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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.

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.

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