Places like the Edgecliff Room fascinate me. Cincinnati doesn’t have many of these animals — restaurants attached to a living space. These places seem like they would be most successful in densely populated urban areas like Chicago or New York, but J’s Seafood did have a long, successful run on the first floor of the condos in the Regency Building in Hyde Park. Napa Grill took its place when J’s closed, but it wasn't as successful.
The Edgecliff Room is the latest, taking on semi-private urban dining. It recently opened in the space that once housed the Coach and Four located on the fifth floor of the Edgecliff Private Residences (aka condos), which, according to the Web site, start at $214,500. Completely out of my league, but if I could shell out that kind of cash you better believe I’d petition for an in-house restaurant! I always assume these places are like upscale retirement homes.
To be honest they creep me out just a little, so when we arrived the number of older patrons didn’t surprise me. It was quickly obvious, however, that Residences are either attracting the younger clientele their Web site indicates they are targeting or word is out on the street that the room is worth figuring out how to find in its not-so-obvious location. Or maybe the restaurant is experiencing the best of both worlds.
Martin Wade and his wife and business partner Marilyn, who might be best known for their business partnership with Jean-Robert de Cavel, purchased the Coach and Four, sunk a fist full of cash into renovation and changed it back to its original name. Renovation or not, one of the coolest things about the space is still the outdoor patio, which has one of the best views I’ve seen in a while.
Unlike some of the other dining views on the east side of town, you can actually sit outside and enjoy it. Unfortunately, we went on a very windy day and didn’t get to dine outside. Next time I hope to dine al fresco because while the inside is pleasant, there was nothing that stood out as particularly interesting in terms of visuals or the use of space.
It was a bright, comfortable room with a nice-sized bar area and there’s a private room that would be good for special occasion parties, but it just didn’t “wow” me. Maybe I’d feel differently if I hadn’t read just how much money was spent on renovating.
We started our dinner off on the wrong foot with our server, whom we saw hovering in a doorway much too long for our taste. Later we realized the real reason for the delay: The Edgecliff’s service is highly orchestrated. The bus person hadn't yet brought our water, and that was the cue the server was waiting for.
Once he did get to us I was impressed with his honesty, grace and good manners. One of my favorite parts of the evening occurred when my husband and our friend were engrossed in a musical conversation and the server quietly leaned in to ask me if I wanted another glass of wine. It was handled so elegantly.
I was impressed with the breadth of the menu as well. The appetizers, salads, soups and sides filled one entire page, and along with entrees the Edgecliff offers sandwiches and burgers for dinner. This seems like a good strategy when you have the potential for a 24-hour captive audience.
We started with the Gulf Shrimp Bloody Mary Cocktail ($10), Crab Cakes ($13) and Hummus with olives and pita ($6). While my husband said the shrimp were a bit overcooked, the avocado and bloody Mary base was an excellent way to serve a traditional shrimp cocktail. The hummus was chunky and very garlicky and lemony. Our friend liberally doused her fresh, meaty crab cakes in lemon juice from the lemon slices she requested. She confided in the server that they were absolutely the best crab cakes she had ever eaten.
For dinner we tried the N.Y. Strip Steak ($22), which had just changed from a 7-ounce portion to a 10-ounce and was served with a choice of potato and a vegetable asparagus on this night. We also had the Mustard Crusted Pork Chop ($23) served with potato hash, rosemary and vermouth glaze and vegetables and a Ham and Gruyere sandwich ($9.50). In an era when many restaurants are putting vegetables and starches in an a la carte category that costs extra, I was pleased that the Edgecliff saw them as an integral part of the meal. My husband’s steak was cooked perfectly, and the restaurant had no qualms abut honoring his “no dairy” request.
The Southern-influenced pork chop was huge and awash in an excellent, sinus-opening mustard flavor. The ham and Gruyere sandwich came with a whole roasted roma tomato sliced in half and maple mustard and was served on thick slices of buttery grilled bread. The tangy cheese and smoky ham hit just the right spot.
Dessert options include Madisono’s gelato, a local product I’m always glad to see on a menu, and something called “JP’s selections.” When queried, our server told us that these desserts come from the Jean- Robert Group commissary. The restaurant also makes some desserts inhouse, including pot du creme and creme caramel.
We tried one of JP’s selections: a blueberry almond tart ($7). In my mind you can never go wrong serving an almond-flavored dessert, and the Edgecliff did not disappoint.
It seems like a bit of a risky venture to open a restaurant in a hard-to-find spot, even if you do have a built-in audience. Still, I think with its good food, gracious service and chance to live it up on the patio the Edgecliff Room is worth the extra effort it might take to find.
THE EDGECLIFF ROOM
Go: 2200 Victory Pkwy., East Walnut Hills
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m.-3 p.m. brunch and 4-10 p.m. dinner Sunday
Entree Prices: $8-$23
Payment: All major credit cards
Red Meat Alternatives: Salads, chicken, seafood
Accessibility: Fully accessible