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".