Thursday, November 24, 2011

Calvin Trillin and Woody Allen

I don't think "depression" is exactly the correct word but I am sure feeling "discouraged" as I approach writing my Blog. I read the short Calvin Trillin article in the "New Yorker" and once again was impressed with his humorous and chatty style( he maybe my favorite food writer). Then I saw the 2 programs of Woody Allen, on PBS, and feel that there just are people given so much talent and creativity that the rest of us just have to accept "meritocracy"( or normality) and "give up the chase".
Anyway here are some comment of what we have been doing and eating over the last few days.

Over the weekend we went with our Dermatologist, and friend, to "Brio Tuscan Grille" 1 Levee Way Newport, KY 41071 (859) 431-0900. His wife was smart enough to call ahead and get on the list, which probably saved us 15 or 20 minutes of waiting time. Brio is a very decent, chain, Italian Restaurant which is run in a production mode but produces good Italian dishes. My guess is that it seats well over 100 and on the weekend it is full from 5 to 10PM or later.
I usually have the same thing( recommended by our trainer, who happens to be of Italian decent).
Starting with the Bombay( not his recommendation) I follow with the Chopped Salad, which I always find good, crisp and dressed correctly. I follow with the Margaretta Flat bread which comes crisp with a thin crust, fresh tomato slices, melted cheese and fresh basil. It is really too much for one person, unless you want to get to my usual restaurant stage, STUFFED. Marilyn had the same, as I, except instead of Bombay, first, she had decaf last. That night some of each portion of Flat bread accompanied us when we left.

With or Granddaughter, Monday for lunch, we went to "Saigon Cafe", new for all of us, 3672 Erie Ave. 45208 (513) 871-7999. Monday lunch is a very slow time and we were one of only two tables, which guaranteed very attentive service. Our server described item and answered, patiently, our many questions. Marilyn had the Chicken Pad Thai, which I tasted. The Pad Thai was a manageable portion well prepared and reasonably seasoned, not to sweet and sticky.
Kathryn and I split two "special" sushi roles ( 8 pieces each), "Saigon Cafe Role" and the "Hyde Park Roll". Both were fresh and excellent. The Hyde Park was topped with avocado and had crab and salmon in it's interior, with some spicy condiments and a bit of creamed cheese. The Saigon Cafe Role came hot and contained soft shell crab and several other items and was topped, or wrapped, in thin sliced tuna. Each platter had the usual wasabi and ginger slices. Both roles were delicious. We will return.

Just a mention "The Keystone Grill" has opened an outlet on Erie Ave, in Hyde Park and I have been there the last 2 Tuesdays for wonderful half priced Quesadillas, 9 to 10 selections.

Last night we went with two friends, in the wine distribution business, to "Honey" 4034 Hamilton Ave, Northside, (513) 541-4300. "Honey" is one of the very inventive, chef owned and run, establishments that our city can count as a culinary blessing. The owner had gone to, out of town, family, for Thanksgiving, but the kitchen and wait staff both did her proud.
As you might guess we had an excellent Pinot Noir (not inexpensive) which, of course, is handled by our friends. As a Thanksgiving treat "Honey" sent us an order of their very thin "french fries"( 3 kinds of potato's) and a plate of home made humus and tabbouleh. We should have had dessert and left but as mentioned above( to stuff ourselves) we went on to "Rabbit Confit" served with Quinoa and braised "Beef Short Ribs", with mashed potatoes and sauteed spinach. Even splitting these were large amounts. The table also had an order of roasted Brussels Sprouts and ended with a portion of Chocolate Bread pudding, with raspberry sauce and vanilla Geloto. Much too much terrific food and no one will diet today at the Thanksgiving table.

Monday, November 21, 2011


My car is repaired, new muffler system, my nose is repaired, stitches all out, and my credit card is repaired, new bank, so it's time to "Eat Out".
"Cumin" Eclectic Cuise"( notice the change in name since the opening and the new ownership) 3520 Erie Ave. 45208 (513) 871-8714. Still an attractive space with very good food and very good service, especially when "Mung", our special friend, is in charge of the table.
A fine, expensive Cotes du Rhone, for the table, split 3 ways took the place of Bombay and other libations for the evening. Marilyn and I split entrees of "Short Ribs Wellington" and Agnolottti. The beef was tender, flavorful and the pastry shell was just right. The Agnolotti( large ravioli shaped pasta pockets) were also outstanding. The were stuffed with chopped mushrooms, spinach and cheese. Sauces for both made perfect compliments. A small portion of chopped salad had started our meal and some Naan made a perfect "mop" for the excess sauce. The table also split a light carrot cake and there was no wonder some of the pasta accompanied us on the drive home.

"Sung Korean Bistro" 700 Elm St 45202 (513) 721-7864 a place we don't often visit, and I'm not sure why. It was "Happy Hour" but to the surprise of the 4 of us, to take advantage of this you must purchase from only one of their bars, not table service, and there is a special drink menu. I did some negociation and got my Bombay included. Marilyn had her usual Cranberry juice and club soda and so the evening was underway. I'm still trying to watch my salt intake and since many items include Soy Sauce( 1100 mg of Sodium) I opted for a Sushi roll which was good, but not memorable. Marilyn had a dish with chicken, chinese vegetables plus cauliflower and mushrooms all mixed with thin noodles. It was very tasty. The meal started with a pancake with scallions, sweet peppers and bean sprouts which was an excellent appetizer. Not sure how we will rate "Sung"in our firmament of places but it's certainly handy to downtown and Music Hall and hardly ever crowded.

"Spell check" is not working so be forwarned.

Last week we ventured to Blue Ash and the newly relocated "Cafe Mediterranean" 9525 Kenwood Road (513)745-9386. The move from '5 mile' has been made by one partner and about the same menu, although the dining area is more compact. The 3 of us put ourselves in the hands of our server who brought a delectable cold mix of appetizers and a basket of warm pita. "Cafe Mediterranean" has no liquor license and so I trudged two stores north to CVS and returned with their one Malbec( acceptable). Next time I'll bring my own wine, which they pour with no corkage.
Our dinner consisted of two platters, one of their roast meats and the other of a whole Doro (fish) that had been grilled and then filleted at our table. The platters had some salad in a vinegrette and rice pilaf. Pleanty of delicious food. The move had in no way diminished the quality of this fine middle east restaurant.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Car Repair

This posting is really not about "car repair" but I am starting to write while I am waiting for the garage to call and tell me when my car will be ready for pick up. So there is no guarantee of length or even of content.

Another great meal at "Nectar Restaurant" 1000 Delta Ave 45208 513-929-0525. Bombay, Sea Scallops and fall plum tart. As I have mentioned all the food is fresh, prepared without additives, including extra salt, and yet wonderful flavor and taste. Proteins always come with fresh veggies and light sauces and I enjoy Julie France's cooking, presentation and hospitality.

On a Tuesday a OLLI lunch( the same course that took us all to Orchid's) this time at "The Summit" the restaurant run by the culinary school at Cincinnati State (Clifton). The menu started with a Shrimp bisque, which to our benefit turned out to be a lump crab meat bisque, instead. It was accompanied by a Cranberry Blue Cheese salad( mixed greens) with a cinnamon poppy seed yogurt dressing. A very satisfying first course and possibly a sufficient amount to eat before the over the top dessert. However, we were served, as a second course, Moroccan spiced chicken with couscous, spicy lentils and tomato jam. The plate was very attractive with the spiced chicken served a golden brown, but unfortunately chicken breast is hard to keep warm and moist for a fair sized group. Next came an intermezzo, caused by a fire alarm which cleared the building. The few that did not return missed the "best for last"
Dessert was a large sized portion of Chocolate cake tower with white chocolate pieces, whipped cream and fresh red raspberries. Absolutely wonderful, perfect balance of sweet, moist filling and light dark cake. Try this restaurant Thursday, Friday or Saturday night for their offerings.

With a new couple we returned to one of our new favorites( Ed maybe we're going too much) "Enoteca Emilia" 2038 Madison Road 45208 (513) 834-5773. After heavy hors d'oeures at our home I settled for a Calamari and shrimp salad, large, crisp and filling which had been proceeded by two starters, Duck liver pate( rich, creamy and full flavored) and a hot ricotta mixture which seem bland by comparison. I accompanied my food with a crisp Orviato. Marilyn had her usual main course of Pasta Bolognese which they do very well. She also was part of the 4 sharing the starters, all served with toasted Italian bread slices. "Emilia is a treat any time of the evening.

Off for the car, more in the next few days.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Out a lot, from good to bad

When I don't write every few days there are a number of eating adventures, as well as others, to cover. Some of the experiences are "good to excellent" while other are "poor to bad". So here is what has happened since the last posting:

On Oct. 28, a Friday we tried "National Expemplar" in Mariemont. Cousins had been there and they told us that there was a new menu and the food was very good. I can't argue about the menu, although it looked pretty much the same to us, but my take on what we were served, and especially the service, would not warrant any sort of a recommendation.
Our server said he had been there 2 weeks but we knew, right from the start, that he was very inexperience. Marilyn's soup had to be returned several times( not necessarily the servers fault) before it was served "hot". The server never looked at us and we had the feeling that he did not try to remember the orders. Dishes were placed before the wrong person and when the check finally arrived it, of course, was not correct. The calf liver we both ordered was acceptable but nothing which would bring us back.

The next night, with another couple, there had also been 4 of us the night before, we went to the "Precinct" Delta and Columbia Parkway, 513-321-5454, for an always above average meal with very good service. As usual Marilyn and I split the NY Strip, "medium rare". The server, who we have had several times, knew our requests before we ordered, as this is our usual approach. We did change our usual salads to dividing a iceberg wedge with 1000 island dressing. The kitchen must have been overstocked on lettuce as each of us received an extremely large portion. Good meal, prepared perfectly, good service with the only negative being the liquor prices, which are at the high end.

Tuesday Nov. 1 our OLLI( Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) class from UC went to lunch at "Orchids at Palm Court" in the Netherlands Hilton at 5th and Race, in downtown Cincinnati. The most beautiful room and best food, in our opinion, that the city has to offer. For the class Todd Kelly, the executive chef, and his staff prepared the following, no one course more outstanding the the others. First course: Blue Cheese Beignets( crisp on the outside, smooth on the inside) served on a plate with Spiced Honey Gastrigue( a squirt of fresh seasoned honey), Tart Greens, Asian Pears and Almond Tuile. The greens had a wonderful citric vinaigrette.
Second Course: either Monkfish Paillard, Lychees, Arugula, Melrose Apples, Smoked Bacon and Cashews( this was my choice) or Braised Beef Cheeks( similar to tender beef short ribs), Spinach Gnudi, Roasted Tomatoes and Enoki Mushrooms( Marilyn's main course). We traded generous tastes and it is impossible to say which was better. Finally the Third Course was Buckeye Whoopie Pies, Chocolate, Candied Peanuts and Spiced Carmel Sauce. A beautiful filling lunch that left us all in a state of delicious repose.

That night, after saying we wouldn't eat again till morning, we quickly "back petaled" and joined a single friend at "Enoteca Emilia" the Italian wine bar that has become a neighborhood hang out in "Obrianville" at 2038 Madison Road, 45208 (513) 834-5773. The three of us split everything from Deviled Eggs and "cheesy bread( a loaf with layers of cheese between each slice) to Shrimp Spiedini( with wonderfully roasted pork belly prepared on small wooden secures), two salads, Roasted Beet and a Caesar and one order of Pasta, Garganelli( large tubes) with wild mushroom sauce. Not too light a meal after a very filling lunch. The food here remains first class.

Next day I had surgery for a skin growth and so it has been home with Marilyn's good cooking from then on.