Saturday, September 22, 2007

Around Cincinnati II

Probably everyone reading this is already restaurant savvy. Just in case it slips someones mind, always ask your server if there are "any specials," also remember most restaurants are very willing to "mix and match," if it is on the menu or certainly substitute, if it is within reason.

J.Alexander's Restaurant, 2629 Edmondson Road(Rookwood Shopping Center), Cincinnati, OH, 45209-513-531-7495. No reservations taken, limited large tables. Full bar and the place is handicapped accessible.
Sure it a chain, but pretty decent. What they offer they do well and the service is efficient and pleasant, while the kitchen is fast. Entree salads are huge and easily serve two. If your a light eater sharing one is probably enough for dinner. The menu runs from prime rib to burgers, both very good, with several fish items and pastas. I have found the Salmon especially good and they prepare it to my specifications. The French Fries are wicked, to me they are the best in the area, you can get baked potatoes, which are also very good, if you want to behave. Most helpings are quite large and it takes a good appetite or a bunch of teenagers to finish everything served.
It a good place when your on your way to or from and also is satisfactory for just a dinner out.

A new place, only open about a month, is Grandview Tavern and Grille, 2220 Grandview Dr., the street runs off Buttermilk Pike, Fort Mitchell, KY 41017-859-341-8439. It's a good spot for lunch or diner on a "to or from" Airport trip. There is complete Bar Service and the restaurant is handicapped accessible, as are all new public establishments. the menu is very nice and the service, the night we were there, was excellent. I would say that although it is not a chain it is reminiscent of J. Alexanders, maybe a half step higher, or others along that line. Being new they did not offer specials but what we all had, fish, meatloaf, pasta and an entree Salmon salad was all very good. I wouldn't hesitate to use this as a destination if you want a pleasant meal at a reasonable price.

Mitchell's Fish Market, Newport on the Levee, Newport, KY, 41071-859-291-7454. Cincinnati area has gone from no seafood restaurants, 15 years ago, Jimmy excuse me, to the home of at least three chains, specializing in fresh fish and shell fish. Mitchell's originated in Columbus and now has two locations in our area. Since Newport is the closest we gravitate there. I have to say none of the chains compare favorably to true coastal eating places but then it's expensive to hop a plane for dinner just because you want the finest and freshest. Of the three chains I am partial to "Bonefish Grille" because we know the people there, it is in our neighborhood and I personally think it is a better value for the same quality. I'm not going to go into the menu items, however McCormick and Schmick's seem to have the most choices and Bonefish the least, so you can figure out where that leaves Mitchell's. All are good and a positive example of the trend to "white table cloth" chains.

Last, but really not least, in this report is the Sky Galley at Lunken Airport, 262 Wilmar Ave-513-871-7400. Marilyn and I go with some regularity, in the evening, and I pop in for lunch, at least, once a month. The menu is the same at both, although the specials change from a sandwich to an entree. Sky Galley has a full bar and is handicapped accessable, although it from the Airport side of the building. It is informal and relaxed and the next table may be a group of Lady golfers or a family with 3 generations.
Marilyn thinks the Tilapia is the best in the city, she should know because she has it most places. I eat everything from the specials to a pulled pork sandwich to Branschwiger, when I'm feeling the need for a fat and cholesterol fix. I really enjoy the Black Bean Soup, which has a slight kick and most of their items are anywhere from decent to great. Oh, by the way, they have homemade Saratoga Chips if the Branschwiger isn't enough. Our dinners run between $35 and $40 dollars, for the two of us, including drinks and tax.
Don't wait for a commuter line to fly out of Lunken before you try the Sky Galley.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Around Cincinnati

We are blessed to live in an area with many good eating places. The "price points" go from high to very reasonable, but none of these approach those in other Metropolitan Areas, although our selection and quality certainly does.
I don't intend to lump all our eating habits into one large category, however, for convenience I'm going to comment on some of the places we have been in the last 30 days.

The Precinct, 311 Delta Ave(corner of Columbia Parkway), 45226-phone 513-321-5454. So much has been written about this 25 year old standby, Jeff Ruby's first "Steak House" that listing items, decor etc. is extraneous. I must say that the service, and personal attention to customers requests is outstanding. Marilyn and I go 4 to 6 times a year and we are greeted and served in an exemplary manner. Ruby, his managers and trainers have done a excellent job in making sure his staff goes"all out" with everyone, regardless of number of visits, tip size or occasion for the visit. Hat's off to them.

Glendale Gaslight Grille, 1140 Congress Ave, Glendale-513-771-8658. The Tri-County area. A very pleasant place for lunch and dinner in an informal atmosphere. The food is a level above "bar food" or "tavern fare' with daily specials and a rather extensive menu. They have a full bar and the place is family friendly, although most of the customers are groups of neighbors or repeaters.
The Tomato Bisque is outstanding and as good as I can find North of Otto's. Whatever I have ordered, I have been satisfied and you should be able to find something to fit your taste and appetite. Price range $8 to $20 for very good food.

Pelican's Reef, 7261 Beechmont Ave., Cincinnati, 45230-513-232-2526. To me the best description is a "seafood bar". Large full service bar, scrubbed wooden tables, both high an regular, condiments and napkins, actually a roll of paper towels, on the table and a mixed age, jovial crowd. The owner is in the kitchen and his wife handles the "front of the house". The servers, backed up by management and all agreeable and make one feel very much at home.
The menu, as you could guess, is heavy on seafood with a lot of it fried but there is no trouble getting things broiled, baked or sauteed. There are often raw oysters, always boiled and chilled shrimp, several choices of salads and plenty of options if you want to stay away from fried. The seasonal fresh corn on the cob, the other night, was excellent. However to my taste some fried seafood with beer out of a bottle will not shorten my life, if done in moderation, as the medical people say. Usually we end up spending between $15 and $22 per person depending on hunger and thirst.

Speaking of hunger; it's lunch time so I'll stop for now but continue in this vain the next time.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Ann Arbor,MI

Last weekend we went to Ann Arbor for a fraternity reunion. Luckily we did not order football tickets. When I was in school at the U of M, Michigan played football and Gourmet dining was fried clams at Howard Johnson, how things have changed.
Main St. in Ann Arbor is now "restaurant row" with innumerable choices at all price points.
Friday night we chose "Gratzi", 326 S. Main St.-888-456-3463. "Gratzi" had been recommended by both Detroit and Ann Arbor people, and we we're not disappointed.
It is a large, active room staffed with a sufficient number of servers to give very good, attentive service. The menu is quite extensive, and as you no doubt have figured out, by the name, it is Italian. There were 8 of us and with a reservation we were seated promptly. I chose as a main course a seafood pasta with Pesto and the server gladly substituted "angle hair" for linguine. Marilyn had her usual fish which was prepared excellently. With drinks, salads and entrees, and a shared antipasto platter, tip and tax it came to just under $50 per person.
The next day rather than the football game, thank goodness, a group went to the "Farmers Market", which is a misnomer. The area beside having stalls selling beautiful farm products also has crafts, clothing, jewelry and food. It is surrounded with several new buildings containing shops of every variety. "Zingerman's" famous deli is just down the street. I was lucky and ate a rather large "Salvadorian Tamale", bought from a vendor, while the others debated where to go for lunch. They chose the "Metro Grille" over Zingerman's, a huge mistake. It was very standard and I was lucky that I had had a large breakfast and my tamale was enough to get me thru.
Dinner that evening and brunch the next morning were fraternity events, and although the food was fine it was not the high point of either.
Since we had driven, we made a stop at the Toledo Art Museum, to view their glass collection, which Marilyn and I had seen before, in its new home, a new free standing glass pavilion. We collect current "art glass" while the TAM has that plus historical pieces going back to 1500BC.
It was a very pleasant weekend and we'll see weather Michigan or Noter Dame stumbles into a victory this afternoon.

Thursday, September 6, 2007


EQ, at the Party Source, in Covington KY, 859-655-3650, bills itself as a cooking school and demonstration kitchen. It is really much more, as the following report will attest. They do have many events, however, open to all.
Marilyn and I were guests at a party on Saturday night, August 25. The Party Source had donated the evening to "The Cincinnati Wine Auction" with the proceeds going to charities. Our hosts had been the buyers. When I say EQ and the Party source went ALL OUT it is probably and understatement The EQ host and chef was John Stiles who is as knowledgeable as he is entertaining.
The following is the menu for the evening, including the wines, which were poured generously. All this followed an appetizer of 3 kinds of Quiche passed, while we were gathering, with glasses of Regaleali, a light Sicilian white.
Seared Ahi Tuna on Seed Crackers with Wasabi Cream; wine: Vilmart&Cie Grand Celler Champagne
Pellagrino's Portabella Mushroom with Fresh Mozzarella, Fiontina, Pancetta and Port Wine Balsamic Reduction; wine: Spinetta Barbera Superiore 2001
Warm Salad of Sea Scallops, Fingerling Potatoes and Cherry Tomatoes; wine: Brewer-Clifton 2005 Mt. Carmel
Opakapaka with Lobster Mashed Potatoes and Lobster-Pinot Noir Sauce; wine: Raphet 2003 Lavaux St, Jacques
Grilled New York Steak with Zucchini and Olive Bread Pudding and Roasted Corn Ragout; wine: Mondavi 2001 Reserve Cabernet Sauvigon
Chocolate Cherry Shortcakes, with French Vanilla Ice Cream; wine Royal Oporto 2000 Vintage Port.
After this recital I hesitate to comment, but I will briefly. The food was excellent, the wine outstanding, the service perfect, in timing and demeanor and the evening was something all involved in were delighted to be included.
I would guess most of the guest, 32 in number, were in their 40's and they went on to Brio's for coffee and whatever. we old folks were happy to drag ourselves home with belts and garments loosened.
It was an evening to remember and if you get a chance go to the Party Source and see for yourself.

Monday, September 3, 2007


I don't sell space on my Blog. Not that anyone would pay anything to be posted. I will toot my own horn( bad, part pun).
Starting Oct. 2 the new Quarter of the "Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Cincinnati"(OLLI) kicks off their new fall classes. As most of you know, but probably a few don't, I moderate a course entitled "Let's Eat Out--or carry in". It runs for 8 weeks on Tuesday mornings,10:30, on the main UC Campus. The thrust is, of course, restaurants and the food service business.
The course is open to anyone and information about this course and others can be obtained by going on line at "" or by calling 513-556-9186.
Hope you will be joining us this fall.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Stone Creek

People always ask, "Do you have any place new"? We'll we do. Last night we went to Stone Creek, 9386 Montgomery Road, Montgomery,OH 45242-phone 513-489-1444. They are in their second week of operation in the Cincinnati Area. Stone Creek is one of approximately 5 restaurants operated by Cunningham Restaurants out of Indianapolis. All the others are in the Indianapolis area, although both of the owners are former Cincinnatian's.
The place is modern, cheerful and full of people enjoying themselves. We were surprised that they were full their second week and asking people w/o reservations to either wait in the bar or come back again, as they chose. We had made a reservation for 7:15PM, Saturday, and it was honored, as we were shown promptly to our table, upon arrival.
The service started out a little rocky. Our server, who said he had been doing this for 4 years, turned out to have spent most of his time as a bartender or helper. They were busy so it took him a few minutes to get to us. We ordered a bottle of wine, and thankfully he repeated the order as he had gotten it wrong. When the wine and glasses appeared he showed very little experience in serving the opening round.
The menu is quite extensive, and can be viewed on their website. It contains various meats, seafood, poultry and pasta presentations. Also an extensive group of Sandwiches and dinner salads. Both specials, last evening, were seafood. Prices range all over the map and you can spend as little or as much as you want. The specials were in the $25 to $30 range.
Marilyn and I chose to split the Iceberg Wedge, which the kitchen did for us into two large servings. Before the salads arrived a beautiful round loaf of warm white bread, with a crispy crust as placed on our table. Instead of Olive Oil, Stone Creek provides an excellent poured dip which I hesitate too describe, but only will say that it was delicious and your server can site the ingredients. Back to the salad; the lettuce was garnished with diced fresh tomato's, bacon bits, Danish Blue cheese and spring onions. The dressing was a tomato and oil based blend of herbs, spices, and a little sugar, in a fairly clear light dressing, it was a wonderful accompaniment. Our server told us early on that all things where made from fresh ingredients and that literally we could mix and match.
For my main course I had a roasted Sea Bass with a corn Salsa, fried Green tomato's and asparagus, which I had substituted for the mash potatoes, another of our party had the same dish with "angel hair" instead of potatoes. Marilyn had Orange Ruffy and was only able to down about half of her portion. Her fish came with mashed potatoes and green beans and had a light butter sauce over the fish which had been pan seared. She finished her meal with the usual "decaf"
I loved the salad but though my Bass had been slightly over cooked and was a little chewy. Marilyn's Ruffy was well prepared. The accompaniments were good, although the fried tomatoes had too much cheese flavor, for my taste, as it overwhelmed the tomato flavor.
The bill came, and there were four of us, in a mixed up accounting. the manager, Roy Stines, who had been very attentive, all evening, straitened it out and we left well satisfied. Dinner, for the two of us, including the split wine charge( $15/couple) came to $82 including tip and tax.
I am always bothered by Valet parking, with a mandatory charge, at a suburban restaurant and my advise is if this bothers you there is plenty of space in lots, across the street, where the businesses are not open in evening hours.
We will return and I feel the management who knows what they are doing, will iron out any beginning flaws.