First things first. Just to reassure Cincinnati eaters, we are not copying the Los Angeles food bloggers who have put together a cookbook where they pose naked with their favorite dishes. Nudie Foodies is not happening here. There is no benevolent cause good enough for that little adventure, thank you very much. I’m afraid that a Naked Mike Breen with Pickled Eggs pin-up calendar would attract a fetishist that I don’t even want to imagine. So, no. Just no.
Now that that’s out of the way, on to more appetizing food news! Palomino (505 Vine St., Downtown, 513-381-1300), overlooking Fountain Square, has a new Tuscan promotion going on, and since I just had lunch there I can assure you that the menu items I tried were excellent. Towering above the usual forgettable lunch salads was their Arugula and Pea Salad, filled with fresh spring peas and delicate melon bites and dressed with truffle vinaigrette. It really was lovely.
Heartier and equally fabulous was the Lamb Ragu and Paparadelle, a simple dish that packed a load of flavor. At lunch, you can try these at a discount, or you can wait until dinner and go for the wine pairings. Either way, you also get to enter a chance to win a trip to Tuscany, but please don’t enter because I’d like my odds of winning to stay good.
You enter, you get the pickled egg porn. Be afraid.
But on the subject of nice young men and food, the guys who run Pho Lang Thang (114, West Elder St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-376-9177) at Findlay Market are now serving dinner. This is good news! A banh mi sandwich or some healthy carrot salad seems like just the right thing to eat for dinner this time of year. Tuesday through Friday, you can do the lang thang up until 8 p.m. There are intriguing “home-cooking” specials on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, and you’re welcome to BYOB any time.
Another nice young man with good food: Eli’s Barbecue on Fountain Square. Elias Leisring and partners serve up a mighty, mighty fine sammich jam-packed full to overflowing with hickory-smoked pulled pork and savory barbecue sauce for just five bucks (cash only) at lunchtime. With coleslaw! How good is it? The aroma makes the vegan who works in the cube next to mine jump up and yell, “Oh, that smells so good that it’s killing me!” Well, yeah. And Eli’s stays open and serves in spite of extremes of the freakin’ summer weather. He’s in the covered tent area on the Square that says Skyline, but actually is for everything. Confusing, I know, but trust me: Eli’s is an ode to the perfection of the pig.
And just so you know I’m not all boy-crazy, here’s a shout-out to two of my favorite female overachievers on the Cincinnati scene. Mixologist extraordinaire Molly Wellman, with Neon’s Unplugged, has re-opened Japps Since 1879, a distinctive bar in Over-the-Rhine (1134 Main St., 513-381-1524. Japps has all the things I love in a bar — namely, well crafted cocktails — and none of the things I hate — TV and smoke! I haven’t made it over to Japps yet, but I’m hearing all good things and I want to try one of the craft coffee cocktails that Molly and the baristas at Tazza Mia have devised. Mmm, bourbon latte!
Always creative and fun, Chef Julie Francis’s love of food and local ingredients really shines at her Mt. Lookout eatery, Nectar Restaurant (1000 Delta Ave.), for the seasonal dinner clubs! I missed the “pea-centric” spring dinners, but the summer events will feature organic sweet corn from Turner Farm. For info, call Nectar at 513-929-0525, or look for them on Facebook.
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