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.