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by Staff 02.02.2015

Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend

A lot of stuff from Walgreens, Packhouse, Krueger's Tavern, Amol and more

Each week CityBeat staffers tell you what they ate this weekend. We're not always proud — or trendy — but we definitely spend at least some money on food. 

Danny Cross: A couple of my friends' girlfriends had a birthday death wish on Saturday night, taking a party of more than 15 to Krueger's Tavern. My girlfriend and I showed up late, kind of assuming everyone would be standing on the Vine Street sidewalk like a bunch of tourists. Apparently, Krueger's will seat your giant party as long as half have arrived, though, and no one was mad when the final two of us showed up like 40 minutes after the reservation time. Krueger's is owned by the same people who run Bakersfield and The Eagle OTR, and its concept is similar: loud, hip atmosphere; really good, relatively inexpensive food; and pretty great service considering how crowded and busy the place is. We split the Cuban sandwich, fries and a kale salad someone told us was going to be awesome (true). It's nice to have an OTR option aside from Taste of Belgium where you can sit down with more than four people without forcing the restaurant to rearrange the entire room. CityBeat food writer Kristen Franke had good things to say about Krueger's last week, so you should probably take her word for it. 

Jac Kern
: I’ll tell you where I did not eat: Bridalrama. Cupcakes and macaroons and cakes at every corner, and I didn't touch any of it. I was proud of my self-control until the next day when Jeff insisted on ordering Pizza Hut during the Super Bowl. And we're not talking some regular fattening pizza. No, we had to order the Triple Cheese Covered Stuffed Crust Pizza. So, needless to say, any pride I had left was gone at this point. I wanted to be disgusted by it but I reluctantly found it really tasty. 

Rebecca Sylvester: Best Friday night: ordered too much Indian food and went to sleep. Since it was obviously too cold to leave the house, my boo and I took advantage of the fact that Amol delivers and made someone else deal with the frigid 2.5-mile trek between their kitchen and my couch. The food was great, but the best part of the meal was the fact that their delivery minimum is $25, meaning it is just a dollar or two out of reach of ordering only two entrees, so we were (I was) justified in ordering A THIRD ENTREE for additional feasting. 

Mike Breen: I largely had a depressed, shut-in kind of weekend, for which I loaded up on supplies from that gourmet food haven Walgreens and barely left my apartment. The cashier told me we might get eight inches of snow over the weekend as I checked out; even though I knew that wasn’t true, I hoped my sad purchases were seen as “stocking up” for the impending Snowmageddon (or at least as treats I was taking to a Super Bowl party). I should have grabbed a bag of rock salt to make it look less pathetic.

Along with the wasabi-flavored almonds, the best thing I grabbed on my junk food spree was a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Truffle Trifecta, which I first discovered last year. It’s only available at Walgreens (which seems weird; B&J’s also has “exclusive” flavors at Target, which is somewhat understandable, but Walgreens seems to be a weird place to have to go to score ice cream). It’s Ben & Jerry’s, so of course it’s really good. And pretty simple — chocolate ice cream with marshmallow, fudge and caramel-filled truffle candy. It’s become one of my favorite Ben & Jerry’s flavors.

I was proud of myself for not devouring all of the crap food I bought. Seemed like a good purchase at the time, but I just couldn’t stomach eating the small bag of Ruffles’ Deep Ridged Bacon & Cheddar Loaded Potato Skins flavored chips I bought. But there’s always next weekend. Grammys viewing party at my place, y’all! 

Jesse FoxI wanted to get some film that I shot developed on Saturday and apparently the Walgreens in Highland Heights is the only place around here that still does that. I didn't want to drive down, go home and drive right back, so I went with my freelancer Catie so we could talk or something while we waited. The guys working said it would take two hours so we did what any respectable humans would do — we went and bought mini vodka bottles from the liquor store nearby and ate at Taco Bell. Despite ordering different things, the total of both of our meals was $6.66. The next day I woke up with strep throat, so thank you Taco Bell satan.

Maija Zummo: I finally went to Packhouse in Newport to eat some vegetarian meatballs. (My computer keeps auto-correcting that to "packhorse," which is an altogether different type of meatball.) I had been to the meatball restaurant in Corryville, Meatball Kitchen, which has a different vibe (you order at a cash register there). I had been warned that the Packhouse menu was a little bit confusing — there's a ton of choices and you fill boxes in on your menu with a marker to order — but it wasn't so bad. The waitresses help you navigate.

You pick a type of meatball — I got quinoa and veggie and the rest of my party got one of each other type of meatball on the menu: fried chicken, turkey and sage, something with sundried tomatoes and blue cheese, a normal meatball and then a lasagna meatball (lasagna shaped into a ball and fried). Then you choose a sauce (marinara, parmesan cream, some type of stew sauce, and a couple others) and how you want it served. You can get it on a sandwich, on a slider, on pasta, with Brussels sprouts etc., etc. There are like a million possible combinations. I got three quinoa meatballs on some boursin mashed potatoes with parmesan cream on top and a quinoa slider with cheese and marina sauce because, as a vegetarian, I never get to eat sliders.

Portion sizes were big and the quinoa meatballs tasted like little arancini; they were little fried tasty nuggets. I loved them a lot more than I expected because I hate quinoa. The rest of my party, however, didn't love their meatballs. There was some confusion as to which was which, like they couldn't tell the difference between the turkey and sage an the sundried tomato one. But I was happy, which is the most important part. They also have bottles of wine for $19, and the service staff is paid a fair wage so you don't tip, which is a cool novelty. I'd go back for more sliders and cheap wine, and my one friend wants to go back to tackle their eating contest, where you need to eat like 25 of the same meatballs in an hour or something. 

Samantha GellinI had brunch at BrewRiver Gastropub. It's a New Orleans-style place. The food was delicious but the prices ... not. The entrees were all in the $12 to $16 dollar range, so I opted for two "sides": two sunny-side up eggs and a small bowl cheese grits. The eggs were delicious; the grits, while tasty, weren't life-changing. My husband got poutine and eggs, and the beef short-rib gravy was really rich and delicious. It had strips of really tender meat in it. For anyone who doesn't have to watch their cholesterol, it's a solid choice. The server was a bit pushy and anxious to get our party of eight out the door by the afternoon closing time, though. I'm not sure I'd go back, partly because of the prices and partly because I'm over brunch dates. Maybe I'm just getting too old to be drinking three mimosas at noon.
by Staff 02.09.2015
quan hapa congee

Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend

Dried pork congee from Quan Hapa, Eli's BBQ, Cancun, plantains and LaRosa's

Each week CityBeat staffers and dining writers tell you what they ate this weekend. We're not always proud — or trendy — but we definitely spend at least some money on food.  

Ilene Ross: It wasn't exactly cold this weekend, but most frigid winter days find me jonesing for a body-warming bowl of congee, a type of rice porridge popular in many Asian countries. On Saturday, I enjoyed a tasty bowl of dried pork congee at Quan Hapa in OTR. It's filled with chicken, and there's a poached egg hiding in there. On top is yummy fried pork, five-spice oil and green onions. Deeply satisfying, no matter what the thermometer says. 

Rebecca Sylvester: LaRosa's! Did you know LaRosa's garlic butter dipping sauce contains no actual dairy, so it's vegan/lactose-intolerant friendly? If you think about it too much it's super creepy, but if you just don't think about it then it is a delicious option to dunk your cheese-less veggie pizza. #thestruggleisreal 

Jac Kern: Yesterday I had fajitas and margs at Cancun, my home away from home. The Western Bowl-adjacent cantina is a great brunch alternative for lazy/antisocial people: fast service, standard but consistent Mexican grub, dim lights and crack-like frozen margaritas. Come hungry; leave stuffed, tipsy and with a frost-bitten tongue. That's basically how all of my (frequent) Cancun adventures go.  

Samantha Gellin: I ate at Eli's BBQ for the first time. The inside was packed so we ate at a picnic table inside one of their big white outdoor tents. It was like 30 degrees outside, so thankfully I was able to nab a spot right by a working heater, but it was still pretty chilly. But now I know what all the fuss over Eli's has been about: It's freakin' delicious. And seriously cheap. A meat-stuffed sandwich and two generous sides will run you eight bucks. That's it. There's not many other restaurants in Cincy (at least not that I know of) that are so generous with their portion size and yet so easy on your wallet. And it's BYOB. I mean, what else could you ask for?!

I got a pulled pork sandwich with a side of baked beans and macaroni and cheese. The deliciousness of everything made me forget I was cold. The macaroni is to die for; it's everything you want a side of macaroni to be with a barbecue dinner — super rich, creamy and calorie-laden. The baked beans were also delicious: savory, with hints of bacon and brown sugar and something more complex that I can't put my finger on. And the pulled pork was pretty much everything you've heard Eli's pulled pork to be: savory, tender and with just the right amount of sweet. Will I go again? Most definitely, but I'll wait until it's warm out. 

Jesse Fox: On Saturday I did a freelance photo job for Ena's Jerkmania and fell in love with their fried plantains. I had never even had a regular plantain before so I wasn't sure what to expect. The texture reminded me kind of of like a thinner version of French toast, a little crunchy on the outside but soft in the middle. They were great on their own but would have been really good with some agave nectar on, too — but that's probably the sugar addict in me talking. 

Garin Pirnia: I’ve been nursing a cold, so I decided to stay in this weekend and make a few things. First up was homemade chai tea. You just throw a lot of spices — crushed cardamom, pepper, vanilla bean, star anise, ginger, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves — into boiling water and then add black tea and brown sugar. When I bought the spices at Findlay Market a couple of weeks ago, the guy was like, “Do you work at a restaurant or something?” I don't.

Next, inspired by The Comet’s housemade ginger ale, I took it upon myself to make my own. A caveat: If you hate ginger you will not like this; it’s super strong. You chop up a few ounces of fresh ginger and let it simmer in water for 45 minutes, and then dissolve sugar into it, which makes a simple syrup. Just add carbonated water and you have ginger ale that tastes better than Vernors and anything else on the market.

Finally, I made bagels. Yes, bagels. It’s so easy! You mix bread flour, yeast, a pinch of sugar and salt and malt syrup (I use honey) in a mixer or food processor. Form the dough into a ball and wait for it to rise. Then you shape the dough into the semblance of bagels and flash boil them. The hardest part is forming the dough, but the most fun part is sticking toppings like sesame seeds and poppy seeds onto the bagels. You can get a little crazy and creative — anything goes. Bake 'em in the oven for about 20 minutes and, voila, bagels without weird stuff like yoga mat component/flour whitening agent azodicarbonamide. You can freeze the bagels to make them last longer. Damn, I should open a café.

Anne Mitchell: I ate a fancy dinner at Covington's 200th birthday celebration gala. For giant catered-meal food, it was great — especially the bundles of green beans tied up with red and yellow peppers. Bean bondage! Seriously, there was real bacon on the salad and bourbon in the chicken sauce, so bravo COV200. I hope the next 200 years are just as tasty.

Kristen Franke: This weekend, I had a lot of things. 1. Dollar oysters at Anchor OTR. Thursday nights are the best. We were seated by the window and ordered a dozen delicious little numbers. Their granita topping — basically caramelized red onions that have been frozen into slushy-like goodness — and the fluffy fresh horseradish are dynamite. Our kickass server also brought Sriracha, which is a game changer when it comes to oysters. 

2. The volcano roll at Ichiban (half-price sushi, hell yeah!) on Friday night. The roll features a tower of crab meat on top of a deep-fried eel roll. That and a standard spicy tuna roll and I was set. No, it's nothing stellar, but when your bill comes back with $10.57 printed on the bottom, it's hard to resist doing your happy dance.

3. Homemade meatloaf, whipped potatoes and crisp green beans at my dad's house. His meatloaf is essentially a giant, baked meatball made with soaked french bread, fresh garlic, Parmesan and parsley. Dip it in those buttery potatoes and you can just feel your soul relax.

4. Late-night spoonbread at The Eagle OTR. Eagle is fantastic late night. We arrived at 10:41 p.m. and waited 30 seconds for a table for four. Their maple syrup-soaked spoonbread goes GREAT with a Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, an on-tap staple at this place.

by Maija Zummo 10.17.2013
Posted In: Events, Brunch at 12:51 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
513{eats} calendar photo

513{eats} 2014 Culinary Calendar to Benefit SIDS

Buy it at the de Cavel Family SIDS Foundation family brunch Sunday

The de Cavel Family SIDS Foundation is an organization and philanthropic effort founded by chef Jean-Robert de Cavel, his wife Annette and a dedicated group of volunteers and the culinary community. The de Cavel's lost their daughter Tatiana to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in 2002, and have since used the foundation to raise funds for research, education, outreach and the Midwest Culinary Institute's Tatiana de Cavel Scholarship.   

Sunday, join the de Cavels for the 10th annual SIDS family and friends brunch. Food vendors from all over the city, including Taste of Belgium, Via Vite and Shanghai Mama’s, will be in attendance. A silent auction will also take place at the event, as well as hands-on activities for children and live entertainment for the evening. 

Local foodie favorite blog and photography site 513{eats} (to which CityBeat food writer Ilene Ross contributes) will be unveiling and selling their 2014 culinary calendar, Inked, featuring — from what we can tell — a bunch of sexy, tattooed chefs. All proceeds from the calendar benefit the foundation. After Sunday, you can purchase the calendar for $39 plus applicable fees on the 513{eats} website.

Since the first brunch, the de Cavel Family SIDS Foundation has raised about $700,000 for SIDS research, and the organization will continue its work until SIDS is eradicated. 

11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. $20-$75. Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State, 3520 Central Parkway, Cincinnati, 513-871-7742, eatplaygive.net.

by Staff 02.23.2015
o pie o_ilene ross

Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend

Pie. The Art of Food. Potatoes. Pizza. Secrets.

Each week CityBeat staffers and dining writers tell you what they ate this weekend. We're not always proud — or trendy — but we definitely spend at least some money on food.

Jac Kern: I stocked up on groceries Friday night in preparation for a weekend full of snow, pajamas and movies. Pizza-making is a perfect snow day activity, so that's what I made for dinner on Saturday. My two go-tos are classic pepperoni and a fig and prosciutto inspired by A Tavola. The local eatery's version includes fontina, parmigiano and balsamic arugula; I used the fresh mozzarella and spinach I had on hand, plus fig jam and prosciutto. It's no A Tavola — my oven pales in comparison to their Italian wood-burning beauty — but it was tasty and easily consumed in the aforementioned pajamas. Also: Plenty of popcorn during the Oscars!

Ilene Ross:
I feel as if I did nothing but eat out this weekend, but given what I do for a living, this should come as no surprise. On Friday night I attended the ninth annual Art of Food at The Carnegie in Covington. This event, a combination of art and food, never disappoints; it’s a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds. Local artist Pam Kravetz put on quite a spectacular show — the theme was Candy Land — with even chef Jean-Robert de Cavel getting into the act with a starring role as Lord Licorice. Some of the more outstanding dishes were The Littlefield’s house-cured and smoked bacon with house pickles; Wunderbar’s bacon, spinach, brie and fig jam finger sandwiches; The Rookwood’s Porchetta, with Marksbury Farm pork belly, Beeler's Farm pork cheek rillettes, rosemary-cured lardo, carrot mostardo, shaved celery and red cress; The Sleepy Bee’s flatbread stalactites with Moroccan chicken and date herb chutney; Bouquet Restaurant and Wine Bar’s whipped goat cheese with popcorn, pickled fennel and pear gastrique; and Django Western Taco’s beer-braised pork belly with corn relish, guacamole and corn chips.   

On Saturday my son and I got to try one of O Pie Os latest creations, a honey vinegar pie. Now, that might sound a tad bit strange, but believe me, it’s not. Picture a rich, slightly tangy, not-too-sweet custard filling in a perfectly flaky crust. A little packet of crisp sea salt comes along with the pie so you can sprinkle a bit on top to taste, therefore achieving a nice salty balance. We also dug into an apple pie with rosemary caramel. I have to say that O Pie O’s apple pie is so good, I didn’t care one bit that I forgot to buy ice cream.   

Saturday night I got to be a guinea pig of sorts during a trial run for the staff at chef Jean-Robert de Cavel’s latest restaurant, the soon-to-be-opened Le Bar a Boeuf in The Edgecliff. The restaurant will be opening quite soon and I was overjoyed to be able to participate. While I can’t divulge too many details, I can say that the space is beautiful, the staff — under the watchful eye of hospitality expert Richard Brown — is charming and diligent, and as far as the food, well, you’re in for a real treat.   

I have a good friend who lives in Indianapolis, and her daughter is a Girl Scout. This year was the second time I’ve bought cookies from her and the two have driven in and delivered them to me on a Sunday. It’s also the second time that we’ve met at Maribelle’s eat + drink for brunch to make the cookie drop off. My son and I took them to Maribelle’s for the first time last year and they loved it so much that they specifically requested it again. I don’t blame them. Brunch at Maribelle’s is a crazy good combination of breakfast and lunch foods everyone loves. The four of us had White Bean and Frog Leg Chili; a Pig Tostado (shredded pork, cumin crème, pickled red onion, queso fresco and cilantro); fried cashew butter, jelly and banana sandwiches; a hamburger; some sort of yummy egg dish that I can’t remember the name of; and, of course, bloody mary’s for the adults. Yes, it was a lot of food, and there were leftovers, but for me the best thing about a busy weekend is a Sunday afternoon nap followed by not having to cook. My Oscar watching dinner consisted of Maribelle’s leftovers, Samoas and bourbon.  

Samantha Gellin: I ate a grilled chicken club at Anderson Pub & Grill on Beechmont Avenue, aka APG. Normally I shy away from chicken sandwiches because they tend to turn out dry and tasteless. But I've never been disappointed with the food at APG so I decided to give it a try. It was worth it. So juicy and full of flavor. It's topped with bacon, lettuce, tomato, American cheese, onion, pickle and chipotle mayo. Probably one of the best grilled chicken sandwiches I've had in a long time. If you're on the East Side and you're looking for simple but really satisfying bar food (at decent prices too) this is the place to go.

Anne Mitchell: I've barely left the house since Snowmaggedon began, but luckily we are within slogging distance of several MainStrasse eateries. So Friday night we slushed up to Dee Felice Cafe for cocktails and appetizers. I had the fried oysters with cream sauce, a cup of gumbo, and a delicious Manhattan made by Ron the Awesome Bartender. I may have even had a second, just because even numbers are luckier. On Saturday, we went to Otto's. Their beef short ribs were cozier than a fleece snowsuit, and twice as sexy. I sipped on the Ginger Punch special. I should have deduced, when they said they were trying it out for the menu at their eagerly-anticipated Frida, that it was tequila based. Ole!

Rebecca Sylvester: To pre-game before The Price is Right Live! my husband and I decided to try one of the restaurants in the Horseshoe Casino (where the show was). We weren't wearing elastic waistbands so that ruled out the buffet and we were (luckily) turned away from Margaritaville, which I guess was every other audience members' plan, so we ended up at the fancy option: Jack Binion's Steakhouse. It was easily the quietest place in the casino, even with a live trio playing lounge versions of Nirvana and top 40 songs. The booths look like nap-worthy couches, but we sat at the bar since we were only ordering drinks and snacks. The super exciting part of the menu (for a vegetarian) was The Potato Bar, which listed a few heavily topped baked potatoes, pub fries and a few other potato-based sides. Also a pleasant surprise was the list of salads, all vegetarian friendly and a little more interesting than the standard steakhouse iceberg wedge. The servers were really nice and the wine selection was good. If I'm ever back there and need a place to rest my slot machine arm that is probably the best spot in the building.

Maija Zummo: I went to an Oscar's potluck on Sunday and I was tasked with bringing dessert. Usually I'll make something fruit based — a pie or a cobbler — but my friends wanted chocolate. I'm not a huge fan of brownies or anything really cakey and chocolately, so I made cute little chocolate pot de cremes in bright teal ramekins. I found a super easy recipe that just calls for pouring your hot custard into a blender and then refrigerating it to set versus making a water bath and baking the little things. They turned out really well — I added some vanilla and coffee to the custard mix because I'm fancy like that —  and were super easy. Top them with some homemade whipped cream and they seem much more impressive and hard to make than they actually are.

by Staff 02.17.2015
Posted In: Brunch, Cincinnati, Indian, Leftovers, Wine, Holiday at 12:51 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
brij mohan

Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend

With a delay because of President's Day and Snowmageddon

Each week CityBeat staffers and dining writers tell you what they ate this weekend. We're not always proud — or trendy — but we definitely spend at least some money on food.  

Ilene Ross: I ate out quite a bit this weekend due to the fact that my newly engaged daughter was in town for some wedding planning. On Friday we spent the day trying on wedding gowns, which left us feeling quite peckish, so we treated ourselves to afternoon tea at The BonBonerie. I find the $25 per person a bit high for the amount of food you get, but for a special occasion, you can’t beat the pomp and circumstance of tiny scones, macarons and finger sandwiches. *Note: You must make reservations for afternoon tea. 
Saturday found us in OTR looking at reception venues, so we popped into Park + Vine for their annual Customer Appreciation Day. I had the tofu and roasted vegetable sandwich with a side of macaroni and cheese. Now I know P+V is a vegan restaurant and it’s not “real” dairy cheese, but as an omnivore, I can honestly say that it’s one of my very favorite renditions of the mac and cheese. 
On Sunday night I tried new-to-me Brij Mohan Indian Sweets & Restaurant out in Sharonville with a group of friends. I had the Navratan Korma (fresh assorted vegetables and dried fruits cooked in creamy gravy), onion naan and a mango lassi (a yogurt smoothie). This place is super authentic and incredibly popular. There was a long line of people waiting to get in before they even opened for business. We were told that everything is made from scratch and in-house. Brij Mohan is wallet-friendly and super-casual, right down to the paper plates, but don’t let the dinnerware stop you from enjoying the incredible food. Said my dining companion Danny Korman (of Park+Vine), “The  paper plates I don’t get, but the food I do.” 

Kristen Franke: My Valentine and I spent Saturday morning at Findlay Market searching for wine-and-cheese-night goodies. We picked up three cheeses — St. Andre triple cream, Spanish manchego and creamy smoked gouda — and some freshly-sliced proscuitto from Gibbs Cheese, country French bread from Blue Oven, Castellare Chianti from the Market Wines and a package of dates from Madison's. Later, the dates were stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped with bacon to complete our little V-day spread.  

Maija Zummo: My friends and I had a girls night at Pontiac in Over-the-Rhine on Friday. Two of the four of us got there at 5:30 p.m. and there was no wait, which was great. However the other half of the group was late (which some portion of us always is), and they won't seat you until your whole party is there, so we sat at the bar and had some drinks until they showed up. The drinks at Pontiac are awesome. There's a whole menu of Tiki drinks, all served in tall Tiki cups. Note: If you steal a Tiki cup, they will charge you $75. I had the Bahama-Lana ($13) at the bar, which tasted like bananas and coconut and was full of rum, Domaine de Canton ginger liquor and bourbon cider. It was pretty sweet but I felt great after drinking it; vacation-style relaxed. My friend had a glass of chardonnay and the bartender was really nice and warned her about the kinda steep price ($10-$12 for a glass). She didn't mind.
In terms of food, I can't say much. I don't eat meat so I just had an assortment of sides. (Food reviewer Michael Taylor has more to say about the meat here.) Mostly I just wanted more Tiki drinks, so we ordered a bowl of Rumspringa Punch ($30). The mix of rum, ginger, champagne, pineapple and some more stuff came in a giant Tiki bowl with four straws and a flaming volcano in the middle (on fire because of the 151 puddle in there). Also fantastic. We finished it and then split another one. Turns out I love rum served in thematic cups. Also, I had to pee pretty bad because of all the Tiki drinking, and on the way to the bathroom I saw CityBeat dining writer Kristen Franke. Adorable.

Jesse Fox: I went to Tacocracy and got their vegan chorizo taco and their shroom taco (substitute avocado for cheese) and a black margarita. The shroom taco is always my go-to there and I still prefer it over the vegan chorizo, but it's awesome to see more vegan options on menus around town. The black margarita was good and not too sweet and syrupy, like some inexpensive margaritas tend to be. 
by Hannah Bussell 04.20.2015
Posted In: Alcohol, Bar, Beer, Brunch, Cincinnati, Cookies at 01:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
skyline coneys

A British Foodie in the Queen City

After 10 months in America as a foreign exchange student, CityBeat intern Hannah Bussell has a few things to say about stateside cuisine

I moved from England last August to spend 10 months in the land of the free — I’m studying at the University of Cincinnati and exploring as much of the country as I can squeeze in. I’d been looking forward to the iconic American foods that the world knows about: deep-dish Chicago pizzas, stacks of fluffy pancakes drowning in syrup, apple pies topped with whipped cream. I chose to come to Cincinnati because I wanted to be in Midwestern America. Before I arrived, when people said Cincinnati to me I thought, “Bengals.” I didn’t once consider the city to be a food town — not everyone knows about Cincinnati’s chili! So I was thrilled to find Cincinnati’s exciting and expanding foodie scene, host to a wide number of delicious and vibrant eats with food so good I warmly welcomed the inevitable weight gain.

From my time here so far, I’ve noticed some differences between my food culture and yours.

Your portions are almost as big as your mountains, your national parks and your prairies. A meal at the Incline Public house in the West Side gave me delicious leftovers for two consecutive nights. The portion sizes at The Cheesecake Factory are immensely appreciated but borderline ridiculous.

The service. I feel like I’m being ushered out the door almost as soon as I arrive. Being a Brit, I am used to a slower-paced meal with a docile waiter reservedly keeping their distance. If there’s something wrong with our food we don’t say anything because, as a nation, we are too awkward to deal with that sort of thing. Over here I am given the bill along with my food and asked how I want to pay. In England this would be seen as rude, but the waiters are always so smiley and chirpy it’s refreshing. English table service really could learn a thing or two here. 

Upon my arrival I was so excited by American culture I consumed so many Pop-Tarts in 48 hours that I haven’t touched one since. I have since learned from my mistake and didn’t want to sabotage my Cincinnati scoffing (British slang for "scarfing") experience. But after coming face to face with Skyline, any attempts to monitor my chili allowance were fruitless. The thin beef chili is smooth and tender, with hints of cinnamon and cloves. Served over a hotdog and for only $2, coneys became the ultimate “drunk food” for me — especially as I lived so close to the Clifton branch. Back home we know this type of food as “chili con carne,” and it’s heavily laden with tomatoes, cumin and garlic, and served over rice. I much prefer Cincinnati’s pairing with hot dogs, a mound of shredded cheddar and a bag of oyster crackers.

Talking of cheddar, I’m sorry to say my entrenched European prejudices meant I was quick to judge the cheese you have to offer. With England so close to the cheesy nation of France, I have developed a taste for oozing Camembert, crumbly yet creamy goat cheeses and blue and salty Saint Agur. America’s painfully mild, processed and bright orange “cheese” that you find melted on burgers or stirred into bowls of mac and cheese should not share the same name. The square singles of “Swiss cheddar” taste more like the convenient plastic they are wrapped in, and are not remotely Swiss. I don’t have the words to describe the monstrosity that is cheese in a can. I was readily accepting of not being able to taste any real cheese for 10 months until I stumbled across the delight that is Findlay Market and its J.E. Gibbs cheese vendor. My predisposed scorn of cheese in America vanished along with my dollars, but the investment in Brie was worth it.

On the subject of delicious dairy, Oprah was absolutely right about Cincinnati’s Graeter’s ice cream. Its black raspberry and chocolate chip flavor is on the same standard as ice cream and gelato I’ve sampled in Florence, Italy. 

The Midwest’s booming corn supply means there are a lot of corn-involved foods to be eaten around here. In the UK you only consume this staple in the form of canned sweet corn, but here it is baked into corn puddings, corn breads or creamed up to make “creamed corn” — none of which I’m convinced by. The freshly grilled ears of corn dripping in butter I bought at the state fair were delicious, but the “corndog,” however, is just obscene.

I am now obsessed with American barbecue. Pulled pork, ribs and beef brisket with heaps of finely shredded, creamy coleslaw has changed my perception of this type of cuisine. You Americans love your contemporary backyard barbecues and you know how to do them well. In England, we associate the British summertime barbecue with a much more high-strung experience, and less delicious food. I’m used to supermarket-bought bangers slid between cheap baps (a sort of soft bread roll, like a bun) and cooked on a tiny disposable charcoal barbecue. There is no sense of patience with a British summertime barbecue — we always want to get it done as quickly as possible as you never know when it might start pouring rain. So we bite into a hastily cooked burger and the blackened, charred outside crumbles away to reveal pinkish, undercooked disappointment. In America, however, you have much more patience and respect for this kind of cooking. You slowly smoke meats at low temperatures to get the perfect tenderness; you incorporate “wet” rubs and “dry” rubs to add even more flavor. A pulled pork sandwich at Eli’s BBQ entailed a toasted bun stuffed with hickory-smoked pork, which had a tender interior, caramelized exterior and was slapped with a vinegar mop. Thank you, America, for showing me a real barbecue; I will think of you during my father’s next annual soggy barbecue disaster. 

I do miss the classic British biscuit tin. Graham crackers and cookies don’t suffice for the Jammie Dodgers, shortbreads and chocolate digestives that we love to dunk in our tea. I miss the chocolate. In a sibling rivalry between American and British chocolate, Cadbury will always win over Hershey's. 

The American obsession with peanut butter is something I’ve learned to love as well. Your peanut butter is arguably much better, smoother and creamier. I understand the appeal of a classic PB&J sandwich. I have still yet to try a Buckeye though.

In my first few weeks in America the only beer I was exposed to was grim Bud Light served in red Solo cups at student parties. Pre-departure to the states I was warned, “American beer sucks!” It took me until Oktoberfest, when I discovered the plethora of craft beer and breweries that Cincinnati has to offer, that I learned this was absolutely not the case. My favorite Cincinnati beer is MadTree’s seasonal Sprye, which manages to be spicy, citrusy, piney and earthy. Cincinnati brewing veteran Christian Moerlein and the Moerlein brewery also makes a great watering hole; with so many beer options to choose from I felt like I was back in my local pub.

The morning after a night of craft beer, my first thought goes to a full English breakfast. A plate of fried eggs, tomatoes, sausages, toast, baked beans and black pudding has been curing British hangovers since the invention of the frying pan. But I’m in America now, where baked beans are for barbecues only and black pudding is unheard of. My next thought is for bagels: the classic beloved breakfast bread that has become iconic to New York and American food culture. An egg and cheese bagel with bacon and sausage from Bruegger’s bagels is everything I want but more. A freshly made bagel topped by most of the commodities of a full English breakfast, but with less calories. If I can, I drag myself to quirky breakfast joint Hangover Easy in Clifton that also does an excellent brunch and breakfast fix.

With only a few more weeks left here, I am sad to leave Cincinnati's eclectic options of places to eat and drink. I'll certainly be returning to the UK a couple pounds heavier but I'll have a coney shaped hole missing from my life. 

by Ilene Ross 04.15.2015
Posted In: Brunch, Chicken, local restaurant at 08:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
the anchor otr patio

Dining En Plein Air

Some favorite restaurants with perfect patios for outdoor eats

The surefire signs of spring seem as if they’re finally here to stay. Annuals are sprouting everywhere, joggers are jogging and that most significant local spring holiday — Opening Day — is in our rear-view mirror. It’s finally time to trade boots for sandals and spend every single one of our sunshiny days eating and drinking outside. Here’s a cultivated list of perfect patios that should keep you busy for at least a week.

The Anchor-OTR 

With Anchor, you get dinner and a show. Where else can you sit next to Washington Park and enjoy any of the programming for free while dining on chef Derek dos Anjos’ super fresh fare from the sea? Our favorite nights are Tuesday, when lobster rolls are only $20, and Thursday, when oysters are a buck. 1401 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-421-8111, theanchor-otr.com.

Avril-Bleh & Sons Marketplace and Deli 

Fast food doesn’t need to be crap food. Head down to Court Street, where every lunch Tuesday-Friday (weather permitting), the good folks at Averil-Bleh will be grilling their tasty, housemade sausages as well as burgers. Wanna be super fancy? Stroll inside, pick up some fresh homemade salads, like German potato and coleslaw, head to a park and have yourself a picnic. 37 E. Court St., Downtown, avril-blehmeats.com.

Bouquet Restaurant and Wine Bar and Otto’s

We’re super stoked when we don’t have to travel too far for a street-side gourmet progressive dining experience. Pick cocktails and apps at MainStrasse’s Bouquet Restaurant and Wine Bar — chef Stephen William’s housemade charcuterie and pickles are to die for — then literally walk a couple feet for your main dish at Otto’s. If you prefer a slightly less pedestrian feel to your meal, take a seat on the back patio of either establishment. Bouquet, 519 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-491-7777, bouquetrestaurant.com; Otto’s, 521 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-491-6678, ottosonmain.com.

Django Western Taco

Tasty tacos and other Southwestern favorites, tequila-based drinks, live music on Thursday nights and a secret stash of Nerf guns for the occasional Nerf war are the super-sweet lures chef Andrew Mersmann has tucked away on his back patio in Northside. Kids are welcome, but why would you want them in the way of all of that grown-up fun? 4046 Hamilton Ave., Northside, djangonorthside.com.


The 50-seat patio at Dutch’s makes it the perfect place in East Hyde Park to stop after work. Fire pits keep you warm while bocce ball keeps you entertained as you nibble on everything from the housemade truffle popcorn to a selection of charcuterie plates that go perfectly with Dutch’s outstanding beer and wine selection. Feeling a bit more ravenous? No problem. Try one of Dutch’s mouthwatering sandwiches, including an extremely decadent short rib grilled cheese. 3378 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, 513-871-1446, facebook.com/dutchslarder.

Krueger's Tavern
Photo: Facebook.com

Krueger’s Tavern

Not only has the inside of the former Lavomatic received a complete indoor facelift, but the rooftop deck has received a total overhaul as well and is ready for its debut season as one of the loveliest outdoor dining spots in Over-the-Rhine. The elevated location offers the perfect opportunity to enjoy your meal, removed from the hullabaloo of Vine Street below. 1211 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-834-8670, facebook.com/kruegerstavern.

La Soupe

Whether you choose to hang on the patio in the Madeira location or under the tent at the Newtown restaurant, chef Suzanne DeYoung’s soup serves two purposes: to fill your belly and also the many other hungry bellies in our community. For every quart sold, a bowl is donated from this for-profit soup kitchen with the heart of gold. 7701 Railroad Ave., Madeira; 4150 Round Bottom Road, Newtown, lasoupecincinnati.com.

Mac’s Pizza Pub

Pizza isn’t just something that gets delivered to your door. Venture out for your pie, literally. All three Mac’s locations have something different to offer — the vibe at Clifton is all crazy mural and ferns, Landen has a new volleyball court and a pool table, and Wooster Pike offers a gazebo. But there are plenty of TVs to be had at each, so you can follow your favorite team while you eat and drink. 205 W. McMillan, Clifton Heights; 2920 W. US 22 and 3, Mainville; 6309 Wooster Pike, Mariemont, macspizzapub.com.

MadTree Brewing

Although Catch-a-Fire Pizza is setting up permanent shop at MadTree Brewing, the super popular Hop-Up Dinners at the brewery will continue. Each week a different local chef sets up a pop-up shop for one night only — last week it was The Meatball Kitchen’s chef Jason Louda. There’s a large patio with picnic tables, a fire pit, corn hole and a TV. As for the ambience, Kenny McNutt, MadTree’s self-proclaimed “Beer-ded Baron” says, “The tall fence helps to hide the Motel 6.” 5164 Kennedy Ave., Oakley, 513-836-8733, madtreebrewing.com.


There’s no need for a pricey trip to Italy when the absolutely gorgeous wisteria-covered, fern-laden patio at Nicola’s is waiting for you. Just grab one of the 10 tables out back, order some of chef Joel Molloy’s authentic contemporary Italian cuisine and you’ll be instantly transported. 1420 Sycamore St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-721-6200, nicolasotr.com.

The Rookwood

Chef Jackson Rouse is especially proud of his “pimp of the pimps double deck,” as he calls it, with a fire pit, adult swings, fresh new cedar tables and a full rocking bar. It’s the best place to be on Sunday for a seriously funky brunch hosted by Ria Matlib, aka DJ Mowgli. 1077 Celestial St., Mount Adams, 513-929-0525, therookwood.com.

Photo: Facebook.com

Nectar Restaurant

Post Hyde Park Farmers Market, head to chef Julie Francis’ very secluded, super European-looking back patio for a relaxing Sunday brunch. All of that shopping will have burned so many calories you’ll be ready for her almost immoral Blue Oven French Toast (honey orange mascarpone, candied almonds, champagne and pear compote, and hickory smoked bacon). 1000 Delta Ave., Mount Lookout, dineatnectar.com.

Taste of Belgium 

While Taste of Belgium’s original OTR location has only a few outdoor tables — and honestly they’re often tough to get — the Clifton patio is huge and a spot is often easier to snag. Also, there’s the Findlay Market counter, where you can grab your waffle or crepe and people-watch outside. And at the end of May the new Rookwood location will be open with 50 outdoor seats. authenticwaffle.com.

by Staff 04.13.2015
suzie wongs

Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend

Jellyfish; chicken and waffles; tiny desserts; a wine dinner at Bistro Grace; and our British intern went to her first baseball game

Each week CityBeat staffers and dining writers (and the occasional intern) tell you what they ate this weekend. We're not always proud — or trendy — but we definitely spend at least some money on food. 

Ilene Ross: After a long, tiring week, all I wanted was someone to bring me food at home. Unfortunately, the delivery options in North Avondale are slim, limited to the usual chain pizza suspects. Luckily, I remembered that someone had told me that Suzie Wong’s in East Walnut Hills might deliver, so I called and confirmed. My son, his friend and I then proceeded to order a ton of food — Thai fish cakes, tofu with vegetables, edamame, crab Rangoon, and two types of chicken for the boys — and in a very quick 20 minutes the food was here. It was all wonderful. They’re totally going on my speed dial.
Nothing beats pie for breakfast especially when you can eat the whole thing, so Saturday morning I had an O Pie O strawberry-rhubarb personal pie with coffee. On Saturday night I went to a birthday party for my friend Rachel. Rachel’s annual “It’s my FREAKING BIRTHDAY” party is a huge, outdoor potluck affair with a band, firepit and a giant cake from Happy Chicks Bakery. Since Rachel owns Grateful Grahams, there are of course s’mores with our friend Stephanie’s homemade vegan marshmallows. Since I didn’t have time to make anything to bring, I stopped at Goodfellas Pizzeria for two giant pies. There were no complaints.
On Sunday night I met some friends at Sichuan Chili in Evendale. I had jellyfish with scallions and cucumber and noodles with pork and greens. The portions at SC are so huge you can share (or take home leftovers as I like to do).

Mike Breen: Saturday afternoon I had a late lunch at the newish branch of Taste of Belgium on Short Vine. We were told we’d just missed the lunch rush (at about 1:30 p.m.), which I was happy about (I hate waiting for a table). 
I’ve been seeing a bunch of commercials on TV for nasty fast food (that El Diablo burger with jalapeño poppers on it? Speedway advertising their many delicious food options?) and they make my stomach hurt every time I see them. The latest has been for White Castle’s chicken and waffle sliders, so I decided to try Taste of Belgium’s chicken and waffle dish to perhaps erase that memory. I loved it. The chicken is covered in hot sauce and the waffles are drenched in syrup. On paper it doesn’t seem like it should work, but it was delicious (even combining the spicy and sweet). The waitress also brought over a bonus waffle with whipped cream and chocolate that was made by mistake and that was also very good (obvs). My daughter got the crepes with chocolate and for some reason said she didn’t care for it (she loves chocolate chip pancakes, so I think she was just being difficult). I had a few bites and thought they were excellent. Now that I have a new appreciation for chicken and waffles (my memory was also tainted by having a taste of Lay’s chicken and waffle flavored chips a while back), I just hope I can avoid those White Castle commercials.

Anne Mitchell: I went to watch Johnny Chu, owner of AmerAsia Kungfood Restaurant, win the Cincinnati Arts Association's Overture Awards "Dancing for the Stars" benefit competition Saturday night at Music Hall. Johnny and his dance partner, Doreen Beatrice from Covington's Step-N-Out Studio, were AMAZING. They blew the crowd and the judges away. The event had dinner by the bite, and I had some delish bites, including an outrageously good beef tenderloin with horseradish cream from Prime 47 (newish on Walnut St.), and tiny little desserts (they're little! no calories!) from Lala's Blissful Bites. Nice folks, fun event! And here's a video of Johnny's smooth moves.

Pama Mitchell: We went to the first-ever wine dinner held at Bistro Grace in Northside. It was a five-course meal with Italian wines — starting with prosecco and ending with vin santo. Along the way were two excellent reds by the Italian winemaker Masi: Campofiorin and an outstanding amarone. Food wise, chef Rachel Roberts outdid herself with everything from a light soup-and-salad starter (wild mushroom soup and a salad of shaved shallots, pecorino and wild mushrooms) to a delicious pasta course (bucatini with house-cured guanciale and toasted bread crumbs) and leg of lamb to go with that amarone. On top of the delights for the palate, I was impressed by the service and the competence of the kitchen, which produced each course for the full house of about 40 diners with no long waits and with everything arriving warm and appealingly plated. And the tab was very reasonable at $55 per person, including everything except tax and tip. Owner Suzanne McGarry is to be commended for this successful launch of what I hope will be numerous wine dinners to come.

Hannah Bussell (editorial intern/foreign exchange student): I knew I was going to drink a lot on Friday night so I needed to line my stomach well. My party of eight chose Keystone Bar & Grill, as it’s just up the road from our house in Clifton Heights, and the Powerhouse mac and cheese off of their signature mac and cheese menu did just the trick — a combination of Buffalo chicken, brisket, jalapenos, blue cheese and a handful of potato chips mixed in a cheesy goo and stirred into a bowl of soft pasta curls. I was very happy to pay the full price for such an excellent meal despite getting the day wrong and thinking it was Friday when they do their special half-price mac and cheese offer (it's actually on Mondays until 11 p.m.). I ended up taking home half of it in a doggy bag as it’s so filling — a notion very new to me as we don’t do that sort of thing over in England.
Saturday after work I met my friends in Bakersfield OTR for a quick late night taco. I had the mole taco, which I always order, as I love the Oaxacan-style braised chicken and the pickled red onions. My friends ordered the pastor tacos, with chili-marinated pork that smelled delicious, but I’m very much an eater who gets stuck in her ways. I never stray from an order that I know won’t disappoint; I’m too loyal to the mole.
Sunday I went to a Reds match, my very first baseball game, which was very exciting. I was so into the game I failed to notice the sunburn spreading over my nose. I had to drown my sorrows over the Reds losing in a pint of Christian Moerlein ale in the Moerlein Lager House just over the road from Great American Ballpark. A cheeky cony from Skyline may have also occurred later on in the evening.

Garin Pirnia: Last month, the Contemporary Arts Center opened their new lobby, which was revamped to contain a cafe called Collective CAC. The lovely folks behind OTR and Northside's Collective Espresso head up the endeavor. Until now, Collective usually closed by 4 p.m. every day, but the cafe stays open until 9 p.m. Wednesday-Friday. Now the Kaplan Lobby has a retooled CAC store, elongated slanted wooden tables with outlets for your electronics and a bar. On any day, it's always free to stop by the lobby and work among the art. The cafe offers Collective's drinks, such as their famous cortado (espresso with milk) made with rotating beans, and the espresso comes out of a cool-looking chrome espresso arm. How arty. Their menu contains all-day breakfast (vegetarian biscuits and gravy!), but they also have sandwiches, including a double grilled cheese. The inside of the sandwich harbors warm goat cheese and thinly-sliced radishes, but the outer later has Tillamook cheddar cheese crispified on the bread — genius. Why has no one else every thought of this? Why haven't I thought of it? After all, my motto is, It could always be crispier." I also tried their caramelized onion tart: a mini tart with onions, Gruyere, microgreens and crunchy sunchoke chips layered on top. Note to self: Make sunchoke chips. Every Wednesday it's free to tour the museum, which is a good time to have a snack at the cafe and look at some world-class art.

by Maija Zummo 10.04.2013
Posted In: Brunch at 11:18 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
todo_park and vine

Park + Vine Extends Brunch to Saturday and Sunday

Sweet and savory vegan brunch available all weekend

Eco superstore, green grocer and vegan goodies purveyor Park + Vine is extending their weekend brunch service to include both Saturday and Sunday.

Starting Saturday, Oct. 5 (tomorrow), brunch goers can enjoy a plethora of sweet and savory menu items, as well as grab-and-go sandwiches and salads from the P+V fridge.

Menu available from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.:


Biscuits with gravy ($8)

Just one lil biscuit w/o gravy or a piece of toast ($3)'

Tofu scramble ($3/$5)
Rosemary garlic potatoes ($3/$5)

Danny: Messy combination of one biscuit with gravy, tofu scramble and potatoes ($8)

Frittata or quiche ($6)


Gluten-free pancake or waffle ($6) – SUNDAY ONLY

Happy Chicks Bakery coffeecake ($3)

Oatmeal w/ topping ($5)

Sweet Peace Bakery cinnamon roll ($3)
Additional topping: Baked cinnamon local apples ($1)
by Staff 06.15.2015 113 days ago
elis bbq

Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend

A surprising amount of different types of cuisine.

Each week CityBeat staffers, dining writers and the occasional intern tell you what they ate this weekend. We're not always proud — or trendy — but we definitely spend at least some money on food. 

Sarah Urmston: I spent my Sunday afternoon under the hot sun with a case of Corona Light and a basket full of Eli's BBQ. My friend and I set up camp on one of their multiple picnic benches and played a round of corn hole with a group of people sitting across from us as we waited for our authentic barbecue sandwiches to come out. Alongside the overflowing pulled pork was mashed potatoes, their famous mac and cheese, and coleslaw, which I piled even higher on the meat stuffed between two buttered, toasted buns. It was the best way to fuel up before heading to see Dawes and Hozier perform live at Horseshoe Casino, closing out an already awesome weekend. 

Ilene Ross: I am a huge fan of leftovers. Thankfully this dovetails nicely with the fact that I can never narrow down my menu choices at restaurants, so I am a compulsive over-orderer. Leftovers are marvelous things. On lazy days I adore having a fridge full of things to either quickly consume in their original state or magically transform into something new, usually with some simple addition like a fried egg. On Thursday night, the BF and I dined al fresco at Dutch’s in Hyde Park. After consuming a gigantic charcuterie and cheese platter and their miraculous truffle popcorn, I knew that most of the short rib grilled cheese and brussels sprouts we had ordered would be coming home. I was right, and it made for the perfect late-night dinner on Friday with the addition of a pint of Graeter’s Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip. No egg necessary.

On Sunday, the BF and I attended one of my very favorite food events in town, Healthy Roots Foundation’s Midsummer Harvest. This year it took place out at Carriage House Farm with 20-plus chefs and vendors preparing and serving delicious food, wine and spirits to raise funds to ensure a healthy start to all babies in the Tristate. We gorged on outstanding “My Grandmother’s Goetta” from chef Michael Shields of BrewRiver GastroPub; Marksbury Buttermilk Fried Chicken with truffle butter, parsley sauce and a spring vegetable salad from chef Todd Kelly of Orchids; cornmeal bellini with Marksbury ham from chef Frances Kroner of Sleepy Bee Café; barbecue pork shoulder tacos with salsa verde, queso fresco, Carriage House radishes and Waterfield’s cilantro from chef Daniel Wright of Pontiac BBQ; and so much more. De rigueur for the sweltering day were Molly Wellmann’s super refreshing cocktails.

Casey Arnold: Friday I went to Kaze for a book event (Many Levy's Calorie Accounting release party). I always love their edamame because it's served chilled with lots of salt. I also ordered the Kaze salad which is unique because of the small spicey peppers mixed in with the greens. A friend of mine ordered the shishotos appetizer, which are those same peppers served hot with bonito flakes. The heat coming from the peppers makes the flakes look like a living organism as they curl and flail around, which was equal parts neat and stinky.

Anne Mitchell: I ate the whole season of Orange is the New Black

Jac Kern: Jeff and I went to Vitor's Bistro on Saturday. They had a five-course dinner-for-two special going on so we made reservations and grabbed a shamefully large bottle of wine to bring (they're BYOB). I've never ordered off the menu at Vitor's; every meal I've had there has been a chef's choice coursed dinner, which can be really fun if you are a person that likes food. This special basically worked the same way: the server asks if you have any allergies, dietary restrictions or strong dislike of anything; this time they also asked if we wanted beef, fish, pork or chicken as an entrée. We let the chef decide. Every plate that came out was a hit for us. We both got a creamy gazpacho (more of a cool tomato basil bisque than a cold salsa-like "soup" I've come to expect), a single deep-fried seafood ravioli in a lobster cream sauce and a light but flavorful salad with peaches, nuts and blue cheese. We received cod and steak as our entrées, which we split and, for dessert, their signature French toast and a crème brûlée torte. I was disappointed we didn't get to try to apple pie egg roll some others had received (I'm a nosey diner), but that feeling lasted for about three seconds once I dug into the crunchy, caramelized cake served in a martini glass. Overall, it was a fun, delicious farm-to-table meal that I'm hoping negates the fact that I ordered LaRosa's twice this weekend.