Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"Emilia" and others

We may have a winner. The reason I modify is because, "Emilia" 2038 Madison Road, Cincinnati 45208 (513)-843-5773 is certainly starting out as a fun, first class Italian Wine Bar, with excellent food and wine. The service is good, and after a bit more training and familiarity with the wines, will also be above average. Pricing is reasonable and the "pour" is decent.
They opened a week ago and four of us went at approximately 6:45 PM last evening, at that time we were offered our choice of two tables. By 7:30 the place was full with a short wait unless patrons wished to be seated at the bar, where food service is also available.The pricing of the "ala carte" menu is $10 to $14 for the specialty salads( a small salad is available at $2 to accompany dinner items) and $15 to $17 for the Pasta's. There are skewers of Shrimp, Lamb and Chicken for $12 to $14 and Pizza's at $12 to $14. Bar snacks, cheeses and Dolce(sweets) cover most of the other food items. Wines are Whites, Rose and Red, all Italian, and some by the glass( 2 sizes) and all with full bottles available.
I started with a glass, approx a 5oz pour, of Barbera d' Alba( medium red) but unfortunately was brought a Rose. It was returned promptly and replaced correctly. That was the only "slip up" of the evening. Nothing major.
For dinner I enjoyed the Avocado and Grapefruit salad, crisp romaine, cucumbers and ricotta shavings with 4 or 5 pieces of ripe avocado but only two small part sections of grapefruit. The salad had a nice balsamic vinaigrette and make a good opening salad course.
My Pasta was Squid Ink Spaghetti, made in house as are all the pastas, with roasted( sweet) corn, scallions, squid( bite sized) in a light and slightly spicy jalapeno oil. The dish was delicious and our table and visitors, from another table, who we knew, all took a tastes. The portion size, while not hugh( goody), was plenty. For dessert we, 4, shared an order of perfect Fried Ricotta Fritters served with homemade marmalletta(marmalade) and chocolate sauce. The fritters were crisp on the outside, but not at all greasy, and soft and silky inside.
Marilyn had the Black Pepper Pappardelle with Bolognese sauce. I took a taste and found it wonderful. The other couple had a "Pizza con Speck" and the Shrimp and pancetta skewer. It was an auspicious opening, for a new spot, to which we will return.

Other spots, since we are out and around, have been "Terry's Turf Club" 4618 Eastern Ave, 45226 (513)533-4222 for what I consider the best burger and fries in the area, although that evening I had a shitake mushroom sandwich with grilled onions and Mango-Jalapeno sauce. Our group(5), one from Barcelona( age 14) who we took to have the quintessential meal, devoured 2 orders of "well done' French fries for starters, terrific.
"Mecklenberg Garden" 302 East University Ave. 45219 (513)221-5353), where the food though not wonderful has improved, for a night "under the vines", in the beer garden. That night we started with a warm soft pretzel with mustard dipping sauce and a medium dark Germany beer. I had Hungarian Grilled shrimp, just what the name implies, shrimp with Hungarian spices, while Marilyn split a hugh Wiener Schnitzel with the other women.
Last but not least, what do you expect, the Oriental Wok-Hyde Park and another outstanding Chinese dinner, for 7, starting with Chinese Ribs, followed by Lobster and a steamed Salmon in scallion and ginger sauce and an order of the nights special "shrimp and grits", how Chinese can one get.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Jason Hirschhorn, our Grandson, wrote the last posting about "Orchids" which he also pictured, a first for "Let's Eat Out". Nothing he said could quite cover all our feelings at being together for this wonderful evening.
However, because he drinks "Shirley Temple's" while Marilyn has Cranberry Juice and Club Soda I feel I would be remiss if I didn't list the wonderful wines which I was served as "pairings".

My libations started with a crisp White Burgundy from, of course, the Macon region;
next came a light Pinot Noir from Oregon, to me the best area for this variety and finally,
a full bodied Chambertin, perfect for the duck and beef courses.

The whole evening was "over the top"and in my mind there is no place that compares with "Orchids" for the combination of food, service and ambiance. Finally the hotel Management has found food to go with the elegant setting.

Orchids by Jason Hirschhorn

Last night, Grandma, Grandpa and I ate dinner at the best table in the best restaurant in Cincinnati. It couldn't have been a more perfect evening.

Orchids is located in the main ballroom of the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza Hotel. Tucked away in a corner booth, our conversation was dwarfed by the half-acre of Brazilian rosewood paneling, German silver light fixtures and soaring ceiling murals all in the French Art Deco style. However, the decor paled in comparisons to our dishes. Yes, Orchids is truly fantastic.

I opened my meal with a Shirley Temple. Then came the bread - three pieces served on your plate and accompanied by three delicious dips. Then came the amuse-bouche, a hollow egg shell filled with egg and truffle custard and topped with more truffles (evidently, you can buy an egg topper to perfectly open eggs every time; for us, this was the most exciting part, of the amuse-bouche). Chef Todd Kelly had bought plates especially for this dish. It was good, but it paled in comparison to the ensuing onslaught of edible excitement. Woo...what a mouthful!

Pictures and descriptions of each course are located in an accompanying post, so look there for more in depth details. I'd prefer to focus on one in particular, the "Main Lobster Salad." Throughout the meal, we would rate each dish after we had finished, and early on we had to be careful with our higher grades...but this was still a 10. It has everything you want in a dish: crunchy, chewy, pasty and stringy textures; hot, warm and cold elements; sweet, salty, fishy, eggy and a mixture of tastes. Each bite was like looking around a corner without knowing what you might see, but then being incredibly excited by what you found. Each bite added to the complexity of the dish, adding layers upon layers to a beautifully painted masterpiece.

Oh, and the Shirley Temple was also fantastic!

All in all, I couldn't have asked for a better evening with better company. Grandpa has been trying to get me to come and visit Cincinnati for a while; if I had known this was what was in store me, I would have made the Midwest trek much sooner!

Orchids (Pictures)

Lobster salad topped with hard boiled egg and fried onion strips

Heirloom tomatoes with a mozzarella ball on and bread cheese crisp over jellied olive oil infused with lemon

Seared scallop and fried pork belly on corn polenta with a tempura blossom

Duck breast, foie gras, savoy cabbage stuffed with fresh mushrooms and potato ganache

Steak and fried potato disk with portobello mushrooms and a grilled pearl onion

Breaded and fried short rib patties in horseradish sauce

Rich chocolate torte topped with chocolate mouse, brandied cherry and coated chocolate strip

Macaroons, blackberry jellies and chocolate truffles

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


This week is Restaurant Week in Cincinnati and several downtown restaurants are taking part with special menus and good value combination. We are going to at least three, in part because of this promotion but also other influences, such as the arrival tomorrow of our Grandson from LA.

Monday night we went with a friend to "Nicola's" 1420 Sycamore St. 45202 513-721-6200, possibly the best Italian Restaurant in the area. Every Monday night "Nicola's runs an unbelievable "special". For $13 one receives a large bread basket, including bite sized Bruschetta, Italian bread stick, Focaccia etc. Next a nice sized salad, greens and sliced tomato's and a full portion of pasta with the wonderful house made Bolognese. If someone stopped there and augmented in no way it would be a great dinner at an unbelievable price, however, how would "Nicola's" survive. So out of the "milk (or wine) of human kindness the tree of us added drinks, a very good Volpolicella and a smooth Barbera plus an outstanding Lettuce Soup, about both the proprietor and the server raved. They were not mistaken. The lettuce Soup was a Green Gazpacho, like, pureed cold soup made with a base of Romaine, Arugula and Spinach, with kernels of white, sweet corn, pearl onion and stock added. Shredded Blue Crab and a few coarsely ground croutons were floated on the surface. The total effect was amazing. The total cost for the evening was $33/person, a bit different from the $13 special but a wonderful meal. Incidentally, but not unimportant our server was excellent, through out the evening.

The next night we went, with another couple, to "Via Vite" (same ownership as "Nicola's) 520 Vine St, Fountain Square, 45202 (513)721-8483. Their special was unbelievable, a 3 course dinner for $35/couple($17.50 each). There were 2 items in each category, starters, pastas and meat or fish course, and each of the couple, sharing the meal, could choose which they wanted. After my Bombay, I had a wonderful tomato based, pureed, Gazpacho, again with some crab in the center, a good sized portion of potato Gnocchi in a quite rich Vodka Sauce and for my 3rd course, a small pork tenderloin served on a bed of sauteed onions, pepper and tomato's, seasoned perfectly to compliment the pork.

So now you have my report on the first two nights of "Cincinnati restaurant week.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Mobile again

When I made the last posting, July 10 I had no idea how long it would be until we really started "eating out". Our surgeries are over and we are becoming mobile again. In the mean time we have rejoined Losantiville Country Club( LCC) so that name is bound to show up in our list of places. Since any Country Club is open just to members and their guest most of my comments, concerning LCC, will be restricted to interesting items, either food, or service, ambiance or pricing.

Tonight, with another couple, we went to one of the new "hot spots" that have opened recently.
" Tavola" 1220 Vine St. (OTR) Cincinnati, OH 513-246-0192 opened a little over two months ago. It is located in the "Gateway" section of "Over the Rhine"(OTR) in what is becoming an area for young people to eat and "bar hop". The ambiance is minimal, strait lines, a full bar and a Pizza oven, clean wooden tables with matching chairs but the food makes up for any minimalism by being innovative and flavorful.
We arrived about 5:40 PM and so were seated immediately. The place was almost a full by 6 PM, possibly a couple of 2 tops were empty.
The noise level is high and the service prompt, with dishes arriving as the kitchen dictates. They did bring the one or two appetizers before the Pizza.
Our group ordered a couple of draft beers, Bell's Oberon and a order of Sausage( homemade) Bacon Dates(4), in a slightly spicy tomato sauce. Another starter was Artichoke pesto Bruschetta. Both were very well prepared but not large portions. Three salads: cauliflower, wood roasted in a slightly thick lemon vinaigrette and 2 orders of grilled asparagus salad ended the cold portion of our, divided dinner. The Pizza(14 inch) was their #1 seller, fig jam + prosciutto + fontina + arugula, most interesting but slightly salty. The whole dinner was one of different flavors and textures and for me it was a fun experience. Price per couple $28 plus tip and tax. I will return.

Other spot was have visited are: "The Pelican's Reef", you know how I feel about them. Unusual items last Saturday; Brat sliders, made very tasty with just the right amount of sauerkraut and an excellent spicy mustard and an outstanding( my Grandchildren would say "awesome) roast veal rack, resulting in 7 lovely small chops. Who would expect wonderful veal chops at a "Key West" seafood bar.
LCC, with an outstanding "happy hour", cocktails less than soft drinks, and plentiful hors d'oeuvers certainly got my attention.
"Wild Ginger" where Marilyn sticks with the 3 flavor Walleye and I should too, unless I'm having sushi and "J. Alexander's"( Rookwood) where again Marilyn's regular "prime rib" sandwich is the way to go.

So now we're getting back on track and we'll see what interesting "places, dishes and things" we can dig up to compete with Guy Fieri.