Wolf, and Muddy Waters on the stereo. Time to rise from the comfy leather couch and fetch another piece of pie? No need; the friendly staff delivers.

New York, Ohio

It’s not often that Chow, Baby gets a craving for Cincinnati cuisine. But when the mood strikes, there’s a little diner in Bedford, around the corner from the Kroger at Harwood and Central, that’s ready to handle it.

One of the things Chow, Baby always loved about this place was its former name: Queen City Coney. (“Queen City” is a nickname for Cincinnati, among other places.) Cincinnati’s contribution to American gastronomy is a mild, meaty chili sauce, spiced with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and chocolate. In the classic “Five-Way” ($4.25-5.25), the chili is ladled over very thin spaghetti (or very thick — bar fights can break out over this) and topped with a sparse layer of kidney beans, a handful of raw chopped onions, and finally a blanket of grated cheddar. Asking for no onions will get you a “Four-Way,” and so on.

Queen City Coney served a great chili spaghetti and still does, even though the restaurant is now known as Coney Island Café. Focusing on the hot-dog side of the business is a fine idea, given the hearty Hebrew Nationals topped with Texas-style, no-chocolate chili ($3.45), spicy Polish sausage with sautéed onions and bell peppers ($3.25), and Chicago-style Vienna beef franks with no end of condiments ($3.25). But Chow, Baby will miss waltzing into Queen City and asking for a three-way. Which is undoubtedly the kind of stupid joke that prompted the name change in the first place.

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