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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.

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.

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