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.