Saturday, April 26, 2008


The best evening we have spent, dinning, in a long time, here is Cincinnati, was at Orchids, several weeks ago.
"Orchids", located in the Netherland Plaza, Hilton Hotel at 5th and Race-513-421-9100, combines ambiance, service and wonderful inventive food preparation and presentation. We were enthralled, and it wasn't our first eating out experience.
For some reason the "food critic" of Cincinnati magazine, in my opinion, has personal feelings about this place and the people who run it, and therefore seems to ignore this first class restaurant.
We took our Cincinnati family and all ended up ordering fish, for our main courses, although they have plenty of other choices on a not hugh but well diversified menu.
Staying with my usual libation, I then followed with a first course of sweetbreads and oysters on a bed of seasoned tapioca. Not for everyone, but I like the unusual and go for all of these ingredients. I followed with a perfectly prepared salmon served on a bed of juliane fresh vegetables and accompanied by a very complimentary sauce. The table shared 2 chocolate desserts. a warm chocolate pudding mouse with "homemade" marshmallows and a chocolate tort and cake combination, served as a tower with raspberry coils.
A nice bottle of Vognieer accompanied our dinner and coffee followed with dessert. The total, including tip and tax came to approximately $75/person.
We plan to return promptly to verify our recent experience.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tony's on the River

In my Blog entry, yesterday, I said the we were going last night to Tony's and I put it in the "dive" category, with a hot dog stand. So much for prejudging; something I preach all the time about food.
"Tony's on the River" 1329 US 52, New Richmond, OH 45157-513-373-7333 is not in the category of a dive. It is not a stared restaurant, at this point, but it's definitely putting out a lot of effort.
When it was "Buba's" it was a bar that served an extended bar food menu. Now it has been painted, inside, the lawn, down to the river, which was impassible before, has been cleaned, with some tables by the water, and the owner who has some restaurant experience is very solicitous, and tries to please his customers, a good step for anyone in business.
The food was very good too passable, in my estimation. Marilyn's pan seared sole was excellent, well seasoned and done perfectly, and although too many dishes come from the kitchen, to moist, especially the veggies, the variety is good and not built around fried items. There are nightly specials plus full bar service and beautiful looking desserts.
It's a drive, 30 minutes from Mt. Lookout, but if you want to try a place that is trying to make it, in a tough business, go to Tony's and support someone who is really trying.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I'm Back

The title is the punch line of an old joke. But returning between trips is no joke. We're here for a few weeks and then off to Central Europe for two full weeks. More pounds, both way.
During the time, between trips, we have been dining at some of our regular haunts, as well as eating at home and picking up a new dive or two.
We have eaten at "Daveed's", where I had Arctic Char, one of my favorite flat fish. Daveeds always does an excellent job in great surroundings.
"Nectar" about which I have thrown bouquets several times. This was a Sunday Brunch, which they do well. Don't know what I hit to change the script. Maybe I can figure it out.
"JeanRo Bistro", good, steady with great Onion Soup and often interesting special dishes. Also nice wines.
"The Reserve" with Shrimp Scampi and fresh tomatoes on "angle hair"
A couple of lunches at "Lavomatic" once with super good and super rich Roasted Cauliflower soup and another with excellent Gravlax. Next time I'll skip the Bagel and Cream Cheese and have the Gravlax "strait"; less calories and more salmon taste.

The dives are Tony's on route 52, scheduled for tonight. It used to be Buba's, which must tell us something, and a Golf shirt is "overdressed" and "Mr. Gene's Hot Dog Stand'on Beekman, North of Hopple. I expected a few inside tables but it's just a "carryout" with a couple of picnic tables "out back". Polly Campbell had reviewed last Friday but it wasn't worth the drive from the East side, snob that I am. Although the bun was especially warm and fresh and the value was there.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Our last day in the Big Apple, at least this trip. Mixed emotions
Today we're off to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the Jasper Johns exhibit. One can spend a full week at the "Met" but not when you want to cram everything, in NY, into a one week visit.
We allotted our last morning. I'm not an art critic but I never come away from the "Met" without being impressed. After the Johns exhibit, in which I liked the paintings with color better than the ones that are just the shades of Gray, which made him famous, we went to the newly renovated Greco-Roman wing. I'm not sure how much they spent on the renovation, 250 and a bunch of zeros, but the job done is outstanding.
There are new arched ceilings making the rooms sunlit and airy, as well as black and white mosaic floors. The whole effect and the art make that period come alive.
Early afternoon we went to Atlantic Grill,1341 Third Ave.-212-988-9200 for a late lunch and our last NYC meal. I had wonderful jumbo lump crab cakes and a glass of white wine. The meal ended with sliced fresh pear. I believe Atlantic grill is part of a chain operation but it is well run and the food delicious.
A stop at an upper East side grocery to pick up Mallomars, why you can't get them in Cincinnati, I'll never understand, and a cab to LGA took us to our 5 PM flight.
Our daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter picked us up and we went to the Montgomery Inn in Northern KY. I should have gone without dinner, to try to begin to shed the extra 5 lbs from the week, but oh no I had my usual Bombay and then shared Beef ribs, sweet potato, onion straws and Saratoga Chip, for which the Montgomery Inn is justly famous.
Home to unpack and rehash( no pun) memories of a wonderful week.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


On we go. Now to Friday, our last full day in the city.
In the morning, after a light breakfast, which had been the routine all week, we walked to the Neue Gallery to see the Gustave Klint show and a wonderful display of German and Austrian late 19th and early 20th Century Jewelery. Both exhibitions were amazing and landmark expressions of the period art.
Then by bus, we rode down 5th Avenue to meet a group for lunch at the Oyster Bar at Grand Central Station. This lower level, large, mass producing seafood house retains its quality, selection and service. It's hard to improve on the Oyster Bar-212-490-6650, as a setting for a big city seafood house. There were eight of us and we had made a reservation, a good idea if you are as few as two. Singles and couples can eat at a counter but it is hit and miss.
I had a Lump Crab Meat cocktail, a plate of delicious fried Oysters, Cole slaw and crackers. Our table had a wide variety of dishes all prepared as ordered and served hot from the kitchen.
After lunch we walked through the new food market at Grand Central and then down to the Morgan Library and Museum. We viewed too different shows, one wonderful camera portraites and the other drawings from the time of Michelangelo.
Then is was off to the Macy's flower show and the subway back uptown. After cleaning up we departed again, by subway for the theatre district.
We had a 6 PM reservation at Scarlatto, 250 West 47th St.-212-730-4535. The restaurant, as one might guess from the name, is Italian and reasonably priced for that area of Manhattan. Marilyn had Dover Sole, surprisingly priced at $24 for a good size portion, well prepared and tasty. After my Bombay I shared a Spinach Salad and had Linguine with fresh clams(Vongole). The three of us shared a chocolate Souffle and the women had their usual decaffeinated coffee.
Our total check, including a glass of wine and salad and entree for our guest, came to less than $50/person.
Scarlatto, that evening was noisy, mostly due to a table of ten who were celebrating some thing or some one, and wanted all to know. My only other comment was that I had to slow down the service as they are used to getting people in and out, especially before the curtain rises. On the whole it was quite good and I would not hesitate to return.
The show that evening was "Springtime Awakening" The 2007 Tony winner. It is a coming of age story written and set in 1892 Germany. I found the whole evening very interesting and enjoyable. I would guess that the, standing room only,audience was at least half 25 or younger and many were there for the second or even 3rd time.
It was then home to bed for us old folks and sleep before our last day of this week long NY adventure.


If I hadn't been so tied up on family and community matters I would have gotten the rest of the New York trip on the Blog sooner. Hope my prioritise have been correct.
Thursday, March 27 was clear and cold. Glad there was little or no precipitation, as you will see.
We left the Apartment around 10:30 AM and returned almost 12 hours later.
We took the subway to West 23rd and walk up and over to some of the glass galleries on West 26, between 10th and 11th Ave. One is an old haunt, from whom we have bought several times in the past and the other was a first time experience. In the new one we found 2 pieces of glass and a piece of Jewelery which all jumped into our check book; they all now reside in our Cincinnati apt.
For lunch we stopped at Bottino, 246 tenth ave.-212-206-6766. Several gallery personnel recommend lunch here as a neighborhood gathering spot. From the outside Bottino looks like a closed bar. Upon entering we found a fairly large pleasant space with a bar and 3 dinning rooms and friendly patrons and staff as well as an outside patio. The menu is Italian and the kitchen is staffed by Orientals, where but in NYC.
Marilyn had Lasagna while I settled for a light pear and green salad and a glass of white Italian wine. I succumbed to a piece of delicious, warm bread, NY bakers sure beat our local efforts. I knew what was ahead at dinner.
The afternoon was spent a several more galleries and two museums which were new to us. All this was in lower Manhattan and was covered by foot, good exercise. One of the Museums was The Tenement Museum and gallery. They show, continuously two films on immigration from the 1830s to the present, and the groups who lived in the tenement, in which the Museum is located.
From the lower East Side we hiked to the Union Square Cafe, 21 East 16th St-646-747-0615, past Cooper Union and NYU. I opened my big mouth, somewhat intentionally, and told them about our wonderful evening at Gramercy Tavern the night before. They decided to top the previous evening, which they almost did. Neither place could be described as "shabby" in food, service or hospitality.
We started with a small flute of Champagne, from the Management, followed by an appetizer, also "on the house". USC was determined not to be out done.
For dinner I had their wonderful bib lettuce salad with Gruyere, a house specialty, and the special Indian spiced Vegetable plate. This is the second time at USC I have chosen a Vegetarian dinner, neither of which disappointed. The Chef, Carmen, sent a piece of Lasagna, for our enjoyment, which we divided into quarters, since there were 4 of us, dining together. We had a beautiful, reasonably priced, bottle of red wine. We finished the meal with coffee and two desserts, one from the Chef, divided amongst us. Outstanding in every way and still Marilyn and my home away from home when dining in NYC. Dinner, tip and tax was a little under $75/person thanks to the USC staffs hospitality.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


Part of our week in New York was catching up with long time friends and also making some new ones.
Wed. morning we caught the cross town bus on 72nd for a breakfast appointment with John Kander, the composer of Broadway Musicals including "Chicago" and "Cabaret". He and I go back over 65 years when we both went to summer camp in northern Wisconsin. We have stayed in touch all that time so he is more like a friend than a celebrity. He likes to meet at Mozart's Cafe on West 70th. The most that can be said for it is that it is just around the corner from his NY Apartment. We had our usual fine visit and some basic sustenance.
About noon we began to walk down Broadway headed to the theatre district. We made several stops including "Whole Foods" at Columbus Circle. We were searching for a couple of mundane items and so further along we stoped at the "54th St. Market" at the corner of Broadway and 54th. We had never been inside, before, and were struck by the hot and cold salad bars which contain everything from low end to very gourmet. At $6.99/lb. it is an excellent place to pickup a lunch or light dinner.
Continuing on, we picked up our tickets and perused a couple of shops an 49th. The matinee, we attended, was "August-Osage County" a 3 hour drama, brought to NY from Chicago, well done and powerful. It is about a dysfunctional family and even thought each of us feel we have one, we're pikers. You leave feeling drained so we were please to return to our room and a hot shower before leaving for "Gramercy Tavern" Get ready for an unabashed rave.
"Gramercy Tavern" at 42 East 20th St., phone 212-477-077, is one of the restaurants operated by Danny Meyer and has been in the top two or three in the Zagat ratings for several years.
Danny Meyer and his family and the Hirschhorn's have been entwined for 4 generations, ever since his Grandmother and my Mother were young women in St. Louis.
I know that some of the treatment we receive at his restaurants is based, somewhat, on this relationship, as it would be in any business, but since he has always stressed good food and especially hospitality (read his book, "Setting the Table) everyone is treated with special attention, therefore the Zagat rating.
The chef, Michael Anthony, grew up in the Cincinnati area and went to school in Fairfield, where I was a student over 65 years ago. Michael is just a few years older than our Grandchildren. His most recent position before coming to Gramercy was a chef at "Blue Hill" although he trained and cooked in Japan and France as well as in this country.
Gramercy serves a price fixed 3 course meal st $83/person with wine, gratuity and tax extra. Reasonable for a top flight NY restaurant.
I started with Pappardelle with a beef ragu. The sever had brought the wine list and I was pleasantly surprised to fine excellent wines starting at $35/bottle. After all had ordered she helped me select an excellent Valpolicella in the $40 to $45 dollar range. The table, of 6, managed, with no trouble, to down two bottles. You must remember Marilyn doesn't drink. Next came a fish course, courtesy of the chef. Three of us had poached Sable in a very light cream sauce while the other three were served lightly sauteed Fluke on a bed of pureed mushrooms. Of course we each tasted each, tough duty.
For my main course I decided to stick with Beef, very unusual for me when out of town. I choose a grilled,sliced sirloin served along with a brazed short rib. The meat was nesselled on a bed of coarsely shredded cabbage and Brussels sprouts, cousins. The short rib had a lovely, tasteful, sauce. For a pallet cleanser we had tiny citrus tarts, about the size of a thumb nail.
My dessert was a wonderful, individual pineapple upside down cake served with frozen yogurt. The chef was not satisfied and again suppled an extra dolce for the table, delicious Tapioca with some small nut crunch. This was topped off with a plate of miniature candies.
I must report that Marilyn had red snapper which she said was the best she had ever eaten, and she has eaten a lot.
At a table near by was a man I had hired for the Joseph Co. and who is now in the wine business. He uses Mark Anthony as a consultant and so the chef was busy, when not in the kitchen, checking on both tables. The restaurant manager also reintroduced herself, we had been to Gramercy twice before.
If you can get a reservation, GO. Even if you can't get a reservation go and sit in the bar where there is seating without reservations and an abbreviated menu. Believe me it is memorable for all who eat there.

Saturday, April 5, 2008


Great to wake up in NYC, on vacation. After a light breakfast, juice and toasted NY Bagel with cream chess were out and "on the town."
After a bus ride down 5th Ave. we started at Tiffany and went to several possible, upscale, watch repair places before joining the manager of the main Saks Fifth Ave. store and her husband for lunch in the store cafe, remarkable what service one receives when you are a guest of "the big boss". I wanted to eat lightly, both to try to control my weight gain and also I figured this wasn't a "gourmet" stop on our tour. After a glass of wine I had one and a half deviled eggs and a quarter of a Cuban sandwich. My decisions were correct.
The afternoon, it was almost 3 PM before we left the Saks store, was spent in other stores and glass galleries between 50th and 75th. We walked slowly back to our guest quarters.
Tuesday evening we took some children of a niece to dinner to celebrate their 2nd wedding anniversary. I had read a "squib" in the "New York Magazine" a month or so before and had called, even before they opened, to get a reservation. "Mia Dona" is located at 206 E 58th St, phone 212-750-8117. There is a good review in the Wed. April 2 NY Times, by Frank Bruni, which you can draw up on line. I am not going to try to compete with a professional, excellent, food writer. I will say that I find very little in his article with which to disagree. The 4 of us shared a bottle of wine, but since Marilyn takes only a sip is was more like 2 1/2 people working on the bottle. I chose to start with fried rabbit and vinegar chips. I shared with others and in turn received some of their first courses. Of the first courses I found the best to be the caponata salad. My rabbit was crisp and, to me, too salty. The chips were greasy and could have used more flavor. The owner suggested I try the meat loaf, which was nothing special, but who wants to go against the owner suggestion. We all shared an order of sauteed spinach and pocorino as well as a delicious Ice Cream Sandwich, here I don't agree with Bruni.
The total bill for the evening including some decaf, tip and tax was $220.
Service was satisfactory but not outstanding. Ambiance and layout are well described by Mr. Bruni. It turned out to be a place we probably will not repeat.

Friday, April 4, 2008

NYC 3/24

I have finally dug thru the mail, emails, spam and other items that accumulate during an absence and am ready to tackle a wonderful week in New York City.
Since I concentrate on restaurants that will, of course, be central but I will probably rough out a few of our other activities as well.
We arrived around noon Monday in Manhattan and unpacked. We are very fortunate to have a good friend with and extra bedroom, and a very shearing attitude, so we can afford the "Big Apple" with out depositing 2 grand at a midtown hotel. Even luckier is the fact that the Apartment is in the middle of the "slums" at 75th and Madison. For those of you that don't know NY the "slum" comment is a joke.
After unpacking we walked to "Gino" 780 Lexington Ave, between 60 and 61( a block above Bloomingdale's). I have been going there since 1945, when my Father first took me. Hardly anything has changed with the exception of the staff. I don't give you a phone # since they don't take reservations nor credit cards.
Why is this a must stop for me? They are one of the only places, I know, that always has tripe on the menu. After a plate and a glass of wine I am in the big city and ready for my New York experience. Marilyn usually has a stuffed Artichoke and that day was no different.
That afternoon we wondered around "midtown" visiting stores, specialty shops and one or two art galleries.
After a brief rest, we took off, by subway for "Blue Hill". We took 2 cabs all week, one in from the airport and one back out. All the rest was subway, bus or walking, an easy and fun thing to do in NY.
"Blue Hill Restaurant", 75 Washington Place, 10011, phone 212-539-1776, was new to Marilyn and me. It stresses light cooking, fresh produce and wonderful light sauces. It started at Blue Hill Farms and although it is quite sophisticated the food has a fresh country taste. Incidentally I did not wear or need a coat or tie anywhere, although we did not attend any formal functions or frequent any private clubs. The food was outstanding and one of our absolutely top dinners on the trip.
After my usual, I had a fresh crab salad and grilled, rare, Hamachi, a fish very much like Tuna. This trip we found beets and Brussels sprouts on a preponderance of our evening menus. The Hamachi was served on a bed of Brussels sprouts and other chopped, crisp vegetables. Marilyn had veal and we shared an order of chocolate bread pudding, for the table. We take our hostess to dinner, most nights, its the least we can do.
The total for the 3 of us, including "decaf" was $230 including tip and tax. Blue Hill is down a few stairs but I imagine they can make accommodation for people who can not negotiate them. It was a wonderful way to start a culinary visit to NY.