Monday, September 22, 2008

Interesting Weekend

Our social life hit on all cylinders over the weekend.
Friday night we were invited to a CSO Picnic given by one of the Board members at their home. My guess is that there were about 200 in attendance. Orchestra Members, their guests, Board Members, Administration and others. They had all my favorites, Bombay Gin, Cashew Nuts and several kinds of grilled Sausage, along with very interesting people. A pleasant evening in a lovely setting and a great beginning for the weekend.
Saturday night we had dinner, with another couple, at "Aqua" 1020 Delta Ave, Cincinnati. We have been there several times and I have written comments on the other visits. I especially enjoy the Sushi Bar and usually have a plate of mixed items, all of which I have enjoyed. Marilyn and others usually stick with the seafood or meat dishes. Saturday I had a wonderful smoked salmon salad which included figs, cashew nuts, currents and greens. I followed with several "oriental rolls" and a beer. Marilyn had the chicken in a finally seasoned sauce and served with mushrooms and fingerling potato's. The others had Gazpacho and grilled coconut covered prawns. The main room was full, and noisy, and so we moved to the terrace abutting the sidewalk where the four of us dined alone along with an interesting array of passersby.
Sunday night was a new experience for us. Several people had recommended "Cafe Mediterranean" which opened while we were out of town this summer. The owner is Mehmet Coskun and he takes a personal interest in his guests. "Cafe Mediterranean" is located in the Anderson Towne Center at 7454 Beechmont Ave. Cincinnati, OH 45255, phone-513-232-2400.
The are open 7 days a week and are located in the shopping center behind Macy's and next to the "Cold stone Creamery". The restaurant is handicapped accessible and has full bar service.
After drinks our table shared a combo platters of cold Mediterranean appetizers. The platter of food was beautiful and very tasty and had about eight different items. The combo platter plus a salad or one main course, split, would serve most couples, especially after one or two drinks.
Our main courses were a lamb shishkabob, for Marilyn, which again was excellent, and and a large serving of home made gyro meat for me. The shishkabob was accompanied with a Bulgar wheat pilaf and grilled peppers and tomato while my meat had the low fat vegetable mix, fresh broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus. Hot pita comes with everything. The food was very good, although my vegetables could have used some kind of sauce, possibly yogurt, and the service was pleasant but unfortunately spotty. We will return and go for the appetizer and a salad. The total cost was approximately $50/couple plus tip.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A treat

I know that I usually write almost exclusively about food but I want to mention a treat of another kind. In Cincinnati we have a lot of Professional Groups. A couple that come to every ones mind are, of course, our Baseball team and our Football Franchise. This year both of these have been nothing to "write home", or any place else, about.
When you pick up our local newspaper you see both at least once or twice, every day.
We also have a very Professional Symphony Orchestra. your lucky to read about that once or twice a week, during their season. The CSO is not only 1st Class, but quite possibly one of the top 5 Symphony Orchestras in the United States and certainly in the top 10. The local paper gives cursory coverage, t0 this great ensemble, and they are usually stressing the problems, rather than the triumphs.
Last week the CSO opened their 2008/2009 season with two concerts, Friday and Saturday night, that were outstanding. The audience was not only large, over 5200 both nights combined, but also wildly enthusiastic. The lights had to come up before they would let the soloist, Andre Watts, retire.
If you want a treat, besides eating out, treat yourself to an evening with the CSO at Music Hall.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dining Out-Outside Dining

This week, in lovely weather, we ate at two different spots taking advantage of their decks. It's a great time of year, with few bugs, a beautiful setting sun and just the right evening temperature.
"Knotty Pine on the Bayou" 6720 Licking Pike, Cold Spring, KY-859-781-2200 has a lovely deck, overlooking the Licking River and delightful food to enhance the view. We had eaten there once before, at least 5 years ago, and were not impressed. Lee Comisar, of Maisonette fame, told me that they had small frogs legs and so I set my sight on going there and trying for myself. I was not disappointed. The server, a young women, was not only attentive but knowledgeable and guided the three of us thru an excellent dining experience.
I had, the a fore mentioned, frogs legs, sauteed in a light butter and wine sauce, although they will fix, almost, anything you order in the manner one wishes. The crisp mixed green salad was very good with a choice of a number of dressings, some made in house, but the rice, my poor choice over redskined potatoes, was ordinary, although they did offer gravy for the rice, which I refused. The waitress had suggested ordering an order of Etouffee to use as a sauce for the excellent "pan seared" Grouper, Marlyn and our other guest had. The Etouffee had small shrimp and pieces of crab along with the other ingredients. It was properly spiced and I ate my share without the need for any accompanying seafood. The collard greens were well prepared but came in a bowl with too muck "pot liquor" which absorbed the wine vinegar and other seasonings.
For desert we split their version of an Opera Cream Cake, good, but we'll stick to Bonbonerie.

"Lavomatic Cafe and Wine Bar, 1211 Vine St., Cincinnati-513-621-1999 is just a few doors up, north, of the Ensemble theater and thus makes a perfect spot before or after the show. We went, also, with another person before and had plenty of time for dinner and coffee.
This is one of the Jean-Robert's restaurants which operate in conjunction with his main spots downtown. We ate on a rooftop deck between two buildings but with plenty of open space. I started with a "Butter Lettuce" Salad with shaved beets and fennel and a creamy lemon dressing and followed with a sizable Pot of Chili, served in a metal pot with a lid and ladle. The chili was loaded with beef and, of course, the requisite amount of beans. I washed it down with a Draft Ale, which held me thru the show. Marilyn had a cheese tarte, which resembled a pizza on thin crust. It was a good stop although I still like the lunch menu more than that offered in the evening.

Monday, September 8, 2008

A Big Week

On Labor Day, Sept 1, we picked up our kids at the Dayton airport. We decided to stay in Dayton for diner and since none of us had been to the "Pine Club" we decide on it as our destination.
The Pine Club-1926 Brown St.,Dayton OH- 937-228-5371 is an institution in Dayton and is known throughout the area. It was opened in 1947 and has been in business, at the same location, ever since. It is a Steak House with a large bar, booths and tables and a menu built around meat, although there are a few fish dishes. They do not take reservations or Credit Cards and the usual wait is about 45 minutes to an hour. We lucked out and on this warm Labor Day evening we were seated immediately.
The menu offers most well known steak cuts and Marilyn and I shared a porterhouse, plenty for our appetite. We also shared an order of Lyonnaise potato's which served both of us with another helping left over. I ordered the wedge of Iceberg with the "red and blue dressing" a light "French" with gobs of blue cheese crumbles. It was excellent. There are several selections of vegetables and all this, salad, potato and veggies are included in the price of the dinner. The meal was good and the service was excellent but it is 90 miles round trip, from our home, and the Precinct, with better steaks and higher prices is only 2 block away. Maybe I'm just a home body.
The next night it was "JeanRo Bistro", written about before. It is fun, moderately priced and offers a cafe based menu with one or two specials. Located on Vine, between 4th and 5th it is easy to park, either on the street or under the Westin Hotel, right across the street. Having trouble seeing over my stomach I settled for French Onion Soup, always excellent there, and a salad.
Unfortunately we made up for it the next night with a visit to the "Orchids" Dining Room of the Netherland Plaza. For my money and taste this is the top "special occasion" restaurant in Cincinnati. The room is beautiful, quiet, and the service is in keeping with a top rate menu.
I started with Sweetbreads which were perfectly prepared and followed with a main course of grilled striped Bass and pieces of Alaskan King Crab. The plate accompaniments set off the diner and complimented the seafood. Others had Salmon, Veal and Lamb which universally met approval and raves.
To end the week of eating out we went on Friday night to "Primavista", also reported on earlier.
"Primavista is in the Queens Tower, atop Price Hill.
As with most good restaurants Friday and Saturday are the BIG nights. Primavista was crowded and although our reservation was promptly honored the kitchen delay was somewhat tedious. The owner told us they did 120 covers in one hour, a record and fairly impossible for any "cook to order" restaurant. They were gracious and we certainly will return and will recommend "Primavista" to everyone as one of the best Italian dinner places in town. I had excellent Cioppino with plenty of fresh seafood in a slightly spicy tomato broth, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Marilyn had her usual Veal Piccata. All diners come with a fair sized salad and plenty of hot bread with a garlic puree on the side.
As I have written before, I only comment on what I actually eat and how each place effects me at the particular time. The restaurant business is a difficult one with many variables from the parking to the dish washer. One has to love and be dedicated to try that line of work and stick with it.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Catching Up

As any of you, who have ever been away for an extended time, know it takes awhile to catch up. After seven weeks in the North Woods we now feel like we are close to there. Laundry, Marilyn's major home occupation, mail, bills and calls, we are current.
Add to this two political conventions and too much attack advertising plus a Granddaughter off to collage for her Freshman year and you see we have had a bit to do.
None the less we still eat out, almost always with friends, and so here is a rundown of places we have revisited and one new one tried, after reading the review.
Caulk Food+Wine- Newport, KY
We met our children there, our first night home and shared several dishes. It is the second time we have been to Caulk, the first we thoroughly enjoyed. Our evening, on this Friday was only fair. It was nice being with the family but the place was noisy, the service was slow and the portions fairly small. I found the wine had increased in price since our first visit and there were no bargains to my untrained eye and palette. I did enjoy the pulled Duck Bar-B-Q'ed sandwich and the trout, while good, was fairly skimpy.
Guenther's Steak and Seafood House-7886 Cincinnati Dayton Road, West Chester (5130 777-8880.
We read the review in the Steak Issue of "Cincinnati Magazine" by Donna Covertt and so we were anxious to try Guenther's. We did not find it a special as did Ms Covertt. The seafood delivery truck had not made an appearance when we arrived at 7:15, it did get there as we were leaving after 9. Therefore they could not prepare either the crab cakes or the "Louis" salad, a disappointment. Their house salad is good and ample. I settled for Calf's Liver which was prepared correctly, with sauteed onions and a bacon strip but which was sinewy, as sometimes happens. The hash browns were fairly ordinary, not comparable to my favorites at the "Rustic Roost" in Iron River WI, a long drive for potatoes. Marilyn gave me a taste of her steak and Jeff Ruby doesn't have to worry. As Donna reported it is a bargain compared with other steak houses and the atmosphere, a local neighborhood place for dinner, not a steak emporium, is very pleasant. Our server and the Manager couldn't have been more pleasant and accommodating. If we are on our way to Middletown or Dayton we may try it again but it is a long way from Columbia Parkway.
Terry's Turf Club-Eastern Ave.
Terry's is Terry's. I have written about it before. It remain a good Bar and Hamburger join, with other sandwiches, for the non believers. The Hamburgers are some of the best around and rival the Anchor Bar in Superior, WI. Go early or late if you want to avoid the the wait and throw your peanut shells on the floor.
Aqua Restaurant-1020 Delta Ave-Mt Lookout Square
We went on a Friday night and found a nice crowd but, again, a high noise level. Maybe it has something to do with my age or what restaurants want to encourage.
The food was excellent, I had a mixed platter of Sushi and California, or other, Rolls while the others had hot entrees including chicken and fish. Their food is done correctly and served attractively by, in our case, an attentive, pleasant and helpful waiter; in fact he put together my Sushi combination which I enjoyed immensely. We should go more often
Cumin-3520 Erie Ave- East Hyde Park
Cumin is a regular stop for us. We always have a good time and are treated as the regulars we are, although everyone seems to get the same treatment. There were three of us and we divided 3 main courses, which followed our cocktails.
The three selections were a grilled and marinated Flank Steak, Cauliflower on a bed of rice with a light sauce and a spinach and Indian Cheese combination the name and spelling of which I am currently at a loss. This was accompanied by Paswami Nan, oven-baked flat bread stuffed with raisins and pistachio nut pieces. Plenty of food for a good tastee dinner.
I think I'll stop for now as my eyes, and probably yours can use a rest. More at the next posting.

Catching Up

Monday, September 1, 2008

Back to Earth

"The time has come the Walrus said to talk of many things"
Were back home, in Cincinnati, after a wonderful 7 weeks at Camp Nebagamon, in Northern Wisconsin, where we are the Staff Grandparents for a camp of approximately 400 different boys, ages 9 to 16 and a staff of about 120. It is fun, rejuvenating and a real change from our time at home.
Before I start on my review, or comments, of local eating establishments I'd like to mention a couple of places we ate during our summer jaunt.
A lot of Northern Wisconsin "dinning" is at "road house" places, often built around a thriving Bar business. The menus are heavy on steaks, pasta, Walleye and other local fish, mostly fried.
Three dinners of note, two in the region and one on the way home, were good enough to mention and worth a stop if you are in the vicinity.
"Wild Rice" in Bayfield, WI. can hold it's own anywhere, in ambiance, service and food. Three of us visited and had; Crab Ravioli, Wild Rice Soup, a cheese platter, Bison Fillet,Salmon and Apple Crisp with homemade Ice Cream. All delicious, beautifully prepared and presented.
"Le Bistro"- 1409 Hammond Ave. Superior, WI is a new venture in an old and somewhat run down town. They serve lunch and diner and we at there for both. Lunch is basically lite fare, salads, sandwiches, a daily Quiche etc. In the evening the menu has an extensive, imaginatively prepared, selection and a very nice, small, wine list. We sample, sauteed Walleye with fresh tomato's, capers and white wine, Ossa Buco, Roasted herbed chicken, Salmon and a nice fillet.
Interesting food in Superior WI.
"Dominic's Trattoria"- 200 South Brentwood, Clayton, MO.-314-863-4567. Dominic's run two restaurants in the St. Louis area, a region know for Italian food. The more formal is "on the Hill" with table side preparation and upscale prices. The Trattoria is in an Apartment Building in Clayton with a good sized menu covering all the Italian standards. We went, with our Granddaughter, a Senior at Washington U, and the three of us shared everything, which was nicely divided by the kitchen or server. After drinks, the only time all summer I paid more than $5 for my Bombay, we divided two excellent salad, one basically poached asparagus and fresh tomato's while the other was an Italian Salad Nicoise, heavy on excellent tiny green beans(haricots verts). The three pastas, also divided were Lobster Ravioli, Gnocchi Bolognese and an interesting Angle Hair and Calamari presentation.
It's not Jane and Michael Stern but thus ends my summer addition of "Road Food".