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Cincinnati Restaurant Reviews

Cincinnati cuisine is so much more than chili. There are great restaurants in town that will provide you with exceptional food in a wonderful atmosphere. This blog is a collection of reviews and personal observations from the current Cincinnati dining scene.

Friday, December 04, 2009

The perfect gift for the Cincinnati foody

Everyone in Cincinnati probably knows about this. These Cincy favorites are obviously great presents for those of us who grew up in Cincinnati, moved away, and still want that hometown flavor.

Please don’t think I’m late to the party on this, I’ve known about these for a while, years. I never wrote about them because offering these faves as a mail order product was so blindingly brilliant, there didn’t seem to be anything to say.

But as I was talking about these with my girlfriend (also from Cincy) about it, and I really starting thinking about them as a phenomenon. Here’s the transcript from our gchat conversation

her: i'm buying my brothers skyline cravers gift baskets
Sent at 1:04 PM on Friday
me: i got one of those from t------ once
it's great
they will love
her: heck yeah. i love that these exist
me: my brother orders in ribs most years for the Super Bowl, I think
her: awesome
me: i wonder if other cities have that sort of thing
it seems so unique to cincy
where we have these very unique regional dishes
and lots of people who have moved away
but still want those dishes
i'm sure this is affected by my perspective, as a cincinnatian living away from cincy
me: there must be something about being from cincinnati
i feel like we share that so uniquely with our friends
her: so do i
next time someone from cincy gets married, we should get them a huge cincy gift basket. someone who's from there but not living there
like if j---- and t------- get married
me: yeah
Sent at 1:11 PM on Friday
her: the other cool thing. i just called them.. it's a 800 number but bc its a cincy thing i feel comfortable trying to figure out an easier route... anyway, i called them bc shipping is like $20. I was like, hey I'm from there. Can I just come get it from you direct when I'm home. They were like, sure no prob.

I hope you didn’t mind the poor cut and paste job.

Anyway, why do Cincinnati dishes warrant this? Here’s what I think.
1.) They are so unique, every time I share Montgomery Inn ribs or Skyline with an out-of-towner, it’s preceded by a long disclaimer about what to expect and how it's different taste. And there’s no telling how they’ll react. Over 50% don’t like it, but those who do really like it and get it right away. Don’t try this with Larosa’s though. Only people who’ve grown up with Larosa’s like it, no one else will.

2.) There are many former Cincinnatians out there, and though many of them claim they couldn’t wait to get out, there is some part of them that wishes they never left. This is how they relieve some of that. I’m speaking as someone who’s moved away, and I’m speaking for my age group, which I would call 25-35.

3.) The food’s good. In a straightforward, no-frills, Cincinnati kind of way.

I’m reminded of Portland, a city of similar size, that is known for it’s cuisine. I’ve even heard of one dish that is pretty exclusive to Portland—apparently they love tater tots. They have a dish called totchos—tater tots with nacho toppings.

But I’ve never heard about any restaurant or dish that is native to Portland outside the confines of Portland. Maybe that’s because I’ve been in the Midwest or on the East Coast my whole life. But no one talks about it. I know people talk about Cincinnati food, especially chili, in NYC and Chicago.

Does anyone know if any other city has a cuisine that warrants mail-ordering? I know my perspective is skewed, but I’m thinking that Cincy cuisine is the most loved regional food in the country, by people who no longer live in that region.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Nothing For Nada, Too Much at Boi Na Braza

In celebration of Mother’s Day, my father and I took my mom out to dinner on Saturday night. Our first thought was Nada, the new Mexican restaurant by David Cook, the man behind Boca. So we called in the afternoon to get a reservation. Whoever answered the phone said that the reservations were full, but they keep a portion of the room unreserved so we should try stopping by for on of those tables.

Now, maybe we read too much into this, but we thought this meant that it wouldn’t be hard or a long wait to get a table if we showed up without the reservation. What fools we were, apparently. We walk up and ask for a table for three, and we’re told an hour and a half wait.

This was a little annoying, simply for the fact that the phone conversation gave us the impression that getting a table wouldn’t be this hard. I’ll accept full responsibility for getting my hopes up, but it would have been nice if the maitre’ d had said, “we hold part of the room unreserved, but tonight, that could be a long wait if you get here around 7:30.”

Oh well, I’ll get over it. And I’ll try Nada again, at some point, because I’ve only heard good things. But I’ll be sure to get reservations ahead of time.

This situation also gave us the opportunity to walk from Nada to Boi Na Braza, which has been on my list for a while. The idea of a Brazilian stekhouse appeals to me, because the idea of having steak until I simply can’t fit anymore in my belly appeals to me. I’m an old Roman that way.

We had a nice walk over there, a good amount of people downtown on a Saturday night. And they were able to seat us almost immediately.

I was excited as we sat down. The room was lushly decorated, with thick carpets and dark wood walls. Gauchos (?) walked around with meat on swords! Just as I’d been told! And we passed one of the largest buffets I’d ever seen on the way to our table. No way I was passing that up. My parents were paying, so I was going to pig out.

I ordered the deluxe meal, which includes the buffet and the endless supply of meat. I went through the buffet first. The selection was impressive. Salamis and other dried meats. Many fresh cheeses. A selection of veggies. My personal favorite of the whole spread were the marinated artichoke hearts. I also loved the tomato and mozzarella salad, though I always do.

After I cleaned off that plate, I was ready to dig into some meat. I turned my disc over to green, which let the gauchos know that they should stop and ask if I wanted whatever they had skewered. It took maybe 30 seconds for the first one to stop by and ask. Honestly, I was disappointed. I expected 4 gauchos at my shoulder as soon as I flipped the disc over.

The first meat I tried was a garlic encrusted beef medallion. Not very good. Dry and overly garlicky, like it was hiding something under all that flavor. Then I had some pork, some chicken, and maybe one or two beefs. None of them was the meaty delights I had been dreaming of.

Finally, one of the gauchos came up and presented some prime rib. With this cut of meat, the deal is he begins to cut off a slice, then you grab that piece with tongs that are provided for you, and he finishes cutting. This presents a slab of meat unceremoniously splashing onto your plate. Saving countless ties, certainly.

I was excited about this cut. A straightforward cut of beef. This is when it finally occurred to me what had been nagging me since I started trying the meat. It wasn’t that good. The quality of the meat, that is. But also, it was overcooked. I realized that every piece of meat I tried suffered from this.

I was disappointed. I flipped my disc over to red, meaning that I was fine for now and didn’t want anymore meat. I continued to finish my prime rib, because, hey, it’s steak. But the gauchos kept coming up and asking me if I wanted what they were selling. At this point in the meal, this was really frustrating. Why have a system in place (the discs) if your employees weren’t going to follow it? This was really just a reflection of my greater disappointment at the meal, but it didn’t help the experience.

I tried a few more cuts of meat, but none of them changed my impression. Not even the filet mignon. By the time we left, I felt that I’d been stuffed to the gills, but not satisfied with anything I’d eaten. Except the artichoke hearts. The buffet was definitely worth it, but the whole Brazilian steakhouse experience was too much and not enough at the same time.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Sorry it’s been a while

To the few of you who have asked if I have stopped eating, I haven’t. That might be a good thing for my waist line, but I’ve just been so busy lately that I haven’t had a chance to blog much recently.

In all honesty, I haven’t been able to eat out much in Cincinnati recently. Which is a shame, because there is so many good things happening that I’ve missed a lot. A recent trip out to dinner near Fountain Square has shown me what I’ve been missing. I don’t know that I’ll be able to keep up with everything I’d like to, but let me just say that I think it’s a better time for folks who like eating out in Cincinnati than any time I can remember.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Insightful insights into the Montgomery Inn

Recently, Cincinnati's own Montgomery Inn Boathouse has been in the news because the president stopped there for some ribs. Which I guess is the reason that WKRC interviewed Dick Gregory about the restaurant.

I'll go on record and admit that I'm one of the few people in the world who's not a big fan of their barbeque sauce. I know, Sacrilege!

I'm actually not a big fan of barbeque sauces in general, especially sweet ones like Montomgery Inn's. When I go, I'll order a steak and enjoy it just as much as everyone else enjoys their ribs.

In a former life, when I was a freelance journalist, I had the opportunity to interview Dick Gregory. It was for a small feature in a local magazine about expensive drinks, and he really didn't need to take the time to talk to me, but he couldn't have been nicer. He gave me probably 15 minutes, when the interview could have been over in 5. I really appreciated that, and when he tell WKRC that he considers the restaurant business to be all about service, I know how much he believes in that philosophy.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Via Vite Opens

Alright, maybe the story of restaurants opening on the square is something I care about more than most. I've posted about Graeter's and Via Vite in the past, and I've been following, in general, the great amount of new dining and nightlife options around the Tyler Davidson Fountain.

Well, Via Vite is now open, joining Graeter's which has already opened on the square. For those who don't know much about it, Via Vite is owned and operated by the same family that own's Nicola's in Over-the-Rhine. A new restaurant by this family is something to be excited about.

I definitely want to try it out as soon as I can, but I'm afraid that won't be for a while. Anyone here gone to Via Vite and want to report back on it? Please do so in the comments section.

Cincy Pizza: Born and Bred

Here's a little fun fact for you: Halloween is one of the top five pizza delivery days in the year. This information comes to use courtesy of Pizza Today magazine, to which I unfortunately don't have a subscription.

I found this out thanks to this article in the Enquirer, which also lists some of the best independent pizzerias in the city.

I've had the amazing pizzas at Trotta's. I really ought to blog about that experience, but sufficed to say, it is definitely worth the trip. Look for a blog post about that in the future.

But, if you do plan on ordering in tomorrow, here are a couple of helpful links with tips for pizza delivery etiquette:

Tip the Pizza Guy is a helpful site, just remember it's written by a pizza guy. I especially like a Pizza guys' perspective on house numbers.

This article from the New York Times Magazine provides answers to the moral and ethical implications of ordering in during a rain storm. Finally, my questions have been answered!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Jean-Robert at Pigall's Rated Among the Country's Best

I went to enquirer.com today, as I do most mornings, and saw a picture of a crazy looking, wild-haired man. My first thought was that some sort of serial killer had been caught.

But lo and behold, Jean-Robert at Pigall's is one of the highest rated restaurants in the country!

That's great news, and not just becuase there haven't been any killing sprees in the area recently.

Of course, we've known for a while that this restaurant was good, and was getting noticed from national opinion-makers. This just further gets the word out there that some of the nation's finest dining is here in the Queen City.

Congrats, Jean-Robert!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

What is up with Cincinnati and White Castle?

Seriously, this is disturbing. After hearing about local White Castles celebrating Valentine's Day, I thought that maybe we wouldn't have any White Castle specific news for a while. Well, I wish I was wrong.

Mayor Mark Mallory, in his infinite wisdom, decreed that yesterday was White Castle Day in Cincinnati. I'm sorry for the late notice, I'm sure you're upset that you missed your chance to celebrate this auspicious occasion.

If you were aware of this great event, what did you do to commemorate it?

Friday, September 28, 2007

Forget the Floor, Focus on the Food

In a recent Enquirer article, Jim Knippenberg profiles Knotty Pine on the Bayou in a piece that they’re calling Table with Tradition. I don’t know about tradition, but Knotty Pine on the Bayou is one of the more unique, and one of the best, dining options in the Cincinnati area.

I first ate there about two years ago, and absolutely fell in love with the place. First off, I was thankful just to have gotten there. I tried going with my Dad on a Monday, but they’re closed on Mondays. With no lights on, in the middle of a back country road in Wilder, KY, we drove around for almost an hour before realizing that we’d passed it and it was closed.

I returned later that week with a friend, and boy am I glad I did. This friend had some experience with Cajun and Creole food, I had none. She helped guide me, but the Cajun Sampler that Knippenberg mentions in his article is like Cajun 101.

The food is great. I tried frogs legs for the first time, and enjoyed the taste, but couldn’t get over the slimy feel of the meat. I don’t know if it’s actually slimy, or that’s just what my brain expected to feel.

The Gumbo and blackened steak and chicken were wonderful. I found the Cajun spices to compliment the meats well, but not overpower them. And the mélange of flavors in the gumbo worked well together.

Knippenberg talks a lot about the tilting floor, and it’s a notable part of the restaurant. But don’t let that, or the general pleasant atmosphere, take anything away from the food, which should be the highlight of your trip.

And it is a trip. For me, the easy drive from downtown Cincinnati into Wilder, was a highlight. It’s just 5 minutes from 275, but it feels like another world.

In my mind, I group Knotty Pine on the Bayou with Riverside Korean. Both serve a very specific type of food that I’d never tried before I went there. Both are in unassuming but enjoyable locations in Kentucky. And both serve some of the finest food in the area.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

New Life on the Square

This is some really exciting news. We’ve known for a while that Nicola Pietosa would be opening a new restaurant on Fountain Square. But he starts sharing his vision in today’s article about Via Vite in the Enquirer.

For anyone who has ever eaten at Nicola’s in Over-The-Rhine, just hearing what Pietosa has planned for Via Vite should get you excited. One thing that he doesn’t mention, but I hope in my heart of hearts, is that he’ll be bringing the tomato foam appetizer dish with him from Nicola’s. That dish alone is worth a blog post at a later date.

This is also really a cool time for Fountain Square and downtown, but not a time without a little apprehension. Fountain Square has been redesigned and looks great. There are great restaurant options on, in and around Fountain Square, including new places on the way. Heck, even nightlife has returned to downtown. But will it last?

We’ve been waiting for the promised downtown revitalization for a while, and it always seems just on the horizon. I think the problem is that too many people have been waiting for the revitalization, and not enough people have been a part of it. And an easy way to be a part of it is to go to dinner downtown.

And go back to try someplace else a few weeks later.

And don’t give up if you see something that makes you a little uncomfortable.

I’m sorry, I went off on a little bit of a rant there. I’m just very excited that the owner of one of the best restaurants in the city is starting a new restaurant, and I want to see more great news like that occur in the area. What do you guys think about Via Vite, and about the developments going on around the square in general?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Restaurant Week Coming to Cincinnati

Well, it's been asked for, and now it's coming. Restaurant Week, that is. It's coming September 4th through 8th, so mark your calendars.

Details are as follows: the 25 restaurants participating will all offer a 3 course prix fixe dinner for $25.07. That number refers to the number of restaurants doing this, and the year. So next year, it will be one cent more, unless more restaurants join in.

The restaurants involved are all members of Greater Cincinnati Independents. The specific restaurants are Andy’s Mediterranean Grille, Behle Street Café, Bella Luna, Brown Dog Café, Daveed’s at 934, deSha’s American Tavern and Grille, Encore Bistro and Bar, The Grand Café, Hugo, Jean-Robert at Pigall’s, Jimmy D’s Steakhouse, Kona Bistro, Mesh, Mike & Jimmy’s Chophouse Grille, Nicholson’s, O’Bryon’s Irish Pub, One Restaurant and Lounge, Pho Paris, Polo Grille, Pompilios, The Pub at Crestview Hills, Red and Universal Grille.

Which ones are you going to hit up?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Kim Chi in Cincy

As anyone who has a taste for Asian cuisine in the Cincinnati area knows, probably the best place to find Korean food is Riverside Korean in Covington. The Post has just reported that the brother of Riverside's owner is opening his own place in downtown Cincinnati in the space that used to be Aioli.

This is great news for lovers of international cuisine, as well as for downtown. One thing that may be a welcome change is that the Aioli space is well laid out and spacious. If you've eaten at Riverside, you know that the space is cozy, to put it mildly.

It's All Happening in CVG

Here's some great news from our friends down in Louisville. The good folks behind the Molly Malone's Irish Pub and Restaurant are going to save the space formerly occupied by Jack Quinn's in Convington. The new spot will be called Molly Malone's of Covington.

I've been missing Jack Quinn's--it was a true Irish pub, much more authentic than Nicholson's (even though Nicholson's is supposedly Scottish, that place feels about as Scottish as a Frontgate catalog). I'd go to Jack Quinn's for their great fish and chips, and their live music. I hope that Molly Malone's doesn't stray too far from Quinn's proven formula. The only reason that place went out of business was mismanagement.

Has anyone been to Molly Malone's in Louisville and want to report on what it was like?

Monday, July 02, 2007

Profile of Ruby

I've not mentioned anything about the whole Jeff Ruby-OJ kerfuffle on purpose. Mainly because it was celebrity gossip, not restaurant news. But I did enjoy this article from the Louisville Courier Journal, profiling Mr. Ruby. It gives some good insights into his personality, and I feel I understand him a bit more.

It's often said that you can't hate a person after you understand where they come from. I've said some less than laudatory things about Jeff Ruby here, but I've never met him. I'm going off his public persona. So I'm glad I got a chance to read about him with this article.

I think that the spread of his empire to Louisville, Belterra and further outside of Cincinnati has produced mixed results in his original restaurant, the Precinct. But I still think that's a great steakhouse. It's hard to eat at any of his restaurants and not think about him, which I don't think is necessarily a good thing. I'd like to judge a restaurant on its own merits, but he makes that difficult. The same holds true with Jean-Robert de Cavel, but they just happen to be the two most important restaurateurs in the city.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Need some more Coaching

So tonight, I joined my father for dinner at the Coach and Four restaurant in Walnut Hills. It's in the Edgecliff building, which is, I believe, a condo building with some office space in it. It overlooks the Ohio River and Kentucky--a great view.

Of course, we asked to be seated outside. The first thing I saw when I walked out to the patio was a walker. That should tell you a bit about the clientele. This place would be a great place for a date, but I was the youngest person there by at least 20 years, I'd guess. (I'm 28.)

We were seated right underneath an exhaust port, so we had to talk over it the whole time. No good. Seems really stupid to me that you're going to ruin this great eating balcony with an expansive view of the river with this annoying and loud fan.

Alright, I should say the food was really good. I had a Caesar salad, and it was very good. The croutons stunk, a little too puffy. But great dressing.

I ordered the Coach Penne with grilled chicken. It's been a while since I had some pasta, but it sounded good. The pasta was okay, a little overcooked perhaps. The chicken was good, better. The "sauce" was the highlight, with sundried tomatoes, olive oil, pine nuts and broccoli. Very tasty.

I was looking around this nice little restaurant, and it's a good space. I think it'd make an awesome bar. It could be a better place, a better restaurant.

How many of you have been there? Did you have a better experience?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Mythic Gyros

So I used to live in New York city, and one thing I loved about living there was all the "street meat" vendors. I could get a filling meal for a few bucks that was absolutely delicious. There was one guy I always used to go to, a halal food stand one block north of Union Square. I always ordered the chicken with rice, and I always asked for extra white sauce.

I never really new what the white sauce was, but I think I may have finally figured it out. I have been going to this Greek place right across the street from Newport on the Levee called Mythos on the Levee. They serve wonderful gyros, and they have a great white sauce. I'm guessing it's a cucumber sauce, which is pretty common in Mediterranean cooking.

Now, this may not sound like someone who's knowledgeable about food. Actually, this whole blog may not sound that way. But I grew up in Cincinnati, and what we consider Greek food is chili. So I've got some learning to do on this subject.

I also suspect that the white sauce I had in New York is different than Mythos's, but they are similar, and my pita kind of reminded me of Union Square, which is a great memory.

Anyway, I really love this place. Apparently there are three locations in downtown Cincinnati as well. The pita bread is nice and fresh. The lamb meat is sweet and juicy and the cucumber sauce--well, I've already mentioned that. The whole thing is great.

They have crinkly fries, which have a nice cuteness to them. Don't taste particularly good, but they're kind of fun. I've eaten in, and carried out, and I find that Mythos is a great lunch spot. Good. Fast. Cheap.

I also know that Jordan Valley serves a mean mediterranean meal. Anyone know where I can find a good halal streetmeat vendor?

Monday, June 04, 2007

Deweys and Larosa's

So I just posted something about Dewey's salads, and that reminded me of something I was told last week.

I was at a presentation by the local Samuel Adams distributor. This presentation was put on by Ad2 Cincy, a local professional organization for folks 21-32 who are interested in advertising. The presenter was talking about the challenges of marketing Sam Adams, which is a more expensive beer, and also a better beer. So he was talking about convincing people to "trade up" to Sam Adams.

In the beginning this was hard, because no one knew what great beer tasted like. But then they gradually taught people what great beer tasted like. So anyway, this distributor obviously knows people at Larosa' and he mentioned that the people there were actually happy that Dewey's has shown up on the scene.

Seems counterintuitive, right? Well, they say that Dewey's has educated people in the area about gourmet pizza, allowing Larosa's to sell their own line of gourmet pizzas, at a higher price point than their other pies.

I find that interesting. Do you?

Defending MY Choice of Salad

A few months ago, I listed my votes for the Best of Cincinnati poll conducted by CityBeat magazine. Under best salad, I chose Skyline Chili. For which I received a good piece of criticism.

Anonymous said...

your vote for Skyline as "best salads" negatively taints all else I will read from you- have you no shame? or have you never actually eaten fresh greens?

I gotta say, that's a fair piece of criticism. I knew when I wrote it, I might have to explain myself, or risk losing credibility. So here it is.

I love Skyline's Greek salad. I usually get it a few times a week from the Skyline Chili Mainstrasse. Lettuce, tomatoes, black olives, pepperoncini and feta cheese. Not to mention the dressing. It's a great salad. Throw in some oyster crackers, and we're good to go.

I knew that their ingredients aren't the freshest, but I enjoy the salad so much, I just had to choose it. I get it almost every day, not to list it wouldn't have been right.

Having said that, the Greek Salad at Dewey's is awesome. If it was easier to get it, and cheaper, I might have voted for it. It's a great Greek Salad.

So, sorry if I disappointed you with that choice, but I hope you'll try this salad out. You'll agree it's tasty. Maybe not as great as Dewey's, or other spots, but it's great.

What are some of your favorite salads in town?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Graeter's Finally Coming to Fountain Square

I've said in the past that I have concerns about downtown Cincinnati if a signature Cincinnati chain like Graeter's doesn't want to have a presence there.

Well, there's news today that my fears have been put to rest. Well, maybe not completely, but Graeter's is finally moving back downtown, onto Fountain Square.

I used to live downtown, and one Saturday afternoon I was out for a walk and three tourists stopped me and asked where the nearest Graeter's was. I had to tell them that there wasn't one downtown, and they couldn't believe it. "Downtown Cincinnati doesn't have a Graeter's?"

So now I can say that there is. Good news for everyone, don't you think?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Maribelle's Redux

As loyal readers of this blog may know, (are you out there?) I'm a fan of Maribelle's Tavern. I don't want to toot my own horn too much, but I believe I had the first review of this restaurant, and I've heard many people say they enjoyed the place based on my recommendation.

Anyway, for the first time this weekend I ate in the bar area in the downstairs part of the restaurant. We watched the tail end of the NFL draft and part of the Reds game. I really liked eating at the bar, it was a very relaxed atmosphere. The look and feel of the place reminded me of what's come to be called as the Napa Valley style. But as I was sitting at the bar, all I could see were about 8 bottles of wine, which does not Napa Style make.

Anyway, this time I had the Roast Beef Ciabatta sandwich. This was a great sandwich, with horsey mayo and muenster cheese. The roast beef wasn't a deli slice either, it had the size and texture of a slice straight from the oven. The ciabatta, however, wasn't ciabatta like I know it. It was two slices from a large loaf of sourdough bread, with sesame seeds on it.

So, if you find yourself back there, like I did, you may want to try this sandwich out.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Red in Hyde Park Square

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to eat at Red in Hyde Park Square. I say I had the opportunity, because I don't think I would have eaten there had I not been invited. And that's because I knew it would be expensive, for one. It's on Hyde Park Square, for crying out loud.

But the second reason is that Red is in one of those restaurant blackholes, a location where no one can seem to find any success. I remember going to dinner at J. B. Winnberies in this location back when I was in high school, before a high school dance. I've gone to at least two other restaurants in this location as well.

But back to Red. It's a steak house, and I was in the mood for steak. I ordered the New York Strip with bearnaise and a baked potato. I had heard about their great tomato, mozzarella and basil salad made with all locally grown ingredients, so I asked why I didn't see it. LeeAnn, our energetic server, told us that since the ingredients weren't in season, it wasn't on the menu. She told us to come back in a few months to try it out.

And I'd be happy to. I enjoyed my meal. I realize, it's steak, it's not super tricky to prepare. But it was good steak, cooked to near perfection. A great cut of meat, almost as good as Ruby's.

It was an expensive meal, so for me, it's a great place to go with family.

One thing that I wanted to mention was the atmosphere. Previously, as I recall, there was a large fish tank that separated the bar from the dining room. Red has removed this separator, and it has opened the dining room up. It used to feel like you were eating in a barrel of a cannon, and it doesn't feel that way anymore.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Good News about Bella

Finally, there's word that something's happening at the restaurant space that used to hold Bella. This was a wonderful Modern Italian restaurant in one of the coolest spaces in Cincinnati. It's the location right next to the Aronoff, and I'm surprised it's taken this long for something to happen.

They're auctioning off the contents soon. And here comes the exciting news: David Falk is rumored to be the chef who'll be taking over the space. He's the chef at Boca, for those of you who don't know. One of the city's greatest chef's in one of the city's greatest locations. I hope that happens.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


It's been almost two weeks since my last post, and I'm sorry. I definitely didn't mean to go AWOL for this long, but work got busy. I am going to do a better job of keeping up with posts going forward, but today I'll catch up on some links I've come across over the last few weeks that I wanted to post about, but didn't.

Some articles about food at Great American ballpark were run in the Enquirer around the time of Opening Day. I got a big kick out of them. This article serves up some info on the finer dining options at the ballpark. I've eaten at the Riverfront Club on more than one occasion, and I think it's great. It's not quite the same ballpark experience, but it's a good restaurant experience with an awesome view. They simulcast the 700 WLW broadcast of the game while you eat. I usually get the buffet, they always have good options. The cheese tray is particularly good, well worth it.

They even profile the executive chef of the ballpark.

The Machine Room Grille is a good place to get some food during the game. It has a true pub atmosphere, which is amazing when you think of the atmosphere of all of the eating establishments in the old Riverfront Stadium. Whenever I think of the Machine Room though, I think of how it was supposed to be open year round, but couldn't sustain enough customers when there wasn't any baseball. They didn't tell anyone, people showed up one day and saw a sign that said, basically "We're no longer open unless there's a game on."

Cin Weekly has stopped by one of my favorite little spots: Maribelle's Tavern. I'm still proud to say that this blog was the first to review this great spot. I'm pretty sure that's true, and I realize that doesn't mean a whole heck of a lot, but most media outlets have now written about it. I've also heard a lot of friends try it out and liked it.

Anything else I missed? Let me know what you're thinking about in the comments section, and I may get an idea for a posting. Also, I'm going to have some bonafide reviews coming up in the next few weeks.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Restaurant thoughts on Reds Opening Day, 2007

This post won't concentrate too much on the Cincinnati Reds and their great win over the Chicago Cubs. But I'll admit that I'm a huge baseball fan, a bigger Reds fan, and the Reds have dominated my thinking over the last week or so as I've gotten ready for another season. And I'll also admit that I think the Reds can have a very succssful year.

But other than that, I noticed a couple of interesting articles recently that made me think of the Reds. The first one is this one from the Boston Globe. They're catching up with Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo, who used to pitch for the Red Sox, then was traded to the Reds where he has done awesome.

It's cool to read how a non-Cincinnatian sees the city. Not just Bronson, but also Steve Morse, the Globe reporter. Check out how they both describe Mt. Adams:

"It's nice and chill up here. It is its own community, and I'm still right near the park," Arroyo says, pointing down the hill to the shiny, four-year-old Great American Ball Park by the river's edge. The lights of Kentucky shine across the water. The view is similar to peering into the valleys of Los Angeles, on a smaller, though still impressive, scale.

Arroyo talks about some of his favorite restaurants, including Teak Thai.

The other article is news that Jean-Robert de Cavel has decided to open a restaurant in the new Gateway Quarter of Over-the-Rhine. I'm not too interested in the neighborhood building aspect of this. (Actually, I am, but I don't think this blog is the place for it. And this can be a touchy subject to some, so I'm not going to touch it here.) Either way, this is probably a big coup for that area.

But what really got me thinking about the Reds was all the talk about Broadway Commons as a viable place for the current stadium to be built. Take a look at the third picture on this page, and you'll see the proposed area of benefit that this site would have created, pretty close to where the new Jean-Ro restaurant will be.

Anyway...Baseball's here! Are you as excited as I am?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Results are In

Citybeat Magazine has released their 2007 Best of Cincinnati issue. They have quite an extensive list of foodie destinations on the list. Check it out here.

As you may remember, I voted on the Best of Cincinnat in February and listed the spots I voted for on this blog. Well, you can see that my answers weren't all that different from the Reader's Picks. That kind of surprises me.

Two things that I'm surprised to see, especially from readers of alternative magazines:
PF Changs is voted best Chinese
Zip's is voted best burgers

My goal now for next year is to change enough people's perceptions that some deserving restaurants fill those spaces.

It's fun to look at how my favorite restaurants did in the staff picks and readers picks. Which selections got you hot under the collar?

Photo taken by Kabir Bakie December 2004

Bootsy and Ruby--Together Again for the First Time

This is interesting, and though I think the potential for the highest of high comedy to come out of this, I'm intrigued.

Bootsy Collins and Jeff Ruby are working together to start a restaurant in downtown Cincinnati.

I'll tell you why I think there's potential for high comedy: both of these guys are sort of outsized personalities, but in very different ways. The marriage of their two sensibilities could lead to some sort of Frankenstein restaurant/night club with all the subtlety of porn music.

I'll tell you why I'm intrigued: If they can figure out how to do it, it might be an amazing place. We certainly won't be using the adjectives "classy," "stylish" or "tasteful," but who knows? It could be an extremely fun experience.

Put me on the wait-and-see list, would you Jeff?

Which of my two feelings do you share, or do you see a third possibility?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Graeter's Building Some Buzz

If you're reading this blog right now, which I can tell that you are, odds are that you've had Graeter's ice cream. And if you have, you know how good it is. So it probably doesn't surprise you that Graeter's is creating somewhat of a reputation.

The latest evidence of this comes from Peter King's hugely popular Monday Morning Quarterback NFL Column on Sports Illustrated's website, SI.com. It's no surprise that King is talking up Graeter's, he used to live in Cincinnati and covered the Bengals for the post. This was a long time ago, and he seems to enjoy running down the Bengals, or ignoring them, every chance he gets. But he gets it right when he's talking about Graeter's.

But here's the thing about Graeter's: it's great ice cream, but it is by no means the greatest ice cream in the world. It's better than most, no doubt, and the way they do their fudge chunks is similar to how God fed Moses in the dessert, but it gets an inordinate amount of press, nationally.

And I have a theory why. You may find single ice cream stands that offer wonderful ic cream in every city in the country, but Graeter's is a chain, and therefore is able to affect more people. That helps spread the gospel.

For me, I love the Mint Chocolate Chunk and the Black Raspberry Chip. And my favorite store is the one in Hyde Park Square. How about you?

And do you have any theories as to why Graeter's is building such a buzz?

And do you know of any other ice cream shops or chains that can be included in the conversation?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Boloco--Inspired Burritos

I've been wanting to go to Boloco, a burrito joint on McMillan in Clifton on the UC campus ever since it opened. It bills itself as inspired burritos, not the traditional Mexican burrito. When I first heard this, I thought it sounded great. I love burritos, and I think they can be used as a delivery vehicle for more diverse flavors than the traditional. And that's what Boloco is going for.

You walk in and it feels like you'd expect a burrito joint that serves updated burritos would look like. It feels very modern and slick, with a bright dining area between the front door and the serving area. One wall is painted in an accent red/burgundy color, with a Boloco sign. There are big windows in the front, looking out to an outdoor seating area and McMillan street. They let in lots of light, giving the restaurant an airy feel.

I ordered the Buffalo Chicken burrito, which consisted of chicken, rice, buffalo sauce, bleu cheese dressing and chopped celery. The only thing that doesn't come with a buffalo wings order in a bar is the rice. I was worried about the heat of the hot sauce and the pungent-ness of the dressing; after all, this was lunch and I was going back to the office. But they were both mild enough that I needn't worry.

I loved my burrito--at least the idea of it. The familiar buffalo chicken flavors worked so well together in this new tortilla-wrapped environment. Unfortunately, the rice and the tortilla both tasted dry and bland. It really detracted from the overall taste. I found myself wishing there was less rice and more chicken and buffalo sauce. The chopped celery worked perfectly in conjunction with everything else.

They have fun napkins that include a diagram about how to eat a burrito. They recommend the same method I use, unwrap the foil from the top and leave parts of it on to hold the burrito together. I mention this for a reason. My dining companion ordered the Thai burrito, which looked good and he liked it, though he felt the same way as I did aboutt he rice and the tortilla. But he completely unwrapped the foil, and I laughed at him as the whole thing fell apart on his plate. He was pretty disappointed.

I really like the Boloco menu and idea. I just wish that their execution, especially the rice, was better. But if you enjoy burritos and are looking for something new, definitely try it out.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Message Board Convo about the best of Cincinnati

I'm not too familiar with Chowhound, a pretty burly foody website. I say burly because it's the manliest website about food I've ever scene. They have article, recipes, blogs and message boards.

Well, today I found this thread. A newcomer to the city is still looking for some good places to try, and I'm impressed at the level of response. There are some nice people out there who are paying attention to Cincinnati dining.

Here are the options she's looking for, and my answers in italics:

1. Best Brunch Arthur's

2. Best Study Place/CoffeeHouse Mammoth Cafe

3. Best Mojito (not Kona Bistro, they are taking it off the menu) I wouldn't know

4. Best Late Nite Eats (no chain) in Newport, Pacific Rim is open til 2am Anchor Grill

5. Best Romantic Restaurant Celestial Restaurant

6. Best Mexican Food Habanero's

7. Best Dining with a View City View Tavern

8. Best Happy Hours Habit's Cafe

9. Best Bars (I love a great beer selection!) so hard to pick just one, but if I had to pick...I can't pick just one, but I'll post about my favorites soon, how's that?

Obviously, there are a bunch of Cincinnati folks on this site: look at the results for a search for Cincinnati. Over 600 results!

For a national site, this does a good job of representing Cincinnati cuisine. WHat would your picks for those spots be?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Citybeat Reviews Tink's

If you've read any of my previous posts, you'll know that I have an uncommon love for Tink's Cafe, a wonderful, stylish and unassuming restaurant right off of Ludlow Avenue in Clifton's Gaslight District. Well, it would seem that Citybeat shares my love for this spot.

The reviewer, Anne Mitchell, gives the restaurant a B+. I'd agree with her, but I consistently recommend it, because I just like it's style. Simple, understated and just plain good food.

A couple of interesting things in this review: She noticed they had two oyster dishes, so she figured she'd ask for a different oyster dish, one that was off-the-menu. I've never heard of anyone but Danny Devito in Get Shorty ordering off the menu like that. Good for Tink's that they did it, but I was surprised to read that.

Another interesting part was how she goes on about the price of the special, even going so far as to call the Manager the next day about it. The cost she reports in her review is $5 more than another entree she mentions in the article. That doesn't seem crazy to me, for the daily special to be a few dollars more than another entree.

Still, it's a good review of one of my favorite restaurants. Are any of you on the Tink's bandwagon with me? And have you ever ordered off the menu before?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Five spots for a first date

Surprisingly, all of my great ideas for Valentine's Day didn't get me anywhere closer to actually getting a date. Oh well. I have been on a few dates, though, and thinking about Valentine's did get me thinking about first date spots, so here's a list of five restaurants that are good for first dates.

"David, what are the criteria for a first date spot?" you may ask. Well, I'm glad that you did, because I've been thinking about what makes a good spot for a first date. These are my opinions.

-Not cheap, not too expensive. You want to impress, but you do want to hedge your bets in case things don't work out. I'd set a good ceiling for the check at $80 at the high end.

-Good atmoshpere, friendly. Not stuffy or serious.

-It's good if there's something about the restaurant that you and your date could chat about. Maybe some interesting decor, or a great view. You know, if you can't think of anything else to talk to this person about.

-A menu that can fit a range of tastes. If it's a first date, you probably don't know if your date is vegetarian or has any other specific palates. Make sure the restaurant has a menu with a plethora of options.

-Classy, no sports bars. No TVs in the dining room in general. Too distracting.

I think that's it for now, but if you have any personal criteria for your first date spots, please mention them in the comments section.

1. York Street Cafe
2. JeanRo Bistro
3. Wild Ginger
4. Tink's Cafe
5. Aqua

That's my five, what are your five?

Friday, March 09, 2007

Qdoba burrito stand in CVG airport

I'm actually out of town this weekend, visiting family, but that doesn't mean I'm not on the front lines of culinary taste at the same time. And while my neice is sleeping, I'm also reporting back to you what I've learned.

For the first time I ate at a Qdoba Grill. I've been told by a friend that Qdoba is better than Chipotle, so I've been wanting to go for a while. This particular Qdoba, however, is in Concourse C of the Delta terminal in the Cincinnati airport. For the purposes of this review, I'll give them a handicap for that and assume that the food and service would be better at a regular Qdoba.

I think the best way to compare and contrast different burrito joints is by simply ordering the same burrito at each. I don't know if this will work when I finally make it to Boloco, but it only seems fair to order a chicken burrito with black beans, both hot and spicy salsas (if available), cheese and sour cream. So that's what I got a Qdoba.

I won't comment on the service for the reasons stated above, but I'll just say that it was about what you'd expect in an airport terminal.

The chicken is advertised as being simmered in adobo sauce. I have no idea what that is, so I googled it. It added a nice zing to the chicken. The hot salsa wasn't too hot, which was probably good considering I was about to get on a plane. The medium salsa didn't add too much taste to the proceedings though, which is why I order it in the first place.

Overall, it was okay. I said I wouldn't pass judgment on all Qdoba's based on one in an airport, but even saying that, I'd be happy to go there again. If there was a Chipotle, Qdoba, Burrito Joe's and Fontova all on a street right next to each other, I'd still go to Chipotle first.

So, anyone who's been to another Qdoba want to shed any light on the differences between a real one and the airport version? And are there anyother places in Concourse C that I should try out?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

A few more thoughts on Cincinnati Magazine's Top 25

I continue reading Cincinnati Magazine's list of the Top 25 restaurants in town, mainly because I think Donna Covrett does a good job reviewing them. Something for me to aspire to.

But there is one thing I noticed on second glance. A sidebar states that Slims chef Patrick McCafferty has been consulting with a chef in NYC to recreate the nearby gardening techniques he uses here and using them on rooftop gardens there. Now that sounds like a great idea, and maybe reviewers there will say that you feel like you're in Cincinnati.

Not likely.

I mention that last piece because there's another sidebar in the Top 25 list that pulls up one of my pet peeves. "Restaurants that make us feel like we're in New York." I won't even mention the restaurants listed, because they're in Cincinnati.

I don't think that Donna Covrett wrote this piece, it doesn't sound like her. It was probably some copy editor's idea. This is a pet peeve of mine, as you may have picked up in earlier posts. I'll just point out that there are many restaurants I've seen described as making you feel like you're in New York even though they're in Cincinnati. If there are so many, why doesn't it feel like Cincinnati.

Welcome all Cin Weekly Magazine readers

Unbeknownst to me, Cin Weekly magazine featured this blog in this week's cover story on local bloggers. Talk about a great surprise. If you foudn out about this blog through the article, welcome! I hope you enjoy the blog, come back often and tell all your friend.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Best Restaurants in Cincinnati According to some Magazine

I've had the annual top 25 restaurants in Cincinnati issue of Cincinnati Magazine for almost a month now. I've been looking at it, wondering what I should say about it. And to be honest, I don't think I have anything to say about it.

Here's last year's list.
I don't want to list this year's list, I'm worried about some sort of infringment. You should pick it up while the mag is still on newstands. I like this year's list. I can't disagree with anything on it, mainly because I have so many restaurants to go to still.

Okay, I lied, here are a few observations that I'll make about it:

*I'd be much more interested in going to the Brown Dog Cafe if it had a name that sounded at all appetizing. Brown Dog sounds like fecal matter.

*I always got the impression that Germano's was just a better quality Maccaroni Grill. I should check it out--You've just made my list.

*Nectar made its debut all the way up in the fourth spot. It was already on my list--Nectar, you've moved up my list.

When Cincinnati Magazine updates its (horrible) website with the most updated Top 25 list, I'll be sure to let you know.

How do you think they did? Anything you would've added or taken off?

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Shout out from another Restaurant blog

When I started thinking about writing a blog about my adventures in the Cincinnati culinary scene, I checked out other restaurant review blogs. I read many, but only found one that dealt with Cincinnati restaurants. It's called Read It and Eat, and it's written by a husband and wife team of Angie and Peter.

I don't know anything about them, but from looking at their blog, I think they started writing it when they lived in Cincinnati, but have since moved to Chicago. I love their writing and how knowledgagle they are about food and cooking. They still keep up with Cincinnati restaurants on their blog, but it seems like recently they've focused mainly on Chicago spots. If they were still in Cincinnati, I don't know that I'd have started this blog.

They, like me, have chosen to let their readers get in touch with them through their comments section. If they had an email address on their page, I'd have emailed them and let them know how much I like their blog. I'd also have asked if I could link to them on the left hand column of this site. I went ahead and put them on my blog roll, anyway. I hope they don't mind.

"Why am I getting all of this backstory?" you may be saking yourself right about now. Well, Peter and Angie gave me a shout out on their blog the other day. Not only do I want to return the favor with a shoutout of my own to their great blog, but I also thought it was so cool that they found my blog. I've only be doing this four months, and it's still seems like a small deal to me. But obviously, people who care about restaurants in Cincinnati are finding it.

So, check out their blog. And thanks for welcoming me to the blogging community, Peter and Angie.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Rundown of places to eat at Newport On The Levee

With the opening of Southview Restaurant, the Enquirer gives us a rundown on everything we need to know about the restaurants on the levee. Very helpful article.

I've eaten at Dewey's, and have blogged about it before. The other restaurant I've eaten at is Claddaugh. Let me say this about Claddaugh, there's a reason Ireland is known for it's drinks, and not it's food.

Rondo's Finally Can Pour Some Wine

Well, in the "this is great but where were you four years ago" department, comes the news that Rondo's in Westwood can finally serve wine. I'm very happy that this happened.

But seriously, why did it take four years for one of the best restaurants in town to be able to serve wine? And how did they make it this long without being able to? Is this another example of why it's so hard for small businesses in Ohio?

At least the Cincinnati City Council got on the job and petitioned the State Liquor Board.

So let's raise a glass of wine to the fact that Rondo's can now raise a glass of wine.

Bachelor Party Ideas in Cincinnati

So, I haven't been doing a great job of staying on top of updating this old blog. My bad.

But I've been thinking about a new feature for the blog. In one of my former careers, I'd come up with something called a roundup, a listing of bars, restaurants and destinations in Cincinnati that fit within a theme. Because I've been invited to a bachelor party this weekend, here's a roundup of one idea for a bachelor party. I know nothing about exotic dance clubs, so you'll have to figure that out on your own.

This is kind of a gambling themed bachelor party. If you like gambling, but don't have the means to get you and all your friends to Vegas, then this is the party for you.

First, start your day at one of two local racetracks, River Downs or Turfway Park. If you think far enough in advance, you can see about getting one of the races named after the bachelor, like the Last Day as a Free Man Stakes, or something like that.

Next, dinner. And really, when I think of a bunch of guys getting together, I think steaks. And even though I've had some less than nice things to say about this steakhouse, I can't think of nothing better than the trophy room at the Precinct. It features trophys from the '76 World Series and one of Johnny Bench's Gold Gloves. And there steak is among the best in the city.

After dinner, it's drink time. For some Vegas style clubbing, drop by the Pavilion, in Mt. Adams. Don't stay too long, though, because you'll want to grab a cab and head over to Argosy Casino for some real gambling. A taxi ride will cost you about $50, but you may need to do some negotiating to get the best rate. Ask your cab driver to give you a price to get to Argosy, don't go by the meter.

After that, make sure you get the groom back in time for his big day.

I'm going to be coming up with more of these in the future, on a completely unpredictable schedule, so if you have any more ideas for types of parties, let me know in the comment section.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

My Answers for the CityBeat Best of Cincinnati 2007 Survey

So CityBeat just finished the voting on their year Best of Cincinnati survey. I took it. Well, I answered a few of the questions, only the ones about restaurants. And only the ones I've been to in the last year or so.

That's why some of my answers my not be what you'd expect. For instance, no Jean-Robert at Pigall's. I still haven't eaten there. (I know, I know, it's on my list) But some other restaurants you may expect to see here won't because I think they're highly overrated. For instance--Zips.

So here's my list:

Best Overall Restaurant: Tink's Cafe
Best New Restaurant: Aqua
Best First Date Restaurant: Bistro JeanRo
Best Restaurant with a View: City View Tavern
Best Restaurant with Live Music: Tink's Cafe
Best Asian (Not Chinese): Teak Thai Cuisine
Best Bagels: Panera Bread
Best Bakery: Busken
Best Barbeque: Montgomery Inn
Best Breakfast: Bob Evans
Best Burgers: City View Tavern
Best Burritos/Wraps: Chipotle
Best Business Lunch: Chez Nora
Best Cheap Eats: Anchor Grill
Best Chef: Jean Robert de Cavel
Best Chili (Chain): Skyline
Best Chili (Non-Chain): Camp Washington
Best Chinese: Oriental Wok
Best Coffeehouse: Mammoth Coffee
Best Deli: Aynies
Best Desserts: Graeter's
Best Italian: Nicola's
Best Mexican: Habanero's
Best Outdoor Dining: City View Tavern
Best Pizza (chain): Donato's
Best Pizza (non-chain): Raimundo's
Best Salads: Skyline
Best Sandwiches: Aynie's
Best Seafood: Teak Thai Cuisine
Best Steaks: Celestial
Best Sunday Brunch: Arthur's
Best Sushi: Teak Thai Cuisine
Best Takeout: Mount Lookout Taverns
Best Waitstaff: Oakley Pub and Grill
Best Wings: Mount Lookout Tavern

So that's it. Lots of Tinks, City View. Please, feel free to disagree in the comments section.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Heart Shaped Pizza From Mio's

So, a couple of weeks ago I wrote (somewhat jokingly) about celebrating Valentine's Day at White Castle. Well, for those of you who didn't think that was such a great way to say I love you, how about this?

You can get a heart shaped pizza from Mio's Pizzeria!

Seriously, what says love like pizza?

I'm trying to think of how you can use this pizza to let your sweetheart know how much you care. Get a footlong sub, a Mio's heart shaped pizza and a cake from the Bonbonerie. Cut the cake so that it looks like a U. Set up the three dishes across your table from left to right so that it says "I (heart) U."

Can you believe I'm single?

Tales From Behind the Bar

Like my post last week about the Cincinnati Burger Guys and food blogs in Cincinnati, I've found another that you should check out. It's called the Tavern Wench Blog and is by a bartender here in Cincinnati.

She recounts some interesting stories she's seen at her bar, gives some tips and advice about how to treat your friendly neighborhood barkeep, even shares some mixed drink recipes. I really enjoy it. And you should check it out.

Posh Chinese Restaurants

I thought this was interesting:

Last week, the Enquirer carried stories about P. F. Changs and Oriental Wok on the same day.

In this article, P. F. Changs is getting new menu items.

And in this article, Oriental Wok is opening their yearly celebration of Chinese New Year up to the public.

It's interesting that Oriental Wok's news is more about celebrating Chinese culture than P. F. Changs. Because in my experience, the restaurants are like that as well. Oriental Wok is a family restaurant, whose owner was born in China and emigrated.

And their food is better than P. F. Changs, in my experience. I'm still having trouble getting over the grill marks I had on my beef and broccolli dinner there one night. P. F. Changs is a national chain, and to me it feels like a Cheesecake Factory that serves Chinese food. Not authentic at all.

The food at Oriental Wok is very fresh and bursting with flavor. I've loved everything I've had there, so I'd say try anything.

Where do you come in on the P. F. Changs--Oriental Wok debate?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

New Restaurant Coming to the Levee

There's information here that a new restaurant is coming to Newport on the Levee, an urban soul food spot called SouthView.

It sounds like an interesting menu, and it's going into a great spot. Do you realize how many great restaurants are in that area? It'd be great for Cincinnati if the Banks could approach 1/4 of the number of great restaurants that are in or near Newport on the Levee.

Here's the logo from the SouthView press release:
Their press release makes it sound like it will have a great menu. I'm all for using locally grown ingredients.

The SouthView menu will change with the seasons, always featuring locally grown produce, Kentucky raised beef, lamb and pork. The inviting atmosphere of the restaurant includes a large dining area, a cozy fireplace, a fresh herb garden and a unique view of the kitchen. SouthView’s thirty-foot granite bar features local wines, an extensive Kentucky bourbon selection, and unique cocktails. The restaurant also has a private dining room, ideal for intimate celebrations, with customizable menus, an eighteen-person antique oak table, and personalized service.

I'll definitely check it out when it opens, and get back to everyone who reads this blog (all three of you, hi dad!)

Double Deckers at Blue Ash Chili

So, I was listening to the radio this past Sunday. And not wanting to be inundated by pointless filler as the announcers were getting ready for the big game, I was listening to NPR. The program on is a show called The Splendid Table, which I listen to from time to time.

This is a nationally syndicated radio program, and it covers not just restaurants, but mostly cooking. You can listen to the segment I'm referring to on a link on this page.

I was amazed as I was listening to hear the word "Cincinnati." Immediately, my ears perked up. Then they started talking about chili parlors, so I figured they were going to talk about chili and how unique ours is. But no, the hosts started talking about double deckers.

Now, I'm going to have to admit ignorance here. Whenever I go to a chili parlor, it's probably Skyline or Gold Star. And they don't serve the kinds of double deckers that are mentioned in this segment. So I need to get out more to the neighborhoods and experience these parlors.

Apparently, these double deckers are basically a full sandwich served on top of another sandwich. It sounds like an embarassment of lunch meat. The hosts talked about how much they enjoyed the double deckers at Blue Ash chili.

I'm familiar with Red Squirrel, which serves double deckers, but no chili. Is this similar to the double deckers served at chili parlors?

Also on the Splendid Table site, I found this segment on best ice cream in the country, and guess which local chain made it?

So which neighborhood chili parlors should I go to to find some double deckers? And which sandwich should I have served on top of which sandwich? (i.e. what combos are good?)

A Great Cincinnati Dining Blog

I'm pretty new on the Cincinnati dining blog scene, having started only in November of 2006. One of the blogs that I've found as I've looked for ideas is run by the Cincinnati Burger Guys.

They focus solely on burgers, and they do a great job. They have a whole rating system in place, and even have an honor roll of their highest rated burger joints. I like how they tell the stories of their trips to the various burger spots, draws you right in.

And, we share similar tastes. They like City View Tavern and Oakley Pub and Grill, I like City View Tavern and Oakley Pub and Grill.

Check their site out, and let me know what you think.

Burger Madness At Arthur's

So last week I went with some coworkers to Burger Madness at Arthur's in Hyde Park Square. For those who don't know, Burger Madness offers patrons the opportunity to get any of the 14 toppings that Arthur's carries on your burger for the low price of $6. They don't let you get boursin cheese for that price unfortunately, but it's a good deal.

Tabari McCoy of Cin Weekly did a good profile of this and other burger deals in this piece.

Arthur's has a deserved reputation as having some of the best burgers in the area. On non-burger madness days, I'll get the boursin cheese burger because that's one of my favorite cheeses. Obviously, that wasn't an option today.

So, I got a little cheeky and ordered my favorite burger from the Oakley Pub and Grill. That would be the banana jack burger--pepper jack cheese, banana peppers and bacon on top of a medium rare burger. It was delicious.

The meat was great--high-quality meat with only a taste of seasoning, cooked perfectly. There could have been another one or two strips of bacon, but they tasted great, nice and crunchy and not rubbery at all.

If I have one problem with Arthur's, it's one I've had for a long time--their buns are too thick. I like to call them bready buns. They are so thick that I feel they take away from some of the great taste of the burger.

However, I asked the coworkers I was eating with if they had a problem with their buns at all, and no one felt the same way I did. So maybe it's just me.

As for the atmosphere, you really can't beat it. If you haven't been, you should go to Arthur's for a Cheers feeling. There's a mural on the wall from the 70's of the regulars, if that doesn't make you feel like their customers are important to them, I don't know what would.

So, who has burger madness? Any wacky ideas for burger combos that turned out to be really good? Let us know.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Aynie's In Longworth Hall

There’s a new restaurant that’s serving lunch in the downtown Cincinnati area called Aynie’s. I believe that you pronounce that like Annie’s, but don’t ask me where it comes from.

It is located in the old My Three Chefs space in Longworth Hall. That’s at 700 West Pete Rose Way, right next to Whiskey Dicks. They serve sandwiches, soups, wraps and salads, as well as some baked goods. There’s also a catering business that’s run out of this kitchen.

The atmosphere in this space is very utilitarian. White walls, an empty bar and some tables. The only decorative piece is really the menu, which is painted onto a large mirror behind the lunch counter.

Yeah, this place is pretty much about the food. And they do that right. I’ve eaten there a few times. They start with great ingredients, and when you’re making sandwiches, what else is there.

My personal favorite here is the Philly Cheese Steak wrap. It substitutes the steak that you would expect with some high-quality roast beef. In addition, it has provolone cheese, Mayo, onions and tomatoes. I also asked for some banana peppers on mine, which they were happy to provide.

I’ve also had the BLT wrap and a turkey sandwich. They are all very good sandwiches. At $5 and above, they had better be.

One thing worth mentioning about this restaurant is that there is free parking here. In Downtown Cincinnati, that’s one annoying part of meeting someone for lunch, so Aynie’s is a good option for lunch meetings.

As far as places to get a good sandwich, with free parking, Aynie’s is a wonderful option. Try it out.

Buffalo Wings at Mount Lookout Tavern

Okay, so all this talk about hot wings in preparation for the Super Bowl gave me a hankering for some wings. So I decided to stop in to the Mount Lookout Tavern, or MLT’s to pick up some of the hot stuff.

So I’m going to digress here and ask a few questions. Please, if you know any of the answers, feel free to enlighten all of us with the comment feature below.

Do all local bars and pubs, like MLT’s get their ingredients from the same source?

Does Cysco or some other food supplier give them the same ingredients? Or is there some mixing and matching involved?

Anyway, back to the review. You might guess from the above questions that I thought the wings were pretty average, but that’s not it. I was expecting average, and was surprised at how good the wings were.

I got a 15 wing order of hot wings to go. They also offered barbeque wings and garlic wings. When I got home, I was very pleased with how plump the drumsticks and wings were. This is probably the one area I was not expecting much, and MLT’s delivered with perfect sized wings. Much more meat on the bone than a place like Hooters.

The hot was a good hot, the kind that started hurting your skin if you let it sit too long. It was nice and messy, and I went through more than a few heavy-duty paper towels. And when they say hot, they mean hot. Not so hot that I couldn’t stomach it, but spicy for a guy who likes spicy.

So, I went in with low expectations and was pleasantly surprised. Of course, if you’re reading this, I’ve just raised your expectations. In my opinion, these are good wings, nice and crispy, as big as you’d want them and hot. Nothing fancy, but why would you want fancy hot wings?

So, does anyone know where places like MLT’s get their wings? How much is up to the individuals in the kitchen, or is it pretty uniform across the board?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Valentine's at White Castles

Get your Valentine's Day plans together! For the second year in a row, White Castles in the area are accepting reservations for candlelit dinners on this romantic evening at all of their 19 locations.

I can only assume they're doing this as a joke. And good for them for having a sense of humor about their image.

Now, as a guy, if you ask your girlfriend to go with you, and she says yes because it's funny, marry her. If you ask her to and she says yes because she can't get enough sliders, run away.

Now, for the ladies, if your boyfriend asks you to go, either jokingly or seriously, run away.

And if someone you aren't dating asks you to Valentine's at White Castle, run away quickly.

So, does anyone want to go with me to White Castle?

Lookout Joe in Mt. Lookout Square

Apparently, not everything is expensive in the Hyde Park/Mt. Lookout area. Lookout Joe is a coffee shop and restaurant that serves sandwiches, quicke and other light fare.

In Cin Weekly's 2 for $20 column, Katie Kelley was able to get lunch for two for about $13. Granted, it's lunch, but that's still pretty good.

Are there any other spots in the area that serve a surprisingly cheap, good meal?

Who has the best wings in Cincinnati?

That's the question that the Enquirer put to their readers in this article. Now, I'm not a huge connoisseur of wings--I like them, I don't go around town trying them out.

I blogged a couple of months ago saying that if I was ever in Fort Thomas, I'd try 915 Pub and Grill for their excellent burgers. Well, now I have to say the same thing about Fort Wright and Dickmann's Kentucky Sports Cafe and their wings.

I think I'm not spending enough time eating in Northern Kentucky.

Anyway, I've had the wings at Buffalo Wild Wings, and I really like them. I've had Domino's as well, and they are no good.

I'm surprised the folks who wrote this article didn't look at Hooters. In my opinion, you need to order Hooters wings naked, which means they don't have that thick layer of fried bread, just a crisp natural skin.

I can't agree or disagree with the findings of this survey. They did a great job of trying many wings around town. My favorite would be Buffalo Wild Wings, how about you?

Good way to keep the Bengals off the streets

It seriously seems like having a professional football team has made Cincinnati unsafe. Today, Chris Henry is going to jail, and one coffee shop owner has his own idea for keeping the streets safe.

This is funny, and appropriate for him because his shop is just a couple of miles away from where Jonathan Joseph got arrested.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Embers in Kenwood

There was a time when a steak from one of Jeff Ruby's restaurants was the best thing to eat in town. His beef made everyone else's steaks taste like shoe leather. But that's not the case anymore, and the best case in point of this is Embers in Kenwood.

I started thinking about Embers today when I came across this older review of the Steak-Seafood-Sushi restaurant in Citybeat. I went there a couple of years ago, and thought they had great steaks, good sushi, nice interior design.

It's in a strip mall, though, and I couldn't get over that feeling.

Catching up on Cincinnati Dining

Alright, so it's been a while since my last post, and for whoever out there is actually reading this site, I apologize. I'm going to quickly rundown some recent Dining news here in Cincinnati, and come back with some new posts soon. I hope.

Interesting business article about the Buffalo Wings and Rings franchise. Not much here about the culinary experience, but I found this article insightful about the business of running a chain restaurant. Personally, big fan of buffalo wings in general, but don't know the last time I ate at a BWR. The rundown of how the role of chicken wings have changed in the last three decades was especially interesting.

The owners of McFaddens are opening a new bar downtown in the former Redfish. I'm a fan of McFaddens, it somehow succeeds at being a posh spot without being too snooty. It sounds like this new place, Sully's will be more of a sports bar. I say if it can bring in cute girls like McFaddens does, it will do well.

Citybeat reviews a new restaurant, Cafe de Paris, in the ever expanding East Hyde Park Dining District. Okay, I just made that term up. And I don't know if four or so restaurants along Erie Avenue constitues a district. But you've got to admit, Bangkok Bistro, China Gourmet, Cumin and now Cafe de Paris do make an impressive lineup on what was once a nondescript stretch.

I believe Citybeat also has the first review of a restaurant I reviewed three weeks ago--Maribelles Tavern. And like me, they like it. The reviewer mentions a sandwich I don't think I mentioned in my review, the grown-up grilled cheese. My mom ordered it when I went there, so I stole a few bites. It really is grown-up, with much more complex flavors than normal grilled cheese. The caramelized onions add a nice twist to the goat cheese.

Apparently, according to this profile by Cin Weekly, Allyn's has dropped the word cafe from its name. Diners all over the East Side won't struggle with the name change. It seems as though the reviewer thought the food served at Allyn's was mediocre. Based on my experiences, I'd agree. They're burritos are consistently dissappointing.

So, has anyone tried Maribelle's yet? Anyone want to join me and start refering to Erie Avenue by Pinehurst the East Hyde Park Dining District? Anyone want to join me and start a Buffalo Wings and Rings franchise?

Catching up on Cincinnati Dining

Alright, so it's been a while since my last post, and for whoever out there is actually reading this site, I apologize. I'm going to quickly rundown some recent Dining news here in Cincinnati, and come back with some new posts soon. I hope.

Interesting business article about the Buffalo Wings and Rings franchise. Not much here about the culinary experience, but I found this article insightful about the business of running a chain restaurant. Personally, big fan of buffalo wings in general, but don't know the last time I ate at a BWR. The rundown of how the role of chicken wings have changed in the last three decades was especially interesting.

The owners of McFaddens are opening a new bar downtown in the former Redfish. I'm a fan of McFaddens, it somehow succeeds at being a posh spot without being too snooty. It sounds like this new place, Sully's will be more of a sports bar. I say if it can bring in cute girls like McFaddens does, it will do well.

Citybeat reviews a new restaurant, Cafe de Paris, in the ever expanding East Hyde Park Dining District. Okay, I just made that term up. And I don't know if four or so restaurants along Erie Avenue constitues a district. But you've got to admit, Bangkok Bistro, China Gourmet, Cumin and now Cafe de Paris do make an impressive lineup on what was once a nondescript stretch.

I believe Citybeat also has the first review of a restaurant I reviewed three weeks ago--Maribelles Tavern. And like me, they like it. The reviewer mentions a sandwich I don't think I mentioned in my review, the grown-up grilled cheese. My mom ordered it when I went there, so I stole a few bites. It really is grown-up, with much more complex flavors than normal grilled cheese. The caramelized onions add a nice twist to the goat cheese.

Apparently, according to this profile by Cin Weekly, Allyn's has dropped the word cafe from its name. Diners all over the East Side won't struggle with the name change. It seems as though the reviewer thought the food served at Allyn's was mediocre. Based on my experiences, I'd agree. They're burritos are consistently dissappointing.

So, has anyone tried Maribelle's yet? Anyone want to join me and start refering to Erie Avenue by Pinehurst the East Hyde Park Dining District? Anyone want to join me and start a Buffalo Wings and Rings franchise?

Catching up on Cincinnati Dining

Alright, so it's been a while since my last post, and for whoever out there is actually reading this site, I apologize. I'm going to quickly rundown some recent Dining news here in Cincinnati, and come back with some new posts soon. I hope.

Interesting business article about the Buffalo Wings and Rings franchise. Not much here about the culinary experience, but I found this article insightful about the business of running a chain restaurant. Personally, big fan of buffalo wings in general, but don't know the last time I ate at a BWR. The rundown of how the role of chicken wings have changed in the last three decades was especially interesting.

The owners of McFaddens are opening a new bar downtown in the former Redfish. I'm a fan of McFaddens, it somehow succeeds at being a posh spot without being too snooty. It sounds like this new place, Sully's will be more of a sports bar. I say if it can bring in cute girls like McFaddens does, it will do well.

Citybeat reviews a new restaurant, Cafe de Paris, in the ever expanding East Hyde Park Dining District. Okay, I just made that term up. And I don't know if four or so restaurants along Erie Avenue constitues a district. But you've got to admit, Bangkok Bistro, China Gourmet, Cumin and now Cafe de Paris do make an impressive lineup on what was once a nondescript stretch.

I believe Citybeat also has the first review of a restaurant I reviewed three weeks ago--Maribelles Tavern. And like me, they like it. The reviewer mentions a sandwich I don't think I mentioned in my review, the grown-up grilled cheese. My mom ordered it when I went there, so I stole a few bites. It really is grown-up, with much more complex flavors than normal grilled cheese. The caramelized onions add a nice twist to the goat cheese.

Apparently, according to this profile by Cin Weekly, Allyn's has dropped the word cafe from its name. Diners all over the East Side won't struggle with the name change. It seems as though the reviewer thought the food served at Allyn's was mediocre. Based on my experiences, I'd agree. They're burritos are consistently dissappointing.

So, has anyone tried Maribelle's yet? Anyone want to join me and start refering to Erie Avenue by Pinehurst the East Hyde Park Dining District? Anyone want to join me and start a Buffalo Wings and Rings franchise?

Monday, January 08, 2007

Skyline In Florida

Here's a fun fact for the day taht Ohio State gets ready to take on the University of Florida in the BCS championship game: there are Skyline Chili restaurants in Florida.

I had actually seen one of these a few years ago, so I wasn't completely surprised. I think that what they serve at Skyline would be popular almost anywhere, but calling it chili throws people off. It's just not what most people think of as chili.

I'm not sure how well known this is, but a tavern in New York City holds a semi-regualr Cincinnati night that is pretty well-attended, from what I understand.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Teller's in Hyde Park

So a friend of mine used to be the hostess at Teller's on Hyde Park Square, and she said that she got sick of the people who came into the restaurant. Apparently, there's a bit of a nose candy crowd that comes in a lot. I'm not saying that it's going on in the bathrooms or anything like that, but that is the type of young professional that frequents this joint.

I was thinking about my friend's story when I read this review of Teller's in the Enquirer. It's a positive review, and I'd agree. Their food is pretty good. My favorite dish of theirs is an appetizer, a buffalo chicken eggroll. It sounds good, but when it arrives at your table, you start to doubt your choice. It looks like a regular eggroll, and the buffalo flavor comes from a dipping sauce that looks like it may cause the roll to disintegrate. But it surprises you with how great it tastes, how the dipping actually works. For as strange as it looks, it provides a comforting familiar taste that's very enjoyable.

But the thing that gets me is the description of the scene. My take on the crowd is that the people who come here are professional young professionals--guys who think they're working on Wall Street in the go-go '80's and ladies trying to be trophy wives. I'm probably exaggerating, but my friend's story makes me think maybe I'm not.

I love the building. You can tell it once was a bank, with many fun decorative accents harking back to that time. I've never been in the vault, but I'd venture that it's the coolest mini-dining room in the city, along with the kilns at Porkopolis Tavern and the Trophy Room in the Precinct.

Alright, I feel a little bad about my description of the crowd. Does someone want to defend the patrons of this fun restaurant?

License Fiasco

What's the knock against Cincinnati? That it's not helpful to smaller business? Well, that's one of many. But this editorial by Peter Bronson shows just how that reputation gets earned.

I've not been to Rondo's, but I hear that it's a great restaurant. And it's trying to make it in a part of town that doesn't have a reputation for having great restaurants. But the state liquor control board isn't helping any.

Too be fair, this isn't the city's fault, it's the state's. But could the city step in on behalf of Rondo's and try to help? They did that for the restaurants moving into the new Fountain Square area.

We're what, the second largest city in the state? Couldn't we swing a big bat in Columbus to help these smaller restaurants? Or couldn't we take a liquor license from a Chilli's or an Applebee's?

Web www.cincinnatirestaurantreview.blogspot.com