This is what guided Myra Griffin of Myra’s Dionysus as she ventured to open her own restaurant near the University of Cincinnati campus in 1977. She wanted create a unique eating experience in the Cincinnati area. Kicking off the next big thing isn’t easy, though, and to keep it fresh, Myra saw to it the menu has an array of ethnic food.
“…I realized how little meat other cultures used and how much better it was for you,” she says. “Thus I became a much more vegetarian restaurant.”
When most people think of food in a college town, greasy quick meals and sandwiches from McDonald's come to mind. Myra didn’t want that. In fact, one of her main criteria for a location was a college town, for open-minded individuals who would enjoy her healthy, vegetarian alternative to standard college cuisine. “Healthy does not mean it can't taste good,” she says. That’s what she strives to deliver for every meal.
Myra’s other point in opening Dionysus was to craft an atmosphere where people could bring their families and enjoy themselves, again a notion not widely thought of in a college town. One would think more of fun drinking locations or places to get a quick bite but not somewhere you’d bring a child.
Myra’s Dionysus is a place where one family in particular has created a tradition — four generations have enjoyed Myra's cooking. That is service that’s hard to compete with. Dionysus is a kinetic place as well. It’s always moving forward, adapting new dishes to the proverbial arsenal. Myra enjoys the challenge of coming up with new dishes. She draws on cultures around the world, relishing in diversity.
“It has been a case of trying things, if they work, keep them; if not, change,” she says. At Myra’s Dionysus, the goal for the restaurant is to entertain people through atmosphere, customer service and good conversation. Myra has her degree in education, so teaching her employees was simply second nature. Seeing workers solve issues together and have a great time doing it is what helps drive the business ahead of the rest.
Myra’s Dionysus is an interesting establishment. It’s healthy, odd, has history but plays on contemporary trends. Myra makes sure all of these aspects and more show off to the outside world to bring in anyone willing to give one of her dishes a try. All Myra wants at the end of the day is a good experience for people involved.
“The fun is in seeing others enjoy what we have to offer,” she says.
Myra's Dionysus is located at 121 Calhoun St., Clifton Heights. Go here for menu, hours and more information.
The areas of performance rated this year include food quality, hospitality of restaurant staff, variety of restaurant menu choices, breakfast food quality, timeliness of room service and other food and beverage related presentation. Managing Director Michael Sheer and Executive Chef and Director of Food and Beverage Todd Kelly have received numerous honors for their staff’s superior performance and dedication to customer service.
In December, Hilton Cincinnati’s
fine dining restaurant, Orchids at the Palm Court, was named one of the top 100
restaurants overall in the USA by OpenTable Diners. On March 1, Cincinnati
Magazine rated Orchids the No. 1 Restaurant in Cincinnati for the fifth
Orchids has received many awards for its extraordinary products, atmosphere, and staff, including the American Automobile Association’s (AAA) four-diamond award for excellence for eight consecutive years. Zagat Survey, the original provider of user-generated restaurant ratings, named Orchids Cincinnati’s “Top Restaurant” of 2011, 2012 and 2013. Chef Kelly, once of only six Hilton Signature Chefs in the United States, was named the American Culinary Federation’s 2011-2012 No. 1 Chef in the USA, the highest honor conferred upon one of more than 20,000 chefs in the national organization.
With featured menu items such as roasted monkfish, Elysian Fields lamb loin and Maine lobster salad, Orchids remains a popular fine-dining establishment for Hilton guests and non-guests alike. “We’re very proud of our food and beverage team,” Chef Kelly said in a press release. “This award recognizes the hard work that we do each day to meet and exceed our guest's expectations. At Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza we are dedicated to providing an exceptionally high quality of food and outstanding level of customer service."
Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, opened in 1931, is known both for its outstanding accommodations and its architectural prowess. Complete with rare Brazilian rosewood walls, German lighting fixtures, expansive Romanesque murals, and an original Rockwood Pottery foundation, this Hilton is a prime example of French art deco architectural style. The hotels boasts 561 newly updated guestrooms as well as more than 40,000 square feet of meeting and event space. Orchids at the Palm restaurant is open from 5:30-10 p.m. nightly. For more information or reservations, visit orchidsatpalmcourt.com.
Dan Katz left his culinary ventures in New York City to start something new. He wanted a restaurant in a fun, welcoming environment and Cincinnati was just the place. But before he opens his restaurant, Meatball Kitchen, Katz is hosting pop-up dinners to see what people think of the food offered at his forthcoming establishment. As Katz continues his search for the perfect spot to open Meatball Kitchen, area foodies can keep up with the latest news on Facebook.
CityBeat: Why did you move from New York?
Dan Katz: I co-owned a French Bistro and American wine bar in NYC. My wife, Laura, grew up in Cincinnati and after visiting, I realized what a great place it is to raise a family. I am looking forward to adding my New York experience and energy to all the exciting stuff that is going on in the Cincy culinary community. I think Meatball Kitchen will be a perfect addition to the scene here.
CB: What inspired you to do these pop-up dinners?
DK: I've been thinking about this idea for a long time. My goal was to create a cravable, delicious take on the classic meatball. I want to raise the standard of typical fast food and bring delicious, affordable food to everyone. The pop-ups are a great way to introduce and test my concept. I want to be the great $5 sandwich place and feed the neighborhood.
CB: When is your restaurant opening?
DK: Soon! We are looking at locations around town. I have a great team ready to go and we are hoping to open by the end of the summer.
CB: Are you doing any more pop up dinners?
DK: Yes. The next one is June 12 at The Kitchen Factory in Northside. At the last pop-up, we introduced the diners to our core menu. At the next pop-up, we will serve one of the exciting rotating specials as well. We believe that we can turn any recipe into a meatball! Diners can follow us on Facebook to keep updated about this and other events.
CB: What are you most looking forward to when opening your restaurant?
DK: I am looking forward to feeding happy people. What's not to love about a fast, delicious, exciting, cheap and filling meal?
Local pastry chef/chocolatier/confectioner Shalini Latour of Chocolats Latour has seriously taken chocolate bunnies to the next level of cute by Willy Wonka-ing them into a rainbow assortment of colors.
Chocolate naturally comes in brown (boring), dark brown (more boring) and white (really boring), so Latour applied some cocoa butter colors and turned her little Easter hoppers into periwinkle, lavender, flamingo, cantaloupe, sunflower and chartreuse rabbits. A chartreuse bunny! Brilliant.
Each candy is made of solid, fair-trade chocolate in dark, milk or white, which is then wrapped in a compostable cellophane bag. Bunnies are available in two sizes: 7 oz. ($9.50) and 20 oz. ($24). And, sure, the painted eyes are a tad freaky, but that's easy to get over — just eat the head first.
They have been talking about it since they were 15 years old. Now, about 15 years later, all it took was an evening stroll through some back alleys on the way to The Famous Neons Unplugged in Over-the-Rhine to stumble across the perfect spot for their new start-up, Collective Espresso.
Owners Dave Hart and Dustin Miller had always dreamed of opening a coffee shop together. Lifelong friends and Ohio natives, the two spent a few years on separate journeys living in and being inspired by different states along the West Coast and working in multiple restaurants and cafes along the way.
"We kind of just moved to Cincinnati with the plan that we would figure it out," Hart explained nonchalantly as he reached for a cup and saucer behind the bar. Cold November rain fell outside during our interview, but the coffee and conversation warmed the already cozy shop as I sat comfortably on a stool that Hart and Miller hand-made, at the rustic bar that they crafted out of an old barn door. Just like the simplicity of the shop's design, Miller explained that it's their goal to very simply, "make great coffee taste great."
"There are a lot of great natural things happening in this coffee," Miller explained, joining Hart behind the bar. "It's our job as baristas to make it look and taste awesome. We want the coffee to speak for itself."
The shop, on the brink of opening, will mainly serve Deeper Roots Coffee — which is local — and Quills Coffee from Louisville, Ky. However, since they have a multiple roaster format, they are excited that they have the freedom to serve anything that piques their interest.
I watched in awe as the duo made the perfect cup of coffee through a process known as the drip method. This procedure takes about two and a half minutes and is performed through several steps in a homemade set-up resembling a science lab experiment.
"Each cup of coffee is made-to-order," Hart explained as he smelled the complex aroma from the coffee. "We don't want to be so slow that it's frustrating to get a cup of coffee here, but we like the idea of people being able to chill out for a few minutes and have a real coffee experience."
There are many ways to get your caffeine fix at Collective Espresso including espresso, macchiatos, cortado, cappuccino, lattes and mochas. The average price for a drink is $2.50-$3.50.
Although they recognized some great coffee shops that Cincinnati already has to offer, Hart explained that they thought the Cincinnati coffeehouse scene was missing something — Collective Espresso. With seating arranged in a bar-like fashion, the shop provides a welcoming atmosphere to stop in, have a cup of coffee over the daily news (CityBeat, of course) and meet or catch up with neighbors.
"If people are as dorky about coffee as we are, we also want to be a place where people can explore different brew methods and learn about different coffees," Miller added.
Just as the perfect cup of coffee takes time, the finishing touches are being put on Collective Espresso. The shop, located at 207 Woodward St., (off Main Street) is expected to open very soon.
Cincinnati restaurants Adriatico’s and Eli’s BBQ got national recognition this week when they appeared on Urbanspoon’s top 100 “cheap eats” list. Urbanspoon chose these two eateries, as well as 98 more, from the million (yes, million) restaurants in their database.
Eli’s BBQ upgraded from a tent at Fountain Square and Findlay Market to a permanent home in the East End this year. They serve smoked meat and home-cooked sides. On Friday afternoons, you can bring your own drinks to accompany the pulled pork and macaroni and cheese on your plate. Eli’s offers hickory-smoked ribs, all-beef hotdogs, pulled pork sandwiches and more. For a longer rundown of Eli’s BBQ, check out CityBeat's review of the joint.
Adriatico’s brings New York style pizza to the Queen City. The pizzeria and sports bar is open after midnight each night, so you can get your late-night pizza fix after most places are closed. And since pizza isn't complete without beer, this place has plenty of it. With more than 40 beers on tap plus tons of craft bottled and canned beers, you’re able to mix and match pizzas and brews for the best combination for you. To keep up with Adriatico’s, check them out on Facebook.
Congratulations to Cincinnati’s cheap stops to fill up and leave full. Once you give these restaurants a try, check out more local spots because Cincinnati has a lot to offer when it comes to eating.
But the staff at Maribelle’s eat + drink has nothing to hide; in fact, they want you to see their kitchen.
Maribelle’s, which used to be located on Riverside Drive, is set to reopen Thursday at a new location on Madison Road in Oakley. Owners Leigh Enderle and Mike Florea wanted to create a restaurant that felt comfortable and open, so they redesigned the space that used to house Hugo to look like a kitchen at home.
The walls are now painted pastel yellow and green, and wooden chairs stand against high tables (designed by local architect Terry Boling) that look like kitchen islands. The kitchen line is completely exposed, as is the bar — so diners won’t be left wondering how the staff operates or how clean the kitchen environment is.
“Transparency is the concept we’re going for,” says Enderle. “We want people to know where their food comes from and how it’s made. We want them to understand the sourcing and we want them to understand how much work goes into the restaurant, too.”
Chefs at Maribelle’s will use hormone-free meat and seasonal
local ingredients for their American-fare menu items priced $8-15. Their
chicken and turkey products will come from Gerber Farms of central Ohio, and
their beer list will include domestic lagers, porters and IPAs. The restaurant will be open Tuesday-Sunday.
Maribelle’s staff thinks that everyone has the right to know where their food came from, and they invite diners to ask questions about their meals.
“I care about what I eat. Not all the time, but I do care,” says Enderle. “I care about where things come from, and I care that the animals are treated well. At Maribelle’s, we want to make sure we know the story behind the ingredients that we’re getting, and we want to make sure it fits into our concept of transparency.”
Food & Wine magazine has named two of Cincinnati’s finest young chefs as runners-up for the title of "Most Talented New Chef in America." Daniel Wright of Senate (and Abigail Street) and José Salazar of The Palace are both outstanding, talented chefs who do Cincinnati proud and can truly hold their own against the other eight Great Lakes nominees — seven from Chicago and one from Indianapolis. Since this is a People's Choice award, you can cast a ballot and help bring home this worthwhile recognition of our local dining scene.
Here's a link to the voting, and may the best chef win!
The grilled cheese-n-tomato soup gods at Tom + Chee are no strangers to the spotlight. Since its inception in 2009 as a food tent on Fountain Square, the comfort food joint has gone on to expand to two permanent locations and has been featured on Man vs. Food Nation and Amazing Eats. They even boast a food challenge called The Baker's Dozen: a mad dash to consume a tray full of their famous grilled cheese donuts. So what's next for Tom + Chee? A reality show, apparently.
The restaurant has been teasing the idea via social media and today released a video previewing the show:
Sure, it's a little cheesy (but what else would you expect from a restaurant with the diary ingredient in its name?) and lacking in the production/sound department, but I'm admittedly an automatic fan of all things T+C.
It's a great message to share — small-time businesses really can become successful even in a crappy economy. And with fun characters like Andre, it certainly won't be a boring show. Speaking of, did we just discover Golden Voice 2.0? Entertainment Tonight, are you watching?
Keep your eyes peeled for more Tom + Chee updates, and keep your belly filled with their delicious creations.