Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy New Year

I have received numerous requests, actually 3, to keep posting from time to time so in response to the overwhelming clamor, to return, here are my personal favorites for 2013.
Appetizers - Walnut Dip@ the"Phoenician Taverna"  or Fried green Tomato's@ "Otto's"
Salad - Marinated beets and Ferro@ "Sotto"
Salad menu - Many of the selections at "Zula"
Soup - Chili( Texas, lot's of beef"@ Losantiville CC or Marilyn Alsacian Matzo Ball soup. Neither available to the general pubic. It'd a shame.
Sandwich - Grilled Grouper@ the "Oakley Pub and Grille"
Fish - Salmon (medium-rare)@ "PrimaVista" or Lobster @ the "Oriental Wok-Regency"
Meat - Lamb, several ways, @ the "Phoenician Taverna"
Sushi - King of the Sea Roll @ "Wild Ginger"
Pasta - Gnocchi @ "Nectar"
Vegetable - Cauliflower and Brussels Sprout Gratin @ "M Wood fired oven"
Burger - "Quin Hapa" Thai street food
Dessert - Opera Cream cake @  "The Bonbonerie"

So there it is. I'm sure I left out other great items but I can't go wrong with any of these.
A Happy new Year and good eating in 2014.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Das is Alis

The title is a saying from my Mother, Circa 1930'e, meaning that we have come to the end. I'm afraid like all things there is a beginning and an ending and so after 8 years of posting my reports, started at the requests of students in the OLLI class, I'm going to take an indefinite "leave of absence". It's not so much the effort to write, about our dinning but rather the repetitiveness of the Restaurants which we regularly visit.

The readership, of each posting, has ranged from as few a 8 to as many as 120 and the comments, mostly verbal, have been a real pleasure, knowing people have used the Blog as a guide for both dinning and discussion.

The only revamped place we have eaten, recently, worth mentioning, is "Lavomatic" 1211 Vine St, OTR, 513-621-1999.
The chef from "Mayberry" has taken over and brought his slant to this Gateway veteran.
After the Ensemble production of "Around the World in 80 Days" we stopped for a snack. The menu is inviting and the food was much better than we have been served there in the past.
I had the fried Polenta sticks, topped with a fried egg and also the Crispy Brussels Sprouts, with a semi sweet peanut sauce. Marilyn chose the the Tomato-Balsamic bisque and the beet cured Salmon. As I said it has gotten much more inventive. The biggest surprise was an Amber Hudy for $1.88, old time pricing.

You'll find us around our current favorites: "Otto's", "Orchids" "Zula"', "Phoenician Taverna", "Oriental Wok-Regency", "M", "Nectar" and many others.

Hope we see everyone, as we "Eat Out"

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A mixture

The title above only in part refers to the food, it also covers several meals, eaten out, in different venues. Since the last posting we have eaten in peoples homes, country clubs, parties, benefits, restaurants and even our own kitchen and dining room.
Some of the interesting meals, available to all, are as follows( no place we haven't been before):

"Otto's" 521 Main St. Covington KY. One of our real homes away from home. On this visit, with another couple the other man and I split the terrific Fried Green Tomato's, cant imagine starting a meal at "Otto's" with out them,  the Pasta special, pasta in a light cream and white wine sauce with large shrimp, fresh tomato's and spinach plus Parmesan  and Romano cheese; as well as an order of braised, bone in, short ribs, good but not as tasty as my home cooked ones.( I admit to being prejudice.) Marilyn had the excellent Tomato Dill soup and the Kobe beef sliders; three, with different toppings.

Another night we met friends at "M. Wood Fire Oven" 3514 Erie Ave, Hyde Park. We find "M" to be much improved for the early days of it's operation. The selections have broadened and the food is both interesting and flavorful. Most people build a dinner around their wood fired, oven Pizza's but this is neither necessary nor the way to sample their many different items.
That night Marilyn and I split a Mushroom Pizza( they have four different sauces and all are available upon request) with a pesto base. We also shared the Cauliflower Gratin, a mixture of Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts in a rich, cheesy, cream sauce, the whole dish topped with bread crumbs and pine nuts and then baked until brown and golden on top. Seasoned well this certainly calls for an accompanying drink, in my case a dark beer.

Lastly it was off to "Nectar" our neighborhood, chef run refuge, at 1000 Delta Ave, on any night they are open ( Wed. thru Brunch on Sunday). Julie Francis, the chef sent us a taste of her freshly made chicken liver pate ( she will not use frozen chicken livers), to start our evening, with our drinks. For official starters Marilyn and I split a beet and kale salad, ( beets, kale and Brussels sprouts are the "hot" 2013 items) and Cumin spiced roasted Cauliflower,  served with a fruit salsa. My main course was Sea Bass, reminiscent of Artic Char( the Salmon family) served on a bed of lentils in a very light, clear, curry sauce. Marilyn had the roast chicken, from whence came the livers for the pate.
For desert, the table, even the Gluten free party, split an order of delicious cinnamon doughnuts and molded chocolate moose. Some finish.

Saturday, November 9, 2013


When I was very young my family, including my Aunt and Uncle, and off spring, would go on Thursday nights to a road house just south of Hamilton Ohio. It rested alongside the traction line that ran from Cincinnati to Hamilton. Their specialty was a family style Fried Chicken dinner with wide thick noodles, in egg gravy, cole slaw etc. If memory serves me correctly it was $1.50 for adults and 75 cents for us young ones.
This was in the mid 1930s and I have no idea what inflation, alone, would make that price today, if the establishment was still there. "Greyhound Tavern" is currently $14.95, for somewhat similar fare.

This week we went to "Trio Bistro" in Kenwood. I ordered the "special" which was excellent. Grouper lightly coated with a cranberry sauce( not jellied) and grilled. It rested on a bed of pureed sweet potatoes with a pineapple salsa and candied pistachio nuts. It was a delightful combination and was priced at $32.00. There was a nice sized side salad for accompaniment. This plus a $10 glass of white wine made a fine dinner but took me back almost 80 years for a  price comparison.

Most of our "eating out" since my last posting has been either at homes or at benefits and since I don't think it is a food reporters prerogative to report on private affairs I chose not to. I will comment that at one of the benefits a caterer came with up an Indonesian "rice table" with number of additives. It was something special and a treat.

The other spot we have been visiting, with more regularity is "Zula" 1400 Race St. OTR ( Over the Rhine). It is especially convenient before performances at Music Hall. I have been very pleased with the food and service at this year old spot. Last Saturday night Marilyn and I split a Baby Romaine Salad, crisp but slightly salty, if your watching Sodium intake, a more than ample Mushroom Flat bread and a main of Walleye, grilled with skin on. Dessert was a red raspberry Masala Cake, perfect. I combined my meal with a Glass of Riesling for a terrific pre-concert dinner. Total cost, less tip $68.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

50 West

A couple of nights ago we went to "50 West Brewing Company", 7688 Wooster Pike, 45227. The physical plant previously had been the home of the "Heritage Restaurant" on Route 50 just east of Mariemont. This rendition is a beer stube serving "tapas" sized "upscale" bar food. The beer is still the star attraction with 10 or more house made items on tap. They also offer a beer flight, 6 samples, from light to dark, with approximately an oz and a half pours. I tried 2 of the darker drafts( $5 each) both of which, to my untrained taste buds seemed about the same. Some the items the four of us ordered as food accompaniment were: Apple-Pecan salad, Duck Sliders, Horseradish beer cheese (hot temp.) with soft pretzel rolls, Moroccan Meatballs and chicken Enchilada's. Most items had a good amount of spice; that's how one prepares food if the main interest is selling beer.
Interesting concept, we may return but probably for the beer.

Another night it was dinner at "Bonefish Grill" Edwards and Madison Road in Hyde Park. A perfectly decent chain, seafood restaurant. Tuesday night it is special lobster dishes and Wednesday night is half priced "Bang-Bang" Shrimp. At 6 PM the "joint is jumping" as not only are there food specials but it is "happy hour" on bar, well, drinks. "Bonefish" has all the regular items but they have added a couple of salads and also have a printed menu of "specials". Besides splitting the shrimp we tackled the "wedge" salad, Tuna Sashimi, a Tilapia Sandwich, fried oysters and pickle slices ( some combination) and ended with there excellent warm Macadamia Nut brownie with vanilla ice cream. Go to "Bonefish" for that dessert if nothing else.

The hit of the week was the awesome dinner at "La Poste" Eatery, 3410 Telford, Clifton 513-281-3663. David Taylor, the Chef, who cut his teeth at "Honey" has improved, in my opinion, as he has settled in at "La Poste". Saturday night both Marilyn and I had grilled, skin on, Walleye ( Northern Pike), one of our favorites. The fish was prepared perfectly and lay on a sauce which contained dried fruit, herbs and just a touch of wine. Our guest had ruby trout also done to perfection. Marilyn had a hearts of palm and fennel salad. Both items shredded and marinated. My salad had the title of "opera" but all I can remember is the beautiful freezie, accented with sauteed Sweetbread slices, and colored with very thin rounds of marinated carrots.
You can't have a meal at "La Poste" without ending with the sour cherry, white chocolate, bread pudding bathed in Caramel sauce. The wine list is excellent and features more that the everyday selections.
Some evening.

A new spot for lunch is "452 Kitchen" at 452 Woodburn near St. Francis DeSales Church. This small personally run salad, soup, salad and sandwich emporium has been open less than a year and is operated by two women who took there job as guidance councilors at UC to heart and gave in to their impulse to try their hand in the food business. From what I could see they are on the right track The menu board changes daily so go, and give it a try, and support new additions to "eating out".

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Special Treatment - Revisited

On Oct 1 I posted a piece stating that I did not receive special treatment because I write a Blog. I believe that still holds, but I do seem to receive "special treatment" as a customer. Whether or not there is any overlap, I'm not sure. All this is preface to what happened at "Boca", 6th and Walnut, Downtown last Wednesday night.
After being seated, upstairs by the front windows, I was handed a hand written note, which said in part, "Chef Falk and I hope you enjoy the sweetbreads. He told me you like them". I was shocked with this act of complete hospitality. Everything that followed bask in the glow of the personal attention we had received.
Three of the four of us had the sauteed Sweetbreads in a wonderful Beurre Blanc sauce with just the proper hint of wine or liquor. The table split an order of Caramelized Brussels Sprouts and then each of us a tasting portion of separate dishes; mine was a perfectly creamy Seafood Risotto, with small pieces of shell fish and snippets of flat fish. Wine, shared dessert and an evening with out of town friends made a memorable event.

Then it was off to Chicago to visit a Granddaughter who is in a Masters program and Northwestern University and to partake, with 3 other couples in our annul Lobster Party, something that has gone on for the last 47 years.
The night we arrived 5 of us had dinner at "Tapas Barcelona" 1615 Chicago Ave. Evanston, IL 60201 Tel. 847-866-9900. I am not going to try to recall all the dishes we shared, eight before desserts, but they were all interesting and very tasty. A few I can remember were: dates wrapped in bacon, goat cheese in a hot fresh tomato sauce, duck sausage with polenta strips, fish with a potato puree and red cabbage, tenderloin of beef scures and shell fish in a lemon sauce. The desserts were excellent Flan, beautiful puff pastry filled with ice cream and covered with hot fudge sauce and a Spanish layer cake. Fun place, good food and very reasonable bill.

Another spot on our granddaughter agenda was "Balena" 1633 N. Halsted (just off North Ave.) Chicago 312-867-3888. This trendy Italian hot spot serves anything from Pizza to Tiramisu. Four of us settled on two appetizers, 2 pastas, one Pizza and two desserts. The pasta dishes were the best; a miniature cup shaped pasta with chopped kale, browned and seasoned bread crumbs and a light butter-lemon sauce. The other was Canestri (flat noodles) with a delicious Pork Ragu. The biggest disappointment was the Pizza with roasted fresh peach and speck ( much to bland for our tastes) and mostly crust.

Last night it was back home to "Sotto" 144 East 6th St. Downtown, noisy, dark but very good, interesting Italian dining. Four of us shared the whole dinner: 2 Bruschetta's, tuna and a chicken liver mousse; Linguine with Cauliflower anchovies and lemon,, Cappellacci with tomato vodka sauce, and a short rib filled ravioli, our meat course was a pounded( thin) pork tenderloin sauteed and crusted with bread crumbs and herbs. The ricotta doughnuts provided the dolcie. It's good to be back to our usual spots.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Dinner in the Field

Last night we went to an event, "Outstanding in the Field". This is a national group which tours the United States setting up a table for 100 to 200 people on farms, in vineyards or orchards and and serving a 4 course seated dinner, accompanied by wines, to all who attend. The dinner spotlights a local farmer and a well know Chef. The event last evening was at the "Carriage House Farm", North Bend, OH and the Chef was from the "Metropole Restaurant" at the 21c hotel.

We arrived at the farm about 2:30, signed in and had drinks and hors d'overs before a description of the history, of the event, and a tour of the farm. "Outstanding in the Field" started approx. 10 years ago with 3 dinners and this season has grown to 86 events all over the US. The basic crew, 9 to 10 people, travel in a converted bus and two pick up trucks with trailers. They arrive the night before and set up a portable kitchen and the long table, starting at sunrise on the day of the party. The basic group is augmented by the Chef and his kitchen staff, servers from the Chef's restaurant, and people who work on the farm, about 30 in all. Impressive.

Our dinner was as follows:
Fire roasted pumpkins filled with arugula, toasted pine nuts and ricotta salata
Wine - Cantina del Taburno, Falanghina, Campania 2012

Traditional polenta, milled on site, pork sugo (ragu) braised hearty greens ( mostly kale), Gretchen's peppers, KO mushrooms in salami butter
Wine - Nicolas Potel Bourgogne 2011

Smoked sorghum coffee rubbed Marksbury Farm striploin (very chewy) embered onions and kennebec potatoes, radish, fried sage, arugula
Wine - Can Blau Montsant

Chocolate ginger tart,( crispy, nutty crust)  charred pears and cinnamon meringue

My personal favorites were the polenta (two helpings) and the Chocolate tart ( a piece and a half). The meringue brought back the memory of home made marshmallows.
The wines were perfectly satisfactory but nothing memorable. All in all the evening was a huge success and a memory that will not be soon forgotten.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Out and about

The operative word in "out". Since eating out is a large part of our social life we seem to be out 4 to 5 nights per week. Hard on the digestive system but great for the economy.
Here are a few sports we have hit since my last posting.

"Padrino" 111 Main St. Milford, OH 45150. This was our first time at this mostly Pizza palace run by the same people who own "20 Brixs". We and another couple went to an early movie and this seemed the proper spot for a fairly light 7 PM dinner. The restaurant has a sizable bar and tables and probably seats about 50. This being Saturday night there was a good crowd, all ages, and music after 8 PM. My friend and I split an LL( don't know what it stands for) salad containing greens, nuts, dried cranberries and other goodies. Splitting gave us each a large portion. We also split a 10 inch pizza,( the other size is 14") thin crust; and besides the normal cheese we added Pepperoni( extremely thin and fairly sparse), Mushrooms ( plentiful) and fresh spinach, again not a large amount. Our wives chose eggplant parmesan, fair, and Spaghetti with oil and garlic, again only fair. The place served the purpose but is not worth the drive to Miford, in my estimation.

Our next adventure took us to "Bonefish Grill", Edwards and Madison Rd., Hyde Park. It was my birthday and so we, the family, went "all out".
Starting with Calamari, done well and served with an excellent sweet and spicy dipping sauce; we moved on to Ceviche, mostly small shrimp and scallops with some diced tomato's, onions and bell peppers. The Ceviche, which I ordered as an appetizer, was large enough to serve as a main course. I was smart enough to have ordered only a salad as it was more than sufficient for the evening. The others all had fish; trout, salmon, a seafood skure, and orange roughy. It was a Monday night and the place had very few customers and so our dinners came slightly too fast for enjoyment.
"Bonefish" serves a good product at a fair price and remains a spot we patronise for regular nights out and even special occasions.

Wednesday night befor theater we hit "A Tavola Pizza" 1220 Vine St. OTR. It has been a year since our last visit and although the menu has expanded, and the food is tasty, our complaints from the last time still hold.
The food, from the kitchen comers as prepared, item by item. I got my slider before the others and the beer came after I had started. The roasted cauliflower, room temperature, came next and our companion and Marilyn got their sliders after the side had been served. The salad, which some like first, came after the above listed items. The desert , small chocolate cookies, did come in the proper order as they were ordered a few minutes after we had all finished our meals.There was nothing wrong with the food. The sliders were Cinghiale( boar), Chicken and Beef. All the meats are ground and shaped into meatball sized portions. Each slider has it's individual sauce which compliments the meat. The Red and Blue Salad is a combination of Boston lettuce, cherry tomato's and blue cheese, pleasant and large enough to share.

Last night it was "J. Alexander's" 2629 Edmondson Rd. Hyde Park. There is a new menu plus specials and so the choices are greater. The prices have also increased. "J Alexander" still offers good food and extremely accomodating service. Consequently dinner there is almost always pleasant and rewarding., last night was no exception. Marilyn, almost always orders the Prime Rib Sandwich and that was here choice. I went for the Pecan Crusted Trout and was delighted. The trout fillet was large and cooked to perfection. It was completely covered with crushed Pecans and sprinkled with a light, white mustard sauce. The combination was terrific. It came upon a bed of seasoned rice and a large helping of their excellent, crisp Cole Slaw. I thoroughly enjoyed every bite, as I have just reporting.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Special Treatment

One of the questions I get, most often, is do you get special treatment because you write a Blog about restaurants. We'll the answer is a definite NO. I, like other do sometime get a "freebie" from some place that we frequent on a very regular basis but I can not remember when anything coming to the table was the result of my putting out these messages.

That said, it all changed last night when we went to "Enoteca Emilia" with Todd Kelly, Chef at "Orchids" and his wife. Todd had partnered with the Chef at "Emilia" for a benefit and so it was "pay back" time. We were along for the ride and the overwhelming amount to food. The quantity was in part our fault as Todd likes to sample many offering and I am a glutton who can't pass anything.
The meal started with drinks and a small plate from the kitchen including a roasted pear slice, Prosciutto, Caramelized onions salad and a toast point. This called for a bottle of light red wine, the first of three. We ordered salads, the most interesting grilled peach and fennel, while Todd amused himself, and the table, with mussels, stuffed dates, grilled peppers and deviled eggs. I partook of all.
Before the main course the kitchen again sent a plate with one large broiled scallop wrapped in Pancetta resting on a bed of sweet white corn and chopped nuts. We should have gotten the hint and stopped.
Our main courses, from the menu were: a four cheese pizza, mushroom ravioli, Bucotini and fresh clams, and a short rib Lasagne. It will not surprise anyone reading this, that quite a bit went uneaten.
To top things off we had two desserts, their excellent Ricotta fritters and a Panna Cotta that came part frozen.
Too much to eat and drink but a fitting tribute to one of Cincinnati's top Chefs.

So where else have we gone: "21c Museum Hotel", Walnut St. Downtown, for a dinner of oven broiled Walleye served with cauliflower on a cucumber Gazpacho.
Original "Montgomery Inn" 9440 Montgomery Road where Marilyn and I split the grilled chopped steak, onion straws and Saratoga chips.
"Phoenician Taverna" 7944 S.Mason-Montgomery Rd for roast chicken, lamb shank and eggplant salad and their very unusual and tasty walnut spread. Of course, house made warm Pita.
"Seasons 52" 3819 Edwards Road where the best things, we think, are their wine list, triple mushroom flat bread and outstanding stuffed mushrooms. We make a dinner out of mushrooms there, as you can tell.
Finally "Sky Galley" at Lunken Airport where Marilyn has the Tilapia and I the "world famous" Chicken livers.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Pleasant surprises

Last night we went to an opening at the Taft Museum. Since we were in the neighborhood we had decided to stop by the "Residence Inn" (Marriott) 506 East 4th St. for a drink and some "bar food", after viewing the art. The young women at the hotel desk told us that they had "opened to the public" their cocktail lounge on the roof and that we could get a drink there and, tonight,( Thursday) free hors d'oeuvers. We took the elevator to the 12th floor and we greeted by a selection running from bite sized crab cakes to chocolate chip cookies. In between were egg rolls, pulled pork sliders, humus and veggies, cold cuts, cheese, house made chips, etc. It was a wonderful assortment and made the evening, on the roof , outstanding. Oh, yes, there is a full bar with "Bombay".
Jason Druso told us that this was an experiment and that they, presently, plan to be open to the public on only Tuesday and Thursday nights. Enough said.

Another "Pleasant Surprise" was our visit, last Sunday, to "Enoteca Emilia" 2038 Madison Road 45208. There has been a change of Chef's and the current kitchen head cooks much more to my liking (read: less salt and more subtle flavors). I delighted in the Trofie ( tubed Pasta) in a Pistachio-Arugula Pesto, mild but enough flavor and crunch to carry the dish. Also one of my favorite "sides" is the oven browned cauliflower with a anchovy-lemon butter sauce. The prior chef was heavy on the anchovies while the current one stresses the citrus flavor and lets the browned cauliflower stand on it's own.
Not consumed by us were a wonderful salad with greens, fennel and fresh peaches and a beautiful looking ravioli topped with dark button mushrooms.

We eat out a lot and I hesitate to post unless there is something to reported, in either direction. A few comment on one or two other spots:
"The National Exemplar" in the Mariemont Inn remains a middle of the road dinning experience. They are adding a few new items but still carry most of the "old favorites". The other night I had the Bison Burger topped with crisp fried onion and a red pepper aoli. The lean meat allows the fat from the onions and sauce to even out.
Marilyn stuck with the Veal Susannah, a egg battered slice of veal sauteed and served on "angle hair pasta".

Our only disappointment was how a service problem was handled at "Abigail Street 1214 Vine St, OTR.
"Abigail Street" is one of our favorites in OTR and we often go there before theater. Tuesday night following our routine we arrived at 6 PM and placed our order, for food, by 6:15. Marilyn's came promptly ( Gnocchi and a beet salad), mine( Bouillabaisse ) somewhat slower and our other party (lamb sliders), after several discussions, did not arrive until 7:00, a rush to finish as we try to leave by 7:15. There was never a satisfactory explanation and although we are all well aware that things happen; orders get lost, not put in at all, items are picked up by other serves, etc, it is poor handling when the guest in not informed of what actually happened. Now I've vented.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

You can go home again

"Walt's Hitching Post", Madison Pike, Ft.Wright, KY has hit it "on the head" in coming up this the same food it's predecessor served, at least on the basics; Ribs, Sauce, Toasted rye bread, tossed salad, dressing ( tomato-garlic ) or hot slaw and potato's, either baked or "home fries with onions". It's the experience that loyal customers have been looking for since Bill Melton closed his doors. The new owners have spent time and effort to recreate the taste customers have craved. They hired some of the old kitchen crew to recreate the salad dressing and Bar-B-Q sauce and have researched the original items down to the type and size potato's used. They warrant support.
There are several new sides and we tried only one, the "onion straws" which were crisp and plentiful but on the salty side for my pallet. Other sides include: macaroni and cheese, creamed spinach, sweet potato's, etc. "Walt's" give the customers a chance to "mix and match", sides, so ask your server. Our server was most accommodating and made the meal a very pleasant occasion.
We intend to return but probably will stick with the basics and might sample one side at a time.

"Mahogany's at the Banks" 180 East Freedom Way, Cincinnati aims to fill a niche. They have built their menu around a certain type of Southern or "Soul" Food and from the looks of things seem to be catering to a mostly mid-level African American audience. Not that the place is in any way is restricted but the food, which I felt came from some prepared items, lacked the flavor fullness of foods elsewhere being offered in this same vain.
My Salmon Croquettes appeared and tasted like salmon patties which come prepared from suppliers. The Corn Bread muffin was very good and the fried cabbage, heavily peppered, was acceptable. My Southern Aunt, from Helena AK used to heavily pepper her fried( sauteed) cabbage, which I have copied. The listed "fried potato's and onions" were a disappointment. The potato slices clung together and the onions were no where to be found.
It may be my white trained taste buds, although all the women around as I grew up, cooked "southern" but I think for my "soul food" I'll stick with the "Greyhound Tavern" fried chicken, green beans and biscuits.

Once again we went with a group to "Zula", 1400 Race St. 45202, and were most pleased. Our server was very professional and did not push the group into ordering before we had fully discussed several options.
I ordered Eggplant Fries, for the table. They came with a crisp batter, well browned and sprinkled with powder sugar. A small side bowl contained a very hot sauce, not for the timid, but also not needed to enjoy the fries. The helping easily served our group of 5.
I shared the "Beet Napoleon", plenty for two, and it was terrific. A mixture of golden and red beets tossed with pistachio nuts, in a mild olive oil based dressing, and topped with sprigs of fresh greens make a wonderful tasting and looking salad. In my opinion several of the "cold dishes", salads, are one of the outstanding features of "Zula". Our table had several main courses, Crispy Amish Chicken and Mussels Mariniere, plus small loafs of warm crisp bread( extra) as well as several "tapis" sized orders of "Forest Gump Risotto", rice, mixed with "bay shrimp" and peas and slivered carrots. Red wine, from and extensive, reasonable wine list accompanied everything.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Lobster, Duck and Pork

No they are not combined, in one dish, but they are the three main items that our friend Chef Guy Burgess served us and another dinner last week at the "Oriental Wok" Hyde Park. It was an outstanding meal.
With a bit of discussion, before hand, we were treated to Lobster Canton style, large pieces of firm, fresh lobster, tail, done to perfection mixed with a black bean sauce and Chinese vegetables. The other dishes were just as well prepared. The duck breast was sliced thin, marinated and grilled. The duck came in a natural sauce to which seasonings and a touch of rice wine had been added. The accompanying vegetables were added to the mixture during the late stages of preparation. Bar-B-Que Pork strips mixed with crisp bean sprouts and thin sliced scallions made up the third dish of our delicious trio. A wonderful dinner which had started with drinks, egg roles and pot stickers. Not inexpensive but worth ever cent and scent.

The other oriental meal of the week was a return, for another terrific lunch, to "Quan Hapa" 1331 Vine St. 45202, with our Granddaughter. The dishes all have Vietnamese names but my translation is: a hamburger with marinated carrots, cucumbers, water chestnuts and a sauce on a special, slightly sweet, chewy bun. A hash brown potato pancake covered with marinated vegetables, pink onions and others and again a mixed Asian sauce. Finally, and certainly not least, our Granddaughter had a bowl of noodles, short ribs, and fried mushrooms all in a seasoned broth.
The place is small and all food is cooked to order, so don't go for "fast food". They have a full bar but none of us went this route, for lunch, although beer or wine might be a nice accompaniment.

Our other spots were not as successful. "The Quarter Bistro" 6940 Wooster Pike, Mariemont  served Marilyn a Bistro Burger with fries which was certainly acceptable. My Shrimp salad was quite bland and the greens would have been better on a "wilted" dish. The side of Scallion Gnocchi again lacked for flavor, except for salt. Service was inattentive and the noise level less than conducive to conversation.
"La Petite France" 3177 Glendale-Milford Rd, Evendale hit the bottom of our parade this week. We should have know when we saw only one server for a fairly full dinning room. Dinner, of course, came slowly, and one of the dishes of our foursome was not the item ordered. Marilyn had the Trout (dry) and when she asked for other than rice was told that was all that was available. The mixed vegetables were over cooked squash and zucchini. My Ris deVeau (sweetbreads) came in a heavy brown salty sauce which masked all flavors. Not a good experience. It's been close to twenty years since we were there and now we know the reason why.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


Having finished our traveling we're back in our regular routine, which means going out, with others, 4 or 5 time a week. We keep the restaurant industry in Cincinnati, profitable.

A week ago we went to "The National Exemplar", housed in the Mariemont Inn, 6880 Wooster Pike 45227. Sean Daley has been revamping the menu, and although he keeps some of the "old favorites" he is adding regularly, new dishes. I ordered the entree Caesar and the Bison Burger. The burger would have been plenty. The salad was served with a half Romaine stalk and a decent, but not inspiring dressing. On the other hand the burger, served on a Brioche bun was covered with crisp onion pieces and a slightly tangy house made sauce. I found it terrific. Marilyn had the Veal Suzanne, a taste of which I found uninspired. Our friends talked us into splitting the warm carrot cake with a Vanilla Rum sauce, large and good but for me and my meal too much "icing on the cake".

A few night later it was on to "J. Alexander's" 2629 Edmondson Road ( Rookwood Plaza). "Alexander's shows the effect of competition, two large new restaurants just across the street. They now accept reservations and there seemed, the night we were there, to be plenty of open tables and extra special service, although the service had always been good.
I made a bad choice the Croque Madame, a fancy grilled, open face sandwich of Ham and Gruyere cheese. It was much too salty and rich for my newly acquired taste. Marilyn and the others stuck with the Prime Rib sandwich, a good choice.

Friday evening it was "M. Wood Fire Oven" 3514 Erie Ave. 45208. In my opinion "M" has been improving since it opened, almost a year ago. I had a very filling meal of the Cauliflower and Brussels Sprout Gratin, although I had to send it back for more "fire", the dish is plenty to be split between several diners and is an excellent side, complimenting anything else ordered, it is also delicious in it's own right. My other "small plate", to me a misnomer, was Scallops accompanied by Polenta cakes and grilled escarole. Marilyn shared the Cauliflower and chose the Little Frenchie, beef slices on thick toasted white bread covered with a very mild cheese sauce, one of less tasty dishes.

Lastly it was an early dinner at "Zula" 1400 Race St. 45202 (OTR). A baby Romaine Salad and a deep fried Risotto Cake were both outstanding. They both came as advertised. The salad, only the small tender inside leafs covered with a light dressing, grated Parmesan and strips of roasted Roma tomato's; while the Risotto cake oozed with melted cheese as it was broken open.
Marilyn had the Haricot Vert Frisce, a platter of marinated green beans, tomato's, hearts of palm and greens followed by the Field Mushroom Flat Bread, lots of shrooms. Altogether is was an evening when everything meshed perfectly.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Quan Hapa

What a pleasant surprise. A friend, head of marketing for the CSO, suggest that we have lunch at "Quan Hapa" 1331 Vine St. 45202 (OTR), 513-421-7826, open Tuesday thru Saturday for lunch and dinner. Both Marilyn and I enjoyed it immensely.
"Quan Hapa" bills itself a Asian Street Food but in our opinion is is much more sophisticated. My "Japanese Pancake" was a delicious dish presented on a base of shredded potato's with slivers of water chestnuts mixed in, they were then either fried or baked until slightly crusty and topped with bacon (pork belly), scallions and several sauces. Topped with a fried egg and served hot of the grill it was delicious and a full lunch for one or easily splittable. Marilyn had a rich noodle soup, with meat and won tons floating there in, small bowl, which was plenty of one. Our companion had sliced fresh mango, lightly seasoned with ground red pepper (cayenne) and a summer role of marinated beef and vegetable strips. All together a great first visit, which I am sure will be followed up.

Now some comments on a couple of our regular spots:
"Otto's" 521 Main St, Covington KY, has added a few more specials which make regular visits even more interesting.
The Brunch ( a very popular seating) menu contained Blueberry and Lemon curd pancakes, described by the owner as desert@lunch, while dinner, a few nights later, had four special, from which I chose Striped Bass. All items are uniformly well prepared and quite tasty.The regular offerings are all still available.

"Nectar Restaurant" Mt. Lookout Square now bills Thursday evening as "Tapas Thursday" offering an array of 12 to 15 "small plates. They still have one or two full sized offerings for those who wish to go in that direction. Last Thursday I had the seafood cocktail and a Peruvian cold mashed potato and tuna and avocado mixture. I am an adventurous eater but I doubt that this Peruvian dish will be a regular, for me. Marilyn had chicken on cous-cous, a more normal selection.

I am always told that I receive special treatment at the "Oriental Wok, Hyde Park, to which I reply, if you will just follow the server or chefs input you can receive the same food we do. Last night for a couples 50th Wedding anniversary, not ours, we dined of crab Rangoon, egg rolls, Cantonese Lobster, Bass with mushrooms and other veggies and Singapore noodles. All excellent and available to any who want "off menu" treats.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Catching Up

This is my first try at a Post since the "site" became non-operational. It's been almost a month and so all I am going to try to do is get "up to speed" and cover a few places and thoughts that, to me, are meaningful.

We have had several evenings at "Sotto" 114 East 6th St. I like the food but find the front part of the restaurant very noisy, not that any location is quiet. Also since there are very few additions to the menu going in a close time frame make selections somewhat difficult. Some of our favorites are the Zucchini, Brussels Sprout, Short rib Pasta, Spaghetti in Olive Oil and the chicken and two fish dishes, Cod and Salmon.

"Nectar Restaurant" 1000 Delta Ave served us outstanding Gravlax, as and appetizer and also a main dish, and "awesome" Gnocchi as another main. As all know it is one of the many, chef run places that make the area proud.
We have eaten several meal, outside, in this gorgeous weather, at "Brew River GastroPub" 2062 Riverside Dr. The menu is interesting with a trend towards the New Orleans and Cajun pallet. Watch out for the pickles embedded in the grilled cheese sandwich.

One of the weeks we drove to northern Wisconsin and Michigan, to see family and friends. I don't expect any of you to follow, our trail, but we had an excellent meal in Madison, WI at "Johnny Delmonico's"; a great Friday night "fish fry" ( perch and Walleye) at the "Deep Lake Lodge" in  Iron River, WI and a terrific lunch, much nearer, in Ann Arbor, MI at "Zingermans Delicatessen. One of the better deli's in the Midwest.

A new spot for us was "Main Bite" 522 Main St. Covington KY, where on another beautiful evening we enjoyed drinks, mini-head lettuce salads and flat breads, one Rubin and the other Mediterranean. It was not outstanding but it was pleasant, fun and reasonable.

Our usual spots have not lacked seeing us: "Enoteca Emilia", "Cumin" ( not impressive)  "Primavista" (good but not exciting nor cheap), "Oriental Wok" and one or two for lunch that that don't rate a particular mention.

Friday, August 2, 2013


Let's see how this works. Mike Stone, my computer adviser has made the cursor work and so I'll be back doing posting shortly.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


I feel that I should post something just to let readers know that I am still around. Many of our meals have been at private funtions and I almost always dont report on those. We did travel to St. Louis, for a long weekend, and were guests, one evening, at the "Westwood Country Club" which has wonderful food and service from long time employees. Marilyn and I both had excellent Walleye.

I'm having computer problems, either with my mouse or this page, and so I'm going to close and try again.
Hope to be back soon.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

West Coast Comments

When I write about "out of town" activities I get mixed comments. Most who read this are in the Cincinnati area, but I do have a few else where, and I also feel I should explain the time between postings. I am going to break this report into several topics, rather that try to go thru day to day eating.

Hospitality- When I think of hospitality I immidiately refer to Danny Meyer's book "Setting the Table", which stresses the difference between service and hospitality. One of my favorite business philosophys, stressed in the book, is: "The road to success is paved with mistakes well handled. This is all preface to our first night in Seattle.
Eight of us had dinner at the "Boat Street Cafe"( menu was "spring in the Northwest", Salmon, Pork, vegies etc).
The party sitting across from Marilyn spilt her red wine which ended up fully spotting the front of Marilyn's white shirt. Our waitress immediatly offered to take her shirt,( Marilyn had an untouched sweater) spot it, and wash and dry it on the premise, and have it returned by the end of dinner.(They handle all their own linen "in house"). Good to her word the shirt was returned, in spotless condition, during the dessert course. Amazing!!

Slaw- Several places we had unusally good slaw. The first was at our cousins, homemade and rough cut, along with a huge piece of freshly caught and grilled Salomn; another portion came with chicken salad( nothing speicial) at "Greenleaf Restaurant" in Ashland OR. If you happen to go to the "Oregon Shakespeare Festival" in Ashland OR and hit "Greenleaf" get a side of slaw even if it is with breakfast.

Breakfast-  On the subject of Breakfast, Ashland OR has many restaurants but of all the places we have found "Morning Glory" and "Brother's Restaurant" top the list, in this department. "Morning Glory" may have the single best Breakfast menu of any place where we have enjoyed this meal. I had an omlet with fresh spinach, mushrooms, chicken Gouda sausage and Swiss Cheese, while Marilyn chose one with bacon, carmelized onions and chedder. Both platters came with thin, buttermilk pancakes covered with a whipped butter containing granulated sugar and fresh lemon juice. As if this isn't enough there are choices of toast, potatoes, tomato slices, muffins and fruit. At "Brothers" they pride themselves on their excellent "hash browns", righly so, but I chose a personal favorite "Huevous Ranchero's" which turned out to meet my expectations. Luckily I got to taste the "Hash Browns", an extra dividend.
Another good Breakfast was at "Stopsky's Delicatessen" on Mercer Island, across the lake from Seattle. I had a large chopped cornbeef hash but the next time I think I'll switch to the gooey looking Ruben.

Beer- "Standing Stone Brewing Co. 101 Oak St. Ashland OR provided, along with deep fried Brussels Sprouts and Lamb on Pita, a first, "Milk and Honey Ale", a delicious golden light Ale which went perfectly with my meal.
"Thai Pepper", Ashland, featured a "Rouge Hazelnut Brown Ale" somewhat darker in color but very drinkable and a great match for our Korean rack of Lamb. Beer and spiced Lamb, some combination.

Ambiance- In the Potland OR area two places stood out. "Zeppo", Lake Oswego OR has a lovely outside "sidewalk cafe" surrounded by trees, flowers and beautiful hanging baskets of plants( my Green Goddess salad with Shrimp was a good choice) and the bar( "Departure") in the 'Nine" hotel in the Meyer-Frank building downtown is a perfect modern upgrade of an old department stores' top floor. The young, hip Portlanders have found the place and are making it their own.

Side comments- I mentioned earlier that several places had "Spring Northwest" items on thier menus. Nothing, however, topped the English Green Pea soup, served room temperature, at "Tilth", Seattle WA; or the fun Organic fresh sandwiches at "Homegrown" in the Queen Ann District above the University of Washington. My sandwich, a pairing of avacado, Swiss cheese and egg, on an English muffin( read, fancy "egg Mc Muffin") couldn't have been a better interoduction to our 9 day visit to the area.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Boca, Sotto and others

"Boca" 114 East 6th St. (513) 471-4648 has been open for several weeks, most of the "kinks" have been worked out, but not the "clatter". The beautiful renovation of the old Masionette space( thanks 3CDC) has produced an "open kitchen", therefore the "clatter", modern restaurant divided into several rooms plus a bar and lounge area. It is a very attractive space to go with their modern Italian and Seafood menu, not that other items aren't available. We had our first meal there last night, along with another couple.
I began with the usual "Bombay"($10) followed by the Haricot Vert Salad, a nice mixture of greens, green beans, bacon, croutons and peas. The dressing was light and matched perfectly the items served.
"Boca" offers both Full and Tasting portions and most of us went with the latter. My two choices were: Squid Tagliolini, al dente, black, pasta mixed with peas and cheese and then covered in a light butter based sauce; and Baked Cod with a few sliced carrots served on top of a creamy polenta. The Cod portion was surrounded by a wonderful citrus sauce. Both sauces made the home made Italian bread even more enjoyable.
Marilyn started with the Grilled Romaine ( Cesear), a hold over from the Oakley spot, and followed with the tasting sized English Pea Ravioli, accompanied by a small piece of lobster. Her other small plate was Paparadelle Bolognese. From my tastings of her dishes, and her vote, the ravioli won the day. Coffee but no dessert brought the bill, including tax, but without tip, to slightly under $100.
It was a festive evening. Several people stopped by to say "hello". Most of the middle aged diners were well dressed and quite congenial.

"Sotto", which I believe means "under", 116 E 6th St. (513) 977-6886 has been open longer than "Boca" and we have visited on several occasions. The same food group runs them both. Our most recent visit, again with friends, found us splitting both first courses and dessert. The first course provided a large portion of roasted Brussels Sprouts, marinated in a balsamic dressing and topped with slices of Parmesan, and a small portion of baked, fresh Lemon halfs filled with a cheese and bread crumb and herb dressing. My main couse was the excellent Grilled Salmon, rare plus, served on a bed of fresh spinach with a butter and citrus sauce. Marilyn ordered the Amatriciana Pasta, oversized macarony shells in a somewhat spicy tomato and cheese sauce.
Dessert was an order, approximatly 6 golf ball, sized doughnut holes with a ricotta filling and 3 sauces, Carmel, Pistacio and Chocolat.

Other spots of our "eating out" trail this week were "The Quarter Bistro" 6904 Wooster Pike (513) 271-5400, which found us on a beautiful night at an outside table having drinks and main courses. The table split a large order of Guacamole and chips followed by individual main courses, mine, Belgium Endive leaves surrounded by shrimp, apple slices and dowsed with a light vinegret dressing with Gorgonzola and small croutons. Marlyn went with their "bisto Burger" which she reported as being dry, although the French fries vanished with no complaints.

Sunday night, for our son-in-laws birthday, 5 of us went to "Kaze" 1400 Vine St. (513)898-7991. "Kaze" has been in operation at least 6 months and has greatly improved, in my estimation, in that time. At a family birthday there is always sharing and that night was no exception. Pork Buns and Beef Sliders made the rounds with one for each. Several Sushi Roles, "California" and "Dragon", the first vegeterian and the latter with smoked eel and tempura shrimp, were sampled by all but Marilyn. Then came several orders of hanger steak and fingerling potatoes, divided salads and one with Octopus which got no takers except the author.
A "brought in" Bonbonerie Opera Cream cake provided the final Hari-Kari moment.

And now it's off to the Pacific Northwest and more adventures.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Boston and home

Here is a stab at another posting, let's hope I get this one right.

We arrived in Boston at noon on Monday, May 27. We have 2 Grandchildren, of the 5, off and on residents,  in the East, still either working or in school there. Since Monday was the official Memorial Day Holiday our Granddaughter, Kathryn Wolf, had the day off from her job in Wellesley. She lives in Cambridge, near Central Square, and that was our first stop. One of the most difficult things in Boston is finding a parking place( Valet parking runs $15 to $20 at intown restaurants) and so after settling ourselves, and our car, we walked about 5 blocks to "Flour Bakery and Cafe". One immediately notices the youth and mixture of Cambridge residence or visitors. "Flour" offers soups, salads, sandwich's and numerous sweets. Each of the three of us ordered a sandwich and we also shared one "sticky bun" (Pecan roll) as our sweet. My thinly sliced lamb was piled high on goat cheese and covered with a fruit chutney. Marilyn's medium rare roast beef had sliced tomato's and spicy, horseradish mayo.

The afternoon was spent helping Kathryn decide and load the possesions she wanted us to bring home, as she will be moving to Evanston to attend Northwestern in September. Upon her advice we left our car at our Motel and took the "T" for dinner in the "North End". Her choice of  "Mamma Maria" an upscale, Italian, white table cloth, restaurant was fitting for our reunion. That night there was much sharring. Some of the excellent dishes were: Lobster Ravioli, Tuna Tartare, Osso Buco, Rabbit Pasta, Apricot Panna Cotta and Apple filled, browned, puff pasty. All the items were well prepaired and beautifully served. I especial was raptuous over the veal shank bone full of marrow. For this Osso Buco I was more alert than the last time.

The next day Marilyn and I spent almost 4 hours at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. We lucked into a private tour with a fairly new, but knowledgeable, Docent, and had a delightful day.
That night our Grandson joined us for the consummate, Boston, farewell dinner; Lobster Rolls at "B&G Oysters". Our table, 4 in number, shared starters of Salmon Tartare, Fried Oysters, with a wonderful creamed Pesto, and Arancini( English peas mixed with rissotto and made into ball which are then deep fried and rolled in parmesan).
The Lobster Roll Platers( $29) are a joy to behold and devour. Each comes with a butter, toasted roll stuffed with all the meat from a one pound Lobster. The accompaniments are: crisp, hand cut french fries, lightly seasoned cole slaw and thinly sliced, home made, sweet pickle rounds, all in goodly portions. There are other items on the menu but "when in the Northeast,"etc. For dessert it was again, sharing time, and so we each took on a quater of a chocolate chip, ice cream sandwich. This was our second visit, to "B&G", but wont be the last.

Wednesday we drove 550 miles to Clarion PA, a stopping pont we have used in the past. This time the "Hampton Inn" staff sent us to "Captain Loomis" for a meal which was certainly decent and way above the dinner at "Luigi's" on the way East. Any dinner following "B&G Oyster" would have had a difficult job competing.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Out of order

The two previous postings are out of order as I found the missing "Headed East" under "drafts" and didn't know how to handle. It also was not spell checked or reread, as anyone reading can tell.
"To err is human to forgive is devine".

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Heading East

I have been with a lot of people, in the last week, who think that this Blog is a wonderful idea. It's nice to have praise but even better to have readers and comments. The number of "hits" come nowhere near the people who say what I am doing is of interest. Oh well, so it goes.
We take off, tomorrow morning, for a two week road trip to the East Coast. NYC, Poughkeepsie(  Graduation) and Boston. Should get back around May 31 with a few good meals under our belts, both literally and figuratively.
Before we go here is what we have been up to:

After "Zula", the subject of "Garlic, Garlic, Garlic". Which incidentally has been corrected by an additional visit by Marilyn, following which she reported a very good meal of many different, non-Garlic, items, we prepared for a wedding weekend, of a long time family member.
Prior to the wedding festivities we had dinner at "Trio's" in Kenwood. The two of us split a lettuce wedge, dressing on the side, and an entree of Meatloaf with mashed potato's, braised carrot slices and crisp onion straws in total plenty for two..

The wedding festivities kicked off Thursday night with a gathering for 12 at "Sotto', which has become our main stay for downtown eating. Much wine, several antipasti and a mixture of deserts, all were worked over by the assembled guests. My dinner order was the Spaghetti in oil and garlic, with red pepper flaks, and the Salmon (MR, which is what the chef recommends). Both of my dishes were excellent. The Salmon comes on a bed of spinach and is well seasoned with a basic lemon and butter sauce. Marilyn had a green salad and the small ravioli( on the menu with a different name) stuffed with pulled beef short rib. We really like their food.

A lunch at "Mayberry", 1211 Main St (OTR) 513-381-5999, in the garden provided their signature BLT. The tomato's are grilled and the slightly spicy sauce on the toasted, chewy bread make it call for one of   their libations.
Friday evening I stayed home and nursed a mixture of allergies and virus but understand I missed a good evening at "Zula" described very briefly above.

On to the wedding, on the "Satisfaction II", a yatch for rent. The evening turned lovely, the ceremony was very relaxed, as were family members for both sides. Appetizer's( shrimp bowl, fruit and cheese platters, stuffed mushrooms and deadly, hot toasted cheese and chopped veggie bread bites) and wine followed the ceremony.  A seated dinner, on a lower deck, at which beef got nice approval, chicken less so, and a special apple wedding cake highlighted the meal. After a 3 hour cruse we dock at 9:30 and said goodbye to the "happy" couple and all the wedding guests. A brunch, this morning finished the festivities and now it is back to planning for our departure tomorrow.


Before I report on our 11 day Eastern trip, which I know is only interesting to those who travel or keep up with our activities, I must mention that the last posting is out there somewhere in cyberspace.
Since I "hunt and peck" I often hit a wrong key and once in a while my posting never make an addition to what has gone before. Maybe a "hacker" in Russia or China, if they find it, can return my previous effort.

We left Cincinnati Monday, May 20 driving, with our New York cousin, to the "Big Apple". Arrived the next day, after a night in DuBois PA (don't eat at "Luigi's") and showed up at "Union Square Cafe" for dinner. This is Danny Meyer's oldest and most Midwestern restaurant. That fits because we are "old" and Midwestern. The menu is devided into Appetizers, Pasta, Snacks (new to me), Main Courses and Vegetables. I started with a snack of Lamb Ribs and meatballs, "Tzatzki"; two, crispy, grilled ribs and two lamb meatballs, medium rare, bathed in Tzatzki sauce. For my main course I chose "Sweet Pea Raviolini", stuffed with Maine Lobster, Meyer Lemon and Pea Shoots. Marilyn went with Gravlax, as her snack, and Rainbow Trout accompanied by Beech Mushrooms, Sunchokes and Pea Shoots( they must have been plentiful at the farmers market on Union Square).
Our first full day in the city took us to an outdoor, rope, sculpture display, in Madison Park, several art galleries, displaying Jeff Koons and another with Elsworth Kelly, and an afternoon at MoMa. That evening three of us ate dinner at "Sandro's", expensive and excellent Italian. "Sandro's" has a printed menu, which the server said is for show, and an extensive group of specials. I began with the most outstanding grilled octopus and potato salad I have ever enjoyed. It might have been the best single dish I had on the whole trip. The virgin olive oil and spices set off every flavor of all the ingrediants. The Ossobuco, which was my main course, was fine but everything dimmed, that night, after the salad, maybe a bottle of Chianti effected my taste buds or clouded my mental reations. Marilyn split an artichoke salad and then devoured a large portion of "Scaloppine Limon".
Next day, before the 3 PM cloud burst, and a trip to our rooms to dry, we spent serveal hours at the Met. Musem plus a burger and shake lunch at the 86th St. "Shake Shack" and shopping on the upper East side. Dinner, again for 3, was at "Atlantic Grill" 3rd Ave and 77th St. Here, after a 3 way split of 2 "farmers salads" I had my first Soft Shelled Crabs, a dish to be repeated several times. Marilyn stuck with roast chicken but did help all of us decimate an order of Profiteroles.
Friday, after a subburban deli lunch, we headed to Poughkeepsie and our Granddaughter graduation at Vassar College.

The whole family stayed at the Marriott Courtyard, at graduation rates, and ate the first two nights at restaurants chosen by our son and the graduate. Friday night was "Babycakes" a campus area eatery which did manage to russle up some decent Soft Shelled Crabs.
Saturday we toured the campus, spent time in the Vassar Art Museum, which has a very nice collection of varrious period art, and helped Lilly, the granddaughter, pack for her departure. "Crave" 129 Washington St. was our destination, 11 strong, for dinner. I have never heard of this, nor other spots, but was pleasently surprised by this chef run establishment, in a renovated, neighborhood house. We have eaten at the CIA( Culinary Institute of America), on several occasions, but "Crave" topped anything that the aspiring chefs at the school turn out. My dinner consisted of Tuna Tartar, a wonderful Mushroom Polenta and a dessert of Canolli with fresh raspberries. Marilyn went with a pasta, this time Cavatelli with a tomato and veal sauce.
The rain stopped, the sky cleared and a wonderful graduation took place, in a natural ampitheatre, on the Vassar campus, overlooking a man made lake, Sunday morning. The event was followed by "area of interest"( English, Math, etc.) receptions, ours featured catering by a local Greek Restaurant. The afternoon was spent with roommates and family's as all graduates were getting ready to move themselves into their next life stages.
Dinner Sunday night was arranged by Lilly's other Grandfather at "Crew". A lively bar and restaurant run by two graduated from the CIA. Again I had Soft Shelled Crabs, ending my time in New York State and possible the season for this dish. Marilyn had a burger with all the trimmings.

I'll save Boston and the trip home for another posting, and hope this one makes it to the Blog page.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Garlic, Garlic, Garlic

That was our first experience at "Zula" 1400 Race St. (OTR) Cincinnati 45202 (513).744.9852. Maybe it was the items we ordered, or not being inquisitive enough, but all three dishes that Marilyn and I shared contained a volume of roasted Garlic.
We started with a salad, billed as "Haricot Vert" which turned out to not only contain thin green beans but greens, roasted sun dried tomato's, hearts of palm and roasted garlic buds as well. The salad was perfectly dressed and was really very good. Next came a mushroom Flat bread, loaded with the roasted garlic buds and various mushrooms, and finally a full portion of Mussels, Mediterranean style, I should have known. All the items were quite good but a wider selection would have helped the taste buds. The Artisan Bread is extra and a must to "mop" up the mussel sauce.
They have a nice selection of wines, by the bottle or glass, and several dessert among them the Raspberry Muffin cake, which we chose for the table. Prices are reasonable but with extras it can easily run $50 each.

"M.Wood Fire Oven" 3514 Erie Ave (East Hyde Park) 513-386-7783 in our estimation has been uneven, but Tuesday night everything we ordered came as described and was excellent. Marilyn and I split the meal. We had had drinks and nibbles at our house before we moved on to "M". As our salad course we shared an order Local Greens with the addition of tomato's and carrot strips and it came crisp, cold and tasty. The Gnocchi, with some spring vegetables, were as nice as one could desire and the Cauliflower and Brussels Sprout Gratin was a treat. It came bubbling hot with the inclusion of fresh green peas and a creamy sauce made from pureed Cauliflower. It went over big with us and especially our friends.

Last night was slightly disappointing at "Mantra on the Hill" 934 Hatch Street ( Mt. Adams) 513-621-1100.
This was not our first visit but last night everything from the service to the food seemed rather ordinary.
Again we were with friends and so everything we ordered was handled "family style". From the stuffed mushroom appetizer ( in our opinion better at the "Brew River Gastro Pub") thru a seafood medley, lamb stewed with apricots, spicy so that the flavors fought for recognition, and the yogurt with cucumber shreds, nothing shone. Possibly we had worn out our restaurant pallet on previous occasions (especially the Garlic heavy meal). I'm sure we'll try "Manta" again but I doubt that we will put it on our "must" list.
Richard Brown, the Cincinnati restaurant fixture, is no longer there and while I doubt that his absence effects the food preparation I'm am sure that our server could have used his guiding presence.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Wait is Over

I usually don't post my report after a first visit, to a new or reopened place, but because of all the calls, from family members and friends, I feel that I should tell about our Wednesday night visit to "Walt's Hitching Post" 3300 Madison Pike, Ft. Mitchell, KY (859) 331-0494. The restaurant has been open for less than 2 weeks and there are still "kinks" to work out, but overall they are on their way. Some things are different and some are quite familiar.

On arriving the first noticeable change is a relined front parking area with Valet Parking, at $3. There is still free parking on the side and in the back. The fire pit is still operating, at the end of the parking area, and the flames are visible whether meat is being prepared or not.
A new front door and slightly more formal entree ushers one into a place that has lost some of the "down home road house" feel but is slightly more decorated and sophisticated in looks and atmosphere. The tables are new and the padded chairs fit in with the overall red and black color scheme.
Wednesday, reservations were still a must and "carry-out" had not begun to function.
The serving staff are younger, slimmer and dressed in black with silver buttons on their collars with a script "W". They are uniformly pleasant and hospitable.
There was a slight wait at the front desk and another before our server, Travis, appeared. We had an early seating, 5:30, so as to be feed and on our way by 7 P.M.
The menu is large and several items have been added.( I did not study it, completely, but will the next time) We ordered promptly and our salad, with the same "tomato garlic dressing" came shortly after the buttered and grilled salt rye bread, another hold over.
All of our party ordered "Ribs-Half Rack" which included the salad and a baked or mashed potato. With mine I added chicken livers which increased the price from $14 to $17 for the combo.
David Wilson ("Sanchez) stopped by our table, early in the evening, and when I asked him to add a Fried Green Tomato to my order, at an up charge, he insisted that we all try one, compliments of him. (The chef also made an appearance just adding to the welcoming atmosphere.)
I wanted to try this item( FGT) to compair with others in the area. ( I must admit that I am still partial to "Otto's)
"Sanchez" advised that the ribs are not the same cut that was served previously. The are meatier and thus have more flesh per unit and some more marbleing. One is well aware that the amount of meat has been increased per rib. A Half Rack was quite filling. They are not "dry rubbed" and need the sauce( same as the original), served on the side, to resemble the taste that I had learned to savor.
The food was all prepared well and certainly calls for another visit.
Nothing was really negative, although the timing of the dinners from the kitchen, came much to quickly after the salad had arrived. (We could be partially responsible as we had stressed a time limit) The other slight annoyance was the fact that our server had tables in various different locations of the building and that made some of the wait, for coffee and the checks lenghtly.
As I said the restaurant is in a "shake down" and just like a vessel there are a few things that need to be tweaked.

Besides "Walt's" the week also saw us with friends at "Maggiano's" in Kenwood Plaza for a dinner of mixed salad, Veal Piccata and Angle Hair, all worth the very reasonable price.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

60 to 8

No, this is not a rundown on our extended family nor a list of high and low temperature that have set records but it is two evening meals, in succession, and the prices paid.

Thursday night we joined a group of Artichoke lovers at a price fixed dinner ($60) at "Nectar Restaurant" 1000 Delta Ave (513) 929-0525. Julie Francis, the owner and excellent chef, offers, once a month, a 5 course dinner build around one product. That night it was the Artichoke.
The meal started with Cream of Artichoke Soup with Lump Crab and local Radish Sprouts. The soup base was pureed baby Artichoke hearts, creamy consistency while the lump crab lived up to it's name.  For my taste the soup needed a little more "Oomph" which I accomplished by adding an amount of freshly ground pepper.
Next came Shaved Raw Artichoke Salad with Poached Shrimp, Carrot, Mint, Edamame and Pecorino. The raw heart had been shaved thin and then marinated in a lemon marinade before it was mixed with the other ingredients. The whole affair was doused with a bit more of the dressing and the Pecorino was a nice compliment to the other fairly bland ingredients. As one can tell I'm more into spice that bland.
Jewish Style Friend Artichokes ( an extremely popular rendition in Rome) with Cracked Black Pepper and Coriander Brown Butter was for me the hit of the evening. The half of  Artichoke heart with the stubs of a few leaves had been fried perfectly so the the vegetable was crisp on the outside and yet retained firmness and moisture in the center. The Artichoke was placed on a romaine leaf with just a touch of Caesar dressing.
The main course was Marksbury Farm Beef Skirt Steak with Artichoke Potato Hash and Chimichurri. The steak had just enough fat to enhance the flavor and the hash, in fairly large pieces, was a nice accompaniment but was outshone by the flavor of the meat.
For dessert Julie and her pastry chef offered Candied Artichokes in Puff Pastry with local honey cider Gastrique (sauce) and Honey Custard. The Artichoke failed to add to the light pastry and custard with the drizzled honey sauce.
All in all it was a nobel effort, which was well received, by all, to feature a vegetable with it's own unique flavor and constancy.
The next "Dinner Club", as Julie calls the meals, will be build around Asparagus.

The next night, in an entirely different vain, we ventured to "Wunderbar" 1132 Lee St. Covington KY (859) 815-8027 where at striped picnic tables we were served home made sausages, 2 for $8 dollars including a "side", for me Brussels Sprouts, and a warm roll. Marilyn had a beautiful Ruben and very good potato salad.
My sausages were an Apple spice and a Wassbi ginger, the latter having the right amount of heat.
The night before the beverage had been an Austrian White Wine but the beverage of choice at "Wunderbar" was a hoppy dark beer. At the bar there was also much more ganter with the folks around . A shift of locales and food is probably what keeps us "eating out".

As an after thought, in this posting, we did drop by "Season 52", Rookwood for a shared "spring salad" after a show. The server recommended the Stuffed Mushrooms and we were glad she did. They come in a hot dish, usually used for snails, and are button mushrooms stuffed with spinach and cheese and then covered with panko bread crumbs and light butter sauce before being heated till bubbly, under the broiler. It could be a main as well as a side., and is highly recommended.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Happy Returns

We eat out quite a bit, but as everyone else, we have our favorites and they are often as much for the feeling of belonging as for the food we are served. This is undoubtedly true for almost everyone. Whether it is the neighborhood "Cheers", "Tucker's Cafe" or "Jeff Ruby's" we all tend to go to "where everyone knows your name". It's one of the great pleasures of eating out. Since the last posting here are our spots:

"Otto's" 521 Main St. Covington, KY (859) 491-6678. Lauren met us at the door with a smile and a hug.
The table we occupy is in the back and we are often greeted by the chef, this night it was Molly Costello, bright, attractive and exceptionally competent. The pasta special, which Marilyn and our companion ordered was a Penne with asparagus, mushrooms, artichokes, sun dried tomato's and shrimp, in a very light cream parmesan sauce. They both gave it "thumbs up" for flavor and attractiveness.
I went with the newly revised pork tenderloin which has been upgraded by additional marinating and the addition of a very flavorful slaw topping doused with a Dijon vinaigrette. The meat rests on a perfectly prepared sweet potato hash. I was ecstatic.
Wednesday night was 1/2 price wine night and of course, we had to take advantage of that with a starter of the best fried green tomato's in our area, and maybe anywhere.
We ended by ordering one helping of apricot bread pudding which topped off our delicious meal.

"Oriental Wok" Hyde Park in the Regency (513) 871-6888. Greeting from all the staff and meal selection left in the hands of Guy Burgess, chef.
On Friday he started our meal with shrimp poppers ( ground shrimp mixed with spices and bread crumbs) flash fried. Along with this came numerous slices of pork belly ( a trendy menu item )  roasted and served on Hosin sauce. Our three main courses where: crispy chicken, chopped chicken pieces, bone in, which in my opinion adds to flavor, roasted to perfection, crisp on the outside; juicy on the inside, BBQ pork tenderloin on Chinese water spinach, the flavors complimented each other, and a combination fried rice( loaded with ingredients) which gave a wonderful base for the two other dishes, especially the pork and spinach which had it's own distinctive sauce.
Dessert was Mango gelatin, surrounded with fresh sliced strawberry's and fresh whipped cream drizzled with raspberry sauce. Lucky there were four of us to share everything. Guy even suggested the beer accompaniment, which complimented the food.

Two other spots, without special greetings but yet hospitable were; "Montgomery Inn - Montgomery, 9440 Montgomery Road  (513) 791-3482. Marilyn and I have learned the secret, for us; split a wedge salad and a chopped steak dinner, which is accompanied by onion straws and Saratoga Chips. Plenty of tasty food and a meal rivaling the works at "Skyline" in price.
"Brew River Gastro Pub" 2062 Riverside Dr. (513) 861-2484. We stopped there twice in the past week, to be with friends, and had Gumbo, BLT, East End Salad, Stuffed Mushrooms (an outstanding appetizer) and a more than adequate burger and fresh cut fries, with house made ketchup.

Friday, April 12, 2013


Cincinnati has another star in the downtown restaurant firmament.
"Sotto Restaurant" opened 2 weeks ago in the space occupied by "La Normandie" at 116 E.6th St.. Phone (513) 977-6886. We went last night, with another couple and had a wonderful evening.
The ambiance remains one of scrubbed wooden tables, brick, cement and wood walls and subdued lighting. The noise level is a bit high in the main dining area ( out came the hearing aids) but is considerably reduced as one sits further from the bar and open kitchen. Our table was excellent and enjoy by our ourselves and our young, but over 50 companions. Reservations, in my opinion, are a necessity and there is also an elevator to assits those who choose not, or can't, navigate the steps from street level.

I did not "cop" a menu, but from memory, the four sections seemed to be Bruschetta's, Antipasto and Salads, Pasta's and Main Courses. Without total recall here is what the four of us ate, shared and tasted:
Mozzarella, doused in olive oil, with slivers of fried onions and served with grilled Italian bread.
Arugiua Salad with oil and balsamic vinegar
Baby Kale Caesar Salad, croutons and strips of Parmesan
Polenta topped with a fried egg - smooth, creamy and outstanding
Spaghetti with olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes - spicy but truly basic Italian
Linguine Carbonara - house made bacon and a rich preparation
Small Ravioli ( different name on the menu) stuffed with braised short ribs
Penne in a spicy tomato based sauce
(All Pasta dishes are a manageable size, served hot, and of course, as a separate course).
And a wonderful piece of grilled Cod, not an easy fish to cook, and served flaky and moist.
For dessert we split an order of Ricotta Doughnuts with three sauces, Pistachio, Berry and light Carmel (yum)
We also managed to finish 2 bottles of red win, one a Volpolicella and the other a "super Tuscan"

The service was most satisfatory and the "Hospitality", which goes beyond service, was obvious from all of the staff; from the owner to the floor Managers, servers and food runners. In summary a blissful, most satisfying evening.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Louisville KY

We went to Louisville over last weekend, not to bar hop and watch the final four, although that was what a lot of Louisvillians were doing, but rather to attend the Humana Festival at "The Actors Theatre". We had a package deal that covered 5 plays in 3 days plus a reception, with food, and a gala ( which we missed, Michigan was in the late night game).
The theatre was uniformly well staged, well acted and thought provoking. There were mixed reactions among our group to the new American plays, which we saw and then discussed.

To me the outstanding dinner was at "Milkwood" 316 W. Main St., in the basement of the Actors Theatre. Reservation highly recommended The chef, David Lee, is defiantly one of the cities top food personality, with a national reputation. His food lived up to the billing.
I started with a Sweetbread Salad, mixed greens, perfectly marinated and chopped, mixed with blue cheese, country ham slivers, sweet red pepper bits and all topped with crisp Sweetbread nuggets, delicious.
Marilyn had a share of a Romaine salad which she pronounced great.
Our main course was Peking Duck, served on a garnished platter with the breast sliced and the leg meat shredded and chopped and mixed in a light duck sauce. Scallion Pancakes, light and warm were provided as well as Hoisin sauce and shredded scallions. A perfect dish meant to serve at least 2 ($38). We stretched it to serve 3 with no trouble.

David Lee recommeded "Hillbilly Tea" for breakfast or Brunch the next day. The extended tea room, actually a restaurant specializing in tea, is on 1st Avenue just a block away from the downtown Marriott Courtyard, where we stayed with a special Festival rate.
The tea at "Hillbilly Tea" is served piping hot meant to steep and be poured thru a strainer. The menu is definitely "down South". Marilyn had poached eggs on biscuits covered with Mushroom Gravy while I had deep fried chicken livers and a plate of grilled catfish. A fun, good recommendation from the Chef.

Besides the two memorable places we chowed down at "O'Shay"s", an expanded bar, before the Saturday night show. Marilyn had a "Hot Brown"(sliced turkey, tomato's, bacon, covered with a cheese sauce) made famous by the Brown Hotel. while I shared "fish and chips'. The fish was crisp and hot, the chips ordinary, 50% "ain't bad". Buffet breakfast, Sunday morning, at "Milkwood", plentiful but not outstanding.
A salad Sunday at 2 at the "Old Spaghetti Factory" 235 W.Market St. again Marilyn and I split. Typical chain.

Good weekend and next time, and there will be a next time, we may survey more of the dining scene in Louisville.

Sunday, March 31, 2013


Marilyn and I spend one or two days a month volunteering at the Cincinnati Visitor Center on Fountain Square. It is a good connection with the city and a good way to meet people who come to our area.
Yesterday, our first couple were "roamers". They sold their house in California in 1999 and moved to Texas. After a short spell there they bought a truck and have been on the move, ever since. They will be spending about 4 days in the Cincinnati area.
Next came a young women from Singapore. A speech therapist who is visiting hospitals in this country. She is spending 2 weeks at the Children's Hospital Medical Center. Next a lady from Ludlow KY, and so on.

After our 3 hours "on duty" we closed the Center and met some friends at "Abigail St." our favorite OTR destination. If you don't already know, "Abigail St" is at 1214 Vine St. "Over the Rhine" (513) 421-4040, and is owned and run by Daniel Wright and his wife Lana, the same duo that own "Senate", next door. Dan and his chef buddy Salazar, were both on the floor last evening( I'm name dropping).
I chose poorly. I started with an excellent Bouillabaisse and followed with a very good Paella. The reason that I say I chose poorly is they are both a mixture of fresh shellfish either in a creamy, tasteful broth, or on a bed of Risotto, seasoned rice.
Both were great dishes but a mixture of tastes might be a better choice. Not that having both was not enjoyable. Acompaning I had a Belgium Raspberry Beer, Framboise, a first for me.
Marilyn had the always excellent Gnocchi, with asparagus and mushrooms and a delicious Lamb Tangine, full of flavor and served on a bed of Cous-Cous, seasons with herbs and golden raisins.

Earlier in the week, with a young(47) friend we went "bar hoping", at least our version.
We started at "Unwind" on Michigan Ave. in Hyde Park. Our idea of what a wine bar should be, comfortable, welcoming and a nicely mixed clientele. Tables, easy chairs, couches and a bar and fireplace make up the decor. We had a glass of wine and a wonderful pesto and artichoke flat bread baked to perfection. Moving on we stopped at the "Brew River-Gastro Pub" on Riverside drive. Here our drink selection shifted from wine to beer, each of the drinkers choosing one from their offering of 18.
So as not to starve we split and order of stuffed white mushrooms, half a tennis ball size, and stuffed with pesto and bread crumbs, then oven fried and served on a platter layered with mushroom sauce.. To please ourselves, and the table next door we ending with a house made "pig in a blanket". Special mild sausage wrapped in a corn bread dough and sitting on house made "German" mustard. It was a somewhat new experience and we are rethinking our "old folks" attitude to an evening out.

Other sports since last posting have been "Oriental Wok" Hyde Park where Guy Burgess and Susannah Wong run our hospitable, tasty, Chinese haven. "The Quarter Bistro" 6904 Wooster Pike, Mariemont, nice, handy but a tad on the expensive side, especially the "specials". And lastly "Grand Finale" 3 East Sharon Road, Glendale, with things just the opposite, on the Wednesday night we were there. Food good, reasonable, and a long drive from our river view home. Only regret were the extra pounds, the next day, after Marilyn and I split an order of crepes, stuffed with ice cream and covered with a warm Apricot sauce.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Second Course

The "Free Store-Food Bank" has a program running 10 weeks that teaches people good working habits and the basics needed for employment in the food service industry. After those 10 weeks some of the graduates are eligible for the "Second Course" that helps them improve their skills and move more quickly into a functioning kitchen. I have been visiting with these students, once a week, and expounding some of my service philosophy from the "Let's Eat Out" class and , of course, Danny Meyer.

In that same mode we have taken a second try, or more, at some of the area restaurants.
Monday night it was back for a 2nd time to "KaZe", 1400 Vine St, "Over the Rhine" 513-898-7991. This time we were much more satisfied than on our first visit. In all fairness, we had gone shortly after the opening and neither we, not the staff were "at ease". This time we had an idea what we were "getting into" and the staff is well briefed and knowledgeable. "KaZe" is basicly Japanese with Sushi and many dishes with a strong Japanese twist. There are several items for the less adventurous and "area bound".
Marilyn and I divided an order of Pork Buns( pork belly, apple, turnip, scallion and sauce on a soft steamed bun) and an order of Niku Sliders( beef short rib, marinated cucumbers and Korean BBQ sauce on Sesame Buns). Each order contains two. I went with a "Dragon Slayer" Sushi role,( spiced tuna topped with grilled eel) and raw Oysters Narhi while Marilyn chose nicely roasted chicken with a light Teriaki glaze on a bed of asparagus and stir fried mushrooms. All the dishes were well prepared and quite tasty.

Other establishment we have repeated have been "Wild Ginger" 3655 Edwards Road, Hyde Park, 513-533-9500. Where I stuck with the King of the Ocean Roll, Sushi role including soft shelled crab, while Marilyn was more adventurous ordering Pad Thai topped with Walleye, a combination I had never seen offered. Kirin Ichiban washed down both.
"Seasons 52" 3819 Edwards Road, Norwood. We split a Caesar salad( enough for 4) and I tried Shrimp with Pene Pasta and spinach and Marilyn stuck to a Portobello Flat bread. We find "Seasons 52" an interesting chain addition to the local dining scene but not a place demanding constant patronage.
Another swing at "M. Wood Fire Oven" 3514 Erie Ave (513) 386-7783 with a chef friend found our table and bodies loaded down with excessive food. Here are some of the items we sampled: Cured Meats, House Olives, Sweet Potato Brandade( oven fried mashed potato sticks and seasoning) Roast Chicken, Short Rib Lasagne, Cauliflower, Chocolate Raspberry Cake, Smore Cookies and more. You get the picture. Some went back to the kitchen and some went home with all 4.
Lastly another swing by "Phoenician Taverna" 7944 S.Mason Montgomery Rd. Mason, OH (513-770-0027. Our favorite Lebanese with wonderful food and service. Since we leave the dishes in the capable hands of the owner I am not going to try to describe, but if you have never been, the Lamb shank is a must.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

This and that

We have just returned for the Wine Festival auction and luncheon at the Netherlands. The auction raised a tremendous amount of monies, for the charities they support, and the lunch, executed by Todd Kelly was up to the #1 Restaurant's usual standards.
Three courses, beautifully presented, all with matching wines (my head has a slight buzz as I type). Todd served: Kataifi-Wrapped Shrimp on a bed of Eggplant Puree, Roasted Red Peppers and Chevre balls rolled in Pistachios.This was followed with Duck Breast, rare, with Ginger Scented Carrots bathed in Maderia Sauce. Finally a Chesse Course of Valseon with Port Wine Fig Puree and Bucheron with Almond Brittle. A light mid-day repast.

We have been home often, but also out a fair amount. Dinners have all been at usual spots. "Enicota Emilia", "Pelican's Reef", "Gordo's" (I think we're done with this Norwood bar and burger joint, as we like others much better for this combination) "Nectar" (Always novel, interesting and pleasing to my taste. The other night I had wonderful short rib Taco's and a shrimp dish, with a tomato sauce laced with chocolate, and accompanied by a quinoa cabbage slaw. Now that is my kind of adventurous eating.)

Thursday night we took and eclectic group ( Priest, Trainer, Volunteer) to, in our opinion, the best Lebanese Restaurant in the area. Another rave for "The Phoenician Taverna" on Mason-Montomery Road near the large P&G office complex. Our route always takes us to "Costco", to stock our ladder, before or after our meal. We all shared "maza", hot and cold appetizer's ( a favorite is the Kibbi with eggplant salad and yogurt sauce) and then tackled the outstanding lamb shanks in a light tomato sauce along with a chicken dish and a stuffed meat pie entree and Mediterranean salad.

So here in a very brief version is where we have been and what we have done. Nothing really new but almost all most satisfying.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Asian, 3 way or 4 way

After a full week of "at home" dining we broke out with an active week of dinners and lunches, a number of which were either at Asian restaurants or had an Asian touch.

Last Saturday, with another couple, we went to a very crowed "China Gourmet", Erie Ave. in East Hyde Park. The owner and manager Tinley Moy was in China with his wife and new baby. The whole operation showed his absence. The staff was stretched and therefore the service and food was not up to their usual standard. I ordered "Mediterranean Sea Bass" which turned out to be Bronzini. Instead of the pan seared, as offered, it came extremely well fried. The table shared two side orders of vegetables, a mixture of bean sprouts and scallions and another plate of Szechwan Green Beans. Both dishes were only luke warm but the tender beans were well prepared, if under seasoned, in my opinion. Others had Walleye and one order of Shrimp Kung Po. The meal was acceptable but not outstanding and as the crowd thinned the service improved.

Sunday it was back to "Seasons 52" the new eatery in the Rookwood Exchange, next to the still unfinished Marriott. It is currently being mobbed, as the "new kid on the block" We had a booth in the bar which turned out to have live music, a distraction for us elderly. The food, as before is good and ample and my Curried Grouper" had a definite Asian taste. To keep to their promise of 475 calories, maximum, in each dish most items are served either fairly bare or on beds of vegetables, this was the case with the fish. The dish turned out to be very satisfactory. Marilyn had a fillet, cooked perfectly. Both the meat and the mashed potato's on which it sat, she reported were flavorful. I indulged in several glasses of wine which increased the calorie count and the bill total.

Monday night we joined another couple at "Sweet Basil" in the strip center just off Buttermilk Pike, in Northern KY. "Sweet Basil" web site give direction using the "Outback Steak House" sign as a landmark. If you go to the website your will see that the menu is extensive and quite reasonable in price. Being a store front restaurant don't go for ambiance but rather for value. My "Hawaiian Sushi Roll", yes they do have a sushi bar, was tasty but I couldn't get away from the cream cheese used to meld the ingredient. The other three had Pad Thai, not an adventurous trio.
The other Asian was "Suzie Wong" at DeSalles Corner( Madison and Woodburn). There at lunch today I had a large serving of chicken and Szechwan green beans, these season with red pepper flakes. A good helping of brown rice helped "sop up" the additional sauce. It was more than enough and quite reasonable at $5.95.

I shouldn't leave without mentioning the fried smelts at "The Anchor" 1401 Race St. an unusual item on a Cincinnati menu as well as a hugh meal at "Bonefish Grill" Madison and Edwards Road last night which finished a full week back in the swing. Last nights meal started with the standard Bombay and a table order of Bang Bang Shrimp( a "come on" special on Wednesday nights) followed by Imperial (stuffed) Wolf Fish and ended with their outstanding warm Brownie accompanied by a ball of Vanilla Ice Cream.
Time to head home for small meals and a weight reduction program.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Italian at home and out

I usually don't write up private parties but since a "Party of Note" (PON), to support the Symphony (CSO), is open to everyone I'll report on a PON which we held last night, at our home. Joining us as co-host was Pat Gaito, an excellent Italian cook, and so the meal, as you will see, was built on that premise. Pat prepared al the food, except dessert, while Marilyn and I provided back up support preparing everything from tables and chairs to plates, bowels and silverware. On each table we placed an array of wine, Gavi (white), Chianti Classico and Nebbiola. We had decided to do individual servings of all food, plated, but family style wine.
Pats' first course was an Antipasto; of bib lettuce covered with roasted red peppers( drizzled with olive oil), squares of Parmesan Reggiano, triangles of Gorgonzola and an olive salad made from marinated black olives and grain infused with herbs and spices. Then on to Pat's specialty; an eggplant Napoleon( two slices of eggplant, covered with Pancho Bread crumbs and baked until the inside was soft but the outside crisp. The middle layer, like an Oreo, was white Ricotta whipped and mixed with Parmesan, herbs and black pepper. This whole item, when assembled, is put back in the over and when golden brown topped with home made tomato sauce ( outstanding)
 The Main course was Braciola, cooked in tomato sauce, Torcetti ( twisted pasta pieces), and encased Italian sausage, again brazed in the tomato sauce. All is served hot with some of the sauce ladled on to the pasta. Each table had their own bowl of grated cheese and a separate bowl of red pepper flakes, for those who like things hot. For dessert we had gone to "Skirtz and Johnston", at Finley Market, for delicious Cannoli and tasty stuffed, miniature Macaroons.
 If you missed this dinner try to get on board a PON in the future.

Tuesday night we went, with a friend to "Abigail Street",  Vine St.( next to the "Senate", OTR) The 3 of us split 4 "small plates"; a rough ground country pate, outstanding Gnocchi sauteed with asparagus tips, sliced mushrooms and onions in a light butter sauce, lightly dressed red and golden beets with nut pieces and several lamb sliders( ground seasoned lamb on small individual buns). "Abigail Street is our favorite in the new Gateway district.

The the next night, with a group of 6, we had our first meal at "Seasons 52" 3819 Edwards Road, Norwood, OH 45209, next to the Marriott, being built in Rookwood Exchange. "Seasons 52" is part of a large chain, I believe, originating in Florida. All items, on the menu, are advertised as have 475 calories, or less. After my "Bombay"( 250 calories) I ordered a Mediterranean Flatbread, for the table. Extremely thin crisp base with cheese,, herbs, tomato and gyro meat as a covering.
My main course was a Tuna Crunch Salad, extremely large portion, made with chopped Romaine, slivered almonds and seared tuna pieces( rare). It was very good but I had to struggle to finish. Marilyn had a Field Green side salad, which she shared with others, who were enthusiastic, and Grilled Trout, again a very full portion.
The restaurant opened just last week and there were a few serving details still to be worked out, but the food was good, plentiful, and we will return.

Monday, February 4, 2013


What do you do when visitors come to town? Our son and his wife from Mendocino came for a weekend to see us, visit his sister and see what Cincinnati had to offer on one of the coldest weekends of the winter. Since this Blog is about "Eating Out" that what I'll review; you can go elsewhere to see what the Art Museum, Dead Sea Scrolls and the Cincinnati Symphony have to offer.

The first night 6 of us were off to "Nectar Restaurant" 1000 Delta Ave. 45208. I have written many times about Julie Francis and her wonderful touch with flavors and local grown items. It's always a pleasure to taste what she prepares. That evening the emphasis was on Lamb, which three of the party had for their main course. It was slices from the roasted lamb shoulder and served with a natural juice, slightly flavored, on a bed of polenta and leaf spinach. Another, of our group, chose the sweet potato filled Gnocchi in a vegetable reduction with Italian spices. Marilyn satisfied herself with pan fried chicken thighs( mashed potato's plus greens) while I had two starters; Shrimp Kim Chi Pancake and a house made Tamale stuffed with Feta and Black Beans and covered with a slightly spicy tomato salsa. I forgot to mention that Julie sent a plate of deep fried cheese risotto balls to go along with our opening drinks.
Dessert was a chocolate pound cake accompanied by Coffee Gelato. Welcome to Mount Lookout Square.

The next day featured Breakfast at home( scrambled eggs and onions, bacon, Shadeau bread Pecan rolls), lunch at Costco( 20 or more samples being offered) where we purchased our Super Bowl dinner, Chicken Pot Pie, and tasted most of the offerings, concentration on Pizza.
Saturday night before the CSO the 6 of us had an early dinner at "Enoteca Emilia" 2038 Madison Road 45208 (eating out in the area) 513-834-5773. The Chef has changed and I found the food more to my liking, as the salt has been modified in most dishes. The six of us had 12 dishes sampling everything from Salads( Caesar), Ferro and Beets and stuffed figs to Ricotta Fritters, for dessert. I had the sole special which I found on the bland side, but that was the direction I pointed myself in for the evening( without much success), and Roasted Cauliflower, which circled the table several times. There were three pasta dishes, Garganelli( with Mushrooms), Black Pepper Noodles with Bolognese and Eggplant Stuffed Ravioli. Proteins were chicken, shrimp and Calamari. Much tasting and enjoyment.

Before the "big game" it was brunch( noon) at "Otto's"521 Main St. Covington, KY 859-491-6678. This time we were seven( our son-in-laws Mother joined) but managed to order 8 main courses. Our Mendocino offspring always thinks he is about to go food less. I'll have his second entree for breakfast tomorrow.
Among the dishes were several "Benedict Otto's", poached egg on smoked salmon laying on a grits cake and covered with Hollandaise, Chicken Salad, Carnitas( pulled, roast pork) Fried green Tomato's( you know how I feel) their breakfast Casserole( eggs, sausage, potato's and cheese) baked with a golden crust. Coffee, conversation and a visit from the kitchen staff completed our "pregame show".

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A hit

Last night 3 of us went to the new( opened Dec 7) wine bar and light fare "Unwind", 3435 Michigan Ave Cincinnati 45208 ( just around the corner and up the block from the Fire House on Hyde Park Square) phone 321-9463. It was terrific.
The place, which formerly housed a garage, has been transformed into a very welcoming wine bar and lounge. Tables and comfortable chairs are mixed with sofas and easy chairs. A large fireplace, (with flame) and a bar with extensive selections dominate the main room. It is a more home like treatment than I have seen elsewhere. We settled for a table as we intended to sample several  of the "small plates".
Our friend, a wine merchant, started with a 6 oz pour of Syrah, wine is offered in either a 3 oz pour, a 6 oz or by the bottle. There are also soft drinks and a limited selection of "spirits", I began with a Gruner Vetliner( 3 oz) while Marilyn had a diet Coke. Later in the evening our friend switched to Malbec and I to Barberra.
Our food selections were an order each of the flat bread presentations, Margharita and Pesto, both were excellent. Cooked perfectly with a very thin crust and toppings well flavored. We also enjoyed a presentation of Camembert( medium soft) served with thick, poached pear slices, and an Arugula Salad with Pistachio's and Blueberries. A beautiful presentation and quite pleasing. The Parmesan/ Artichoke dip came steaming hot, as it should, accompanied with French bread toast. To my taste it was on the salty side( I try to restrict salt intake, mostly unsuccessfully) but quite enjoyable. Lastly we had an order of Roasted Red Pepper Humus served with warmed Pita triangles.
The evening was pleasant, relaxing and calls for a return visit.

So what else have we done, since last posting. Friday night it was off to "downtown" and "Jean Robert's Table" 713 Vine Street (513) 621-4777. Full but not overflowing. We probably should go more than we do as the food is uniformly interesting and well prepared while the atmosphere remains an informal, up scale Bistro. Greeted by Lu we were seated promptly and served well, even though we arrived just after a group of 45 had been seated. I almost always start with a "Bombay on the rocks" and that evening was no exception. My "Shrimp Salad" turned out to be mostly marinated red cabbage and other vegetables, shredded, and topped with a sliced Shrimp and dressing. Not what I expected but very good. My main course was Salmon( medium rare, done but juicy) topping a mixturee of Brussels Sprouts, Mushrooms layered with a cheese and breadcrumb dressing. Beurre Blanc Sauce topped the whole. The fish, done perfectly, and the base made a wonderful combination. The other man and I split a bottle of Gruner Vetliner, I'm in a narrow white wine channel, at the moment. The table split a Sticky Pudding dessert to end an eventful evening.

One additional note: We went to a retirement party last week at "deSha's" 11320 Montgomery Rd. Cincinnati 45249 (513) 247-9930. I was pleasantly surprised with the menu and the service. Marilyn and I split the lettuce Wedge, a generous portion for each. I followed with Shrimp and Cheese Grits, plenty of shrimp and likewise cheese in the grits. Marilyn had Buttermilk fried chicken which she reported was very satisfactory. It's a long drive but for a neighborhood place, part of a group of management owned restaurants and I'm happy to report they are doing a very nice job.