Sunday, March 20, 2011

We're about to shove off

This is almost assuredly the final posting before we take a 3 week cruise and land extension which departs Ft. Lauderdale on Wednesday and ends in Barcelona where we will remain until returning the week of April 11.

This past week, eating out, was at several regulars and one place, "Eddie Merlot's" that this marked our return visit
I have always wanted to try the grilled Salmon at "The Precinct" Delta and Columbia Parkway, 513-321-5454, so Tuesday night I summoned up the courage to break the steak.
After the "Bombay" and Greek Salad I was served a beautifully grilled, large piece, of Salmon which had been rubbed with Olive Oil and sprinked with lemon juice, as it was prepared. It was done perfectly and was indeed delicious. The accompaniment, on the plate, was a watercrest salad( bright green) marrinated lightly in olive oil and either lemon or a light vinegar. Also accompaning was the usual excellent baked potato with all the butter and sour cream ones diet will allow. Marilyn had the strip Serloin, again done perfectly, half of which came home, as dis some of the baked potatos.We are always treated wonderfully by the wait staff and therefore it is hard to stay away although many meals, there, for me, means many extra pounds.
The next night before the Ensamble Theater we ate up the block at "The Senate" 1212 Vine St 513-421-2020. I tried to have the most healthy thing on the menu, so ended up with "My Wifes Salad", Arugila( Cincinnati has become Arugila crazy) cherry tomatos, avacado and cheese curds with a pleasent but powerful Balsamic vinegrett. I followed with an order of their muscels, which are really outstanding. The sauce is a mixture of white wine, butter, clam juice and many herbs. Marilyn had an interesting dish, Poutine. A bed of French fries and melted cheese curds was covered with a beef short rib ragout seasoned beautifully and delicious, I nibbled.
A lunch at the "Oriental Wok" Regency was my attempt to rest my arterys. I asked, and they complied, that the just steam a dish of scallops, bean sprouts and scallions. I did mix a little of the hot mustard and "duck sauce" to dip the scallops as I cut them into bite sized pieces. Behaving has it pluses and minuses.

Last night we returned to "Eddie Merlot's' 10808 Montgomery Road, just of the I 275 Montgomery exit, 513-489-1212. The restaurant seats approximatly 340 and it was 90% or more filled on Saturday night. They handle the crowd well and the service, although our waiter was away several times, for extended periods, was on the whole quite satisfactory. Marilyn had the 3 course Prix Fixe Menu which for $31.95 is not out of line. Her Walleye was especially good.
I put together 3 dishes, which proved to be to much. New England clam chowder, came in a large bowl and that plus my Romaine Waldorf salad would have been sufficent. I add to these a spicy tuna roll which either becasue I had eated quite a bit, before I got to it or because it was nothing special was not overly tempting. (Wild Ginger and Dancing Wassabi don't have to worry).
The clam chowder was slightly on the thin side but it did contain a fair amount of chopped clams and diced potatos. The salad, a romain heart, sliced granny Smith apples, spiced pecans and blue cheese crumbles was, to me the best of the three dishes. The "Bombay" was loaded with cocktail onions and now you have a full report and I'll start thinkng about packing.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Bending the rules

I have to do something that I have generally avoided. I make it a policy to only give my reaction to public establishments where all of us can go, and thus judge for themselves.
However, I have been to two private events in the last 10 days that I feel must be mentioned.

Last Tuesday, Marilyn Harris( Cincinnati's food maven), hosted a Party of Note, benefiting the CSO( Cincinnati Symphony) at her home. It was held on "fat Tuesday" and the menu was defiantly New Orleans: Shrimp with an authentic Remoulade sauce, Oyster Rockefeller( served on toast rounds) and again authentic( no creamed spinach), a perfectly seasoned Jambalaya (without seafood), lightly dressed green salad and a Bread pudding( with golden raisins and Makers Mark flavoring) as they say "to die for". I was blow away.
Last night a small dinner party, to celebrate a good friends 75th Birthday( yes, were at that age or older)including: beautiful North Carolina lump crab, in a sauce with caper, lemon and mayonnaise; a rich Parmesan and pepper corn dip, on pita chips; homemade chicken pot pie( superb wine reduction sauce), colorful vegetable Terrine( layers of grilled red and yellow peppers, eggplant, zucchini and sweet onion) and a heavily laden apricot torte.
Now you see why I had to bend the rules( self set).

So here are some of the commercial places we have eaten over the last 10 days:
"Gabby's Cafe" 515 Wyoming Ave Cincinnati(Wyoming) OH 45215. A neighborhood bar and eatery in the closest North Central suburb. "Gabby's" is informal and caters to family's and old and young alike. The food is passable to good with my Shrimp Andrea being highly acceptable. Shrimp(scampi sized) mixed with spaghetti, bacon, onion and several herbs and spices in an oil based sauce. Marilyn's Spaghetti and meatballs was a passable dish. We went with friends and several more, in our age group, came in while we were at dinner.
The next night at "Otto's" 521 Main St. Covington, with a wonderful couple of new friends, I had what I can only describe as a disappointment from one of my favorites. I again chose shrimp and pasta, wanting to compare, and was disappointed in both the flavor and the crispness of the shrimp. I was probably expecting too much, Marilyn had duck breast which she reported as being great.
Early last week five of us held a business dinner and social evening at "Suzie Wong's" 1544 Madison Road Cincinnati OH 45208 (513) 751-3333. I have been there twice before and enjoyed my Korean dinner, a rice bowl with beef and veggies. On this occasion I took the advice of the only Asian in our group and ordered the Korean Bar-B-Qued Short Ribs. I received a very large portion of short rib slices, sans the bones, in a heavy sweet and salty sauce. Too over powering for my taste and more than twice what I was able to consume.
On Wednesday night we went to "Nectar Restaurant" 1000 Delta Ave Cincinnati 45208 in a driving rain storm. "Nectar" has started serving, on Wednesdays, a Prix Fixe Menu of three courses for $25. After our drinks this menu is what both Marilyn and I chose.
The first course was a Mushroom Cake with chopped spinach, fennel and Parmesan served in a pear and orange Buerre Blanc sauce with several slices of fresh orange, very tasty.
Next came Duck Leg Confit( more essence of duck, than meat present) with a frisee of crisp vegetables and a thin slice of "house cured" bacon liberally sprinkled with a mustard vinaigrette, all topped with a fried egg. Hardly what either of us expected but interesting and flavorful none the less. The meal ended this a small ramekin of Maple Crema( flan consistency) under several slices of fresh strawberry and a home made peanut brittle. A delightful dolce to end the evening.
Lastly we met the conductor of the CCM Orchestras for a pre rehearsal dinner(5:30) at "La Poste" 3410 Telford Cincinnati( Clifton) 513-281-3663( his new favorite). Since it was early I settled for a beet salad, heavy on Arugula and light on the beets, and a crab cake, fair sized but no lump crab to be found. In fairness to the restaurant there was no mention of lump crab and I quite possibly let expectation get too far ahead of reality.

Now you see why I felt the necessity of reporting on the private meals, which to me, in this latest period, outshone anything I had in a commercial establishment. Suffering is relative.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

So where have we been for 10 days

The past 10 days have not been any kind of eating frenzy or even greatly memorable compared to the last posting. No tasting menus, reminiscences, of things past, or even new groups or societies making an appearance. Mostly we have been eating at home, preparing one special dinner for guests( my brazed short ribs and root vegetables), or going out on one or two occasions where food was included, but not the main attraction. Three pubic places are as follows:

"Maggiano's Little Italy" Kenwood Towne Center,( good standard, chain Italian, as the name implies) which has been covered several times previously. Besides splitting a salad and three main courses, with another couple, I enjoyed the super rich crab Cannelloni the most, of the entrees, the high point was our servers trek next door to "The Cheesecake Factory" to get cocktail onions to go in my Bombay. That was real hospitality and a true understanding of customer service( and also working for tips).

A night at the "Oriental Wok" in Hyde Park where our friend Guy Burgess, the chef, had managed to get one of five kegs of an excellent English beer, "Fuller's London Pale" which he invited us to enjoy, the night he had the tapping. The beer was amber, smooth, very tasty and had littler carbonation so it went down a little too easy. Egg rolls and entrees made us the four of us feel less like "pub crawlers" and more like the diners we were supposed to be.

A return visit to "Jean Robert's Table" 713 Vine St. for a diner off the menu or announced "specials" turned out to be pleasant, indeed. The restaurants bar prices, for good sized pours, are very much in line, or slightly under other comparable establishments, and food can be had at all price points. I had a delicious shrimp salad, large shrimp cut in half lengthwise and moulded with crisp vegetables into a form producing an over sized "hockey puck" of flavor and pleasing, crunchy consistency.
I followed with the "French Castle Burger", a full plate containing a very good sized burger, medium rare, on a brioche bun( toasted) and covered with a "house" slaw, sauce and slices of fresh tomato. This is paired with very good, fresh fries which came as I requested "extra crispy" ( price $13). Reasonable for the quality and amount. Marilyn had the Boston Sole, special, as described in my last entree. I believe that John Robert has used the tasting menu for a template is getting the kitchen to prepare a number of the specials he is serving currently.