Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Two New

As everyone, who reads this, knows we go out a lot. Most of the restaurants are repeats and unless there is something special I am not going to report on the same places over and over.
Since we have gotten back, in town, we have gone to two new spots, for us. Both are in suburban locations and have built their menus around steaks, although they both have several other offerings.

"Tony's" 12110 Montgomery Rd, Cincinnati, Oh 45249 (513) 677-1993 is headed by Tony Ricci, the long time host at "the Precinct". Now he has his own "show" and is very much in evidence to both his staff and customers. In fact one slight negative might be the "over attention" one, as a guest, receives from the servers.
Our dinner was well prepared, tastee and served at the correct temperature. All important ingredients to any successful meal.
I started with the usual Bombay($8.95) followed by a very good Greek salad, very lightly but pleasantly dressed, which was included with the entree. Wednesday night I choose the Linguine with fresh Muscles. The muscles were sweet and tender and the Linguine "al dente" both up to or above expectations. I also ordered a "side" of Brussels Sprouts, small and firmly prepared. I expected the table to share my "side" but had to "pig out" and eat almost all. Both of the dishes were as advertised and my only suggestion would be the amount of Tasso Ham, and therefore salt, that both of these dishes contained. I have become "salt taste sensitive" and so others might like the strong addition to each of these dishes.
Marilyn had the "house wedge", also included, with her 9 oz, Fillet and baked potato. The fillet and potato were both excellent and the later was large enough that she had some left over for lunch the next day. The potato deserves special mention as it was sweet, nicely crusted and as mentioned quite large.
Total cost, for the two of us, with tax and tip was slightly under $100. It's a long way for us, from the river, but I am sure we will return.

Three nights later we joined another couple at "Eddie Merlot's" 10808 Montgomery Road Cincinnati OH 45242 (513) 489-1212. This restaurant, part of a small group based in Ft. Wayne, IN has been in the area for about two years. The name is fiction( not a real person) and there are currently 5,"stores" operating, all in the mid-west.
The other couple arrived slightly before we and asked to be seated in a more quiet location than the main dining room. That made for a very pleasant, easy to converse evening.
Our server Terry, a large, pleasant and knowledgeable man, was very patient and helpful but his size, in my instance, led him to recommend more that I needed. Of course there was no one with a gun making me eat everything that was served. Bombay here was also $8.95 and I followed with "in house" Gumbo with both chicken and sausage. The tomato base had been blended with a thick rhue and made a fairly heavy and filling first course. It was slightly spicy but I missed the Okra that usually is the thickener. The bowls are attractive and large and "slant cut". Next came a chopped salad, in the same sized bowl which was very refreshing, filling and large, especially considering that it was the half sized portion. (At that point I should have cancel the rest) My main course was "Ceder Planked", grilled Salmon served with fresh spinach and fingerling potato's. I gave the potatoes to Marilyn to go with her 6 oz fillet. She had started with a half Iceberg wedge and so the potato's filled her plate and helped empty mine.
The table shared, for dessert, a "S'more Tart( gram cracker crust, chocolate filling and baby marshmallows) served with both chocolate and Carmel sauce. With coffee and Marilyn's usual Cranberry and club soda the entire evening came in at $120 for the two of us.
The restaurant does offer specially priced dinners but we chose to go "ala carte".

A couple of other comments. We went to the "View" 2200 Victory Parkway for lunch and were impressed with their lunch time selections.
A night at "Cumin" 3520 Erie Ave. reinforced the well know strategy to always, at least listen to the serves ideas, especially on the non standard items. The summer vegetable soup was outstanding.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Chicago/North Shore

At the end of our trip to northern Wisconsin we spent a couple of days in the North Shore communities, along the lake, north of Chicago. We stay with good friends in Glencoe IL where we lived for almost 13 years and enjoy catching up with people who currently live in the area.
The first night, with our hosts, we had a late diner at "Ravinia Grill" 594 Roger Williams Ave. Highland Park IL 60035 847-433-1111. We have eaten there before and returned for the ribs which we have found good on other occasions. Wednesday night they were outstanding. We have been bemoaning the news that "Walt's", in northern KY, is closing, at least temporarily, but left the "Rivinia Grill" knowing that rib preparation is in good hands and that even though we only get to Chicago once or twice a year we could satisfy ourselves with a product at least as good, if not better, than those we may miss here. The ribs are dry rubbed, seasoned, grilled and served with sauce,"on the side", which I did not find a necessary addition. The meat is firm, has to be chewed of the bone, and full of flavor and very little fat. Along with the ribs we had an interesting "special salad". a mixture of slaw in a light, creamy, season dressing and iceberg lettuce, different and quite good. There is a large selection of potato's( home fries, baked, both white and sweet, regular fried, both white and sweet and mashed). I passed on the potato's, although Marilyn's home fries were super, and chose instead sauteed fresh spinach. What lengths I wont go too to feel I'm eating healthy.

The next day we joined another couple for lunch at "Max and Benny's" 461 Waukegan Rd. Northbrook IL 60062 847-272-9490. If in the area "Max and Benny's" is a must for us as Cincinnati is a "deli free" zone, too bad. This establishment has a really complete deli menu and choosing is a chore, but a pleasant one. I have never been disappointed whether it was soup, meat, fish or any spread or combination. For the meal in question I had a "sweet and sour" cabbage soup followed by a wonderful copped liver sandwich( on excellent rye) to which I added a slice of sweet onion and fresh tomato slices.The dill pickle spear was green and crisp and the slaw pleasantly tart.
Marilyn went with Mushroom Barely soup, her comfort food, and a "corned beef on rye". What could be more indigenous.

That evening 7 of us had dinner At "Demetri's" Lake Cook Road just two lights West of Waukegan Rd. 847-940-0777. This fine basic, blue and white, Greek Restaurant has a full fish menu, which changes often and is prepared very well. Marilyn's favorite fish is "Dover Sole" and it is quite often found at "Demetri's" at a very reasonable price( that night $32). The group started with an array of hot and cold appetizers and they literally pecked at the offerings leaving Hugh amounts on the platter. Seeing the proceeding I passed on a main course and filled myself, to overflowing, with an eggplant caponata, minced chicken and chives in tsatsiki sauce and a mixture of creamed cheese, anchovy paste, mashed white fish seasoned with paprika and cayenne pepper all accompanied by toasted Greek bread chips. The hot items were roasted peppers, calamari, grilled shrimp, Greek sausage and a marinated( oil and vinegar) red cabbage slaw. I'm stuff just writing about about it.
The smarter people had ,Dover Sole, Tilapia, whole roasted Snapper, Gyros and Spanakotiropti( a spanikopita pie). All the main courses come with a Greek salad and are quite sufficient in of themselves. White wine and coffee completed our Greek seafood evening out.
Good food and drink at a reasonable price, $195, before tip, for the 7 of us.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


The Food Network program, "Diners, Drive Inns and Dives" refers to itself as "3 D". I'm about to report on two spots in the Northern part of Minnesota and Wisconsin which qualify for this description.
"The Duluth Grill", 118 South 27th Ave. W Duluth MN 55806-218-726-1150 has actually been on the afore mentioned show, as pictures in their vestibule attest. I'm not sure when it was featured but it was interesting to us, that in all the years of visits to that area, this was the first time we or our Duluth friend where aware of this family run diner. It is a large space on a busy street and when we arrived around noon the wait was 10 to 15 minutes.
Atmosphere is minimal but the menu is fairly large and certainly contains items which cater to all tastes. Everything is made "in house". The 3 of us had the Walleye Wrap($9.99) which is served with a choice of soup, salad, slaw or chips, and comes with a couple of crispy sweet pickle chips. I had chili, a mild, tomatoey, fairly thick soup with sufficient ground beef and beans. I passed on the cheese. The two women both had the tomato basil bisque. The wrap, itself, is a large multi-grained soft tortillas filled with lettuce, tomato, bacon and grilled walleye. The sauce seems to be a thin remoulade. The combination is quite good and plenty for even the local lumbering patrons. ( There you are Cyndi.)

Have you every gone on an eating excursion expecting to be disappointed? The next day, for lunch, we set out for "The Delta Diner" 14385 County Highway H, Delta, WI. 54856 715-372-6666. The location of this old, reconditioned RR dining car, for us city folk, is really "in the middle of nowhere"; 12 miles south of Iron River WI, which on US 2 and 12 miles north of Cable WI, neither of which are meaningful population centers.
We were spending 6 days at the camp in Lake Nebagamon, WI, with which we have been associated for many year( 71 for me) and all the "eating out" talk was of the "Delta Diner" and so when out eldest Grandson insisted that the family had to go we, of course, agreed.
The 40 minute drive ended in front of this chrome plated dining car perched on the side of a not very major highway with a gravel parking lot, in front, filled with cars, vans and motor cycles. At 12:45 the wait was 45 minutes. I still was very skeptical. We sat out side until we were ushered in and seated 5 in a booth an 2 at the counter near by. The menu is over the grill and cooler and is fully repeated, with explanations by one of the two servers. I should have asked if there is a written copy as the items are all interesting, different and outstanding.
A rundown on what we had is translated as follows:
A Mexican presentation of eggs, perfectly fried, on a corn Polenta, including kernels of sweet corn, and a sprinkling of finely chopped pepper all covered with a light tomato and cream based sauce with ground Chorizo. A wonderful mixture of spicy, sweet and mild- firm and soft.
Our Grandson insisted that everyone have some of their "apple smoked bacon" and the "grilled" has browns, so of courses, he ordered several sides of those for all to share. He was correct, they were delicious.
Others had: Prime Rib sandwiches on rye toast liberally covered with melted cheese( after all this is Wisconsin) with the beef topped with sauteed mushrooms, onions and a light beef stock.
Dutch pancake, oven prepared, with fresh strawberries and whipped fresh cream ladled as directed by the consumer.
Beautiful stuffed French toast, each piece 1 to 2 inches high stiffed with a mixture of a creamy cheese and fresh blueberry's all doused with powdered sugar. Wisconsin Maple Syrup, on the side.
As anyone reading this can tell I came away a believer. I would not make the 800 mile drive from Cincinnati, just for this, but sure blessed the 40 minutes expended to find this gourmet oasis in the North Woods. Wish that "Joe's Diner" could hold even a little candle.

Just in passing, we had diner on our drive up at the "Oliver Garden" a very passable chain Italian restaurant, who incidentally was complimented in a recent WSJ for their easy to understand wine list. No surprise I had Bombay.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Today for lunch I once again went to "Joe's Diner" 1203 Sycamore St, Cincinnati, OH 45202 513-421-5637. Unfortunately I was again less that thrilled. The servers are peppy and pleasant but the food coming out of the kitchen takes longer than it should, for diner fare, and once it arrives it is less than spectacular. My choices may not be the best, some, I'm sure, are more satisfied but my pasta, written up as Penne Pasta in a creamy Cheddar sauce and topped with real crab and a crust, on the menu, turned up in the bowl as, Penne, some of which clung together in a rather vapid mild cheese and cream sauce with crumbles of tasteless crab, possibly canned, and chopped tomato's. The dish was also medium warm in temperature, not great for a cheese dish. I asked for a pepper mill and was told that they do not have any. So much for Joe's.

Last night 3 of us went to "Wild Ginger" 3655 Edwards Rd Cincinnati, OH 45208 513-533-9500. We had had drinks, at our Condo, so went right to work on 6 excellent chicken "pot sticker" before devouring an order of Chicken Pad Thai( 5 on the spice range out of 10), Walleye in three spices, Marilyn's favorite, and always nicely done, served surrounded by Broccoli Florette's. My selection was a "spicy seafood salad"- lettuce cucumber slices and red and green peppers, covered with generous portions of "fake" crab, shrimp, calamari and mussels, on the half shell. The dressing is light but with a kick.
We all ate some of each, with the main amount going to the orderer and split a 21 oz bottle of Japanese beer with Marilyn share being about 1/2 oz. Nice food and nice time.

In the morning we head back to Camp Nebagamon for our third and final visit this summer. What will be in the next posting, who knows, but it wont appear until sometime after the 20th of August.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Three evenings

For three evenings, the first part of last week we ate out with friends. It's tough to watch ones intake when you socialize over a drink and then have too many choices of cooked to order food.
Monday night was "The Quarter Bistro" 6904 Wooster Pike, Mariemont, OH (513) 271-5400. I posted comments about this place several weeks ago and returned because I was so pleasantly surprised. Monday was a very slow evening but the service remained very accommodating, with the Manager helping with the bar and bar service. The Quarter is strikingly attractive with a red and white color scheme both inside and on the patio.
After the Bombay I followed with an Apple and Gorgonzola Salad based on separated leaves of Belgium endive, crisp and very tasty. For a light main course I tried their Beef Short Rib Sliders, three small buns filled with pulled beef, caramelized onions and a pleasant horse radish sauce. I was very pleased. Marilyn had the "Quarter" Salad, mixed greens, tomato's and other assorted "goodies" which she followed with a medium sized portion of Angle Hair Pasta in a light, butter, oil and cherry tomato sauce, which looked tempting. Her report was positive.

Tuesday night after drinks here, with bridge playing friends, we coasted down the hill to "The Precinct" Delta and Columbia Parkway (513) 321-5454, always good, reliable and very welcoming. We only go 3 or 4 times a year, because steak is not high on our wish list, but it is hard to drive any distance, for that main course, when we are so satisfied only 2 or 3 block away. That evening Marilyn and I split a "bone-in" rib eye( she gets the bone, I the larger portion of meat) fixed medium rare, exactly as ordered. We almost always split a steak, a baked potato and the onion straws, at "The Precinct", and Tuesday was no exception. We each have our own salad as our choices are different and that way we feel virtuous, having extra greens. We were all full when the manager, in an act of kindness, sent over "Banana's Foster", just what none of us needed but also which none of us refused. Too much food, drink and above all calories for one, or many, evenings, but delicious.

Wednesday night the "Brown Dog Cafe", 5893 Pfeiffer Rd. Blue Ash OH 45242 (513-794-1613) was the evening destination. We started in Blue Ash, with cousins, for drinks and hors d'oeuvres and then drove to dinner. Again I started with a Belgium Endive salad, this one with roasted Macadamia nuts. Swiss cheese and "Granny Smith" apples. My main course was listed as"Pig and Fig" which consisted of roasted wild Boer, medium rare, and half pieces of fresh figs, a wonderful combination. The meat was beautiful with full body and served over polenta topped with sauteed spinach. All was moistened with a Bourbon Reduction which fit perfectly. Marilyn experimented with an Artichoke Lollipop, a baby artichoke stuffer with cheese, coated and fried. She followed with a half order of Asian Roasted Duck with several Asian accompaniments, rice, veggies and sauces.
Things went well until the bill arrived with a split charge, of which no mention was made during the ordering process, and I believe was not printed on the menu; and an inability to present separate checks which was awkward since the two couples differed, in a major way, with dinner and beverages. I spoke with the owner, the next day, and he did not seem concerned about either inconvenience. I left, after a delightful meal but in a poor mood.

The only other restaurant this week was "Pomi's Pizza" on East McMillan in Clifton. There on Friday night, after a movie, with our Granddaughter,the 3 of us split a salad and two wood fired Pizza's, before departing with a 3rd for our daughter who was unable to join us.

Friday, August 6, 2010

My Baby( Honda) has a Fever

I love my 1999 Honda CRV ( currently 161,000 miles). Two night ago the A/C didn't seem to work and yesterday, on the way to lunch, at "Joe's Diner" it started to steam and the temperature gauge hit HOT. It is now at the pediatrician's( mechanic's) getting a new radiator and thermostat.
Lunch at "Joe's Diner" 12th and Sycamore in Cincinnati, yesterday, was, to say the least stressful. While we waited for the tow truck to come we also waited for our food to come from the kitchen. We had told them that we needed to be served promptly, however, the kitchen was not performing well and so the food and the truck arrived at the same time( 40 minutes after we).
"Joe's Diner" is the current incarnation of the "Diner on Sycamore". It is the third or fourth operation to be in the expanded, old, railroad dining car at that locati0n. The menu seems to be diner food, Breakfast items, burgers etc. plus some very interesting other items. I debated between "shrimp and grits" or a "poor boy"( several ingredient choices) and finally settled on the later. My "shrimp poor boy" came on a warm Pita and the shrimp, which had been grilled, we placed in a bed of cole slaw and chopped fresh tomato's. The sandwich was very good as was the side of, sweet, not greasy onion rings, which I chose over FF potato's or chips. I was treated but I believe the cost was $8.95.
I will try "Joe's" again under less trying circumstances for them and for me.

Wednesday lunch was at Finley Market, with Marilyn and our eldest Granddaughter. I have eaten there several times (lunch) with in the last month. We usually tour the market area, which offers everything from Bar-B Que to cake, before deciding on our choices. This time I had a walnut, grape and chicken salad sandwich, on a Croissant with fresh romaine and sliced tomato, produced by Silverglade's. I believe the combination is run thru a food processor as the end product is very smooth almost like a paste.
Marilyn had the same while or granddaughter had a roast turkey and fresh vegetable sandwich for Skirtz and Johnson. This came with a salad of "field" greens and berries. Neither place is in the market house but the are just across and ally way, one North and the other South. For dessert we split a large, sweet, pastry and fresh raspberry bar, topped with vanilla icing. Total for the three of us was in the range of $20. As cheap as "Skyline" and hopefully much healthier.

We have been out 3 nights this week for dinner but I'll get to those reports in the next day or so.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Why can't we?

Last week, Monday, Marilyn and our granddaughter stopped on the way home from Wisconsin at "Shaprio's Delicatessen" 808 S. Meridian, Indianapolis, IN. They ate lunch, Matzo Ball soup, sandwiches and soft drinks, but more important, to me, they brought home for dinner, Corned Beef, Smoked Tongue, Chopped liver and rye bread. Now why can't Cincinnati support a good delicatessen? Indianapolis, Columbus Ann Arbor and other neighboring city seem to be able to do so but we have to go out of town to satisfy our cravings. Incidentally I fixed myself Monday night a tongue and imported Swiss cheese sandwich, ate some liver on cracker and topped it all off with fresh sweet corn and field ripened tomato's, great supper for a weary road warrior.

This past weekend we were out both Friday and Saturday evening. Friday was "Otto's" in Covington, you read about it almost as much as the "Oriental Wok". They have really been busy, of late, and Friday was no exception. Therefore, our service, from an attractive, pleasant server was spotty, probably as she was overextended, however my Flounder dinner was excellent, and that is the important ingredient for an dining establishment-serve good food. The Flounder was prepared as well as I have ever had it. The large, moist serving was done to perfection and was served with a roasted red pepper puree over citrus flavored rice. The fish was criss crossed with roasted fresh asparagus; beautiful, taste dish. The table, 4 of us, split an order of warm apricot bread pudding with a rich Carmel sauce. Filling and satisfying meal.

Saturday night, another standby, "Maggiano's" in Kenwood Mall hosted us and another couple. When I say they hosted, we paid the bill but since each couple had cupons the total cost was about 50% of what charges came too.
In my opinion the meal Saturday night was not as enjoyable as previous occasions. A 7:30PM Saturday night reservation is a difficult one both from a parking problem and a table availability, and both of those came into play. Our server either had too much to do or was overwhelmed, at that hour, and so we were somewhat neglected in the rush of activities. We( the table) split a special salad, advertised as lump crab with tomato's and cucumbers, mostly large pieces of tomato, and 1/2 orders( which are sufficient) of veal stuffed ravioli, eggplant Parmesan and lasagna. Not great choices as the lasagna and eggplant end up having the same texture and sauce. The choices were ours and so it is not fair to judge the meal on what we decided to share.
With several drinks and lots of good Italian bread I managed to put on a few pounds which I will now battle for a day or two.