When someone offers to share a glass of wine it is usually a sign of friendship, or at least that is the way I took it when the owner of "Phoenican Taverna" 7944 Mason Montgomery Road, Mason, Ohio 45040 (513) 770-0027, offered me a taste of a very fruity Riesling. It was the explanation point to end a wonderful evening.
Four of us ventured to the far side of Cincinnati, at least for those of us with a river view, but every mile was worth the trip. The food, service and hospitality couldn't have better. The restaurant is in its second month of operation and they "have their act together". The proprietor is very much in evidence and the results show his attention and concern.
We decided, under his guidence, to eat :"family style" and so we all had tastes, or more, of all the dishes.
After ordering, and opening the wine( Malbec) we waited a short time and the 5 small, not tiny, portions of appetizers (Mezza) arrived. I'll use the English translations: Eggplant Dip, Stuffed grape leaves ( rice and meat stuffing) Cheese Pies( flakey dough filled with Feta and Mozzarella) Chickpeas Fritters ( wonderful Falafel) and Chopped Vegetables with Toasted Pita chips ( Fattoush with a slightly sharp garlic dressing). The basket of warm Pita, which accompanied this, turned our to be individual loaf sized and pleantiful.
For our main course they served an outstanding Braised Lamb Shank in a fesh tomato sauce. (Mouzat) as good, if not better, than any we have enjoyed. The meat was braised perfectly but the sauce really was the crowning touch. None of the sauce remained after we cleaned the plate with our indiviual Pita's.
The other course was a mixed grill( chicken, beef and lamb) served with rice pilaf and grilled vegetables. The grill had two distinct sauces, both served on the side.
Desserts were the traditional Baklawa, one with roasted Pistachios, my favorite, and the other with roasted Walnuts. Both pieces were covered, lighly, with orange blossom syrup.
It was a wondeful exciting meal and our compliments go to all concerned.
Another new, for us, and entirly different was "Wunderbar" 1132 Lee St. Covington, KY 41011.(859-815-8027. This is a Bar which is open 7 days a week and whose owner Marshall Mann, cooks and supervises the whole operation.
Agroup of 12 of us went( they have two large picnic tables and bar seating) for lunch and he really laid out a spread.
Most of the sausages, which seemed to be the meats available that day, are made in house. We had Knughtwerst, Bratwurst, Curried Metts and plain Metts, wrapped in Bacon. There are 4 house made mustards; hot, horseradish, Reisling and sweet. Along with all these meat items, he laid upon us, roast Brussels Sprouts, Red Cabbage, Onion pies, Spetzel dumplings in gravey and small slices of apple strudel accented with chocolat sauce. Also on the table where large doughy pretzels, rye bread toast and home baked rolls, all acompanied with garlic butter and sweet butter. The Germans do believe in heavy full meals. Unfortuatly I'm from that stock.
Another lunch this week was quite the opposite. "Essencha Tea House" 3212a Madison Road, Cincinnati OH 45209 (513)533-4832 is just what the name implies. As one sits down you are presented with a taste of hot tea. The the menu is delivered, mostly soups, sandwiches and salads. The two of us split a pear and pecan salad, on greens, a smoked salmon and avacado sandwich and a side of braised carrots. A good antidote from eating too much at "Wunderbar".