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by Staff 09.08.2015 29 days ago
Posted In: Leftovers, Brunch, Alcohol, Asian, Events, Food news at 09:56 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend

There's a new Toast Bar at Findlay Market; Taste of Belgium's Rookwood location; pumpkin-flavored stuff; Northside Yacht Club brunch and more

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. 

Ilene Ross: The BF and I had a super busy weekend in the kitchen putting up tomatoes and okra — he’s a wiz with the canning — but we did manage to get out for a bit. On Saturday morning we hit up Findlay Market for provisions and started with breakfast at the fairly new Toast Bar at the Blue Oven Bakery stand. Hearty slices of brioche or other types of bread are slathered thick with your choice of sweet or savory toppings. I chose peanut butter with honey and honey-roasted peanuts, and the BF went with everyone’s childhood favorite, cinnamon sugar. We paired our toast with lattes from Urbana Cafe. Delightful. Next, we stocked up with at-home eats: chicken thighs from Busch’s, smoked lamb sausage from Kroeger & Sons, Japanese eggplant and corn from Turner Farms, spices from Colonel De and general groceries from Madison’s. While we were selecting our groceries we overheard a Madison grandchild who works in the shop say to Mr. Madison, “’Such & such’ brought down the 50-cents for the eggs.” You don’t hear that sort of neighborly attitude at Kroger, which is exactly why we shop at Findlay.
On Monday afternoon we attended Morsels of MORTAR, an open house featuring tastings from four food entrepreneurs who have graduated from the business incubator program MORTAR Cincinnati. We tasted French fries from Fryed, vegan Jamaican cuisine from JameriSol, desserts from Jazzy-Sweeties, and cobbler from Aunt Flora. After the event we strolled to Brezel OTR, grabbed a couple of pretzels and headed over occupy a couple of Adirondack chairs at the bar in Washington Park. I highly recommend this delightful spot as a place to relax, unwind, and enjoy the sights and sounds of the city. Especially the joyful noise of the kids enjoying the fountain. It was an especially nice way to end our holiday weekend.

Emily Begley: It’s finally September, and that means pumpkin-flavored everything is perfectly acceptable. If you’ve never tried pumpkin pie-flavored vodka, go to the store tonight and pick up a bottle of Pinnacle’s. I mixed in a shot with diet cream soda, basically creating a cup of liquid pumpkin pie. (Ice is a must.) It was a great addition to our Labor Day feast, which included grilled sweet potatoes and portobello mushrooms.

Pama Mitchell: We had a good meal and good time at The Littlefield. They make an excellent, strong Manhattan. At $12 it’ll set you back, but one goes a long way. It’s served in a rocks glass over one large ice ball, which keeps the drink cool without diluting it. The dinner specials were all interesting, too. I chowed down on a lamb/beef burger with feta cheese and pickled onions, accompanied by “crunchy green beans” that thankfully weren’t fried (not with the rich burger) — just cooked very al dente. Companions had a pappardelle special (tomatoes, cheese, vegetarian) and the most virtuous among us opted for another special, an Asian-style entrée-sized shrimp salad. (He supplemented that by eating some of his wife’s pasta.)

Katie Holocher: I had a mad craving for Taste of Belgium's chicken and waffles, so my little family and I checked out the new Rookwood location. The chicken and waffle was of course, just as delicious as I remembered, plus I had a raspberry latte that su-eriously hit the spot. And while the wait was long (50 minutes), the staff was super nice and accommodating and our orders were out lickidy split. The whole treat was pretty sweet!

Anne Mitchell: We had our annual neighborhood picnic Sunday, and my friend and I made 100 hamburgers. It's a potluck, and the food is actually awesome. One of our neighbors is a food stylist, and brought an amazing big chafing dish of shrimp with dill butter. Seriously impressive. Washed it all down with Moerlein's Push Reel. Thanks, unions!

Casey Arnold: Saturday my parents took my boyfriend and me to dinner at Chuy's in Kenwood for our belated birthday dinners. We stumbled across the restaurant not too long ago after a day at the mall and were surprised how great the food was, especially because it's a chain restaurant. It was the perfect place for our varied tastes, from my meat-and-potatoes dad, gluten-free boyfriend, vegetarian self and I'll-try-anything-once-and-never-refuse-a-margarita mom. Sunday morning, after spending an evening dancing to Freddie Mercury tunes at Northside Yacht Club the night before, we returned the next afternoon for brunch. There's a simple buffet setup with the added bonus of running into friends every time we've been there. Our friend and co-owner Stuart mixed us some seriously delicious as well as some seriously ridiculous cocktails. My favorite was the Gatorpagne, just half gatorade and half champagne. 

Tony Johnson: I ate a black bean three-way, a cheese pizza with banana peppers from Dewey's and Reese's Pieces.

Jesse Fox: On Saturday, my band filmed a music video that included consumption of mass Budlight Ritas. I tend to gravitate to the Raz-Ber-Rita, but I had a couple Lemon-Ade-Ritas as well. Sunday and Monday I worked on the World Peace Yoga cookbook I am photographing for chef Mark Stroud. He made two incredible feasts to be photographed with models both days and we were all able to indulge once the photos were done. Sunday was a vegan take on the "all American picnic/barbecue" so lots of beans, potato salad, sloppy joes, etc. Monday was more of a thanksgiving-style cuisine and I think I ate my weight in Shepard's Pie. If I had to guess, I would say a weight gain of at least 10 pounds happened over the course of the past three days. Someone roll me to the gym, please.

by Maija Zummo 08.05.2015 63 days ago
Posted In: Alcohol, Beer at 09:56 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

This Week's Dining Events

Glier's Goettafest, Lumenocity dinners, Cincinnati Restaurant Week and CityBeat's annual Sugar Rush

Chicken and Waffles — An easy class where you’ll create various types of chicken and waffles. 6-8 p.m. $75. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

WingFlig! — Washington Platform serves up more than 40 different types of wings, bone-in or boneless, with sauces ranging from mild to hot to stupid. Through Sept. 5. Prices vary. Washington Platform, 1000 Elm St., Downtown, washingtonplatform.com.

Glier's Goettafest — Goetta is the only food that might be more Cincinnati than Skyline, and this weekend Glier’s is holding a festival to celebrate the Queen City’s favorite breakfast food. In addition to live music, games and a goetta-eating contest, you can sample the crispy-creamy treat in more than 40 different forms, including nachos, gyros, jambalaya and brownies. They’ll even have a goetta vending machine. Go forth and goetta. 5-11 p.m. Thursday-Friday, noon-11 p.m. Saturday, noon-9 p.m. Sunday. Free. Newport’s Riverfront Levee, 1 Riverfront Place, Newport, Ky., goettafest.com

Celebrate Tomato Season — Get new recipes for this summer fruit/vegetable. 6-8:30 p.m. $50. Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com.

In Season: Corn — Learn great recipes to use up the influx of local and seasonal corn. 6-8 p.m. $75. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

Spotlight Lumenocity — The Lumenocity Spotlight experience features a gourmet dinner by the bite, open bar, live music from the orchestra, Lumenocity and celebrity chefs including Jean-Robert de Cavel, David Falk, Todd Kelly, Julie Francis and more. 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. $275 per person. Washington Park Lawn, 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, lumenocity2015.com.

Phoenix Group Wine Dinner — Take a drive to the Golden Lamb in Lebanon for a paired wine dinner from the Phoenix Restaurant Group chefs. The five-course menu will be inspired by Remy Pannier wines and fresh, seasonal produce. 7 p.m. $60. Golden Lamb Inn, 27 S. Broadway St., Lebanon, RSVP to 513-932-5065.

Moroccan Spiced Chicken — Use warm spices inspired by Moroccan cooking. Make your own spice blend (Ras el Hanout) and use it to create a spiced chicken with roasted carrots, apricots and parsley. 6-8 p.m. $75. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

Craft Beer and BBQ Cruise with BB Riverboats — Drink Christian Moerlein beer and enjoy a barbecue buffet while you cruise the Ohio River. 6:30-10 p.m. $58 adults; $40 children. BB Riverboats, 101 Riverboat Row, Newport, Ky., bbriverboats.com.

Wiedemann Brewing Company Anniversary Party — Wiedemann celebrates their anniversary at Pompilios with drinks specials and bocce ball tournament. 5 p.m. Pompilios, 600 Washington Ave., Newport, Ky., 859-414-6949.

Shrimp Three Ways — Learn to make shrimp three different ways — panko crusted, in tacos and with bacon grits. 5-7 p.m. $75. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

Ole Smoky Shine & Dine with BB Riverboats — Eastern Tennessee’s Ole Smokey Moonshine distillery will be on board for tastings and souvenir mason jar. 6-9:30 p.m. $60 adult; $40 children. BB Riverboats, 101 Riverboat Row, Newport, Ky., bbriverboats.com.

Crawl for Cancer — Grab a team and travel to five different bars for pitchers of beer, music and fun. Benefits The Cure Starts Now and Our Daily Bread. 1-5 p.m. $45 per person. Jefferson Social, 101 E. Freedom Way, The Banks, Downtown, crawlforcancer.org/cincinnati.php.

Cazadores and Cans — Drink specials and music from DJs Kevin and Yusef. 9 p.m. Prices vary. Righteous Room, 641 Walnut St., Downtown, foureg.com.

Freestore Foodbank Fundraiser at MOTR — In conjunction with Second Sunday (theme EcoMANIA), MOTR Pub hosts their fourth annual Freestore Foodbank fundraiser. Collection hours are noon-11 p.m. for check and cash donations; MOTR will match up to $1,000. Live music starts at 5 p.m. Noon-11 p.m. Free. 1345 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, motrpub.com.

New Orleans Dixieland Jazz Cruise — A creole-inspired dinner on the river with live Dixieland music. 6-9:30 p.m. $50 adults; $35 children. BB Riverboats, 101 Riverboat Row, Newport, Ky., bbriverboats.com.

Second Sunday on Main: EcoMAINia — This monthly, themed block party turns Main Street into a party every second Sunday. This month’s theme is EcoMAINia, featuring more than 100 earth-friendly vendors, a one-stop recycling event (which will accept everything from cell phones and plastic bags to cork, used writing instruments and clean clothing), live music, an interactive farmers tent with free vegetable transplants and a cooking demo with the Civic Garden Center. 
Noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Free. Main Street, between 12th and Liberty streets, Over-the-Rhine, secondsundayonmain.org

Cincinnati Restaurant Week — Dine at some of the area’s top eateries, which will be offering three-course, prix-fixe menus. Participating restaurants include Zula, Metropole, Jeff Ruby’s, Nicola’s and Via Vite (to name a few). Through Aug. 16. dodowntowncincinnati.com

An Elegant Summer Table — Seasonal dishes like grilled pork tenderloin, roasted corn and Challah bread pudding, wild mushroom and green bean salad and almond cake with fresh berries. 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. $50. Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com.

Fresh Mozzarella Workshop — Learn to prepare a ball of fresh mozzarella, then use it to make a caprese sandwich and fig, mozzarella, and mushroom stacks. 6-8 p.m. $75. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

Sugar Rush — Calling all sugar plum fairies and lord licorices. We've all heard the phrase, "like a kid in a candy store," but you don't have to be a child to indulge in a smorgasbord of sweets. Join CityBeat at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park for Sugar Rush on Aug. 12. You'll feel like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory (minus that annoying Veruca Salt) as you explore a colorful candy extravaganza. Several local sweeteries will provide samples of their best cupcakes, ice cream, donuts, pies, pastries and more. Guests will vote for their favorite treat of the night — the winner will receive bragging rights and an award to display at their shop for a full year! There will also be a panel of experts handing out special recognitions for the most creative sweets. To go along with this new location — the Playhouse in the Park — Sugar Rush's theme is “Secret Garden," which is playing at the theater Sept. 5-Oct. 3. 
A portion of Sugar Rush ticket proceeds will benefit Cincinnati Ballet. This event is open to all ages. Children 8 and under are free when paired with an adult paid admission. 5:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday. $20. Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, 962 Mount Adams Circle, Mount Adams, tickets here.  
by Staff 07.27.2015 72 days ago
Posted In: Alcohol, Asian, Barbecue at 12:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
casey at taft ale house

Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend

Asian, beer and barbecue

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. 

Casey Arnold: Yesterday, my boyfriend and I went to Findlay Market to see some live music and check out the barbecue competition (aka Smokin' Hot Weekend). Brian got a sampler from the Velvet Smoke booth, which also has a brick-and-mortar at the market. Totally chosen at random for being the closest booth taking credit cards. Thinking ahead, he brought his own gluten-free bun and turned his sampler, which was two heaps of meat separated by coleslaw, into a sandwich. He was stuffed after one pile, which was reportedly delicious and smelled amazing. As a vegetarian person, I picked up some lime cardamom sorbetto from Dojo Gelato, which was particularly refreshing in Sunday's heat. Next time you're at Findlay, here's a hot tip: Colonel De's truffle salt is totally worth $10 an ounce. Put it on your potatoes. Also everything. Take a deep whiff when you're feeling sad.
After that, we wandered over to Taft's Ale House for a pint and people watching. We hadn't been before and ended up staying about an hour just soaking in a Nellie's Key Lime beer and the beautiful space. Neither of us were hungry, but we peeked at the menu and eyeballed other people's plates. It seems great for gluten free (more piles of meat) but not so great for vegetarians — aside from a few salads. 

Sarah Urmston: After the boyfriend got off of work on Friday, we strolled around Over-the-Rhine with time to kill and bellies to fill. Since we've eaten in OTR almost every weekend of our overall relationship, we decided to just pop in somewhere new — no questions asked. And we were so lucky to have chosen to stop in for Asian street food from Quan Hapa, off of Vine Street. Although our service was a little funky, the chardonnay (only $6) was super delish, and their Hapa Ramen was absolutely off the wall with zest and just the right amount of substance to fill you without overkill. It consisted of tonkotsu broth, a poached egg, pork belly, green onions, narutomaki and shiso (two things I have never heard of in my life), and burnt garlic chili oil. Every flavor worked together so well, and I knew it really was wonderful after looking away for one minute and finding Bryan holding my bowl up to his own face. Come on, buddy. 

Maija Zummo: I went to my favorite three-year-old's birthday party yesterday and mom and dad ordered pizza from Krimmer's Italianette in North College Hill for everyone. I had had the pizza from the Silverton location growing up, but didn't know they had opened a second spot (which I hope also delivers to my house because no one ever does…). The pizza was good. Most pizza is good (especially if you've been drinking) but I liked Krimmer's kind of thick crust and pully cheese — the kind that makes strings when you pick up a slice, like in commercials. It also comes in a big family size — smaller than an Adriatico's Bearcat, but bigger than a regular large — which was great for feeding a medium-sized party, or for binge-eating on weekends.
by Staff 06.24.2015 105 days ago
Posted In: Alcohol, Beer, Food news at 09:47 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

This Week's Dining Events

Drag brunches. Rhinegeist turns 2. A festival dedicated to garlic. Plus Panegyri!

Food Truckin' for Josh Cares — Spend your lunch hour on Fountain Square raising funds for Josh Cares, an organization dedicated to providing companionship and support to hospitalized children and their families. The third annual Food Truckin’ for Josh Cares brings more than 15 area food trucks to the Square, including C’est Cheese, Hungry Bros, Red Sesame, Urban Grill and more to feed you and compete for a coveted Golden Spatula award, given to selected winners by a panel of celebrity judges. Eat lunch. Do good. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesday. Free; food prices vary. Fountain Square, Fifth and Vine streets, Downtown, joshcares.org

MadTree Beer Dinner — Head to the Moerlein Lager House for a chef-prepared paired dinner, matched with MadTree beers. 6 p.m. $55. Moerlein Lager House, 115 Joe Nuxhall Way, Downtown, 513-421-2337.

Recipes from Peru — A cooking class at Nectar restaurant with chef Julie Francis and sous chef Amanda Bowman. Learn to make fish and vegetable ceviches. 6-9 p.m. $75. Nectar, 1000 Delta Ave., Mount Lookout, dinenectar.com.

Lobstapalooza — Lobster soups, salads, sandwiches, appetizers, cocktails, quesadillas, curries and more. Through July 3. Prices vary. Washington Platform, 1000 Elm St., Downtown, washingtonplatform.com.

Young Chef’s Kitchen — Kids learn to cook at the Northside Farmers Market, using foods from the vendors themselves. 4:45-6 p.m. $3. Hoffner Park, Blue Rock and Hamilton Avenue, Northside, northsidefm.org.

Dinner and Dance: The Waltz — Starts with a dance class in the waltz. Romantic date night dinner recipes follow. 6-9 p.m. $140 per couple. Cooks’Wares, 11344 Montgomery Road, Harper’s Point, cookswaresonline.com.

Cincinnati Food + Wine Pop-Up Cooking Demo — Chef Joel Mollow of Nicola’s gives a cooking demo with wine pairings. 5:30-7 p.m. Free. Lexus RiverCenter, 633 W. Third St., Covington, Ky., 859-547-5300.

Chilling and Grilling — The Spice and Tea Exchange heads to The Art of Entertaining for a special grilling dinner. 6-8:30 p.m. $35; $50 with wine. The Art of Entertaining, 2019 Madison Road, O’Bryonville, cincyartofentertaining.com.

Charity Event for Graves’ Disease and Thyroid Foundation — Champps will donate 10 percent of sales from the day to the foundation. Also includes signature drinks and drink specials. 6-9 p.m. Free. Champps Restaurant and Bar, 9424 Civic Center Blvd., West Chester, gdatf.org.

Photo: Provided
Panegyri Greek Festival — If you’re a fan of cult-classic My Big Fat Greek Wedding (and who isn’t?), then get yourself to Holy Trinity- St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church for their annual Panegyri Greek Festival. This Queen City favorite features bouzouki music, traditional Greek dancers (where visitors are encouraged to join in on group dances!), rides, a Greek culture exhibit, cooking demonstrations, and, most importantly, a plethora of delicious Greek foodstuffs. There will be souvlaki, spanakopita, Greek pizza, moussaka, gyros, and much, much more — you can even pick up handmade Greek pastries to take home with you. 5-11 p.m. Friday; 3-11 p.m. Saturday; 1-8 p.m. Sunday. $2; free ages 12 and younger. 7000 Winton Road, Finneytown, 513-591-0030, panegyri.com

ArtsWave Happy Hour — Moerlein donates $1 of every pint sold to ArtsWave. 4-9 p.m. Free. Christian Moerlein Brewery Malt House Taproom, 1621 Moore St., Over-the-Rhine, christianmoerlein.com.

OTR Beerfest CANival — Washington Park hosts the inaugural Over-the-Rhine brew festival dedicated solely to cans — OTR Beerfest: CANival. It’s a celebration of canned craft beer (no glass bottles here) and features more than 100 different varieties from breweries all over the country (plus locals). There will entertainment on stage all day, food trucks lining 14th Street, and the event producers promise there are many more surprises up their sleeves. Buy three beer tokens for $5, each good for a 4-ounce pour of beer, or use all three for a 12-ounce can. Brought to you by the same group that puts on Cincy BeerFest on Fountain Square. 1-11 p.m. Saturday. Free. Washington Park, 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, washingtonpark.org

Rhinegeist Turns 2 — Rhinegeist celebrates its second anniversary with a party featuring a ton of special releases — Tart Cherry Sour Cougar, Barrel-Aged Knucklehead (aged in Buffalo Trace barrels), Mango Sci-Fi, Double-Oaked Mastadon and mannnnny more — live music in the taproom and lounge space, plus food from Dutch's, Mazunte and Dojo Gelato. The day includes brewery tours and shuttle busses every 20 minutes to and from Washington Park, provided by Cincy Brew Bus and Craft Connection. Noon. Free admission. Rhinegeist, 1910 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, goo.gl/RVSXXY.

WestFest — Join the Cheviot/Westwood community as they transform Harrison Avenue into the West Side’s biggest street party for the 14th year in a row. An estimated 30,000 people will fill the block, featuring two separate stages for live local music, as well as beer booths, snow cone stands and grub from local eateries such as N.Y.P.D. Pizza, Maury’s Tiny Cove, Big Dog BBQ and much more. This event also offers a Kid Zone for children of all ages to experience rides, games and various contests. 1 p.m.-midnight Saturday; 1-10 p.m. Sunday. $2. Downtown Cheviot, cheviotwestfest.com.

Gadabout Doughnut Pop-Up at Oakley Fancy Flea — The Oakley Fancy Flea is a curated market with high-end wares in the heart of Oakley. The Fancy Flea has almost doubled the space for the market this year, meaning almost double the amount of stuff to peruse and double the fun. This Saturday, find Gadabout Doughnuts, baker Karina Rice's pop-up donut shop, on the grounds. Read an interview with Rice here. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Free. 2980 Madison Road, Oakley, theoffmarket.org.

Cincy Brew Bus Eastside Tour — Take the bus to Old Firehouse, Fifty West, Mt. Carmel and Bad Tom Smith. 12:10-5:30 p.m. $55-$65. Leaves from the Growler House, 1526 Madison Road, East  Walnut Hills, cincybrewbus.com.

Pop-Up Drag Brunch — Help turn the Queen City into Drag Queen City while getting your brunch game on. You can celebrate Cincinnati Pride and your appetite at 21c Museum Hotel’s Metropole restaurant during Pop Up Drag Brunch, an event that includes cocktails from mixologist Catherine Manabat, a brunch prepared by chef Jared Bennett and, of course, live performances from local drag queens. The brunch is part of the city’s much larger Pride Week festival, parade and other associated events, which celebrate Cincinnati’s LGBTQ+ community. The festival will be using the hashtag #CincyPride2015 during the events, which take place through Sunday. 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday. Call for reservations. 609 Walnut St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-578-6660, 21ccincinnati.com

Garlic Festival — Garlic: It’s not just for scaring away vampires. The bulb, a cousin to the onion, has been in both culinary and medicinal use for thousands of years, and is a staple in Asian and Mediterranean diets. The second annual Greensleeves Garlic Festival lets you sample 20 varieties of garlic during a daylong event with live music, farm tours and more. If you’re one to judge, sign up to judge the Garden Scamper, a cooking competition. Just remember to bring some gum. 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday. $5. Greensleeves Farm, 10851 Pleasant Ridge Road, Alexandria, Ky., greensleevesfarm.com

Future Science Presents: Food! — What happens when you put science and cooking together? Well, Breaking Bad, but also Future Science’s upcoming show. A group of four “scientists” who also happen to be comedians will discuss the present and future of food, eat food and present new ideas about food in their variously themed monthly live comedy show held at MOTR Pub. This time, comedians Andy Gasper, Karl Spaeth and Logan Lautzenheiser focus on nutrition in a world where food is constantly changing. As Jesse says: Science, bitch. 10:30 p.m. Sunday. Free. MOTR Pub, 1345 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/futurescienceshow

The Upscale Side of The Eagle — Chef Dana Adkins teaches you to make minted diver scallops, herb-crusted skirt steak, homemade ketchup and more. 6-9 p.m. $60. Cooks’Wares, 11344 Montgomery Road, Harper’s Point, cookswaresonline.com.

Simple Seasonal Italian — Classic Italian dishes that are easier than you think: creamy polenta, affogato sundaes, herb-roasted fish in parchment and buerre blanc sauce. 6:30-9 p.m. $45. Cooks’Wares, 11344 Montgomery Road, Harper’s Point, cookswaresonline.com.

A Steakhouse Dinner — Make a steakhouse dinner at home: steamed artichoke, potato-crusted jumbo shrimp, grilled beef tenderloin with blue cheese chive butter, roasted new potatoes, kale gratin and frozen key lime pie. 6-8:30 p.m. $50. Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com.

by Staff 06.15.2015 114 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.

by Staff 05.11.2015
goodfellas pizza

Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend

Goodfellas pizza, Indian (always), Jimmy G's, Bronte Bistro and BrewRiver GastroPub

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. 

Ilene Ross: On Friday night I was “ordered” by the boy and his friend to pick up pizza from Goodfellas on my way home. Ham and pineapple for the boy, sausage for his friend, and a Taste of Naples for me — tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella. Simple yet satisfying. On Sunday night — Mother’s Day — the boy artfully arranged a giant platter of supermarket sushi and presented me with a hand-decorated box in which to store my treasures. The night was divine.

Jac Kern: I took my fiance to the Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally show at the Taft on Saturday as a late birthday present, and we went out to dinner before at Jimmy G's. We split a crab cake to start. I don't think I've ever had a crab cake I didn't like, but this one was particularly good — full of fresh crab meat without breadcrumb fillers. I stuck with seafood for dinner and ordered a rare yellowfin tuna steak. It was so flavorful, I think it was even better than the steak they're known for (which my date ordered). We shared a couple side dishes — 4 fat fries and mac and cheese — but could barely put a dent in the oversized portions. I also pretended to be fancy by ordering lemon basil martinis, which were insanely good.

On Sunday we took our moms and grandma to Bronte Bistro inside Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Rookwood Pavilion. Half of us ordered quiche (Mother's Day brunch staple!) and the others ordered a big breakfast platter, a ham and brie sandwich and tilapia. I worked at Bronte in college, so you'd think by now I'd be sick of the food I'd relied on for shift meals so many times, but nope! I'm a sucker for good ladies-who-lunch fare and a coffee shop with a full bar. We're now thinking of making it a Mother's Day tradition.

Casey Arnold: At the Aronoff on Saturday I saw the Cincinnati Ballet for the first time ever. It proved to be impressive and something I should have done a long time ago. Before the ballet, my friends Corrie, Julie, Katie and I went to Igby's for cocktails and small plates. We nibbled on seafood guacamole and bread and butter while sampling from the cocktail menu. My favorite was the Tito's Austin Blossom, a vodka and citrus cocktail with rosemary. After the ballet we attempted to go to the 21c rooftop but were thwarted by a private party. We ended up at Taqueria Mercado where we sipped Palomas and talked about our favorite parts of the ballet — all between scoops of queso and guacamole on fresh chips. 

Maija Zummo: Sunday, my husband and I had brunch at the bar at BrewRiver GastroPub for our anniversary (note to self: don't go to brunch on Mother's Day without a reservation and expect a table). We got engaged in New Orleans so a New Orleans-style brunch seemed apt. He loved his shrimp and grits and I enjoyed the texture of my eggs-and-biscuit breakfast. I've been super sick and couldn't taste any of it, but I liked how dense and square the biscuit was. I forgot how fun the atmosphere is at BrewRiver — usually I hate live music, but they had a pretty good singer there doing Tom Waits covers, and then we found out they do Louisiana crawfish boils weekly, where they fly in the little things and cook em up with like mushroom or potatoes or corn or whatever you're supposed to do. And if you get there between 5 and 6 p.m., they have super cheap beers (with like 23ish on draft). I won't eat crustaceans but I'm not opposed to beer.
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 Maija Zummo 04.03.2015
Posted In: Alcohol, Bar, Cocktails, Openings at 11:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
sundry and vice_aaron conway

Apothecary-Themed Cocktail Bar Sundry and Vice Now Open

A new concept and a new place to drink in OTR

Back in the day, doctors and pharmacists used to treat everything from colds and stomach aches to fainting spells and typhoid with alcoholic elixirs and tonics — wine for the plague, absinthe for intestinal parasites, bitters for indigestion, brandy for just about everything. So it makes sense that Sundry and Vice, Over-the-Rhine's newest cocktail bar, has adopted a vintage apothecary theme. 

The bar, which held its grand opening on March 27, serves fresh cocktails with housemade spirits, syrups and other concoctions. House cocktails include Dr. Shiloh's System Vitalizer ($11), with mezcal, lime, pineapple, ginger, Peychaud bitters and soda, and pre-Prohibition classics like a Clover Club ($11), with gin, raspberry, lemon and egg white. They also have local beer, non-local beer, wine and housemade sodas dispensed through a vintage fountain soda draft arm.

The interior, which is designed to hold 55 patrons, features an era-authentic storefront with antique jars, bottles and other assorted medical ephemera, including vintage prescriptions on the wall (for classics like cocaine, a former painkiller and dandruff cure). There are seats at the bar, as well as leather booths, exposed brick, era-appropriate Jazz music and a ton of mood lighting.

4 p.m.-2 a.m. Monday-Friday; noon-2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Sundry and Vice, 18 W. 13th St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/sundryandvice.

All photos by Aaron Conway

by Staff 03.30.2015
dean mediterranean imports

Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend

Sung Korean Bistro. Salazar. Dean's Mediterranean. Goetta.

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. Surprisingly, no one ate Indian food. 

Nick Swartsell: Continuing what's become an ongoing addiction, I had a falafel wrap at Dean's Mediterranean in Findlay Market on Sunday. It's easily the best falafel in town — super crisp on the outside and warm and fluffy inside. Plus, the wrap comes packed with all kinds of optional pickled vegetables you don't normally see, hummus and hot sauce. And they give you a side of their curried couscous, which has dried fruit, cilantro and what I think are chickpeas. All that for five bucks. The best part is, it's still pretty under the radar — most people don't know Dean's makes food (they also have pretty killer samosas, FYI). You just walk up to the counter at the front and say the secret code words (which are, conveniently, "I'd like a falafel sandwich, please") and they hook you up.

Rebecca Sylvester: I went to Sung Korean Bistro Saturday night. The food was outstanding. Korean doesn't seem to have an overpowering element like other Asian cuisines (salt in Chinese or sweetness in Thai); the flavor of the ingredients really came through. I ordered the dolsot bibimbap, which is rice, vegetables and a protein served in a 450-degree clay pot. They top it with a sunny-side-up egg and mix it at your table with a chili paste. The pot continues to cook your food the whole time you're eating it, so the rice gets crunchier as you go. So good.

I also appreciate any restaurant that gives me chopsticks first and makes me ask for a fork, not because I am at all good with chopsticks, but because it paces me from eating like Garfield.

Pama Mitchell: I had a super fun time at Salazar on Friday. We sat at the bar, which has a cool design wherein each end has a rounded seating for five — which happened to be our group's number. I was impressed by the craft cocktails, very meticulously made by two bartenders. My "Spy versus Rye" (made with rye whiskey, obviously) was delicious. Also loved the fried Brussels sprouts appetizer (yes!) and an entree of "everything"-crusted salmon. Also notable was the first sign of fiddlehead ferns in the scallops dish. Splendid!

Danny Cross: My girlfriend and I dropped my sister off at Horseshoe Casino Sunday morning — she had made it through Day 1 of a big poker tournament there and was among the final 80 or so players out of 600-something going after a six-figure first place prize. Unfortunately, she was knocked out in 67th place, just five spots away from the lower-level prize monies. She should have just skipped it and went to the Metropole at 21c with us for brunch, because that place is pretty great. I ordered the Breakfast Sandwich (pimento spread, egg, bacon) but without the pimento spread because I'm a child with a terrible palate. This led to a brief discussion about a recent Deadspin article I read detailing tips for eating at a fancy restaurant. Sounds simple, but these are things I sometimes don't know how to do. (I hate tasting wine in front of servers as if I know anything about it or would even consider sending it back.) Katie had the Quinoa Hash (sweet potatoes, avocado, sunny side eggs and cilantro creme fraiche) and thought it was terrific. We split a side of goetta because this is Cincinnati. 

Casey Arnold: My boyfriend's sister* was in town for a poker tournament, so we had a little get together for her, which involved making our own tacos and margaritas. Since she went to the next round, she didn't get to the party until after midnight when all of the taco makings were turned into late night nachos. We stayed up late catching up, which is why we didn't roll out of bed until noon on Saturday. That's when my boyfriend and I crawled our way to Hangover Easy in Clifton. It was packed as usual!

*Editor's note: Casey Arnold is in a relationship with Danny Cross' brother and they are indeed talking about the same sister and the same poker tournament.
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.