Web www.cincinnatirestaurantreview.blogspot.com

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, 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.

Web www.cincinnatirestaurantreview.blogspot.com