Saturday, January 24, 2009

Rue Dumaine

If you live in the northern part of the Cincinnati area, especially around I275 or above I suggest the next time you are looking for a good meal and relaxed surroundings that you head North to Dayton instead of Cincinnati. On the south side of Dayton approximately 30 minutes from I275 you'll find "Rue Dumaine" at 1061 Miamisburg-Centerville Rd 937-610-1061, a store front Bistro with a wonderful eclectic menu and even better preparati0n.
Marilyn and I were there Thursday night dining with a couple from the Dayton area. We arrived at 7 PM and found the restaurant without any trouble on the North side of State Route 725, headed East from I675. The place was only about 1/4 full and it deserves better. The chef, owner, moved from New Orleans, back to Dayton, and opened about 6 months ago. The food may have a slightly Southern twings but I hate to put it in any category, except satisfying.
There were 3 specials and Marilyn and I decided to split two, Ruby Trout Almondene and fresh Flounder. They both came sauteed with a side or two. The trout had a hugh portion of almond slivers, which we thought, at first, was a portion of wild rice, and well prepared green beans. The flounder is served on a bed of roasted Yukon gold potato's with a side of steamed spinach. I had read of their pasta with cheese which they gladly substituted for the roast potato's. The fish was beautifully done, the veggies green and tasty and the sauces served on the side were pleasant accompaniments.
Salads are large and we began our meal by splitting an excellent Belgium Endive, apple, pecan and blue cheese salad for our first course. I'm still working on my waistline, with slight success, so we had no alcholic beverages but Marilyn finished with her usual "decaf" Total coast, with generous tip was $35 each.
The other couple were not as reserved and had not only wine and desert One chose the lamb medallions and the other roast pork both of which looked inviting. From out house travel time in in the range of an hour, depending on traffic, but we will make the journey again.

Friday I had a new experience. I went to a naturalization ceremony for 32 new Americans. I am taking a course at OLLI, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Cincinnati. Continuing education for mature adults, at least in age. The course is on Immigration and the Moderator invited us to lunch and to view the ceremony. I'm glad I did both.
He suggested "Mecklenburg Gardens" 302 E. University Ave, Cincinnati 45219-513-221-5353. Meklenburg was founded in 1865 and has had several iterations since then. It has been in the same location since it's founding and still retains the outside beer garden covered with grape vines. When I was growing up it was a favorite of my parents even though it was rumored to be a meeting place for the German American Bund. The specialty,in those days, was "smearcase" a smooth wiped cottage cheese topped with fresh chives and accompanied with rye bread. Alas, those days are gone and for a period of time it was run by an "ashram" and other various groups. Now the Harten family has taken ownership and things, yesterday, at lunch were highly satisfactory. I had a "house smoked Salmon" salad and all though the Salmon was slightly salty the salad was very good with crisp romaine, excellent firm tomato's, tough to get this time of year, and crisp cucumber. The mixed balsamic dressing was just right and the lunch was good enough to encourage a return either for lunch or dinner.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Three Nights Out

This week we ate out three nights in a row. Not really unusual but also not helpful with my New Years Resolution to loose weight. As anyone knows eating at home is a lot easier way to control calories.
Tuesday night after drinks and nibbles at our cousins, in Blue Ash, we moved on to the "Montgomery Inn" 9940 Montgomery Road, Cincinnati 45242-513-791-3482. "Montgomery Inn" is the most professional operation in our area, at all levels, and has been rated with "Jimmy's Harbor side" in Boston as tops in that category as well as number of meals served.
Some people describe the operation as "a factory" but I believe that has negative connotations.
The food, service, kitchen etc. are all set and better than lots of places that don't have their acts together. When you order, here, you know what you will get, although the servers try to understand your desires and comply. If their items appeal to you there is very little chance that you will be disappointed.
I thought I could control myself by just ordering the full Iceberg wedge with Roquefort dressing and a baked sweet potato. Little did I expect the dressing to be loaded with cream, mayonnaise and bacon bits as well as plenty of cheese, the dressing alone must have been 500 calories, unfortunately it was delicious. The baked sweet potato came not only with a whipped butter but one that included maple syrup and nuts, again a difficult thing to pass for a foodie. Not only did I eat mine but I had some of my cousins chopped steak, very good, the same as Marilyn choose and more that one or two of her Saratoga Chips. All these plus a good bite of onion straws left dieting for another day. All the food was tastey and served as ordered.

Wednesday night was a wonderful surprise. Before the "Smart Talk" lecture the two of us went with two other women to "The Newport Syndicate", 18 E 5th St. Newport KY 41071-859-491-8000. The Syndicate has a long history dating back to the 1930's when gambling was allowed and it has seen life as a casino, a bowling ally, a Jeff Ruby inspired banquet hall and currently as a restaurant and cocktail lounge. The decor is "art deco" and the place is bright and inviting.
I am a member of an Italian Fraternal group and have been with one of the new owners, also a member and Italian, at the "Federal Reserve" bar, downtown, "The Reserve" at Newport on the Levee and now the "Syndicate". This seems the best and the certainly the most fun.
Price points are unbelievable with my Shrimp and Angle Hair plus a good sized salad $14.95. Marilyn had Angle Hair with meat sauce(Bolognese) and salad, again $14.95. One of the ladies had the Chicken Pesto Flat Bread, quite enough for a meal, for $9.95.
Monday's they run a Prime Roast Beef special for $14.95, unbelievable.
Run, don't walk to "The Newport Syndicate" before my friend Mike, one of the owners, wakes up. You'll be glad you did.

Thursday night it was back to "The Rookwood" 1077 Celestial St -513-421-5555. Last time I was there I had one of the loaded hamburgers but this time, trying to make up for Tuesday, I stuck with the grilled chicken breast, it comes with a Cajun rub which adds a spicy flavor and keeps the breast juicy. I passed on the Swiss, which is included and the kettle chips and asked instead for some extra Cole slaw. I did not resist a draft Christian Moreline which was a fine compliment. Our server, Michelle, was pleasant, outgoing, attractive and efficient, what more can an old man ask.
The one disturbing happening was the rib eye steak which one of the other couple ordered. It came with so much fat and gristle that it had to be returned. The Manager, Luke, handled the situation promptly and pleasantly and all left satisfied.
"TheRookwood" is not impressive, but then it doesn't try to be. It's food and service are good and it is a fine drop in place with a limited but well though out menu.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Edgecliff Bistro, and others

The is a difficult post to enter. I am somewhat conflicted and yet the guiding principle of all my entrees is the truth, as I perceive it. I love the Restaurant business and understand some of it's difficulties on the other hand open reporting has to be the only guiding principle. That said, here goes.
Last night 7 of us went to "The Edgecliff Bistro" in the older Edgecliff tower at Victory Parkway and Eden Park. The Restaurant opened in Sept. and they are still getting their act together. The food was very good, with all dishes well prepared, as ordered. The service, both in the front of the house and the kitchen show a real need for addition training and supervision. "The Edgecliff" is part of the Jean-Ro organization but I believed it is solely owned by the Wades. I am not going to dwell, this time, on the deficiencies but they were obvious, to anyone, and sufficient to down grade what should have been a very pleasant evening. From lack of table supervision to kitchen errors they were numerous both in service and food temperature and timing.
I had an excellent piece of Salmon, cooked medium rare, with grilled tomato's' and a green salad. Others had trout with potato's and Green beans, Lamb burgers, Chicken in a cream sauce and Onion soup. The table ordered "beer battered onion rings, which everyone praised and Fried Calamari, not as successful. We had coupon's for dessert and I tasked the "Tarte Tartan" which again was very good.
There is inside parking and the place is handicapped accessible
I had a long talk with the Manager and he is aware of the problems. He also gave us a small Gift Certificate to be used for a future meal.
We will return, if only to give them a second chance and enjoy some very good food.

My granddaughters wanted to have lunch at "Jean-Roberts Greenup Cafe", 308 Greenup St.,Covington KY 859-261-3663. Only the downstairs dinning room was open and it is small and very noisy. Either the kitchen was understaffed or swamped by the Friday crowd. The menu is interesting an is reminiscent of a "ladies tea parlor" of my youth. although the place is well populated by males.
I chose vegetarian Chili and a green salad. It's a new year and I am working on my "Buddha Belly".
Marilyn had excellent chicken salad, of which I had a small taste while one Granddaughter had tuna salad and the other a croissant with avocado and brie. The food was fresh and quite acceptable.

Off to "Cumin" 3520 Erie Ave. Cincinnati 513-871-8714, to meet a younger couple. That night I had my usual Bombay plus a green salad and Aloo Gobi, crisp Cauliflower in a spicy sauce. The dish included rice which I finessed. Marilyn had their excellent Lamb Shank and we shared an order of Peshawri Naan, my favorite. The naan is stuffed with golden raisins and pistachio nuts, how can it be bad. It's another restaurant that treats everyone as honored guests and Mung, their head server is bright, sparkling, efficient and always upbeat. One of our regular haunts.

"Mitchell's Fish Market" Newport of the Levee, Newport, KY 859-291-7454. Again we meet a couple, this time our age. After a drink, Marilyn and I split a "Titanic Iceberg Wedge", lettuce with 1000 Island dressing and tomato' and chopped eggs. I choose Shrimp and Scallops American. A good choice, recommended by the server with a tangy sauce and firm seafood. Marilyn had her somewhat usually Tilapia which she reported to be very nicely done. It's a go9d chain for both basic and interesting seafood and often no crowded.

That's been the week and now for a couple of nights a home with lettuce and lemon juice (ha).

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Chung Ching

Last night 16 of us went for a 42nd Birthday party. Part of the group wanted to make sure that I made a post of the evening, even though I have written about this two or three person operation previously.
"Chung Ching", 5842 Hamilton Ave. Cincinnati-513-541-1243, is a store front restaurant run by a wife, Joyce, and her husband, an unseen entity, but a very good cook. If there is anyone else they are also hidden in the kitchen, as Joyce is the whole front of the house staff. Don't go for ambiance, decore or a full bar but do go for good basic Chinese food served hot and as ordered. It also wont break the bank.
Our party, which took up the whole front of the restaurant, had copious quantities of food and drink( beer and wine) and left after almost three hours in "high spirits", no pun. The total cost including tax and tip just under $19 per person.
To relate the dishes, we consumed, gives you some idea of the cooks flexibility.
We started with and egg role each. Their egg rolls are large, hot and vegetarian. We had two orders of diced chicken and peanuts each with a different level of spice. Two orders, of Sesame Chicken, terrible for you, but sweetly delicious and one order of Sweet and Sour Chicken of which I did not partake. The beef dishes were sliced tender meat, one dish with fresh pea pods (young and crispy) and one with scallions. For seafood we ordered shrimp with cashew nuts, this also contained pea pods and water chestnuts. Our pork was strips of Bar-B-Que meat with fresh crispy bean sprouts, again two orders as ere the shrimp. To behave we had 2 orders of Szechuan Green beans and several bowls of steaming rice. A Chinese table further back had crispy duck, fixed several ways, which I'll try the next time.

Also we returned a week or so ago to Primavista, our favorite "Italian", located high atop Price Hill. Especially noteworthy, that evening, was the Ossobuco. Unfortunately the scampi in Sherry sauce was not up to the usual standard, which just proves they are human also. I mention the fact that I had been slightly disappointed in my dinner and was assured that they would take the proper steps. A sign of a well run establishment where the owners take a personal interest.

Last Monday night we went with another couple to "Wild Ginger", 3655 Edwards Road, Cincinnati-513-533-9500. They have expanded but their food remains first rate. They have Shiner Bock Beer, which I personally enjoy. The service is always attentive and food comes with some detail to presentation.
Marilyn and I split and order(6) of chicken pot sticker, with a nice dipping sauce. I had an "ocean king" role which included soft shell crab, scallops, eel and shrimp. A seafood dinner wrapped in rice. Marilyn had the Walleye with 3 spices, which she has enjoyed many times, it comes with wilted spinach, on top, and crisp broccoli riming the plate. Total cost approximately $25. each.