Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Cleaning my desk

I sat down last night and started going thru the papers on my desk. There were half a dozen or more restaurant receipts, some of which I have written about and some I'm sure I haven't. I decided to take the cowards way out and just list them, with addresses and brief comments, in no particular order
Cumin-3520 Erie Ave,45208;513-871-8714. Continental with Indian Spices. Great food and service. One of our favorites. Be sure to ask about specials.
Hitching Post-2715 Madison Road-45209. Walk in fried chicken and other things, strip center, everyday, decent and very reasonable. We use it for "carry out" as much as "eat in".
Baigi'o Bistro-308 Ludlow Ave, 45220- Decent Italian in "Clifton", near the Esquire Theater.
Trio-Kenwood, 7565 Kenwood Road, 45236-513-984-1905. Good food, good service and the North Central crowd who us it as a home away from home.
Apsara-4785 Lake Forest Drive, Blue Ash, 513-554-1040. Large Asian. Good and spicy food. Unless it has changed you feel kind of lost in a very large restaurant with only a few tables full, you certainly can visit. The food is well prepared and served "hot" in both ways.
Walt's Hitching Post, 3300 Madison Pike, Ft. Wright, KY 41017. In my opinion the only place for ribs and certainly the place to take large groups for an informal time.
Vincenzo's-11525 Chester Road, 45246-513-771-0022. One of the better, cooked to order, Italian. Run by the Chef who cooked at the original "Germano's" when it was in the filling station on Route 4. Large menu, well prepared and worth the trip. In the "tri county" area.
JeanRo-413 Vine, 45202-513-621-1465. As close to a real "French Bistro" feel as we have in Cincinnati. One of Jean Robert's establishment. Full dinner or wonderful onion soup and something else, salad, steak tartare. We use a lot before another event. With downtown growing it is also becoming a neighborhood hang out for the condo crowd.

Now I feel better and the desk is clear of receipts. We'll have to go out soon again, maybe tonight.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Little Plates

I have always been told the Tapis means "little plates". I am not a student of Spanish so I have no idea if this is a correct translation or an easy way of explaining the meaning. Regardless, Travis Maier and his father Scott have opened "Seny" at 1544 Madison Road, across from St Francis De Salles Church, Cincinnati 45206-phone 513-221-7369( Travis runs the kitchen while Scott is in the front of the house and probably runs the Exchequer.
We went a couple of nights ago, with another couple, and found the place up, running and thriving. At 6:30 they were fairly full with a mixed and lively crowd.
The menu, which you can preview on their web site, is broken down into 4 parts. Three sections of Tapis, cold, hot and traditional, plus a smaller selection of full sized main entrees. We decided to order all of the Traditional, 7 in all, which was enough food for the four of us to have a couple of tastes of each selection. We left satisfied but not at all stuffed.
The dishes were. White Asparagus, with two dressings, a mixture of pureed chicken and ham rolled into a ball and deep fried to form a croquette, a Rioja Salad, Patatas Bravas( cubed potatoes, hash browned and served with a mildly spicy sauce), Tortilla( artichoke made into a patty and pan fried), Calamari with lemon, and Shrimp in a butter and red pepper mixture.
The dinner for four including drinks or wine was approximately $68.
The restaurant is cheerful and our service was very good. They opened Oct 11 and seem to have their act together.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A family's visit

Our Mendocino family,the Deerwaters, were with us for a week. Son, spouse and 2 Granddaughters age 16 and 13. The 16 year old went off on a side trip with her 18 year old cousin to visit another cousin at Washington University in St. Louis.
They flew "Skybus" from Oakland CA to Columbus and got here about midnight Wednesday a week ago, October 10. Thursday night 8 of us, Joanne and her family, all had dinner at "J.Alexanders" in Rookwood Mall, the Hamburgers and French Fries were a big hit, and then it was off to Othello at the playhouse, a full evening.
Friday after several museums"The Pirate exhibit" at the Museum Center and the CAC, downtown, they did a bit of shopping while Marilyn and I fixed dinner for the seven of us, Kathryn, the local cousin included. We treated them all to "fresh" Walleye, Wisconsin pan fried.
Saturday the 16 year old, Lilly, and Kathryn took off for St. Louis while we and the 3 remaining headed South to Berea KY. First stop was the Artisan Center, where many of the Kentucky craft people show their wares. Next a lunch at Boone Tavern, famous and decent food. They tasted "spoon bread' for the first time and thought they we're in foreign country, which they were. It was craft weekend in Berea and so it was late afternoon before we headed to "horse farm" country around Lexington and the on to Walt's Hitching Post, our favorite rib place, where we were met by one of our son's friends. Last item for the day was the CSO concert, which was wonderful.
Sunday morning it was Otto's, for brunch, hosted by Joanne's mother-in-law, and an afternoon of more sightseeing. Dinner here again with drops in's up till 9 PM as people returned from side trips.
Monday Marilyn worked while I took those in town to Marx Hot Bagels, in Kenwood for lunch and as many take home bagel's as they thought they could get in their luggage. They say they can't get Bagel's in their part of the West coast and had orders for several people. The balance of the afternoon was spent on shopping, what a women to do?
Monday night it was a fried chicken dinner, with all the trimmings at "The Greyhound Restaurant", 2500 Dixie Highway, Ft Mitchell, KY. There were ten of us and the Greyhound is great for large groups, especially ordering their set Monday and Tuesday "special", family style fried chicken dinner; including a half fried chicken each, green beans, cole slaw, mashed potatoes and gravy plus bisects, butter and honey.
Tuesday I had my class, at UC, while the Mendocino bunch took Joanne, and then we all meet at "Ingredients" at the Westin Hotel. At night while I went to a Joseph Co. Management Dinner, Marilyn put on a pasta and salad buffet, in our kitchen.
Wednesday morning the left with the Graeter's they had picked up the evening before; again you can't get that in Northern California.
We enjoyed having them here for a week and so did the Kentucky Restaurant Owners Association and the North American Pasta Retailers.

Hungry? More about Morton's

Our server on our visit to the Bar, at Morton's, after the CSO, told us that they had a special running into November. Last night we returned to give it a try.
For $49.50 per person one receives a 4 course, 5 item, priced fixed meal. It consists of one of Morton's regular salads, which are excellent and Hugh, a "surf and turf", consisting of an eight ounce Fillet, prepared perfectly, and a seafood side, of your choice, either a lump crab cake, sauteed Scampi or Bacon wrapped scallops. A choice of one of the regular side items and dessert of either Key Lime Pie or molten chocolate cake with ice-cream. All items are first class quality and preparation. Nothing is small and all of us took part of our dinner home.
The main dining room is beautiful and the service very good. Drinks are expensive but the food in quality, preparation and price is a bargain.
The 3 sides chosen for our table were "Hash Brown potatoes", Creamed Spinach and roasted Asparagus. We all shared these three different items.
I have no idea how long the "special" will last but if you like steak, even just once in a while, it is a "special" you should enjoy. Reservations are necessary.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

A nice surprise

Morton's The Steakhouse, 441 Vine St. Downtown Cincinnati- 513 -621-3111 is a beautiful room on the second floor of the Carew Tower. I walked in, one day, just to look around and found that they have a special, very reasonable, Bar Menu.
A week or so ago we went, with another couple, after a Symphony concert. Saturday night there is no special deal, in effect, but the items still range from $8 to $11 dollars. We shared a dip of white lump crab meat and spinach served with many slices of toasted, buttered french bread, a platter of 4 tenderloin sandwiches, 3 mini cheeseburgers. This plus 6 drinks for the table amounted to $75 plus gratuity, for the four of us.
Now for the special news. This same menu, which has another 4 to 5 items is $4 a dish Monday thur Thursday from 5/6:30 and from 9:30/11:00 PM. It is a real bargain before or after a show, or for a drink and a bite after being downtown in the afternoon. There also is a special dinner priced at $50, price fixed for 4 courses. This special, as I understand, runs every evening, in the Dinning Room till Nov. 15.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

On we go

We left Washington VA and the Middleton Inn, where we had Bedded and Breakfasted, Wed morning, Sept 26. After a beautiful drive thru the Virginia countryside we arrived in Washington. D.C. in time for lunch with Marilyn's nephew, a Washington lawyer, and his wife. They had chosen "Pesce" at 2016 P ST, NW just off DuPont Circle. Pesce is a seafood Bistro where the menu is presented by chalk board. Every thing is fresh and "big city reasonable". After a big dinner and breakfast I could have easily skipped lunch but instead settled on excellent Tuna Tartar. Marilyn opted for a green salad. We did taste the grilled sardine, which I had missed in Portugal, two years ago.
From D.C. we proceeded to Baltimore where we stoped at the Walters Museum before checking into the Hyatt-Regency at the "Inner Harbor". Our room on the 10th floor had a wonderful view and probably was the nicest room and bath combination of the whole trip.
That night we were entertained by Charles's current boss, John Erickson and his wife Nancy, in their 27th floor penthouse on a point between the Inner and Outer harbor. It was the second meal served by a Butler and prepared by a personal chef, the first being in Richmond. The main course was Beef Tenderloin, as John is a steak person. he is also a self made hugh success story. One of 14 children of a dirt poor laborer in Jasper Tenn. he has risen to head of "Retirement
Living" a builder and operator of retirement communities, 22 and counting, housing 2 to 3 thousand. Among other enterprises, RL also has a free standing TV network of which Charles is the VP for programing. They entertained 10 of us and it was a lovely evening.
Next morning Marilyn and I said goodbye and headed for Gettysburg PA. I have read some Civil War history but I wasn't prepared for the enormity of the area, 25 square miles, nor the scope, size and casualties of the battle. On advice of a women in the visitors center we took a three hour self directed tour, greatly aided by a recording we bought and played as we proceeded. The tour took over 3 1/2 hours for us to complete. The whole experience was enlightening and moving.
People ask how we find places to eat "on the road". As we spoke to the pleasant women in the visitors center book store she told us that hers was a good job for a retiree. I asked her where she lived and when she replied," in the area" I asked for her favorite eating place, food not ambiance. She recommended a restaurant between Gettysburg and Chambersburg, where we had reservations for the night. The restaurant, the "Caledonia Bistro" happened to be on our route. We hit the Bistro at around 4:45 which by our standard is a bit early. I went in, checked the menu, mostly Italian and seafood and asked the waiter to ask the Chef where we should eat in Chamberburg? The answer was "The Orchards" which became our dinner destination, why ask if you don't intend to follow advice? We checked into the Hampton Inn, which was a very nice well maintained Motel and after a bit took off for "the Orchards". The restaurant, at 1580 Orchard Dr. Chambersburg, PA, is quite large catering to individual groups and larger functions. The food was quite good, I finally got lump crab cakes as an entree but unfortunately management, in my opinion, made a major mistake in assigning a brand new waitress to our table and also a large private party in another room. Once again service put a damper on an otherwise very pleasant dinner. Marilyn chose a main course of steak, mushrooms and gnocchi. It was on of those magic dishes that grow with every bite and though it was very good it was more than we could handle, so more than half made the trip home in our cooler, a must when we travel, and feed us both Friday night.
We'll folks that is the end of marvelous week celebrating, sightseeing and most of all eating, so what else is new?

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Inn at Little Washington

I've been taken to task, by several readers, it's nice to know someone out there is reading what I write, for taking so long to proceed with a report of our trip. One of the reasons is that I have been somewhat hesitant to write anything about this very famous spot.
The Inn, and especially the food, at this, 5 star, top rated eating establishment has received so much acclaim that any thing I have to say will have been said in articles or guides many times over. My only advantage is that by now, those of you who read these reports are, used to my opinions and comments.
On our celebrator swing it was the first meal we shared only with Charles and Cynthia. They stayed at the Inn while we stayed "down the road" at a B&B, which wasn't bad either. The four of us meet, at the Inn, for dinner on Sept 25 around 7:00 PM. Upon arriving one of the managers pinned a boutonniere on each of the men's jackets. A white rose for a guest at the Inn and a white carnation on those only having dinner. That is the first of many attentive niceties.
The menu was headed,"Happy 50th Birthday to Charles". and we decided that we would "taste as many items as possible. The dinner is priced fixed at $148 per person not including gratuity, tax and alcoholic beverages. You are not only paying for the beautifully prepared food but the experience, as well. It is almost worth the price, or maybe it is. Go there and judge for yourself.
Each dish is a balance of beauty, taste and flavors. The presentation is as interesting as I have seen with each piece of china, glass or pottery matching it's contents. Of course, the table is set with fresh flowers and all the silverware and glasses.
Before ordering a platter of 8 oriental shaped serving spoons was place in the center of our table with a taste of 8 different ingredients from "the world smallest baked potato", the size of a marble, to salmon with dill and a sauce. While waiting for our first course, and each meal consits of 4 courses, we were presented with a small cup of Apple and Rutabaga Soup in a very light cream base with a touch of sherry.
First and Second course selections are one full page of the menu. We settled on the following 8. "Beet Fantasia" three varieties of roasted beets in a mousse and caviar and citrus salsa. Seared Tuna Sashimi with radish, cucumber and Wasabi sorbet. A Chilled Seafood Sampler, Lobster, Tuna tartare and Ceviche. Macaroni and Cheese with Virginia Country Ham and Truffles, the cheese was actually a basket in which the rest of the ingredients rested. Several local Cantaloupe Sorbets with ribbons of Virginia Country Ham and grilled black Mission Figs, this was served in a beautiful Japanese pottery bowl. Roasted Eggplant Raviolis with Medallions of Maine Lobster. Crispy Maryland Crabcakes with a trio of sauces and finally Seared Diver Scallops with Olive Tapenade. These dishes are nice size but thankfully not huge. All were passed around the table and shared.
Our 4 Main Courses were: Pan Roasted lobster in a citrus butter sauce; Veal Parmesan Reincarnated: Prosciutto Wrapped, Pan Roasted Loin of Veal with Spinach Ravioli and a light Parmesan sauce; Veal Sweetbreads Braised in Ruby Port with Pappardelle Pasta with Huckleberries and country ham; Medallions of Colorado Lamb with herb poached Matsutake Mushrooms and Sauce Bearnaise. Again we all shared although I lucked out as the only other person who likes Sweetbreads is Charles.
Dessert was a Butter Pecan Sandwich, layers of crisp butterscotch and chocolate crisps separating the ice cream layers and served with a warm Caramel Sauce. A platter of two different chocolate souffles and a lemon tart and Charles and Cynthia each had "7 Deadly Sins", a taste of 7 different items. Coffee and tea followed. We also had a bottle of very nice Virgina Cabernet.
As Mikey's brother says "try it you'll like it.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Here we go

The first night of our trip we spent at "The Greenbrier". It may still be called a resort. Marilyn and I had not been there, together, for over 50 years, although I had attended several business meetings in the interim.
When we went, most guest arrived by train and were transported to the hotel by a horse drawn carriage. Now the guests either come by plane or auto. Many years ago it had a much stronger feeling of individual or family. Now, as at most large resort hotels, it has swung towards meetings and conventions. The staff is still courteous, polite and helpful, but there attention has to be divided between the individual and the group.
We had dinner in the Main Dinning Room, where Gentlemen are still required to be in coat and tie. The service is still good but not up to the highest standard. Our server had too many tables, assigned, and was changed in the middle of the meal, causing a major flaw. The dinner was very good but not exceptional. I ordered 3 "starters" for my dinner, while Marilyn had a salad and main course. My selection was a Romaine and Asparagus salad, followed by a Shrimp and Crab salad and finally Soft Shelled Crabs, two in number and quite small. Marilyn had the same Romaine Salad and Dover Sole. Her main course either was not heard or the order was lost in the kitchen, which put the dinner some what out of whack by the time it was corrected. For dessert we had an Apricot Pavlova, which as you probably know is a European tart. Dinner was pleasant but not out standing.
In the morning we returned to the Main Dinning room, now informal where I had an overwhelming Sportsman's platter; pan sauteed trout, roasted tomato, cheese grits and 4 slices of bacon. Very good and filling; enough to hold me till dinner.

That night in Richmond we were guest of the Kaine's, Tim and Anne. Virginia's first couple. Tim was a house mate of our son, Charles, at college and that was the connection. The Governor's Mansion is in a park in the middle of town along with the Capitol and another government building. Beautiful with lots of security.
The Mansion was designed by Thomas Jefferson and built shortly after his term. It is Federal in style and has a first floor set for entertaining and a second with living quarters for the Governor, his family and their guests. We were in the "Queens Room", a bedroom and bath redecorated for last summers visit of Queen Elizabeth. Even though the Queen had dinner at the Mansion she did not us the room or it's facilities.
Dinner was a family affair with 17 of us at a seated, served table in the main dining room. There was the Kaine family, including their 3 children, the youngest, age 12, showed up bare footed. 4 Hirschhorn's, Charles's sister, Joanne, with her husband and daughter and 5 other friend of Charles and Tim. We were served a composed salad of fresh tomato's and Mozzarella and then a
plate containing a very good baked and coated chicken breast, green beans wrapped in Virginia Ham and a excellent patty of Polenta, which brought on a great discussion of the difference between Polenta and Grits, excluding the country of origin. We had sent Graeter's Ice Cream, 6 chip flavors, for all, after all the whole trip was a Birthday celebration and the Mansions kitchen had made Marilyn's French Cracker Pie, after many phone calls and FAX's of receipt and instructions. Charles recognized it immediately and toasted his Mother as well as a loving tribute to his wife.
The next morning the anti room, off the main dining room, was set with an ample Breakfast Buffet and while Tim and I had breakfast he wrote out a full agenda for that day, Tuesday. We'll get to that in the next posting.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Name droping

This is the first of several postings on an AWESOME trip East, last week.
First, I will give an over view and then, in future entrees, break down some of the days and spots in some detail.
Our son, Charles, had his 50th birthday Sept. 28 and he planed a trip for he and his wife to include a celebration at several spots. We accepted his invitation to join them for part of the adventure.
We left home, driving, Sunday Sept. 23 and after a day in the beautiful mountains of West Virginia, with a stop at Tamerac, a craft center, outside Beckley we ended at "The Greenbrier" for dinner and the night. The next day it was on to Richmond, VA, with a stop at Charlottesville for lunch with Joanne and her family. They were college visiting.
We were guests,in Richmond, of Tim Kaine, the Governor, and his wife for dinner and the night. The next day it was on to several vineyards and the Skyline drive before we arrived in Washington, VA for the night, with dinner at "The Inn at Little Washington", some experience.
The next day we drove to Washington D.C. for lunch with Marilyn's nephew, and then on to Baltimore to our room on the tenth floor of the Regency Hyatt, overlooking the "inner harbor".
That night was dinner with Charles boss in their penthouse on a point between the inner and outer harbor.
The next day we struck out on our own for Gettysbugh and a 3 to 4 hour tour of the battlefield, 25 square miles, before the evening in Chambersburg, PA. Friday was the drive to Cincinnati and entry back into "the real world". More latter.