If you've recently driven past Slims restaurant in Northside, you might have noticed a sign near the door at the corner of Hamilton and Blue Rock that reads "VOUT." That's the name of the a la carte, more laid-back version of Slims open for dinner Tuesday through Thursday. As with Slims, the hours are "5:30 'til the food's gone."
I set out to find treasure in Mount Lookout Square, and I found a real gem. Annabel's is a cozy little jewel — a great neighborhood eatery with a fresh, creative menu that's full of surprises. The first thing I noticed is how abso-freaking-lutely cute the place is. Surrounded by attractive and stylish diners, I was thankful I'd spruced myself up for my treasure hunt.
On a drizzly Thursday evening, there's a 40-minute wait at Monroe's Red Onion Cafe. A specials chalkboard mentions Shrimp Scampi, Lake Perch and Boeuf Bourguignon. A veritable mission statement is on the menu cover: "Food is what we are all about ... we cook from scratch ... we take pride in our craft." Craft? We can't wait to get seated.
Sometimes I'm in the mood for a dive with cheap burgers and bad coffee, and other times I prefer a leisurely dinner and pricey food, where the cloth napkin is ever so gently placed in my lap by a waiter or waitress. What I usually want, though, is something comfortably in-between. Enter Bacall's Cafe.
Senate is the new place where the cool kids go, and I know why: It's fun, the menu doesn't take itself too seriously and its location is red hot. Senate's mission is to present upscale street food, and they've done a terrific job of planning a menu that's varied enough to suit most appetites but taken up a few notches so no one is disappointed.
As with any cuisine not executed well, vegetarian and vegan food can be underwhelming. And overcompensating for meat-based proteins with tofu and soy simulations can be an even more dangerous culinary game. Such are the challenges that The Loving Cafe in Pleasant Ridge struggles with: to offer healthy and ethical fare that's fresh, flavorful and satisfying.
Somehow food has become an endurance contest — restaurants and diners in hot pursuit of the latest fad. Fortunately, Aroma Restaurant and Sushi bucks this trend. While exceedingly contemporary in design, the unspoken philosophy behind much of Chef Romuald Jung's menu makes us slow down long enough to appreciate the importance of smell, texture and memory in our dining experiences.
In desperate need of a sit-down meal at your Southern Grandma's house? Comfort food to soothe your soul? A pit stop at Woe Is Me/Three Boys & Stella Barbeque might be just what the doctor ordered. Armed with a smoker and her 97-year-old grandmother's recipes, Rhonda Royster and her family have a simple mission: Bring Carolina-style barbeque to Greater Cincinnati. The results? In a word: righteous!
Jan's Chinese isn't exactly new. It used to be called Casual Wok and Grille and it's still tucked into the same unassuming, half-empty strip mall off Montgomery Road. The name change honors new head chef HJ Jan, a picture of whom dominates the entry vestibule like a broadly grinning Iron Chef.
Ko-Sho's previous downtown location was cryptic and easily passable, but it has remedied that awareness problem by relocating to the lively and highly visible business district of Northside. It's new look has had locals eagerly awaiting the restaurant's opening for months.
I must have flunked my geography lessons. When I made plans to dine at Pera Mediterranean restaurant in Mount Lookout Square, I was thinking of the eastern Mediterranean — Greece and Turkey. I did not think I would pass through Italy.
I know I risk returning to work late if I eat at a sit-down restaurant on my lunch break, but sometimes I can't help it. I've had really good luck at one locally owned breakfast and lunch spot: Half Day Café in Wyoming. Their always-friendly servers seat you immediately, and the food comes out fast.
Ghostly snow devils swirl around the darkness of Loveland Avenue West, but a steamy window with "Tano" scrawled across it glows with a homey, diffuse light, beckoning us out of the cold. Inside, we find a warm space filled with convivial guests for whom the holiday season is still in full swing. It will be fun to see how Tano Bistro evolves as the seasons change, but for now it's a great place to shelter from the cold.
The barn that houses Campbell's restaurant has been a long-time fixture on State Route 125 for Eastsiders. Built nearly 20 years ago, it was originally launched as a reception hall and later used as a dance studio. As a previous patron of both of these former establishments, I was more than a little curious.
Many of the buildings in historic DeSales Corner in East Walnut Hills were built specifically to cater to the German immigrants and parishioners of St. Francis DeSales Catholic Church. Owner Alex Chin seems to embrace this same philosophy of serving the community by opening for lunch and dinner seven days a week and offering delivery service to nearby neighborhoods. By the looks of the crowd on a snowy Tuesday night, I'd say the neighborhood is returning that fond embrace.