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.

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