Monday, June 30, 2008

Summer Schedule

We leave tomorrow for our wonderful summer position as Camp Grandparents at a boy's camp in very Northwestern Wisconsin. It is a dream about time, place and over 300 health, smiling young people. What more can anyone wish. We will return a little before Labor Day.
Before leaving we had Hamburgers at "Terry's Turf Club", still our favorite ground beef emporium and a wonderful Italian meal at "Prima Vista". In our absence you'll have to keep them in business so they will be thriving when we return. Don't stop eating out and have lots of good , interesting meals.
If we go anyplace special in the "North Woods" we'll post when we get home.
Till then, have a good summer and enjoy all the fresh produce which becomes available during the next two months.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


This is difficult. It is hard, for me, to be completely objective when I am treated like a Prince both by the General Manager, Donna Seal, and her staff. I have been in contact with the GM about her speaking at my class, Let's Eat Out, and therefore the relationship. I'll do my best to point out the strengths and weaknesses of this new addition to the downtown dining scene.
"The Oceanaire Seafood Room" it's full title is located at the corner of 6th and Vine in a beautiful new space, tastefully decorated and lit, in the 580 Building. Phone 513-381-8862. The website is
We have been there twice since they opened June 1.
The first 20 minutes, of our first visit, were spotty to say the least. Our reservation had been taken and confirmed. We were seated, promptly, and then waited for 10 minutes for a server to appear. Actually the Manager was the first person, other than the polite bussers, to come by, and she took our drink order. My Bombay was a nice pour but the pricing is the highest in the area.
Digressing for a moment I believe all the bar prices are on the high side and that may reflect on the amount of liquor and wine which they are able to sell. In these difficult times, unless they expect a lot of convention or expense account business they may find not being highly competitive on bar pricing will be a deterrent.
Things improved greatly after that, although I had a couple additional comments on the manner of service, of the relishes and the "amuse bouche". As you know I'm a demanding customer, with or without special treatment.
The order was taken, in short order, and the meal that followed was excellent; that's what really counts. I had the Artic Char, broiled. I could not have been more satisfied with the size, price and especially the preparation. Marilyn and I had shared the head lettuce salad, the salads are all large enough to share, and the table had an order of roasted beets, both red and gold, some of the best I have ever eaten, and an order of sauteed spinach. Both of these served the 4 of us and some of the beets went home with the other couple.
Marilyn had well prepared and very tasty Walleye, I had a taste and the other two had the two pound Lobsters, which looked wonderful and they confirmed they were. Our server was not familiar enough with the menu, a training problem in a newly opened restaurant. She had to check the price of the Lobsters, possibly they change daily, and was unable to describe several deserts. The descriptions didn't matter since the deserts appeared, as a treat from the management. There were wonderful fresh strawberries with a hot chocolate dipping sauce and too much baked Alaska. We needed two desert to make sure we gained the proper poundage.
Last night we returned, with another couple at 5:30, before the Women's Lecture Series. The place was full, till 7:30 and management was smart enough to have a reasonable price fixed menu, for those who wanted. All of us chose to use the regular menu.
Maggie Smith was our server and she is a real "pro". The service was prompt, attentive and seamless. What more can one ask. We ordered a bottle wine, again slightly on the high side but not on the margin of the hard liquor.
I had the Crab Louis, which was a nice size serving of excellent lump crab meat in a huge bowl of chopped iceberg lettuce and many sliced of tomato's and hard boiled egg. I'd like to see the person that eats all the lettuce. The table shared the beets, just as good the second time and seasoned beautifully, and a large order of Hash Brown Potato's. I like my hash browns very crisp and that is exactly the way they came. Marilyn had "fish and chips" from which she removed most of the batter fried coating. The others had fish, I was lost in my salad and don't remember their exact order.
After the women left we finished off a second bottle of wine and had a pleasant conversation with the Manager.
On the whole I feel that Cincinnati is very fortunate that "Oceanaire" has chosen to open their 16th "store" downtown to help us reinforce that we are a places where we follow the dictum, "Let's Eat Out".

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


This is basically a filler to bring my Blogging up to date. I have been very lax in recording because most of the places we have gone since returning from Europe, approximately a month ago, are repeats and you nor I need to rehash( poor pun) them.
I'll just report the names and add a few comments:
Terry's- gotten so popular one must go at off hours
Via Vite- good Italian; nice night sit outside up stairs
Porkopolus-Easy, on the way downtown for a show or activity
Silver Spring House- out by Harper's Point and justly famous for their wonderful roast chicken
Bela Luna- Italian; we use as a backup when the wait a Terry's is too long-acceptable
Pigal's- not a back up for anywhere, but a destination
Nectar- A favorite, always fresh and interesting
Vincenzo's-Chester Road- good standard Italian at a reasonable price
Walt's- our favorite for ribs, but feel they are not doing too well
Otto's- not fair, we are good friends and I even cook there once in a while
Honey- the other of the three chef run and owned places we love to frequent
Aspera- Blue Ash- improved form our last visit- large-Asia-good
Pelian's Reef- Great seafood bar on Beechmont
Oceanaie- New, will report on this addition to the Cincinnati dining scene shortly

We don't eat home often.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Fun, Friends and of course Food

Sunday was a big day. In the morning I was the guest Chef at Otto's and in the evening we were invited for Sunday night supper at the home of Marilyn and E.P. Harris. It doesn't get much better than that.
Sunday was Paul Weckman's 28th Birthday. He is the owner and chef at Otto's, 521 Main St. in Covington. I have written about Otto's many times and I now feel like part of the family.
I messed up his kitchen once last year making a JP Ruben Sandwich and he was nice enough to invite me to return. This time I put together a Veggie Frittata and what I called Viennese Hash Browns. The food seemed to be a big success, as I produce 16 pieces of Frittata and we were sold out before noon. The hours are 10 to 2 so who knows what we might have "coned" people into eating if we had made more. It was run as "Paul's Birthday Plate" and maybe the merchandising helped the sale, although from the comments I believe the dish would make it on it's own.
The evening was outstanding. The Harris's have a very unique home which has been renovated to compliment their lives and personalities. It is a treat just to be there and see what they have done, both inside and out.
Anyone who is in any way exposed to food in Cincinnati knows of Marilyn Harris. Not only is she an outgoing, knowledgeable, educated and experienced food authority but her sense of humor and patience make it a perfect package. To put it simply she is a pleasure and we are please to call her a friend.
She had a "simple, informal Sunday night supper" in her kitchen. I'd hate for her to formally entertain. The food, which she prepared, and the wine was marvelous as was the ambiance from setting to informality.
Out of her kitchen came fresh shrimp, with a wonderful summer sauce and rolls of Italian ham and Mozzarella. This was on the counter with several bottle of excellent wine. After we were seated she served a crisp green salad with grapes and candied pecans topped by a lovely Lime and Walnut oil dressing. The main course was marinated and grilled Lamb Tenderloin accompanied with sliced green asparagus, in a light butter sauce and a beautiful Potato Galette. Dessert was just the right amount of Chocolate ice cream and Raspberry Sorbet topped with berries and accented with Quantro. A plate of Belgium Cookies made the rounds with the individual servings.
Wine, conversation and even a little gossip flowed freely between the 6 of us at the table. We were the first to leave, after 4 hours, so the Sunday night supper may still be in progress.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Hamburgers and Hot Dogs

I hate to try to rank eating establishments, however, the other day we were discussing informal eating, which brought to mind two places I enjoy for sidewalk or bar food.
For a hamburger, around town, it is hard for me to go anywhere but "Terry's Turf Club" on Eastern Ave. I had written about this spot, months ago, before it got "discovered". One used to walk in, sit down, throw a few peanut shells on the floor, with the resultant nuts keeping you in the bar business and order your hamburgers and French Fries with no fuss or bother. Now on week nights between 6:30 PM and 9 you are lucky if the wait is only 20 to 30 minutes.
On the weekends it is any ones guess as to the wait time. The sandwiches are worth the wait.

Last week, one of my lunch companions and I tried the new "sidewalk grill" in front of "Avrils and Bleh", on Court St. He and I are big sausage lovers and while I ordered and ate a good Brat, but not cooked well enough, for my taste, he tried to down two "hot dogs". He didn't make it but I willingly came to his rescue. The hot dogs, as you night imagine, are good sized, done perfectly and only $2.00 each. There is a fairly full "grill menu" but I stick to the "tube steaks"
Inside Avril will fix sandwiches to order. Maybe I'll try one someday.