For some of us, weekday lunch means heating up last night’s remnants or eating a cold can of soup (out of the can) while working at a cramped desk. Lucky John Slow Market (2550 Woodburn Ave., Walnut Hills, 513-979-4829) is not for those quick weekday lunches.
Eating at Lucky John means chatting with owner and chef John Clark, sipping an old-school bottled Coke from Mexico (no high fructose corn syrup) and pondering the menu offerings.
As I am one of the aforementioned who sometimes eats a cold handful of mashed potatoes for lunch, I visited the Walnut Hills home of Slow Food, Cincinnati-style, on a leisurely Saturday afternoon. (Slow Food is a global health, community and environmentally minded food “movement.”) There was a steady stream of customers and talk of the World Cup. You get to know much about John and, like the Coke, it brings a throwback, local feel that has been replaced with drive-thru windows at restaurants that don’t even have enough time to spell out “through.”
The menu features light fare such as Roasted Asparagus with truffle dressing and parmigiano and Shaved Summer Squash with mozzarella and torn garlic bread ($6 each), plus entrées like The Country Ham sandwich with Lock 21 raw milk cheese, mustard and seasonal jam ($7), BBQ Chicken Quesadilla with sharp cheddar, roasted peppers, sweet onions and sour cream ($8) and Peanut Butter Banana Coconut Sandwich on whole grain bread ($5).
This leaves diners with an ordering dilemma.
As I am working on being in love with beets, we started with the Strawberry and Roasted Beet salad ($6). I am not sold on beets yet, but I have made myself like tomato juice (yes, for Bloody Marys — don’t judge), so it is only a matter of time before beets are in my culinary rotation.
We also ordered the Charred Onion Flatbread with chana masala (chick peas), roasted peppers, paneer (Indian cheese) and fresh sprouts ($6) and the Sloppy John with the vegetarian-friendly mock meat seitan and smoky barbeque sauce on an onion roll ($8). The strawberries served with both the Beet Salad and the Sloppy John made me question whether I had ever had strawberries before. Sweet and juicy, they were like dessert. The flatbread had crisp, sweet onions atop deliciously seasoned whole chickpeas. The seitan Sloppy John had a superb texture and the sauce just moistened the seitan, which allowed the onion bun to maintain its integrity. The bun, made by John’s baker, was soft, flavorful and, surprisingly, vegan. Both meals were served with fresh fruit (juicy mandarin orange segments and tart grapes) and Terra Potato Chips that might replace my bad habit of munching on Doritos and Grippo’s.
You can tell when someone deeply cares about the food he or she produces, and John Clark does that in spades. He strives to provide the community with conscientious food choices in his store and on his menu. His love for food is certainly our city’s gain.
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