Hugoâ€™s tiny, savory corn fritters ($9) are the perfect first course for our Taste of Oakley. Hugoâ€™s slant on Southern cuisine is sophisticated but totally approachable, and the bar area offers a comfortable spot to share a starter without committing to three courses. The bartender suggested an Austrian white for its versatility, and it was a perfect accompaniment to four of these two-bite-sized gems, dusted with superfine cornmeal. Theyâ€™re warm to the touch but not too hot to split in half and spread with just a tiny bit of sweet, buttery marscapone cheese, which melts immediately, and a kiss of sweet chili jam.
A dash across Madison Road to our main course at Boca â€” arguably the hottest restaurant in town right now â€” where the cuisine merits its kudos and the staff and surroundings are top notch. For memorable flavor, go for the Mediterranean Branzino ($33).
Boca marinates this European sea bass in olive oil, pepper and spices and grills it so the skin is crisp and the flesh melts in your mouth. Itâ€™s served simply, with a salad of fresh arugula that echoes the pepper tones in every crisp bite.
Thatâ€™s enough cutting-edge cuisine, though. Time for a classic dessert, and nothing is more classic than a chocolate soda with chocolate ice cream ($3.25) at Aglamesis. A sodaâ€™s not too heavy after a meal and is especially nice for calming any after-burn from the chilis and pepper. Aglamesisâ€™ soda fountain hasnâ€™t changed in my lifetime, and watching them scoop a tablespoon of whipped cream into the glass before adding the final shot of soda and stirring the whole frosty concoction with a long-handled spoon is still a thrill. Totally authentic.
On a cool spring evening, take it to go and stroll around the square. Itâ€™s a nice end to a perfect evening.
3235 Madison Road, Oakley 513-321-4846
3200 Madison Road, Oakley 513-542-2022
3046 Madison Road, Oakley 513-531-5196