Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Two different experiences

Continuing my report on the "heavy week" I'll fill you in on our evenings out both Friday and Saturday. Each time we were joined by another couple.
Friday night, without reservations, we showed up at "Wild Ginger" on Edwards Road. "Wild Ginger" has expanded and has 3 dining area plus an outdoor patio. We were immediately shown to a comfortable table for 4 and waited only a minute or two for our most attractive server. She explained the menu, which has grown with the restaurant, and took our drink order.
With Asian food I often drink beer and went that route Friday.; A cousin, who knows brews, introduced me to Kirin Ichiban( number one) and the 22 oz bottle is sufficient to last though out the meal or be split at the table.
Marilyn and I split an order of pot stickers while the other couple had summer rolls and regular spring rolls. For my main course I selected the "King of the Ocean Roll" built around fried soft shell crabs. Marilyn had her favorite "3 Flavored Walleye", a pan fried fillet served with wilted spinach and a delightful slightly sweet sauce. She shared a bit with me so I had the best of both dishes. "Wild Ginger" remains reasonable, about $25/person, and very pleasant.
The next night was not the same. With our very close relatives and friends we went to "Daveed's" 934 Hatch Street(Mt. Adams) Cincinnati 45202, phone 513-721-2665. We had a 6:30 reservation, earlier than we had requested. The place was full, noisy and although there were sufficient servers the kitchen was struggling. We started by sharing an order of "pommes frits" for the 4 of us. This we requested with the drinks and when they arrived, slightly after the drinks were served, they turned our to be somewhat soggy French Fries, ordinary at best. We all followed with salads, Marilyn had the "Heirloom" Tomato Salad, for $10, which turned out to be about a half slice of tomato with a few greens and a cherry tomato, cut in half. I had the Blue Cheese Beignet which consisted of 3 ping pong ball sized dough with no stand alone flavor($8). Our main courses were quite satisfactory, my Rigatoni Carbonara had good flavor with a generous amount of pacetta and sweet peas added to the rich sauce. Marilyn had Duck Brest which she said was excellent. We ended with coffee and no dolce.
Our server, a well spoken statuesque young women, spent more time conversing with the Bartender than she did seeing how our dinner was perceived. She was quite surprised when, with the checks, we gave her an uncomplimentary report on our first two courses.
The total for the evening was approximately $50 each, a poor value for what we received.
Sunday night we took several dishes, Southern homemade green beans and a gourmet salad next door where our neighbors provided drinks, grilled hamburgers and a rich chocolate brownie desert. A nice wrap up for a "heavy week"

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Pattern

As you will see a pattern is developing. We go out, a lot, almost always with friends, I eat a lot and then complain about a weight gain. At least the reason is not hard to figure out.
It was a "heavy week", both in dinners and calories.
Tuesday night, with the young couple that own "Otto's", we went to "Cumin" in East Hyde Park. We have always liked "Cumin" and in my opinion it has only gotten better with the addition of a new Chef, from New York, who now works along with "Yash". Their menu has expanded slightly and the new dishes add to ones choices. We began the meal with an order of Eggplant Chips, always a good bet, and a Cumin Salad, for the table. The Cumin salad was very interesting and delicious. They take the "spring roll wrappers", brake them, sauteed and then add, excellent thinly sliced new potatoes and chickpeas. The dressing contains Indian spices, lemon juice and a touch of vinegar.
The four main courses were: Lobster Pasta, with large pieces of the crustacean in a light tomato sauce mixed with spaghetti; Heirloom Polenta, a creamy polenta with mushrooms, tomato bits and chives in a very light cream sauce; excellent well executed roast pork and for me an Ahai Tuna Pizza served on a large lavash type crust with some raw salmon and onions and tomatoes.
Two different Nams filled us with delightful food and pleasant drinks.
Wednesday, with 3 others we went to "Oriental Wok-Regency" for another of Guy's special meals. After drinks we started with a repeat of the chicken salad( described in a previous "posting" and egg roll appetizer. This was followed with 4 main dishes. A whole Roasted Crispy chicken,( Guy has been working to perfect this for almost a month, and has succeeded). The skin is indeed crispy while the inside is full cooked and very moist. A platter of sliced Roast Pork with Bar-B-Que sauce on a bed of lettuce, Eggplant with a yogurt sauce and wonderful vegetable, pan fried Lo Mein, heavy on mushrooms and scallions.
Thursday it was "Primavista", ouch my waist line. We were seated at a table window and watched the city go from daylight to darkness as the lights came on all over downtown. For our dinners we chose, veal Picatta, veal Discepoli( mushrooms, artichokes and grilled shrimp), veal with a roasted tomato and pepper sauce and the evening fresh fish special, all dinners are served with a nice size house salad and one or two sides. For dessert the 4 of us shared a Gelati Misti, 3 scoops of extremely smooth Gelati; dark chocolate, raspberry and hazel nut.
Oh, by the way, as if I wasn't eating enough I returned to "Virgils" Wednesday for a Pastrami Rubin.
I think I'll continue with the weekend later.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Yes,I'm OK

In response to the numerous questions concerning my health, because I haven't posted anything in almost 2 weeks, here it is. Thanks to the both of you who inquired, I'm fine and just haven't had a lot of eating out, comments, that were worth your time or mine.
Have we eaten out in the last 12 days, of course. Have the dinners been good, some yes and some no. But do I remember anything worth reporting, we'll see.
A week and a half ago we had some long time friends, from Nashville, dropped by for a couple of days. They left the food decisions up to us, with some input from questions I posed. The first night we went to "The Precinct" which impressed them, not just with the food but with the ambiance. For lunch the next day it was off to Clifton and "Skyline" and "Greater's", true "down home Cincinnati. That evening to a regular spot for us "Otto's" All the food was "right on"
After they departed we had a meal at "Oriental Wok-Regency" where once again the chef sent too much food, each dish better than we should have to endure. Among my favorites were the Chinese Ribs, the duck Won ton's and the pork with onions and vegetables. I found the "tiger fish somewhat dry, more like swordfish, which is not my favorite sea creature.
A treat this past week was lunch at "Virgil's" with his "homemade Pastrami", as good as I have had anywhere and that included New York and LA. It is the best thing I have had at this new restaurant. Another trip to "Virgil's", for dinner met with mixed feelings. The homemade chili was excellent, lots of meat and well seasoned while my main dish, Huevos Rancheros were very ordinary. The eggs were over cooked and the pico de guyo was not as good as you can get in a jar. A disappointment. I must say that on both visits the service was good and welcoming.
A meal at "Amarin" yielded very ordinary sushi, another disappointment, although Marilyn's Pad Thai was very good and plentiful. The other evening brought "Knotty Pine on the Bayou" with wonderful crab and crayfish Etouffee and too many deep fried Oysters, which I regretted later.
So now you you know where I've been and some of what I've had.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Ambience, Food, Service

The title speaks to most of the things we use to judge a restaurant.
Ambience is pretty much the same on any of your visits No one would confuse the settings at "Walt's", a KY road house and "Orchid's", the prime restaurant at the Netherlands, downtown. As long as someone is paying attention to cleanliness, lights that aren't burnt out and chairs that hold us, we all return for the food and service.
Here are six places we have been in the last two weeks, with my feelings on food and service. Most are fairly regular with us, although "Aqua" and the "Iron Horse" have not been regular haunts.
"Oriental Wok" at the Regency: You must tire of hearing that we went and had an outstanding meal and service. We have never been disappointed. We always ask the chef for guidance and that enhances our fun and pleasure. The last visit saw us trying a "chicken salad", which seemed like a marinated slaw, made with Chinese Vegetables and shredded roast chicken, delightful. Other new dishes were Pork Ribs in Black Bean Sauce, Sauteed Pork with leaks and onions and Abalone with Chinese vegetable's. Service is first rate 99% of the time, they are human( not Hanan).
"Terry's Turf Club" Eastern Ave. What can one say? We were there before Polly Campbell and the mobs found it, but it remains the consummate Cincinnati hamburger joint and bar. We arrived at 5:15 and had a 10 minute wait for a both, our choice, for the 5 of us. When we left at 6:30 people were lined up on the street. Service is fast, efficient and almost overly solicitous. with all the servers working together so many eyes are watching.
"Otto's" Main St Covington. As anyone who has read this Blog knows, this is our home away from home. This last time was for a special Birthday, for one of our guests and food and service couldn't have been nicer or more attentive. It's one of our few special occasion restaurants, and to us merits that status.
"Sky Galley" at Lunken Airport. When we can't get into "Terry's", which is often since a half to hour wait is not attractive, this is where we go. Food is standard, with no surprises. Menu is meant to cover all bases except very high end. Service is always pleasant and accommodating and if it isn't to your liking when first served it is changed and made correct promptly. Price is reasonable and there is full bar service and management that's on the floor and full service also.
"Iron Horse" Glendale. A restaurant that has been there a long time and goes thru new owners and chefs with some regularity. The current owners have been there a few years but the Chef has recently joined them after a position as one of the top people in the kitchen at "Mesh". Our dinner Saturday night was our first test of his reign and we'll return to give it another try. Our server was experienced and after a slow start, for some unexplained reason, and the place was sparsely populated, gave us excellent service. A nice feature is the attitude that if a side is paired, on the menu, with something else, all one must do is ask that it be served on your dinner as a substitute. Marilyn's Spaghetti and "meatballs" made of mushrooms instead of "meat" was the most innovative and interesting. My spetzals came in a close second.
"Aqua" Delta Ave, Mt Lookout. It is had to write about the food, which I thought had slipped, since we last were there, because the service was so poor. Any food would have had a hard time satisfying. A 30 to 45 minute wait, plus prompting from us was necessary to get a drink and things deteriorated from there. You get the picture. It is very doubtful that we will return. A mild suggestion is to have some kind of "Management" on the floor, not walking out the door at 7:00 PM.