Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Month end

For my few regular readers, who question why there hasn't been anything in a while here is a slight explanation. For some health reasons we have been going out a little less and almost entirely repeating place that have already been reported. Also I am still working, although not very diligently, on trying to loose a pound or two. Easier to do at home than out. That doesn't mean that we have suffered as the "grub" here "ain't bad".
Since last writing we have been to "Bonefish Grille", "Oriental Wok", twice, once lunch and once an open house, "Otto's" and "Walt's". Doesn't sound like we have suffered.
A couple of comment: I like "Bonefish", especially their "house" salad and always find something that I enjoy. As I mentioned they do a very good job for a chain restaurant. I had Salmon, which was good, but the next night, at home I fixed Artic Char, for myself, and decided I do just as good a job, as they, if not better.
The "Oriental Wok", which I reported, opened a new place in the "Regency". It is very convenient. I play bridge in that building and have started a regular table for lunch on Bridge Day( Friday). For lunch I had the "mini burgers" which were very good and filling but I have to remember to ask that things be prepared with a minimum of Sodium, they have a heavy hand otherwise. They will gladly comply. Last night they had an open house for their loyal Kentucky customers and they were nice enough to include us. We had other plans for the evening but not wanting to miss anything, especially if it is free, we stoped by on the way to meeting and eating at "Walt's" The Wong's, owners of the O.W., certainly don't skimp and we both filled a plate from the raw bar which served as a wonderful appetizer.
At "Walt's" I returned to the Bar-B-Qued Ribs and am glad I did. I had tried the Chicken Livers, the last time, and it it's good to be "back home" with the excellent ribs.
Saturday night "Paul Weckman" Chef and owner, of "Otto's" fixed my recipe, for brazed beef short ribs, entirely on his own. The first time he served them I had prepared them in my kitchen and all he had to do was reheat. The second time we fixed them on site and Saturday he soloed. They we very good, and as I told him the second best I have eaten. The only problem was that he made only 11 servings and so guests after 7 PM had none. "Otto's" was full.
I will be producing our "JP Ruben" Sandwich on Sunday April 5 at "Otto's" Drop by for Brunch.
See you in April.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


This morning we were having a discussion, with our trainer, about the restaurant business, here in Cincinnati. It seems to us that things are holding up very well, and that except for a few instances, the places we frequent are serving as many customers, give or take a few in either direction, as they were previously. This should be viewed as good news, at least, for this segment of the economy.
Another point he made, was that young people, instead of giving up candy, alcohol or smoking for Lent are giving time or money to those less fortunate than themselves. If this is a national trend it is certainly a sign of maturity and sharing.
Back to my food reporting:
A week ago we went, with a young friend and her 5 year old twins, to "Gordo's Pub and Grill", 4328 Montgomery Road Cincinnati(Norwood) OH, 45212-513-351-1999. "Gordo's" is a bar with table service and a menu that is larger that just "bar food". Their specialties are Burgers but the menu ranges from Crab Cakes and baked mixed Mushrooms to Ribeye and also Shrimp Linguini.
I choose the "Jean-Robert" Burger. The owner and chef used to work in Jean-Robert's kitchen. It is a half pound burger with a mix of bacon, onion compote, blue cheese and mixed herbs topped with a grape and goat cheese compote. The topping is lightly applied, but sufficient, so the meat flavor is predominant. It is served with "steak fries" and even though I ordered them "well done" I would rather have the thin FF's. Marilyn had the "Pub" Burger, which in other venues is a cheese burger with lettuce, tomato and onions. The two 5 year old's had chicken strips and Mac&Cheese, the later being very good. The other adult had a BLT, good but nothing special.
They have a full bar and a large array of beer's. The crowd is more upscale than I had imagined and all the table were full.
After dinner, with two 5 year old's, it was mandatory for a stop for Ice Cream, and that night we gave our business to a Norwood UDF. The outstanding desert was Marilyn's scoop of Vanilla Carmel crunch, a winner.
We have been out twice to "Pelican's Reef", one a Saturday and one a Sunday, and both times they were full. I reported in "Bits and Bites" on the Sunday meal and this past Saturday night I had an excellent grilled fish sandwich with Cajun seasoning. I am ashamed that I did not write down the fish but is was something starting with a "C" which makes it's home in the Florida Keys. Some food reporter,I.
Yesterday lunch was at "J Alexander" in Rookwood Commons. Again I have reported. They were full, with people waiting in line for tables to turn. I had very tasty Artic Char, one of my favorites, done to perfection on the grill with a lemon butter topping.
It is my hope that my observations of decent to good business bodes well for the restaurant business and the economy in general. A toast to the glass half full.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bits and Bites

I haven't tried many new places, in the last couple of weeks, or had meals that were really special, with a couple of exceptions. That doesn't mean I haven't eaten out. I have been doing a little more cooking and we have been eating at home because it was just easier that way.
Here are a few spots that have keep me from having to eat only my cooking, which isn't bad:
Lunch at "Asiana Restaurant" 3922 Edwards Road..Cincinnati 45209-513-351-0999. This small family run Thai and Sushi restaurant has caught my eye, as I rode by many times. It wasn't till yesterday that a friend and I stoped in for lunch. "Asiana" is one of many Asian restaurants that have populated the Hyde Park area over the last 10 years. Whereas Clifton( "Curryville" to quote Marilyn Harris) is populated by Indian eating places we seem to have been the new settlement for Asian.
The lunch was nothing special. Acceptable but in no way outstanding. I had a "Bano Box" with spicy shrimp rolls, tuna rolls, salmon rolls and California rolls. More than enough food for anyone. I doubt though that it will gander a return visit.
On the other hand, "Wild Ginger" 3655 Edwards Road, Cincinnati 45208-513-533-9500. Stays first class and has grown in popularity. I went late one evening a week or more ago with a cousin, whose wife was in the hospital, for a hip replacement. My wife was four floors above, for a series of tests. It was natural that we would dine together. We managed to consume several large Japanese Beers( Kirin) along with a plate of "summer rolls" for an appetizer. We then split a Venus Roll( Lobster, seaweed salad and crab) and an order of 3 Flavored Walleye. A wonderful meal that filled us both. Again "Wild Ginger" is in Hyde Park and remains one of the best Thai and Sushi spots in town., in my estimation.
A surprise was "Sky Galley" at Lunken Airport, Wilmer Ave.-513-871-7400. We go often to this very relaxed eating place. Surely the best "airport restaurant" in the area. The surprise last week was a diner special of pasta with an excellent tomato vodka sauce. The chef had added some sauteed onions and mushrooms to the sauces preparation and served the pasta either plain or with a choice of shrimp, salmon or chicken. I chose the salmon while Marilyn had it plain and one of our companions had the shrimp. Our server, a bright young women, had brought us all a sample of the sauce and made 3 sales for her effort. It was a wonderful meal.
Last night before the 'Ensamble Theatre" we had dinner with a friend at "Lavomatic Cafe and Wine Bar" 1211 Vine St.-513-621-1999. We often go there before the "Ensamble" as it is in the next block North on Vine. After my large "Bano Box" lunch I settled on a salad of Arugula, Grapefruit sections and fried Haloumi cheese( a little too salty for my taste) and a Tarte Flambee with is an individual Pizza with sauteed onions and dried, black figs on a very tastee thin crust. It was the correct amount for a medium weight dinner for a not medium weight person.
Tonight we're off to meet a young widow friend and her 5 year old, adorable twins at "Gordo's" in Norwood. More about that later.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Oriental Wok

Mike Wong, and his family, have opened a new "Oriental Wok" in the Regency at the corner of Madison Road and Dana Ave. Phone-513-871-6888. Even if you don't like Chinese food, and they have a few non Chinese items on the menu, I encourage you to stop in and see what true hospitality, in the restaurant, business is all about.
This branch of "Oriental Wok" opened last week in the space previously occupied by the "Napa Grill" and the difference couldn't be more pronounced. The Wong's spent a great deal in decoration and Asia Art. The look is certainly "Chinese Restaurant" going back to the 1930's. Red, Gold, lacquer and flowers are everywhere. But it's not just the ambiance that is such a change it's the personnel, and that's what counts. The current employees are upscale, happy and pleased to be there and be of help and the Management wants to please.
Seven of us went for dinner last night. Saturday night at a new restaurant, open for only a couple of days, has to be somewhat hectic and our experience was no different. If there were any kinds of problems they were explained and rectified. The hostess explained that the kitchen would be a little slow, as they were flooded with guests. A couple of specific drinks were not available, yet, but good substitutes were found, and through it all everyone made us to feel we were a valued guest.
Three of us orders roast duck, which was excellent. The server returned to tell us they were out of the Duck, after which Mike came by and we told him we were disappointed. Immediately he said we would get the Duck. It turned out a few orders had been put aside for his personal use. He said to us, the customer comes first before the owner or staff. What more can one want?
We started with drinks and three appetizers, all of which were well prepared and served hot; pot sticker, egg roles and cheese and shrimp rolls. Besides the three orders of Duck we had some other standards, Chicken Chow Mein, Moo Goo Gai Pan, Glass Noodles with crab and shrimp and Triple Delight with fried rice. The food is is old fashioned and the service, as mentioned great so treat yourself to a night back in time and go the the "Oriental Wok" at the Regency.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Whenever the pot I carry around my waist gets burdensome I think first of diet and way second about exercise. So for the last few days I have been concentrating on eating fish, or some other seafood, when we have gone out for dinner.
Wednesday night we were at "Bonefish Grill" and I chose the large portion of seared Ahi Tuna. The fish is rolled in sesame seed and then slightly grilled so that the inside is almost raw and only a slight shell is fully cooked. It is served with Washabi and sliced ginger and is plenty, especially if the idea is to control calories.
Thursday was pan seared Grooper at "Knotty Pine on the Bayou". I think their Grooper is the best around. Beautifully seasoned and always juicy. It's hard to pass up although I do like their Frogs Legs, Oysters and Etouffee. Marilyn had the same main course which she asked be prepared with less spice. It was still delicious.
Friday, for comparison, I had Grooper at "Prima Vista", one of our favorites. Unfortunately it pailed by comparison. While Knotty serves a half fillet, Prima served one small thick strip, to me overcooked. I wont abandon a favorite haunt over one dish but I told the owner to take his Chef and buy him the Grooper at Knotty Pine.
Last night it was back to "Bonefish Grill" where I had a new menu item. Bang Bang Shrimp Taco is an expansion of the Bang Bang Shrimp appetizer. There are two soft taco shells full of medium sized shrimp with shredded lettuce and tomato chunks all topped with a spicy thinned mayo sauce.
The two tacos plus the garnish of homemade potato chips( no help on loosing wait) make a wonderful and filling main course. I like their house salad and so that completed my pleasant meal.
The scale report is neutral but I feel better about myself. Self delusion.