But luckily for us, our snow day was going to get a little brighter: I had booked reservations at Hen of the Woods Underground.
Hen of the Woods (it’s a type of mushroom) is the brainchild of Nick and Kim Marckwald. The duo (Nick is the chef and Kim manages services) recently purchased the old J.B. Schmidt contractor space at 1432 and 1434 Main Street in Over-the-Rhine. They have ambitious plans for a restaurant and urban market there. As a run-up, they have been holding “pop-up” brunches since January in Main Street’s Street Pops space (closed for the winter months). And the very last one was scheduled for Sunday.
Now, this is just a hop, skip and jump from us, so the weather was not a concern — or was it?
Just to be sure it was all going to happen given the poor road conditions, I sneakily walked our puppy by the space, which was holding the first of two seatings that day. The windows were properly steamed up, I could glimpse small tables of people inside and the most wonderful smells wafted from the slightly propped open door.
When we arrived an hour later, our table was waiting. We were among about 10 guests. Our first course was a refreshing juice du jour — Meyer lemonade with ginger and cilantro flavors, and a jalapeno ice cube floating in the jelly jar glass.
Next, we were offered coffee. Deeper Roots Coffee’s Ryan Doan stood at the counter carefully pouring from what looked like a tiny watering can into a Chemex coffee maker. The brew was deep and rich without being acidic.
During the next hour or so, we were offered three courses and a dessert prepared by the clearly visible staff. Each was meticulously described by our server— most times it was Nick or Kim.
First came a beautiful refreshing plate made from lemongrass, tapioca, mango, fingerlime, almond, ginger and pea shoots.
Next up, another precisely plated combo — lovely pink-edged beet cured salmon was draped over a crispy seared rice cake on a bed of leeks and shiitakes with a horseradish and basil sauce.
Next, the brunch got down to business because, what’s brunch without bacon and eggs? Hen’s take on eggs Benedict was a fat, wobbly egg sitting on top of a concoction with Woodlands “back bacon” lardo, English muffin, frisee and Hollandaise, served on a wooden slab made of black walnut. One poke with my fork sent yellow yolk running hither and yon amidst the gathering of elements.
Finally, a rich bread pudding, with banana, sesame, chocolate, dulche de leche and pine. In the only misstep of the entire production, the crisp decorative chip had a distinct lack of flavor.
I’m not usually a fan of little-plate meals and such as a fill-in for a meal. They often just tease, sending you out the door looking for something else to eat. This time? Not the case. We walked home in the ice and cold, happy and full, ready to hunker down and slog through the last of winter.
I am so waiting for spring, and also for Hen of the Woods to begin doing impromptu servings in their new space while it is under construction. Nick and Kim assure me they’ll be doing it as soon as the permits are in order. The sooner the better for me!
Follow Hen of the Woods news on their Facebook page.
eat well cafe & takeaway, the restaurant portion of chef Renee Schuler's successful eat well celebrations & feasts, will be closing Friday, Jan. 17, according to a post on their official Facebook page.
January 9th we marked the one year anniversary for eat well cafe and takeaway. The cafe was a lifelong dream of mine, and I am grateful I had the opportunity to see it come to fruition beautifully. It has been an adventure and a joy, and I have learned a lot.
Having completed the first year, however; I have decided to quit dividing my energy between two businesses. Our last day of business will be this Friday January 17th, we will be closing after lunch at 2:00 pm.
The beautifully renovated space in O’Bryonville will be available for private events and meetings after the restaurant closes.
I am very excited to get back full time to my first love, events and corporate catering. Eat well celebrations and feasts celebrates nine years in business this fall and enjoyed it's most successful year in 2013. You can reach us there at 859-291-9355, and like our facebook page: eat well celebrations and feasts.
Thank you for your loyalty and support this past year and always. I will be at the cafe monday through friday this week and hope to see some of your smiling faces!
This fall, keep your eyes peeled for a new farm-to-table Cincinnati-centric cookbook: The Findlay Market Cookbook: Recipes & Stories from Cincinnati's Historic Public Market.
Scheduled to hit shelves in October, this release from Farm Fresh Books, "an independently-owned specialty publisher of cookbooks for the nation's most enlightened public markets, farmers markets, and farm-to-table restaurants," will feature profiles of Findlay Market vendors, more than 100 recipes for local and seasonal dishes inspired by Findlay Market products and produce and possibly recipes from the city's prominent chefs. Authored by Bryn Mooth, editor of Edible Ohio Valley, with help from Karen Kahle, resource development director of Findlay Market, Mooth sees the book as a celebration of local food in Cincinnati, which she says is best represented through Findlay Market.
"People who visit the market experience what a community it is — with vendors and a diverse body of shoppers all coming together around food," she says via email. "The book will represent that sense of community. It will share the stories of the various market vendors and their specialties. Recipes will come from farmers, producers, artisans and retailers. Too, we're asking for recipes from prominent chefs in the city who, like the creative team producing the book, love Findlay Market for its fresh and seasonal offerings. So, while the cookbook centers on Findlay Market — it's more broadly a big dinner party with contributions from all over the city. You don't have to be a Findlay Market shopper to enjoy it — you just have to love Cincinnati."
"In just this first week, I've received a couple of recipes from Kate Zaidan of Dean's Mediterranean Imports that connect to her family's Lebanese heritage, and a recipe from Debbie Gannaway of Gramma Debbie's that features goetta," Mooth says. "And the book's prelude will no doubt celebrate Cincinnati's food heritage and Findlay Market's place in that."
"The book is not only a wonderful, cook-able reference, but it's a great way for people to help the market continue its mission," Mooth says.
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.' -
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.
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.
As far as changes, the restaurant will be extending its hours to include lunch (starting Nov. 5) and Saturday brunch (starting Dec. 7), which will feature a make-your-own bloody mary bar. Chef Johnson will also be updating the Local 127 menu to include more seafood and beef choices with seasonal preparations, plus adding a bar snack menu with pork belly bites, devils on horseback (a pub snack with a fruit like dates wrapped in bacon), fries inspired the by the In-N-Out Burger chain and more.
And for fans of the "local" in Local 127, fear not: Chef Johnson will remain true to the restaurant's pledge of serving responsibly sourced foods, according to the press release.
Local 127 is located at 413 Vine St., Downtown. For more information visit mylocal127.com.