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.