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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, 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?

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