In the last ten days we have been to four new restaurants in the Greater Cincinnati area, almost a record for us. We have not neglected our regular haunts as we keep eating out 3 or 4 nights a week.
Last night our family, six of us, battled the crowd at "Jean Robert's Table" 713 Vine St. Cincinnati, OH 45202 (513) 621-4777. We were celebrating a 26th Anniversary, of our children, and a 21st Birthday of a Grandchild. The only time available, when the reservation was made, several week ago, was 8:30 PM. We all arrived a couple of minutes early but were not seated until 9. The place was full, including the bar, and people were standing around the hostess stand.
It is great to see something so successful, however, I would avoid Saturday night, if possible, and if not, only go with an early seating, unless, of course, you enjoy eating late.
The building has gone thru many iterations, housing stores and restaurants, the latter running from "Longhorn Steak House", thru Thai and now an upscale French Bistro. The current food matches the current Chef and proprietor. The staff is professional, competent and all the servers and managers have come from other prominent food emporiums.
Our group is into sharing and so I was able to taste most of the dishes presented although my two courses, both starters, because of their nature, were a little less popular.
The table shared a bottle of French Bordeaux, compliments of the Manager( because of the wait) and tried the special heirloom tomato salad, which although very nice, always seems overrated and priced, to me, since the local tomato's are wonderful, and in season.
I stared with a Snail and Frog legs combination both in the same garlic-butter and pureed parsley sauce. This was placed in a large bowl around a green, grilled tomato slice and a small mound of grated, mashed potato's with a few bacon crumbles( I believe the item just described had been run under a broiler before added to the dish.( Details would have to come from the kitchen) The three snails( of which I had two) were very good but the two frog legs I thought were tough. I mopped the plate with excellent French Bread, from the tables bread basket. My other item was a single Sweetbread served on a medium sized pastry shell and accompanied by button mushrooms and roasted grapes. The sauce was a wine reduction which added to the combination.
Others had, for their main courses, Salmon wrapped in Bacon, served as a rouille, "Trio Cochon" ( pork for us who need translation) consisting of an excellent perfectly done pork chop, one slightly fatty pork rib and a small amount of pork belly, which I always question if served with the large amount of fat in place. Lastly there were two orders of the lamb special, three medium rare chops, per order, and a fair sized piece of spicy lamb sausage. All items came with appropriate sauces and starch or vegetables.
We finished with coffee, for those who wished, and a shared Lemon Tart with spots of raspberry coulis on the plate. Our tab just a little over $200, including tax and tip.
Wednesday we journeyed to Loveland Ohio to meet a friend, at a place she recommended, "Tano's" 204 West Loveland Ave. Loveland OH 45140 (513)683-8266. We're glad we did.
"Tano's" owned and run by Gaetano Williams, formerly a chef at McCormick & Schmick's, is a small( 20 tables) Bistro and Bar on the main street of downtown Loveland.It serves as a pleasant restaurant and a base for a very nice catering business. The menu is varied, if not extensive, and there are always one or two fresh fish specials. Drinks, including wine, are reasonable.
I started with the "house" salad, mixed, upscale greens, including spinach, with nuts, cranberry's and cheese crumbles while the other two had "heirloom" tomato salad.( see comments above). For my main course I had Pacific Coast striped Sea Bass with a wonderful "house made" pineapple and sour cherry chutney and accompanying rice and broccoli rabe. A lovely plate, well prepared with a marriage of interesting tastes. Marilyn had Pasta Pomodoro with fresh tomato's, fennel, spinach and onions, in a light favorable broth. Our friends diner was the same as mine and with a $24 bottle of wine, and coffee the entire evening ran less than $45 a head including tax and tip.
I can't leave "Tano" without commenting on the two serves working that evening. Besides being attentive, attractive and efficient they were both intelligent, interesting young women. Our friend had a current best seller with her which evoked from our serves, with our encouragement, a detailed discussion covering literature and the arts. Unusual to say the least. I'm sure we will return although its a long haul from the Ohio River.