This week, more than 15 local restaurants are participating in Eat Local Cincy’s Restaurant Week, showcasing special menus with local ingredients through Sunday, May 19. From Northern Kentucky to Lebanon, local restaurants are offering the Restaurant Week special of three courses for $33.13. Customers create their own combination of an appetizer, salad and one entrée from the provided lists of options. Dishes vary by restaurant based on the regular menu, but individual specials feature locally-sourced items from area farmers and producers.
Participating restaurants include Behle Street Café in Covington, Mac’s Pizza Pub in Clifton Heights, The Golden Lamb in Lebanon, Italian hotspot Primavista overlooking the city and many more. Individual menus boast the very best dishes from their establishments, ranging from seafood to steak to simple and intricate pasta dishes. The large number of participating restaurants provides customers with an opportunity to experience a range of flavors, portions and atmospheres, from casual and family-friendly to fine dining.
Eat Local Cincy works to promote local, independent restaurants both in the Cincinnati community and on the national scale. The group strives to raise awareness about the unique local flavor Cincinnati restaurants can provide, championing the talents of individual chefs, the passion of local owners, and the benefits of purchasing goods from local producers.
Comparing independent restaurants to bookstores, hardware stores and coffee shops, the Eat Local Cincy group considers local dining integral to maintaining a vibrant community, successful charities and increased culinary and cultural strength. Unlike large franchises, Eat Local Cincy and its independent restaurants celebrate passionate individuals and employees who take pride not only in their own establishment but in the Cincinnati community as a whole.
Along with its annual Restaurant Week, Eat Local Cincy also features a year-round rewards program that provides customers with points every time they dine at an Eat Local Cincy establishment. These points can then be redeemed during another visit at any of the participating restaurants. Visit Eat Local Cincy at www.eatlocalcincy.com for a list of businesses participating in Restaurant Week, upcoming events and individual menus.
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.
21c Museum Hotel's flagship hotel was founded in 2006 in Louisville, Ky. by Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson, contemporary art collectors who had a vision for bringing art into people's lives and supporting the revitalization of American cities.
In keeping with the founders' mission, Cincinnati's urban developers 3CDC and 21c Museum Hotel are partnering to revitalize the historical 1912, 10-story Metropole hotel into a unique place to view cutting edge contemporary art.
Along with preserving the city's historic building, the restaurant will emphasize the city's old world roots in its menu. Under Chef Michael Paley's direction, Metropole will focus on dishes with local ingredients cooked in a custom-built hearth. Chef Paley has been the executive chef at Louisville's award-winning Proof on Main since it opened.
“After opening Garage Bar, our wood-fired pizzeria in Louisville last year, I was inspired to create a menu that is cooked almost entirely by wood-fired heat,” Chef Paley says. “Our menu at Metropole will reflect Cincinnati’s rich, European-based culinary heritage, and I am thrilled to introduce our custom-built hearth as the focal point of the restaurant and the menu.”
Working closely with local farmers and artisanal producers, Chef Paley is developing a menu focusing on string roasted meats, ash-cooked vegetables, house-made charcuterie and more. The beverage menu which can be enjoyed in the restaurant or while overlooking the city on the rooftop bar, which will favor craft beers and bourbon.
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.
There are plenty of restaurants downtown, but for the World Choir Games, the city has set up a Market Garden at the corner of Fifth and Race streets to provide additional options that are fast and affordable. It’s a great “Taste of Cincinnati” opportunity — without the crowds and long lines.