As we finished dinner Friday night at "Orchid's" at the Hilton Netherland Plaza the Wine Stewart and Maitre'De stopped by our table to ask how our dinner was; I could only think of one word "Outstanding". At the time I thought I was only describing our meal of that evening. As it turned out I was to be describing most of the "eating out" over the weekend.
But lets start with Friday night and the meals that 4 of us enjoyed at one of, if not the, top restaurants in the city. I and our women guest had the regular Tasting Menu while Marilyn chose her dishes from the main menu and the other man in the party had the Vegetarian Tasting ( a rarity in Cincinnati and according to him the best selection of Vegetarian dishes he had ever had) I am not going to rave about each dish and it's presentation but they all deserved the accolades which we bestowed upon them.
The regular Tasting menu that evening was:
Maine Lobster Salad( organic "fried" egg, parsley, creme fraiche and caviar cream)
Loup de Mer( caramelized cauliflower, Nantucket Bay scallops, orange and sage)
Veal Sweetbreads( haricot vert, braised cardoons, Shiitake mushrooms and sherry vinaigrette)
Jamison Farm Lamb, grilled perfectly( celery root, oyster mushrooms, salsify, almonds and juniper berry sauce)
Dessert Duet( warm chocolate custard and frozen Carmel mouse)
This meal was prefaced with a bite of "house cured Pancetta' first, with our bar drinks, and accompanied with an excellent "Boony Doon 'le Cigare' Volant". Beautiful wine with a beautiful meal.
To satisfy curiosity the Vegetarian tasting( not fully described) was:
Fettuccine( truffles and mushrooms)
Dessert Duet- same as above
Marilyn had full portions of Spinach Gnudi (hedgehog mushrooms and preserved tomatoes) and the Jamison Farms Lamb.
"Orchids" is by no means inexpensive but the value is great and the kitchen and front of the house, lead by Todd Kelley, are both memorable.
Saturday night was an interesting evening of nostalgia with a Presbyterian Minister whose first pulpit was in a small town in Northern WI where I have spent many summers for the last 70 years.
Or dinner was at the "National Exemplar" in the heart of Mariemont. There were 8 of us and this restaurant does a better than adequate job of preparing their well known standards with great consistency.
Marilyn and I split everything: Hungarian Mushroom soup( very rich and flavorful), Crisp Iceberg wedge with blue cheese, bacon and tomato, Veal Suzanne( 2 cutlets dipped in an egg wash and sauteed served on fettuccine) and calf's liver( one of the better places around for this special item) with onions, bacon and creamy mashed potato's
A short stroll down the street to "Greater's" for a bowl of toffee chip topped off a pleasant evening with new friends.
Sunday night I was a guest at "Jean-Robert's Table", Vine and Garfield Place, for a "Chaine des Rotisseurs" dinner. The "Chaine" is a world wide organization of foodies with a chapter in Cincinnati. They support restaurants and provide funds for the education of young chefs.
Again a tasting menu( over the top) with wines to match.
Upon arrival we were met by servers with trays of Champagne and others with an assortment of hors dourves, ranging from smoked salmon on thin toast points to crisp pastry filled with sweetbread mousse.
The dinner and wines were as follows:
Maine Lobster salad( firm good sized pieces, pomegranate, grapefruit, "carrot, celery root and snow pea slaw") Wine- Pouilly Fume, Loire 2009
Arugula and endive salad( with duck leg confit and foie gras served over a most interesting and tastee apple, blue cheese and quinoa in phyllo - a first for me, but hopefully not a last) Wine-Schloss Vollrads Spatlese, 2007
Boston sole pinot noir in light truffle sauce( parsnip, wilted rapini, spaghetti of black trumpet mushrooms) Wine- Chteauneuf-du-Pape, 2008
Venison( medium) with poivrade sauce( Duo of potatoes gratin, medley of mushroom, fondue of cabbage, goat cheese flan, chestnut puree and cranberry chutney) Imagine the textures and flavors all on one plate, the sole paled by comparison. Wine- Clarendon Hills Genache, 2004
Dessert was an assortment of sweets, about two small bites each: Cake with apricot filling topped with cinnamon gelloto, Shortbread round with citron mouse and fresh raspberry, chocolate tart with shredded hazel nuts and last but not least a Latte mouse.
As I said in the title "Outstanding" weekend.