Back to Butler County – Part 1

November 9, 2017

Last spring we discovered the fun of exploring Butler County, from the restaurants to the parks to the – wait for it – Donut Trail. You can read all about our adventures here and here.

The Butler County Visitors Bureau kindly invited us to check out more of the region, and we were excited to get back, especially to get to know more of Hamilton, the county seat. They put us up at the sleek and comfortable AC Hotel by Marriott at Liberty Center, a new shopping district developed by the same folks behind Easton Town Center in Columbus.

(Pssst… you can also jump ahead to parts two and three of our itinerary.)

All of us loved the hotel, the boys especially, for its big beds and fun light fixtures, and course…

…the pool! We had never seen a pool with a stainless steel bottom before, but now we’d like all of our pools to be clad in stainless steel, if you please.

Our first evening in town we stopped by Troy’s Cafe in West Chester for dinner.

It was raining steadily that night, so Troy’s served as a cozy and warm respite with good food and drink.

The boys split  meals of spaghetti marinara and five-cheese mac and cheese (a little elevated from the usual kid’s mac!), while the adults split crispy fish tacos…

…and a big plate of fish and chips, on special for the night.

Troy’s uses a bit of both counter and table service. You order at the counter and are given a table number, but then a server keeps tabs on you, brings your food, keeps drinks filled. The chefs are given some leeway to create both classic dishes and tinker with some new ideas.

The next morning the boys and were up early to hit up a couple new stops on the Donut Trail. We tackled a majority of the trail back in March, collecting stamps at all the stops but one. Since we had last visited Butler County, the Central Pastry Shop in Middletown has joined the ranks.

Central Pastry Shop is one of those delightful old school bakeries, one that has served customers on the steady for decades.

They kindly welcomed us in and shared a few of their specialties, from seasonal pumpkin donuts to apple fritters to cinnamon squares to giant deep-fried old fashioneds.

They boys and I posed with our donuts before the official Donut Trail signpost. There’s one stationed at each stop.

And we collected a stamp on the official Donut Trail passport.

While we hung out, a steady stream of customers came up, picking up small bags and giant boxes of pastries. In the back we could see bakers icing cakes. You really can’t beat the atmosphere – especially the warm smell of fresh donuts – of an old school bakery in the autumn.

Not ones to visit only ONE donut shop in a morning, we trekked down to West Chester to the new Holtman’s Donuts. We’ve enjoyed Holtman’s before at their shop in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. The new location officially joins the Donut Trail as of today, November 9!

Their spacious new digs are decorated to look like a classic donut shop. The tables were crowded with people enjoying donuts and coffee, while a line of customers looked hungrily at the displays. We collected a half dozen pastries, relying mostly on the suggestions of the staff.

Meanwhile we watched the kitchen at work through the giant glass windows. We could see them mixing, proofing, frying, filling, glazing. We watched one baker in particular stuffing longjohns with Nutty Buddy bars!

That’s just the start! Read about breakfast at the old school Kostas Restaurant in Hamilton, and continue with part two or part three of our adventures.

Disclaimer: accommodations and dining were covered by Butler County Convention Visitors Bureau. Photos and opinions are my own.

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FOOD + TRAVEL WRITER

I go by Dr. Breakfast, but in addition to restaurants and recipes, I write about family travel, breweries and distilleries, the arts, outdoor fun, and so much more.

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