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by Maija Zummo 03.02.2015
Posted In: Food news, Openings, local restaurant, News, Cincinnati at 12:52 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Jean-Robert's Le Bar a Boeuf Opens Today

After a slight delay, the French neo-bistro opens in the Edgecliff building

Jean-Robert de Cavel's latest venture, the whimsically titled Le Bar a Boeuf (literally translated to "beef bar"), opens today in East Walnut Hills' Edgecliff building (2200 Victory Parkway). The neo-French bistro will only be open for dinner to start, with lunch and brunch service following shortly after. 

“It’s taken us a little longer to open than we anticipated," says de Cavel in a recent press release. "We have a wonderful team in place and we are ready." 

The restaurant, which was originally slate to open in November, will feature a new take on classic French and American dishes. The atmosphere — a funky 70-person dining room and 20-24 person separate lounge, designed with help from HighStreet — is more casual than Table, with the intent that everybody will be able to share (at least the appetizers). A 35-person patio, with panoramic views of the Ohio River and Northern Kentucky, will open when the weather warms.

"It's not a classic bistro, like when I did Jean Ro," de Cavel told CityBeat in November. "This neo-bistro is something from the past you are familiar with but in a modern way." 

The menu features everything from escargot to calves liver and macaroni and cheese to ground steaks, with entree prices in the $11-$25 range. CityBeat dining writer Ilene Ross got a sneak-peek dinner at the restaurant this past weekend. She tried everything from the steak tartare and the lamb and beef burgers to snails in parchment and a pot de crème, saying "It. Is. Perfect." 

Le Bar a Boeuf's Chef de Cuisine is Mirko Ravlic with sous chef Travis Reidel, both from Table. Table's wine director Evan Abrams has developed the moderately priced and global wine list. The bar will also serve classic cocktails, and local, import and domestic beers. Local hospitality expert Richard Brown, who worked with de Cavel at the Maisonette and Jean-Robert at Pigall’s, serves as general manager, assisted by Leslie Brunk.  

The Edgecliff previously hosted restaurants, including The View, all of which rested on the laurels of location. De Cavel's vision is different. "I never want to promote the view; the view, for me, it's an extra," he said to CityBeat in November. "It's an extra thing. I want it to be a fun restaurant; a destination restaurant. Fun for the younger generation to the older generation."

Le Bar a Boeuf's current hours are 5:30-9:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and 5:30-10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Reservations are available for early seating times (5:30, 5:45 and 6 p.m.). For more information, call 513-751-2333 (BEEF) or follow along on Facebook and Twitter @baraboeufcincy.

by Benjamin Kitchen 08.04.2014
Posted In: Food news, local restaurant, Events at 02:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
ryan talking at table

Look Who's Eating: Ryan Santos

Talking to Ryan Santos about local food

CityBeat is resurrecting our popular "Look Who's Eating" column, where we ask local chefs and food industry insiders where they've been dining and what is exciting them about Cincinnati's current culinary culture. This month, we talk to Ryan Santos. 

Chef Ryan Santos has already built a reputation as the man behind Please, a mobile dining pop-up. Having recently returned from an internship in Denmark, Santos plans to wow taste buds again with a new dinner series — and soon, Please’s very own space. 

On a remote island in the middle of the Baltic Sea, Santos learned how to utilize and preserve ingredients. He toured the Nordic Food Lab, tasting their latest experiments — everything from bee larvae and grasshopper soy sauce to six-year-old quince vinegar. 

Santos will put his food expertise to work with a dinner series at Cheapside Cafe one weekend per month. To prepare, he picks chanterelle mushrooms a few times a week, and plans to use summer produce like blackberries, blueberries, corn and summer squash.

Using commercial cooking equipment for the first time, in addition to the communal seating and four walk-in spots offered each night, Please will be accessible to more Cincinnatians than ever before — and it’s only just getting started.  

CityBeat: What was the last great meal that you ate and where did you eat it?
Ryan Santos: I spent a week dining around Copenhagen before my internship and had some amazing meals. My meals at Kadeau, Relae and Amass were all fantastic. Copenhagen is also a big supporter of natural, organic and biodynamic wines. I had some eye–opening glasses (and bottles) of wine at wine bars. 

CityBeat: Locally?
RS: I'm happy any time my meal is in the hands of Jose Salazar.

CB: What's in the future for Ryan Santos and Please? 
RS: Right now I'm helping chef John Shields do dinners at Riverstead, in Chillhowie, Virginia, one week a month, doing our Cheapside Dinners one weekend a month, and we are in the process of getting the pieces together for a place of our own open. I think the time is finally right for us to have our home base!

To learn more about RYAN SANTOS and Please or sign up for a dinner at Cheapside, visit at pleasecincinnati.com. Wanna hear what your favorite chef's favorite meal is? Email suggestions to eats@citybeat.com.

by Maija Zummo 02.26.2014

Cincinnati-Based McDonald's Franchisee Invented Filet-O-Fish

Otherwise, you'd be eating a Hula Burger (cold pineapple and cheese...)

According to an article in LA Weekly, Cincinnati-based McDonald's franchisee Lou Groen invented the Filet-O-Fish sandwich in 1962. Apparently, he was having an issue selling his burgers to our huge Catholic population during Lent.

So he called up McDonald's founder Ray Kroc and explained his dilemma, suggesting they try selling a fish sandwich instead. Kroc said OK, but only if they also tested his invention: the Hula Burger, a slab of grilled pineapple and cheese on a cold bun. Kroc and Groen had a contest to see which would sell better. The fish sandwich won and fast-food fish sandwiches were born to the happiness of pescetarians, Catholics and cows nationwide. Wonder what would have happened if the pineapple burger won?

Read the whole article here

by Ilene Ross 03.25.2014
Posted In: Cincinnati, local restaurant, News at 12:24 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Q&A with Lavomatic's New Executive Chef, Cameron Serrins

Serrins took over the OTR eatery after Josh Campbell left earlier this year

There’s a new face in the kitchen at Over-the-Rhine eatery Lavomatic. The restaurant's former executive chef, Josh Campbell, recently left to pursue another opportunity, leaving his position in the kitchen open. And Cameron Serrins — a Cincinnati native — stepped in. 

“I'm Cincy born and raised," Serrins says. "So many people close to me have left to chase dreams or look for opportunity elsewhere. The open road is beautiful and great for the mind, but so is home. I'm a lifer cook turned chef because I love to learn, share and show my work. One day Josh Campbell called me and said to come talk with (Lavomatic general manager) Brian Firth; I would like what he had to say. Josh was right, and I was welcomed to the Lavomatic team."

Now at the helm of Lavomatic, Serrins is making some very delicious changes. CityBeat's Ilene Ross recently got to chat with him via email about his background, his philosophy and what we can expect to see on his menu. (Outline lettering Serrins own.)

Ilene Ross: What’s your general food philosophy?

Cameron Serrins: A. Cook it and they will "come.” B. Think organic. C. I’m only in it for the money. D. Love what you do, do what you love.

IR: Who do you cook for; yourself, or the diner?            

CS: Both. I wouldn't be here without them and vice-versa.

IR: Who influenced you most in the kitchen?

CS: A. Anyone who has gave me tasty food is an influence. B. My mom. C. Meals with friends who introduce me to traditional dishes from their families and home. D. Girls I wanted to like me — kinda kidding, but there is some truth in it.

IR: What changes have you made to Lavomatic since taking over?

CS: A. I’ve made it more vegetarian/vegan friendly. B. I’ve added more features. C. The menu is a bit lighter and there are more snackier options. D. There’s more in-house product being made and we’re using more local meats, veggies and cheeses.

IR: Spring has finally sprung. What seasonal items can we look forward to seeing on the Lavomatic menu?

CS: A. Cadbury eggs — just kidding ... maybe. B. Shoots, sprouts and fresh greens. C. All things pea. D. Everything organic I can get my hands on.

IR: What does your day off look like?

CS: Ha ha, day off? We might not always be open for business but... I'll go skateboarding and think about food, play guitar and sing about work; I sleep and hear the ticket printer filling the rail.

IR: What tools do you find essential in the kitchen and why?

CS: Fire and knives.

IR: If you could cook for anyone in the world, who would it be?

CS: Nikola Tesla.





by Maija Zummo 03.26.2014
Posted In: Cincinnati, Events, local restaurant at 02:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Washington Platform's 28th Annual Oyster Festival Starts Friday

Shuck 'em, suck 'em, eat 'em raw

Washington Platform kicks off its 28th annual Oyster Festival Friday, March 28. Enjoy more than 40 fresh oyster dishes, including smoked oyster salad, oyster-stuffed jalapenos, fresh-shucked oysters on the half-shell and more, through May 3.

And, like any good food festival, Washington Platform will also be hosting oyster-related contests and events, including a pearl count contest and trivia. (All special event donations go to the Saint Francis Soup Kitchen in Over-the-Rhine.) Check your shells for a "Big Red 28," and win $28 in Washington Platform gift certificates. 

Or get in on one of their oyster specials. For $28, sample any three dishes from their "Oyster Munchies" menu after 5 p.m. Monday-Thursday. And from 4-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, enjoy a buck-a-shuck. Get fresh-shucked oysters for $1, along with happy hour drink prices.

Download the Oyster Festival menu here.

Washington Platform, 1000 Elm St., Downtown, 513-421-0110, washingtonplatform.com.

by Maija Zummo 11.26.2013
Posted In: News, local restaurant at 12:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kaze to Expand Lunch Hours Starting Black Friday

The Japanese gastropub offers special menu for holiday shoppers and professionals

Japanese gastropub Kaze will be expanding its hours to include lunch beginning on Black Friday (Nov. 29). The restaurant will now open at 11 a.m. and stay open through their regular dinner hours ('til 1 a.m. Sunday-Thursday; 'til 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday).  

The new lunch menu will include some dinner favorites plus a bento box or a sashimi lunch plate with Chef Hideki's freshest seafood and rice. All items range between $8-$23, with cheaper starters and cups of soup. And the restaurant will also be offering the option of lunch reservations plus outdoor winter seating in their heated garden patio.

For those of you who don't need a cocktail at lunch, Kaze will also be offering a selection of "mocktails," mixtures of their regular cocktails sans booze, along with their regular full-service bar.

Kaze is located at 1400 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine. More info at kazeotr.com 




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 Maija Zummo 08.04.2014
off the vine cold press

New Cold-Press Juice Bar Coming to OTR

Off the Vine will feature cold-press juice made from fresh produce and herbs

Big news for local juice fans. Cold-press juice bars are a new staple in most big cities — follow any model, actress or fashion blogger on instagram and you'll see oodles of the stuff from places like Venice Beach's juice bar Moon Juice. 

Now, locals Annie McKinney, Cydney Rabe and Steve Vickers are bringing the trend to Cincinnati with their new OTR juice bar Off the Vine (1218 Vine St., OTR, facebook.com/otvcincy).

"Cydney, Steve, and myself firmly believe that healthy eating is vital to a healthy and happy life," says McKinney. "Juicing is such a fantastic way to easily absorb important nutrients — nutrients that the vast majority of Americans lack from their diet." 

Off The Vine will offer cold-press juices made from fresh produce and herbs. Cold-pressing is a form of juicing that basically uses extreme pressure to juice produce, without adding heat. Heat possibly denatures the enzymes, vitamins and minerals in the vegetables; cold pressing preserves the health benefits while also squeezing out more juice than traditional methods. Off the Vine juices will range from $8-$11, a pretty standard price for cold-press. They'll also be making their own vanilla cashew milk.

"We have three different 'levels' of green juice," McKinney says, "from a basic spinach and apple to a hardcore, all-vegetable juice. Something to please the person who has never tried a green juice before to those who are looking for an intense blend of greens."  

Off the Vine will also be offering juices cleanses with a daily series of five juices and one meal-replacement nut milk as a "kick start for people looking to rid their bodies of the toxins that build up from poor eating habits," McKinney says. The group will also offer support for those looking to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

They plan to open this fall, possibly in September. Follow their progress at facebook.com/otvcincy.

by Jac Kern 01.15.2014
Posted In: local restaurant at 01:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Gold Star Chili Now Serves Doritos Nachos

Your move, Deadspin

Move over, Taco Bell. Deadspin, brace your taste buds and typin’ fingers for a twist on Cincy’s “abominable garbage-gravy.” Gold Star Chili now serves Doritos nachos.

Arriving just in time to sabotage your New Year’s health resolutions, Gold Star has added a Nacho Cheese Dorito-based dish to its menu. The nachos feature Gold Star's signature Cincinnati-style chili atop a mountain of orange-dusted tortilla chips, complete with all the fixins: tomatoes, jalapenos, black olives, a heap of cheddar, sour cream and chipotle ranch dressing. No word yet on a Cooler Ranch version.

The specialty nachos are available through Feb. 23 — Gold Star even has a countdown on its new specialty site, cincinnacho.com.

Patrons are encouraged to snap a nacho selfie with the dish and post on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using #cincinnacho for a chance to win an Xbox One, iPhone or iPad Mini, airline tickets, concert tickets, a smart TV or, best of all, more free Doritos nachos!



by Maija Zummo 01.06.2014
Posted In: News, local restaurant at 12:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
chez nora

Chez Nora Has Closed

Owners Jimmy and Pati Gilliece shutter the restaurant after nearly 20 years

After nearly 20 years under its current ownership, popular MainStrasse restaurant and rooftop Jazz club Chez Nora (530 Main St., Covington) shuttered its doors for good yesterday. Despite having a loyal following, owners Jimmy and Patti Gilliece cited not having enough customers as the reason for the close. 

Their official Facebook page says: 

"Chez Nora 

Has Closed

Thank You for nearly Twenty Years!

God Bless You!

'Far better it is do dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checked by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in that gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.' -

T. Roosevelt"

The couple purchased the restaurant from restauranteur Nora Dempsey — the Nora in Chez Nora — in 1994. Since then, they updated the multi-level restaurant adding an outdoor patio, expanded kitchen and menu and purchased the adjoining building to add a 60-person dining room and banquet room. One of their big draws, the rooftop patio overlooking downtown Cincinnati, is part of the original building and was the site of five nights of live Jazz a week. 

Those looking for live Jazz nearby have several options, including Dee Felice Cafe (529 Main St., Covington, deefelice.com) or the Blue Wisp (700 Race St., Downtown, thebluewisp.com) over the river. As far as their famous crab cakes are concerned, Main Bite (522 Main St., Covington, mainbiterestaurant.com) in MainStrasse offers a crab cake appetizer with remoulade and lemon greens.

The couple hopes to partner with other MainStrasse restaurants to honor any remaining Chez Nora gift certificates. The 11,750-square-foot building is listed with Huff Commercial Real Estate for $1.2 million.