Thursday, February 28, 2008

There New

For the last few posts the spell check has not been working. Spelling is not my strong suit or even near. Let's hope things improve.
We arrived home Tuesday night, Feb. 26, from 8 days in Calf.; but more about that in another posting. We had had breakfast in SF and so when we arrived, 7:15 PM, we were ready for dinner. We and the couple who picked us up decided to try "Chalk", where none of us had been. Chalk food+wine, the full name, is at 318 Greenup St. Covington, KY 41011. Phone 859-643-1234. It is another Jean Robert, Martin Wade endeavor. The space was formally occupied by "Scallia" and "Pho Paris". The physical layout remains the same while the decor has gone to mostly black and white, with several blackboard walls covered with chalk writing. I was personally disappointed that the menu and wine list were not on chalk boards. My disappointment ended there.
The wines were very good and reasonably priced. They seemed to range from $6 to $11/glass. I chose a Meritage at $9 and so did one of our companions. The other wine selection at our table was a very dry, crisp Tariguet. The menu is divided in 4 parts; starters, soups and salads, hand food and entrees. I chose a ham (prosciutto) and Romaine salad. the presentation was a small heart of Romaine wrapped in a thin slice of ham, with a fairly thick grainy mustard and whipped oil and vinegar, separate on the plate. Other salads were a mixed green, nice but nothing special, and a beautiful, very small, winter fruit salad, shaved lettuce piled with citrus fruit sections.
My main course was pan fried catfish with grits while others had the SOD (soup of the day) creamed celery, duck breast and a delicious chicken pot pie, made with corn as a replacement for potatoes. We ended with coffee and a split "S'More" cake, not wood fire roasted.
We all enjoyed ourselves and will return. The service was pleasant and professional but not intrusive. Dinner and 4 glasses of wine, including tip, was slightly under $40/person.
Tonight Marilyn and I ventured to the reopening of "Grammer's", Liberty and Walnut St. in the OTR section of Cincinnati, which is coming back from a long decline. "Grammer's" closed in 1991 except for special occasions. Before that it was one of the "old time" German Bars and Restaurants, dating back to the early 1900's. We used to go there when we first lived here in the "1950's". Martin Wade, you saw the name above, has reopened as a simple bar with a very few nibbles. His plans, according to what he told us tonight, are to rebuild the kitchen and eventually resume full service dining along with his bar and bar food.
Tonight was a happening with friends, neighbors and city boosters all in attendance. That area has not seen so many upgrade autos in many a year. This weekend the food; Mett's, Brats, yeast pretzels and popcorn all are free. Beer runs from $3.50 to $10.50 depending on size and area of origin. Regular bar prices are in line for mixed drinks which run the gambit.
More power to Martin and the people who are pouring energy, time and money to reviving the city.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Hospitality 2

Comuters are great as long as you don't hit the wrong key, and also know how to correct if you do. Anyway to continue:
Thursday I went to the "Oriental Wok" on Buttermilk Pike in Ft. Mitchel KY. It was Chinese New Year and I thought there was no better way to celebrate than with a meal reminisint of my childhood. The "Oriental Wok" is owned and operated by Michael Wong, and his family, who has been in the business over 40 years. He is an ever present owner at this red, gold and steriotipicle Chinese restaurant. He has always been service oriented and his philosophy is to make customers happy, so they return often. The food is good, but not great, but everyone is treated like an Emporer or Emporess. Ones' wish is the Wok's command.
I ordered #6,($8) Chicken Chop Sui, Egg Roll and Fried rice. I ask if I could have Egg Fo Young instead of the rice and that I would gladly pay the difference, if there was any. The waiter, who had been there over 15 years, smiled and told me if it was in the kitchen I could have it. It came, hot, as I desired and remembered down to the heavy brown sauce with much to much Sodium. It took me back 60 years.
On Saturday night, after the Symphony, 4 of us went to "Twist" the new Jean Robert Cocktail lounge, next to Pigall's, on 4th St. I have written about both prevously. The place was jumping. Richard Brown the Matier de, at Pigall's, and one of the best in my opinion, anywhere, greated us and said he was sure there was room. Well there wasn't, so Richard said we should come into the bar at the main restaurant and he would arrange for us to order off the "Twist" menu, which we did. "Twist" price points are considerably lower that their up scale neighbor. As an example, a glass of wine at Pigall startes at $10 while Twist low end is around $6. We were treated wonderfully and the bartender even substitued one of her wines, for the other lady in our party, when she had found the tasting had been more enjoyable than that wine which she eventually ordered.
Sunday inight it was at the other end of the spectrum, from Pigall's. With a young(20's) relative we went to the "Noodle Company" a Boulder Colorado chain which is just opening in our area. You order at the counter and food is delivered to your table. Main courses are $5 to $7 while salads are $2 to $3. The branch we visited is just outside Hyde Park Plaza at the Paxton intersection. As you might guess from the name the stress is on noodle dishes but there are other items available. We had "pot stickers", two different salads, pasta with pesto and pasta with a light white sauce and cheese. Getting back to "hospitalty", the counter lady couldn't have been nicer, expaining the menu and giving us guidence on choices. The young women who brought the food was equally attentive and checked back several times, in an unhurried manor, to see if we wanted additional help, they had already provided extra, warmed, large plates so that we could split easily.
The bottom line, in case you haven't guessed, is that hospitality doesn't necessary come with a price but is an ingrained or taught attitude.
Now to figure out how to work this "darned" computer. Also see if I can make the spell check work, which accounts for my numerous errors, in that department.


Danny Meyer's book, "Setting the Table" very strongly deliniates the difference between "service" and "hospitality", and credits the later for much of his and the Union Square group's sucess. This difference was driven home to me over the last week by experiences in establishment, all with different price points, which drove the concept home.
Thursday I went to the "Oriental Wok" on Buttermilk

Monday, February 4, 2008

Finger Foods

I'm getting quite a bit of "flack" for not putting anything new on this Blog, from my few steady readers, 2 0r 3 in number. So I thought it would be good to type in something as February, 2008 roles around. This is approxiately the 80th entery since I began. So if you are lonely you can scroll back to you hearts content.
As I mentioned we have cut down on evenings out for a couple of reasons. I am trying to take off a few pounds, easier when eating at home, and we have had some family and guests who want our home cooking; home made Beef Vegitable Soup and another night Beef Short Ribs with Root Vegitables. I enjoy them both also, including the resultant "left-overs".
We have been to Brio's, Andy's Mediterranean Grill, JeanRo and Bronte Bisto at Joseph Beth Book Sellers. These are all repeats as are many places we frequent. I don't feel that a lot of comments are necessary although I feel that all, except Andy's, keep quality, varriety and service on a steady keel. Andy's is convienient, especially when heading downtown from Walnut Hills or Hyde Park, but to me some of the smaller places around town do a better job on MidEast Cuisine, at least the standards.
I could tell you what I eat, each time, at all that we visit, but you can search the menu for yourself and come away with a very satisfying meal.