The recent Do Downtown Restaurant Week
was a big hit, at least for me. I had an exceptional three-course prix
fixe dinner at Orchids at the Palm Court for just $35. It was elegant
and delicious, and I couldn’t figure out why the place wasn’t packed. Well, if you are sorry you missed that
deal, there’s another chance right away with Greater Cincinnati
Independent Restaurant Week. Twenty-five local, independent restaurants
will feature three-course meals for $26.11.
“There’s no such thing,” the women at
Glier’s Goetta in Covington emphatically told me when I called to ask if
they knew anyone in town that sold vegetarian goetta. By definition,
she explained, goetta has pork in it. Ipso facto, there is no such thing
as vegetarian goetta.
Amazing opportunity alert! I know you’ve heard that Todd Kelly, the executive chef at Orchids in the Hilton Netherland Plaza, was named Chef of the Year by the American Culinary Federation. This is huge, right? Cincinnati Chef Kelly wowed the judges with his Crispy Snapper dish and was named the best of a national organization of 20,000 chefs.
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.
El Jinete is most definitely heavy on the Tex-Mex with just a little authentic Mexican food thrown in, and the quality of the food surprised me. I suppose I don’t usually expect much from a strip-mall restaurant, but El Jinete delivered.
I buy asparagus at the grocery store fairly often, and I’ll generally throw in an omelet or in a tangle of veggies and pasta. Not too exciting. Last week, though, I stopped at the Farmer’s Market in Bellevue, Ky., and grabbed a little bundle of purpley-green spears from one of the farm stands. As I was putting it away in the fridge later, I rinsed off a piece and nibbled off the tip. Incredible!
I had been asked to represent CityBeat as a judge at the annual Best of Taste of Cincinnati competition. For over a decade I worked for a restaurant that always participated in Taste and I suffered through every Memorial Day weekend foodfest in the heat and rain. One year we were lucky enough to win the “Best Damned Dish,” and, trust me, that can mean big bucks for the winner. So it was with confidence and experience that I drove through the rain up to Sysco in Evendale one early Monday morning.
May is all about Mom! They both start with M, right? If you are a mom, then you can say May is “all about me!” Taking your mama out for a Mother’s Day meal is a common way to celebrate, but with so many options, it can be hard to choose. As always, I’m here to help.
It’s April, and my thoughts have turned to cake. Now, mind you, I am not talking about just any cake. There are a lot of cakes in the world that I wouldn’t waste a calorie on. Bad grocery-store cake with super-sugary icing is nasty. It should never be served at home and is acceptable only at office birthday parties when you dislike the people you work with. If you like your co-workers even a little bit and have to have a store-bought treat, get donuts.
Does the nationwide “Starbucks on every corner” phenomenon invading the area make Starbucks less special? I don’t think it’s been special for a while. It’s become the place I stop for coffee on long highway drives, but if I have the option, I prefer a neighborhood coffeeshop every time. For instance, how about Mammoth Coffee.
Former President Clinton is a vegan. Does that surprise you? I mean, this is a guy who used to stop during jogs to get a Big Mac. Now he’s given up meat and dairy products and has reportedly lost 24 pounds. So clearly this vegan thing is gaining some momentum. It’s super healthy, animal friendly and makes you skinny. What’s not to like?
There are two spots you’ve got to try downtown, especially if you’re a macaroni and cheese person. Don’t laugh! There are people who count macaroni and cheese as one of the holy sacraments, because when it’s done right, it’s heaven.
Dee Felice Café in Mainstrasse had a waiting list on Saturday night. Why’s that remarkable? Well, because it’s been two weeks since the Jazz club banned smoking and, once upon a time, the cool cats of Jazz would not have gone smoke-free without a fuss. So it was in a spirit of celebration that we sat at the bar on Saturday night, waiting for the music to start.
Mayberry Foodstuffs (203 E. Seventh St., Downtown, 513-621-5555) is billing itself as “Cincinnati’s newest urban grocery store.” It’s definitely that … and more. Foodstuffs is the latest venture from Josh Campbell, chef/owner of Mayberry Restaurant on Vine Street and World Food Bar at Findlay Market.
Last week we covered family-friendly dining suggestions to accompany holiday activities. Date night is a little different. I don't want to be the one to say that Scuba Santa's not sexy — hey, roly poly people in wetsuits might be just the ticket for some. But when you're fueling up for fun under the mistletoe, I think I have some better ideas.