Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Big Birthday/ Big Week

I had a big birthday this past week, of course, at our age all birthdays are big. In celebration we we're treated to several meals and nights out.
On the exact day, last Tuesday, our daughter and son-in law took us to the "Oriental Wok" Hyde Park for a birthday dinner prepared by the Chef, our friend, Guy Burgess.
The meal started with an excellent seafood soup, very much along the taste range of "egg drop" but with more vegetables ( peas, asparagus, corn and water chestnuts) plus large amounts of lobster, crab and scallops, all cut into bite sized chunks. This was followed by perfectly done, extremely tender, New Zealand, rack of lamb basted with a Chinese sauce whose roots go back to the sweet sauce served with Mo Shoo, plus a little wine and herbs. Exceptional. Also accompanying the lamb was a bowl of Chinese greens in a light butter sauce. For desert it was Key Lime Pie. How could a meal be more special.
The next night we were guests of our cousins at "The Red Feather" 3200 Madison Road  (513) 407-3631. The food was great and the service horrible. I had a beet salad and a scallop dish consisting of 3 large "diver" scallops on a bed of Polenta. The light citrus sauce brought the flavors together perfectly. Because of a mix up on some of the other orders the management sent orders of Creme Brulee and a large Chocolate torte to the table for our "dolci".  It's a shame the service was not up to the food.
Another evening we were hosts at "Alfio's" 2724 Erie Ave (513) 321-0555. We had been there many months ago but found the food and service greatly improved, on this visit. I would recommend this convenient spot on Hyde Park Square. I had 3 starters, all very tasty; their take on Cioppino, which I found thin but well seasoned and plenty of seafood, a pear, fig and green salad and Argentine sausage sliders. Marilyn stuck with the wild mushroom Ravioli which she said was some of the best she has had. Everyone seemed well satisfied. If there was any negative it was the noise level on a very full Friday night.
Three other spot, "Pelican's Reef", always a favorite , Monday night for beer and a Grouper Ruben Sandwich, "Otto's", need I say more, for lunch B.F.T, E, Bacon, Fried Green tomatoes, Fried egg and cheese sandwich and their terrific tomato soup and Eli's Bar-B-Que on Eastern Ave. Lot's of good vitals to get me started on another year.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Back again

I went this morning to the Let's Eat Out course at OLLI. It was like old times. The title also refers to the first 22 days in Sept. when we were traveling. I'm not sure where to start but I'll just go in chronological order.

Sept 1 we departed for Boston and attended a funeral of or very good friends son, age 56. After the funeral we took a 5 PM flight to Amsterdam, arriving at mid-night EST. It really is an easy time change. We spent three days with friends in Holland and then flew directly from Amsterdam to Southampton UK where we boarded the Crystal Serenity for a 13 day, 5 totally at sea, via the North Atlantic back to Boston. Since this is a food Blog I won't go into detail about being pampered and over fed on the ship. Our return to Boston on Sept 19 was in time for a small, partial "family reunion".Three full days in Boston and then back to Cincinnati.
Three eating experiences, not on the ship, were a home cooked Indonesian dinner, by the wife of our host; Icelandic lobster(Langoustine) and Arctic Char at "The Lobster" in Reykjavik and the Lobster roll at the Side St. Cafe in Bar Harbor ME. I learned from the owner that Lobster Rolls come in all shapes and prices, the less costly the roll the less lobster meat and more celery and mayo. This roll was $22 and contained almost all tail meat with very little dressing. Not surprising "you get what you pay for".

This morning, when the speaker did not show up I want over some of our eating places in the area.
First, the Mason area: The Phoneitian Taverna, Straits of Mallaca and Wildflower. Then moving on into town we spoke of "Eli's" the very popular Bar-B-Q restaurant on Eastern Ave( often easier to carry out than eat in); the bar at the Residence Inn, in the old Phelps on East 4th St. Great summer roof top and very convenent in the regular bar, before a show or CSO or afterwards for a drink and something to go with the beverage.
Moving to Rookwood Plaza the conversation shifted to The Capitol Grill, a one time experience for us and Seasons 52, both upscale chains. We find Seasons 52 good with an interesting caloric controlled menu.
A full discussion  of Italian eating spots from Nicola's  to Brio and other chains. We didn't leave out Sotto, Via Vite, Prima Vista Enoteca Emilia and several others in the area.
The discusion today didn't go heavily into OTR or into KY or Dayton, all homes for enjoyable dining. More on those areas latter.
Spell check broken so good luck; as I said Were back.

Monday, August 18, 2014

New place and some new grub

A few week ago we went to Mason to "Strait's of Malacca". This time our adventure to this Northern suburb was for a meal, with friends, at the "Wildflower Cafe" 207 E. Main St., Mason OH. 513-492-7514.
This informal restaurant, with polished, bare, wooden tables serves up an interesting mixture of local and remote dishes, all stressing fresh ingredients.. Our meal started with Fried Green tomato's, not quite up to "Otto's" in crispness, but good none the less. The tomato's were topped with a cold poached egg, which in my opinion added little.
We followed with an excellent Lobster cake, with quite a bit of lobster meat, augmented with some crab.
Our main course consisted of a full rack of Pork ribs, done fairly crisp and falling of the bone. The sauce was plentiful and the sides of mashed sweet potato's, nicely seasoned and collard greens, in need of vinegar, which they provided upon request, fit the southern dish.

Other spots where we dined have been "Ruth's Parkside Cafe" just off Hamilton Ave. at Blue Rock (North side). We have found this place good and quite reasonable, $25 to $30 including drinks, tip and tax. The soups, the other night, were quite good, with Marilyn enjoying the Barley and I the seafood( fairly sparse) Gumbo. I had a creole cat fish, served on a risotto cake while Marilyn followed her soup with spaghetti in a rich meat sauce. The table split a piece of moist chocolate cake. Others had, salad, Salmon and a Spinach stir fry on Pasta.

"The National Exemplar" 6880 Wooster Pike 45227( Mariemont), after a movie, came up with their usual Viennese Mushroom soup and an interesting Caesar salad with hard boiled eggs and shaved Kentucky Ham. Marilyn's mushroom ravioli seemed to hit the spot.
"Seasons 52" 3819 Edwards Road, Norwood trotted out a small crab salad, for Marilyn, not wholly satisfactory, and an interesting Crispy Duck Banh Mi which I enjoyed and would have again, spice and all.
Their deserts are 3 to 4 bite sized but the peach crisp was to my liking.

The last few nights have been home with summer dishes stressing fresh tomato's, corn and fruit. Summer is wonderful.\

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Big Week

It was a very big week at the feeding trough. Most were public, open to all, with cash or a valid credit card, but one or two were private.
Last Wednesday night was prime rib night at Losantiville Country Club(LCC). Marilyn and I, with our guest, took part. It was plate service and with the meat you had a choice or soup or salad and two sides. Both King and Queen size portions were served, the difference being 4 to 5 oz. All slices came covered with onion straws. Meat was cooked and served, as ordered and all sides were plentiful. The bar provided all kinds of beverages. Plenty to eat and a heavy stomach liner for the week to come.

Thursday, with another couple it was the "Oriental Wok" Regency where our friend Guy Burgess, the excellent chef, had ordered fresh "soft shelled" crabs from his supplier, at our request.
We started with spring rolls and a divided Scallion Pancake, eight pieces of a flat bread encasing chopped scallions and spices. The crabs came both sauteed or fixed in a Chinese manor having been covered with corn starch, before deep frying and then covered with diced vegetable and a very light spicy sweet sauce. I had the Chinese preparation.
Everyone left quite satisfied.

Saturday, after lunch at the Cincinnati Art Museum Terrace Cafe, good food at a reasonable price, we and two friends had dinner at "Ruth's Parkside Cafe"  4101 Spring Grove Ave. It was our second trip and the place was full, turning their tables, at least, three times that evening. The food is good, plentiful (except the pie) and reasonable. My "bone in" pork chop was excellent. Seasoned well  and served with a wine reduction over a helping of mashed sweet potato. The plate was finished with marinated spinach leaves. Marilyn stuck with a large house salad and her favorite, pasta with meat sauce.

Sunday Brunch at the outstanding "Orchids" in the Netherlands Plaza down town. To quote Tom Gill "why in the world would you go anywhere else". The senior brunch is $24.95 and is enough for the whole day and the night. Everyone does not eat in the quantity that I do, but there are even a few who eat more. All at our table had 3 plates; one breakfast items, the second lunch and the third dessert, from excellent pastry chef.
Hospitality and service are the finest we find in the City.
Oh yes, my first plate was eggs Benedict, country pate, croissant, chilled shrimp( firm and sweet) smoked salmon, and cherry crisp, my fruit compote. Second plate, fried chicken drum stick, whole duck leg with ratatouille, and cheese grits, with bacon. Dessert included, two bite sized pieces of lemon tart, brown sugar, butter cake, "rocky road brownie with roasted marshmallow and tiramisu. Enough!!
That night we had a standing date, I wish we were standing, and we all went to "Zips Cafe", which I am never sure whether it is public or or private with just all the same people. A bowl of chili was sufficient.

Last night "Greyhound Tavern" 2500 Dixie Highway, Ft Mitchell KY 859-331-3767. We all started with a drinks and their Hugh onion rings followed by the perennially good Fried chicken "family style dinner". Chicken, mashed potato's, gravy, green beans, Cole slaw and biscuits. Always good and more sides available, upon request.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Straits of Malacca

Here is a new one for us. "Straits of Malacca" 202 W. Main St, Mason OH 45040 (5130 492-7656 bills itself as Uniquely Malaysian Dinning, and then lives up to it's billing. It is certainly for the more adventurous, although anyone can find something to eat. Those who are willing to experiment will find unique, delicious food, far different from most Oriental restaurants. To say the least, I loved the experience.
The help are most accommodating, from Chef through hostess to servers and busers. They could not have been nicer or more attentive.
Marilyn and I started with their version of a "spring roll". Translucent rice noodle wrap, not fried, with large pieces of chopped shrimp, bean sprouts, scallions, carrot strips and herbs all doused lightly with a semi spicy sauce. A luscious starter. Marilyn, being less adventurous than I, followed with rack of lamb, lamb pangkor, it comes in two sizes, full and light, served with noodles, cauliflower and mushrooms in it's own unique sauce.
The other man, and I shared a Curry Grouper fish head, for two. The platter, large, comes with the fish head broken into sections, including bones, swimming in a tasty curry sauce, broth consistency, loaded with cooked fresh vegetable; fresh tomato pieces, sweet red peppers, green beans, roasted pieces of eggplant and a few mushroom. Plenty of dinner for two healthy eaters ( cost $25). This is self served into an indented plate over a large helping of rice.Take as much and as often as you like.
Desert was a gelatin cake which while interesting was the least memorable. As you can guess we will return, although it is a long way from our home, in the city near the river.

Last night, for Marilyn's birthday, the family went to "Otto's", Covington, to celebrate. The menu has changed slightly, with more emphasis on bar food and smaller plates. Three of us had the sea scallops served on a bed of risotto, while Marilyn had her usual Tilapia, she had used up her experimental genes Saturday night at Straits. Of course, we all had the excellent fried green tomato's and others had Watermelon Gazpacho, fried eggplant sandwich and an interesting Brie and Berry green salad.
For desert our, in town children brought a BonBonerie Opera Cream cake, too rich , but enjoyed by all.

Saturday, July 12, 2014


When I stopped posting every week one of the facts I used to support that decision was that a lot of the places we went were just repeats. That has turned out to be the case, however, several readers have commented that they often used the Blog for ideas and locations and so they urged that I continue to post, from time to time.

Here, in no particular order are placed we have been in the last several weeks;
"M.Wood Fire Oven" 3514 Erie Ave. 45238 (513) 386-7783.
The night was beautiful and so we ate outside. All the outside tables were filled an so service was somewhat spotty. As I told Alex, the proprietor, the food was not as good as usual. The Cauliflower Gratins, one of my favorite dishes was runny and void of it's usual flavor. The Chipinno turned out to be six shrimp covered with a fairly thick tomato sauce with a few small chunks of Salmon. Very little broth.
"Red Feather" 3200 Madison Road, Oakley"
Have been there several times. It is in the space that previously housed "Boca", before their move down town. I had excellent Vichyssoise, highly recommended by our companion, and good Shrimp and Grits. Marilyn's grilled Pork Chop looked perfect, but I was never offered a taste, maybe that's the highest praise.
"Zula" 1400 Race St. (OTR) 513-744-9852
This remains one of our favorite "Over the Rhine" (OTR) spots. That night we had the terrific Eggplant Fries, with our drinks followed by a large Beet salad, for me, and Citrus Cured Salmon for Marilyn. We then split an order of Gnocchi served in a lamb Ragu, out of this world!
"Salazar Restaurant" 1401 Republic St. (OTR) 513-621-7000 Down(east) 14th St. from Zula and open Monday nights.
With our drinks we had pan fried Broccoli with a slightly spiced dipping sauce and a Rillette of duck, one of Marilyn's favorite. She followed with roast chicken served on a bead of corn and mixed beans( succotash). My main was a good sized Panzanella Salad built around Romaine, Cucumbers, tomato's, onions and seasoned croutons.
"Wurst Bar" 3204 Linwood Ave 45226 (513) 321-0709. If the weather permits, eat outside on the back patio.
I started with a cool Avocado soup which was thick and spicy. Followed by the "Hans Gruber" a very good Knackwurst on a brioche bun. The sausage was covered with grilled onion and green pepper slices. The whole thing was bathed in good German mustard. Marilyn had very good chicken tortilla soup, again with some spice, it is a bar selling beer, and a "Wurst Burger".
"Montgomery Inn - Montgomery" 9440 Montgomery Road 45242 (513) 791-3482 A Cincinnati favorite for ribs but we are "Walt's" people. One of the local big controversies.
We split a Matula's salad( named for someone in the family) and the chopped steak plus chips and onion straws. Plenty for us.
"Enoteca Emilia" 2038 Madison Road 45208 (5130 834-5773
Wonderful Veal Meat balls and a Caesar salad split while Marilyn had Pasta Bolognese, her favorite sauce and I ate half of a 4 Cheese Pizza, shared with one of our companions. This place in O'Brianville remains a very good neighborhood restaurant, both in food and service

Monday, June 30, 2014

I'm Back

Now at home and working on "old faithful" or at least on machine that I have used for many years, some successfully and some not.

Let's start with "Ruth's Parkside Cafe, 4101 Spring Grove Ave. 45223 (513)542-7884. This reincarnation of Mullain's Parkside Cafe, downtown is now located in the rehabed American can Co. building, which has both retail and residential. In my opinion the Cafe is a steep up from the one downtown, both in menu, more items, and quaitty of the food and service. This restaurant, open for both lunch and dinner, offers more and different items and is not concentrated on vegetarian or salads.
We went with another couple, as we often do and consiquently got to see, and taste several items.
After my Bombay I had the Cajan catfish, served on a rice cake. Tasty and enough unless one is in a feeding mode. I had seen on the menu Cherry Pie, an item I had been chasing for a month or more and so I wanted to "save room" for for that, and of course, ala mode.
Marilyn had an excellent Lamb Shank with root vegetables which was reasonably priced. As large enough to, again, satisfy most.
Others had a Spinach Satey and and order of Red Beans and rice, to my taste a bit on the mild side.

All the rests are repeat but deserve some comments:
Dinner, two different times, within seven days at "China Gourmet" 3340 Erie Ave. 45208 (513) 871-6612, argumenetly the best seafood prepairer in the area. One night I, along with Marilyn, shared a grilled Walleye, while the other I had the Lobster in Black bean sauce. Tuesday night is "Lobster special" with a pound and a half Maine Lobster for 18 dollars. That night Marilyn had shrimp Lo Mein. Bth nights we had side orders of vegetables.

"Greyhound Tavern" 2500 Dixie Hwy, Ft Wright KY. There it were two families, the other with their 6 year old, and we split four chicken, full family style, dinners. This added two several draft beers and giant onion rings sent us all away happy and satisfied and the 6 year old excited to be included with the adults while her sister was at Girl Scout camp.

"Salazar Restaurant" 1401 Republic St. 45202 (OTR) 513-621-7000, part of the Vine St.eating scene which is open Monday nights. This is the one that went into space and I'll write a new posting staring with Salazar