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By Lora Arduser · May 18th, 2005 · The Dish

Maybe it's true. Maybe you can't go home again, but I was aching to try when I ducked in for lunch at ARNOLD'S BAR & GRILL (210 E. Eighth St., Downtown, 513-421-6234), where Audrey Cobb, Mullane's former chef/owner, is now the day chef. But the visions of Spinach Sauté dancing in my head began to dissipate as the lackadaisical host waved us to a table in the brick-walled courtyard and mumbled something about "over there."

The menu looked enticing with items such as a hot tilapia dish with white beans and kale, a Huevos Ranchwich and a Spring Artichoke Salad. The prices were even more enticing and obviously attractive to many a downtowner as the bustling lunch hour would attest. Arnold's regular lunch menu changes weekly, and all the items are $3.99.

Along with these offerings, the restaurant has a daily special for $7.50. Sadly for me that day, nothing screamed "Mullane's!"

My cohort liked the looks of the Salmon Fillet Sandwich ($3.99), but his question, "How does the chef cook that?" was met with a confused response. "I don't know how to answer that." While the wait staff seemed to be in the dark about this as they were about most things, the chef obviously understood the question. Its outsized bun swallowed the small piece of naked, grilled salmon, but the fillet was cooked through. While the sandwich was nothing to write home about, the side of mustard potato salad was very good, made with new red potatoes and celery.

My Roast Pork Swimmer ($3.99) was a rendition of the down-home dish normally made with roast beef, mashed potatoes, white bread and gravy. The diced pieces of pork loin and red potato mashers craved salt and needed to be sent back to the kitchen because they were cold. Once reheated, however, the mashers were the star of the plate with big chunks of potato and a strong garlic flavor.

With my craving still unsatisfied, I trotted back to Arnold's on a Monday for Audrey's Special, which was the K.C. Salad ($7.50) -- one of the salads featured on the old Mullane's menu. My friendly server rattled off all the ingredients -- Romaine lettuce, artichokes, black olives, feta and red onions -- and quickly brought my meal. As she set the bowl in front of me, tears welled up at the familiar sight of Mullane's sesame seed vinaigrette.



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