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.