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by Staff 04.27.2015
at 03:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
anchor oysters_ilene ross

Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend

Stuff people brought to our house; Mexican food.

Ilene Ross: Thursday night is one of the best nights to head to The Anchor-OTR — not that there’s a bad night — but on Thursday, it’s "Oyster Mania," when oysters are a buck a piece. So a friend and I split a dozen oysters, some grilled octopus and a whole branzino with salt-roasted potatoes. On Saturday night, in my never-ending quest for home food-delivery perfection, I gave the delivery service Cincybite a first-time go. I was super excited to see that they offered BrewRiver GastroPub as one of the options, so I ordered a wedge salad — I know, old fashioned, but I’m a sucker for a wedge slathered in blue cheese and bacon — and the fish of the day. The food took a really long time, over an hour, but who the hell cares. The fish was perfectly cooked, which is practically impossible for delivery, and it was served with a delicious cauliflower puree, Sheltowee farm mushrooms, asparagus, tomatoes and a super spicy chimichurri sauce. Thumbs up to Cincybite. On Sunday night I was feeling a bit under the weather, so I opted for Suzie Wong’s to bring me dinner: grilled eggplant and mushroom salad, crispy vegetarian rib, and seafood supreme udon. And watched four episodes from Season 6 of Sons of Anarchy.

Jesse Fox: Saturday I was sick all day so I didn't eat at all. Sunday I think I ate a whole box of the generic version of the Captain Crunch Oops! All Berries cereal and some pita chips and hummus.

Jac Kern: My fiancé's birthday was over the weekend, so we kicked off the celebration at Gordo's Pub & Grill in Norwood. There are a lot of fine burger joints in town, and Gordo's gets overlooked too often. We split some tasty pork belly nachos, which includes both bacon and belly for optimum pig consumption. For my burger, I ordered the French, topped with brie, sweet onion jam, bacon and greens. Our entire group, including several out-of-towners, left stuffed and happy. Saturday was a popcorn for dinner kind of night. We saw Ex Machina at Cinemark Oakley Station. It was so good! Go see it. I'm loving the whole bar-in-a-theater trend, but now that I've had a frozen margarita at a movie theater, there is no turning back. They also serve wine and craft beer, if you're not a total trash monster like me. 
The partying continued Sunday at Moerlein Lager House. I've always had pretty good experiences here, but Sunday afternoon's Reds game had clearly taken its toll when we arrived for dinner later that night. They were completely out of french fries and the entree I originally ordered. We probably should have planned better in regards to the game, but our server was really friendly despite probably having a really stressful, busy shift. We ended with their s'mores, which weren't actually s'mores but a chocolate lava cake with charred, melty marshmallow and graham cracker garnish — which is to say, delicious.

Danny Cross: On Friday night, the girlfriend and I hit up the new-ish Mexican restaurant in Clifton, Los Potrillos. The Reds game was on and we didn't feel like cooking/driving far. We parked back in the Gaslight District and I showed her the weird giant house I used to live in with my friend Arty. Back then, the world seemed like a simpler place and Arty and I assumed everything was going to be OK. Anyway, Katie and I scored a booth against a wall with a TV mounted on it, sat side-by-side opposite the TV and pretty much had an excellent experience drinking margaritas and eating just a little too much. Like many Mexican restaurants, Los Potrillos (the Internet says "potrillo" means "colt") has a big menu that makes it hard to order even though most people typically get the same thing time after time. For me, it's tacos carne asada. It did not disappoint. 

Mike Breen: My favorite kind of food is the kind that people make and bring to me, so I order delivery fairly often. I also have limited delivery places near me, so that means — especially because I can just use an app on my phone to order — I get LaRosa’s quite a bit (like, two to three times a month. Is that a lot?). I’m also not very adventurous with my order — unless one considers ordering either a hoagy or pizza “switching things up.” Saturday night I kept it pretty straightforward again and just had some breadsticks and a chicken hoagy (with all the toppings and Italian dressing, which is “off menu,” because I’m super difficult). My go-to desert (I’ll get the big, fresh chocolate cookies sometimes and very occasionally the super-rich hot fudge brownie) is the “Smashed Cannoli.” This was added to the menu fairly recently, unfortunately at the expense of the Italian Wedding Cake, which was also really good (the raspberry sauce was the secret weapon). The Smashed Cannoli is basically a cup of cannoli filling, with the cannoli shell “smashed” up and mixed in with chocolate chips, chopped (relatively flavorless) cherries and powdered sugar. It’s a kind of small portion (like, say, compared to some of the restaurant’s pasta portions), but it’s only $4. For Italian food connoisseurs/snobs, Smashed Cannoli is probably the equivalent of a Speedway “cappuccino.” But they make it and BRING IT TO MY HOUSE. What’s not to like?

Maija Zummo: Saturday night I made vegetarian three-ways at home; not like Skyline's beans and rice three-way, but like actually three-way flavored three-way. I know it's super irritating when vegetarians try to make dishes that look and taste like their meat equivalent, but this is a fantastic recipe that uses lentils instead of beef, and then you throw in all these spices: paprika, cinnamon, cumin, unsweetened cocoa powder, allspice, cloves, yadda yadda yadda. It tastes to me like Skyline smells, and the lentils get all mushy, kind of like what I imagine to be the consistency of crumbled chili. I even got my husband to try it and admit it tastes good, which is a relative miracle because he's extremely suspicious of lentils. 

Amanda Gratsch: One of my biggest weaknesses is Vietnamese food, and I always find time to make a special trip to Cilantro in Clifton Heights. I had a meal-sized Pho, with a hearty beef-flavored stock, egg noodles and rare, thin slices of beef — all for $7.50. The rich combination of scallions, cinnamon, ginger and, of course, cilantro sent my taste buds soaring. I have tried to make a similar recipe at home, but it lacks the tasteful tradition that the restaurant instills in its cooking, so I just keep going back for more.
by Staff 04.22.2015
at 10:21 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
urban artifact brewing

This Week's Dining and Food Events

Eat. Drink. Be merry.

A beer festival at Listermann Brewing Company, a wine festival in Milford, a food truck competition and the Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State's annual 1 Night 12 Kitchens bash. Plus, Northside's new Urban Artifact brewery opens Monday.

Rhinegeist Beer Dinner at Moerlein — The Moerlein Lager House presents a paired beer dinner with Rhinegeist. This monthly craft beer celebrating features a special dinner menu. 6 p.m. $55 (plus tax and gratuity). Moerlein Lager House, 115 Joe Nuxhall Way, The Banks, Downtown, moerleinlagerhouse.com.

Burger and Beer Wednesdays — A burger and a pint for $10. 9:30 p.m.-midnight. Fifty West Brewing Company, 7668 Wooster Pike, Mariemont, fiftywestbrew.com.

Oyster Festival — Washington Platform’s Oyster Festival features more than 40 different oyster menu items. Through May 2. Prices vary. Washington Platform Saloon and Restaurant, 1000 Elm St., Downtown, washingtonplatform.com.

Freedom to Balance: Eating for Alignment — Plant-based chef and food coach Trinidad prepares a Middle Eastern-inspired menu with a high raw, vegan and gluten-free twist. 11 a.m.-1 p.m. $50. New Riff, 24 Distillery Way, Newport, Ky., newriffdistilling.com.

Tap That Thursday — Tapping new rare kegs every week. Chef Michael Shields creates specialty hot dogs to pair with the latest brew. 5 p.m. BrewRiver GastroPub, 2062 Riverside Drive, East End, brewrivergastropub.com.

Hone your Knife Skills — This class is all about building confidence in the kitchen, learning how to properly care for and hold a knife, then chopping, dicing, julienning and more. 6-8 p.m. $60. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox lane, West Chester, 513-847-4474, thelearningkitchen.com.

Urban Artifact brewery opening — The latest Cincinnati brewery opens its doors in Northside 4:30 p.m. Friday. Located in a former church, the brewery celebrates "wild culture," in both their beers and their taproom experience, with a performance venue, beer garden and in-house music label, Grayscale Cincinati. Their beer portfolio, which all utilizes locally caught wild yeast or bacteria, features Harrow, a Gose; Maize, a Kentucky common; and Finn, a Berliner pale ale. The kick-off week will feature a handful of special events. 4 p.m.-midnight Monday-Thursday; 4 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Friday; noon-1:30 a.m. Saturday; noon-midnight Sunday. 1660 Blue Rock St., Northside, artifactbeer.com.

Bourbon & Boots — Get your boot stomping to Country band The Dan Varner Band and wet your whistle with some of Kentucky’s best bourbon. Molly Wellmann emcees the evening. 6:30 p.m. $47. Memorial Hall, 1225 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, cincinnatimemorialhall.com.

StarkBier Fest — Starkbier means “strong beer” in German. The fest features handcrafted beers from 19 breweries, food, music and more. Family- and pet-friendly. 5 p.m.-midnight Friday; noon-11 p.m. Saturday. Listermann Brewing Company, 1621 Dana Ave., Evanston, listermannbrewing.com.

Cincy Brew Bus Eastside Tour — You don’t have to drink and drive with this tour. Visit Old Firehouse Brewing, Fifty West, Mt. Carmel and Bad Tom Smith. Leaves from the Growler House. 12:10-5:30 p.m. $55-$65. The Growler House, 1526 Madison Road, East Walnut Hills, cincybrewbus.com.

Taste of the World Food Tour — Take a guided foodie tour of Ohio’s oldest public market, Findlay Market. Includes stops and tastings at six merchants. 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Wednesdays; 3-4:30 p.m. Saturdays. $20. Meets at Daisy Mae’s Market at Findlay Market, 1801 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, cincinnatifoodtours.com.

Quick & Easy: Fried Rice and Stir Fries — Learn to make these classic and quick dishes at home. Noon-1 p.m. $20. Cooks’Wares, 11344 Montgomery Road, Harper’s Point, cookswaresonline.com.

North Avondale Montessori Food Truck Competition — Hosts their third annual food truck competition. Competitors include Lyric, Waffo, U-Luck Dawg, streetpops, Bistro de Mohr and Mobile Cold Stone. Each truck must create a rocket-themed dish. 4-7 p.m. Free. 615 Clinton Springs, North Avondale, namrockets.org.

1 Night, 12 Kitchens — The 11th annual 1 Night, 12 Kitchens event at the Midwest Culinary Institute features more than 20 of the regions best restaurants in one evening. Mingle with top chefs, sample gourmet fare, explore the culinary institute’s kitchen, peruse a silent auction and more. Raises funds for the Midwest Culinary Institute’s student scholarships. 6-9 p.m. $125-$200. The Midwest Culinary Institute, 3520 Central Parkway, Clifton, culinary.cincinnatistate.edu.

National Pretzel Day — Celebrate the twisty treat with $1 Bavarian soft pretzels at Servatii locations. servatti.com.

Dewey’s Pizza School — Dewey’s philanthropic arm, the DewMore Initiative, partners with the Girl Scouts of Western Ohio for a pizza-making class. All proceeds will benefit the Girl Scouts. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. $25. 11338 Montgomery Road, Harper’s Point, deweyspizza.com.

20 Brix Wine Festival — Immerse yourself in the culture of wine with seminars, tastings, food, music and amazing deals on retail wine. 1-5 p.m. $25. 20 Brix, 101 Main St., Milford, 513-831-2749, 20brix.com.

Pones Inc. Benefit Dinner at Bouquet — MainStrasse eatery Bouquet Restaurant & Wine Bar hosts a dinner party to benefit dance troupe Pones Inc. The five-course meal will include wine pairings. 6:30 p.m. $125. 519 Main St., Covington, Ky., bouquetrestaurant.com.
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 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 Staff 04.13.2015
suzie wongs

Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend

Jellyfish; chicken and waffles; tiny desserts; a wine dinner at Bistro Grace; and our British intern went to her first baseball game

Each week CityBeat staffers and 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: After a long, tiring week, all I wanted was someone to bring me food at home. Unfortunately, the delivery options in North Avondale are slim, limited to the usual chain pizza suspects. Luckily, I remembered that someone had told me that Suzie Wong’s in East Walnut Hills might deliver, so I called and confirmed. My son, his friend and I then proceeded to order a ton of food — Thai fish cakes, tofu with vegetables, edamame, crab Rangoon, and two types of chicken for the boys — and in a very quick 20 minutes the food was here. It was all wonderful. They’re totally going on my speed dial.
Nothing beats pie for breakfast especially when you can eat the whole thing, so Saturday morning I had an O Pie O strawberry-rhubarb personal pie with coffee. On Saturday night I went to a birthday party for my friend Rachel. Rachel’s annual “It’s my FREAKING BIRTHDAY” party is a huge, outdoor potluck affair with a band, firepit and a giant cake from Happy Chicks Bakery. Since Rachel owns Grateful Grahams, there are of course s’mores with our friend Stephanie’s homemade vegan marshmallows. Since I didn’t have time to make anything to bring, I stopped at Goodfellas Pizzeria for two giant pies. There were no complaints.
On Sunday night I met some friends at Sichuan Chili in Evendale. I had jellyfish with scallions and cucumber and noodles with pork and greens. The portions at SC are so huge you can share (or take home leftovers as I like to do).

Mike Breen: Saturday afternoon I had a late lunch at the newish branch of Taste of Belgium on Short Vine. We were told we’d just missed the lunch rush (at about 1:30 p.m.), which I was happy about (I hate waiting for a table). 
I’ve been seeing a bunch of commercials on TV for nasty fast food (that El Diablo burger with jalapeño poppers on it? Speedway advertising their many delicious food options?) and they make my stomach hurt every time I see them. The latest has been for White Castle’s chicken and waffle sliders, so I decided to try Taste of Belgium’s chicken and waffle dish to perhaps erase that memory. I loved it. The chicken is covered in hot sauce and the waffles are drenched in syrup. On paper it doesn’t seem like it should work, but it was delicious (even combining the spicy and sweet). The waitress also brought over a bonus waffle with whipped cream and chocolate that was made by mistake and that was also very good (obvs). My daughter got the crepes with chocolate and for some reason said she didn’t care for it (she loves chocolate chip pancakes, so I think she was just being difficult). I had a few bites and thought they were excellent. Now that I have a new appreciation for chicken and waffles (my memory was also tainted by having a taste of Lay’s chicken and waffle flavored chips a while back), I just hope I can avoid those White Castle commercials.

Anne Mitchell: I went to watch Johnny Chu, owner of AmerAsia Kungfood Restaurant, win the Cincinnati Arts Association's Overture Awards "Dancing for the Stars" benefit competition Saturday night at Music Hall. Johnny and his dance partner, Doreen Beatrice from Covington's Step-N-Out Studio, were AMAZING. They blew the crowd and the judges away. The event had dinner by the bite, and I had some delish bites, including an outrageously good beef tenderloin with horseradish cream from Prime 47 (newish on Walnut St.), and tiny little desserts (they're little! no calories!) from Lala's Blissful Bites. Nice folks, fun event! And here's a video of Johnny's smooth moves.

Pama Mitchell: We went to the first-ever wine dinner held at Bistro Grace in Northside. It was a five-course meal with Italian wines — starting with prosecco and ending with vin santo. Along the way were two excellent reds by the Italian winemaker Masi: Campofiorin and an outstanding amarone. Food wise, chef Rachel Roberts outdid herself with everything from a light soup-and-salad starter (wild mushroom soup and a salad of shaved shallots, pecorino and wild mushrooms) to a delicious pasta course (bucatini with house-cured guanciale and toasted bread crumbs) and leg of lamb to go with that amarone. On top of the delights for the palate, I was impressed by the service and the competence of the kitchen, which produced each course for the full house of about 40 diners with no long waits and with everything arriving warm and appealingly plated. And the tab was very reasonable at $55 per person, including everything except tax and tip. Owner Suzanne McGarry is to be commended for this successful launch of what I hope will be numerous wine dinners to come.

Hannah Bussell (editorial intern/foreign exchange student): I knew I was going to drink a lot on Friday night so I needed to line my stomach well. My party of eight chose Keystone Bar & Grill, as it’s just up the road from our house in Clifton Heights, and the Powerhouse mac and cheese off of their signature mac and cheese menu did just the trick — a combination of Buffalo chicken, brisket, jalapenos, blue cheese and a handful of potato chips mixed in a cheesy goo and stirred into a bowl of soft pasta curls. I was very happy to pay the full price for such an excellent meal despite getting the day wrong and thinking it was Friday when they do their special half-price mac and cheese offer (it's actually on Mondays until 11 p.m.). I ended up taking home half of it in a doggy bag as it’s so filling — a notion very new to me as we don’t do that sort of thing over in England.
Saturday after work I met my friends in Bakersfield OTR for a quick late night taco. I had the mole taco, which I always order, as I love the Oaxacan-style braised chicken and the pickled red onions. My friends ordered the pastor tacos, with chili-marinated pork that smelled delicious, but I’m very much an eater who gets stuck in her ways. I never stray from an order that I know won’t disappoint; I’m too loyal to the mole.
Sunday I went to a Reds match, my very first baseball game, which was very exciting. I was so into the game I failed to notice the sunburn spreading over my nose. I had to drown my sorrows over the Reds losing in a pint of Christian Moerlein ale in the Moerlein Lager House just over the road from Great American Ballpark. A cheeky cony from Skyline may have also occurred later on in the evening.

Garin Pirnia: Last month, the Contemporary Arts Center opened their new lobby, which was revamped to contain a cafe called Collective CAC. The lovely folks behind OTR and Northside's Collective Espresso head up the endeavor. Until now, Collective usually closed by 4 p.m. every day, but the cafe stays open until 9 p.m. Wednesday-Friday. Now the Kaplan Lobby has a retooled CAC store, elongated slanted wooden tables with outlets for your electronics and a bar. On any day, it's always free to stop by the lobby and work among the art. The cafe offers Collective's drinks, such as their famous cortado (espresso with milk) made with rotating beans, and the espresso comes out of a cool-looking chrome espresso arm. How arty. Their menu contains all-day breakfast (vegetarian biscuits and gravy!), but they also have sandwiches, including a double grilled cheese. The inside of the sandwich harbors warm goat cheese and thinly-sliced radishes, but the outer later has Tillamook cheddar cheese crispified on the bread — genius. Why has no one else every thought of this? Why haven't I thought of it? After all, my motto is, It could always be crispier." I also tried their caramelized onion tart: a mini tart with onions, Gruyere, microgreens and crunchy sunchoke chips layered on top. Note to self: Make sunchoke chips. Every Wednesday it's free to tour the museum, which is a good time to have a snack at the cafe and look at some world-class art.

by Danny Cross 04.06.2015
Posted In: Leftovers at 10:16 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
pontiac brisket nachos

Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend

Auntie Sophie's Swedish Cream. Brisket nachos. Fast food. An Easter buffet or two. And a bonus Pete Rose sighting.

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. 

Danny Cross: My girlfriend’s parents popped into town Saturday morning, which meant that we needed to eat out a couple times and they were going to pay for it all. (Not my fault; they wouldn’t even let us buy goetta at Findlay Market for Sunday brunch. Then they pretended to like it; nice people.) Here’s a tip for wandering around Vine Street in OTR with a party of four: Only send one person into a restaurant to ask how long the wait might be, rather than having a line of people shuffling into and out of the place and feeling dumb when they say it’s going to be an hour and a half (on a goddam Saturday afternoon). Fortunately, places like Krueger’s Tavern and Pontiac Bourbon & BBQ have joined the fray, opening slightly larger spaces (more seating, less waiting). We popped in to Pontiac after a couple denials at other places, and we were quite pleased with the result. We were smart enough to split sandwiches (pulled pork and a smoked turkey) because we also ordered the brisket nachos, baked beans and fries. The nachos were incredible: brisket, nacho cheese, sour cream, black olives, maybe some salsa and other stuff. They’re worth stopping by to grub on with a couple beers pretty much anytime. The food and service were excellent, as was the case at Zula later that evening, where we ate pots of mussels and talked about current events.  

Ilene Ross: Friday night’s sunset brought with it the Jewish holiday of Passover. It’s one of my very favorite meals because there are so many traditional foods and the feeling is extremely festive. My mom, aunt and sister prepared all of our family favorites including matzoh ball soup, gefilte fish — a poached mixture of ground fish that’s kind of an acquired taste — brisket, chicken, cheesy potatoes, some really fabulous Greek appetizers since my aunt is a Greek Jew, and this crazy delicious dessert that she makes called Swedish Cream. Auntie Sophie refuses to give anyone the recipe for Swedish Cream, so we’re all really nice to her under the assumption that she’ll bequeath it to the one she likes the most. Also, since we’re not allowed to eat anything that’s been leavened or made with traditional flour, we had a flourless chocolate torte.

Jesse Fox: I spent this weekend traveling back home from covering the Burgerama IV music festival and visiting California. Because of this, I found most of my diet coming from gas stations and restaurants that were open late, which usually ended up being fast food. One of the better meals came from a stop in Albuquerque at a place called the Standard Diner. My brother wanted to stop there after seeing they offered a bacon-wrapped meatloaf from an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. I opted for a standard wedge salad (sans bacon and blue cheese) and a margarita. Other than that, Redbull, Clif bars and way too many chips helped get me from Los Angeles back to Cincinnati.

Anne Mitchell: (Trigger warning: meat porn!) We had a cabin at Lake Hope, a state park in Ohio near Athens. At the lodge there they have an absolutely wonderful restaurant that specializes in barbecue, using meats from Ohio State's agriculture department. For Easter brunch buffet, they had an amazing spread of eggs, ham, scalloped potatoes and on and on. I indulged myself by filling up my plate with nothing but a heap of grilled asparagus and two big slices of their absolutely wonderful beef brisket, including an end cut that was crispy and burnt. I didn't even bother with the barbecue sauce — it would have been gilding the lily, since the meat had such perfect flavor. I'm still drooling over the memory. And for dessert I had one of their fresh baked brownies with homemade caramel ice cream.

Pama Mitchell: We had brunch at the Palace for Easter. Best bite was the made-to-order dessert crepes. Bonus: Pete Rose sighting as he was eating there, too.

by David Watkins 04.06.2015
at 09:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
Taft's Ale House

Taft's Ale House Opens Today

The 19th-century Protestant church is now a three-level bar and restaurant

Over-the-Rhine's new three-level bar and restaurant, Taft’s Ale House — named for William Howard Taft, the 27th president of the United States, former Supreme Court Justice and native Cincinnatian — opens on Monday, Red’s Opening Day, and will feature a variety of specialty beers, as well as an emphasis on tri-tip beef (cut from the bottom sirloin). Helmed by Cincinnati local Kevin Moreland, former brewer at Listermann/Triple Digit, and partners Dave Kassling, a New York restauranteur, and Dave Williams, a UC grad, the bar, which is located at 1429 Race St., inhabits a building that formerly housed the 19th-century St. Paul’s German Evangelical Protestant Church.

Moreland describes his first experience in the building as walking into complete disarray. He had to use the side doors on Fifth Street to get in and, after entering, he walked into “straight dirt” and looked up to see holes the size of office spaces in the ceiling. To save the church, which was on the verge of destruction, he contacted 3CDC. Through their partnership — 3CDC helped stabilize the building, which had been abandoned for almost 50 years — they were able to restore the building, emphasizing it's historical appeal and architecture. The structure still retains it's dramatically high 40-plus-foot ceilings, large, Gothic-style arch windows and former bell tower. But now, instead of parishioners, it can hold more than 200 patrons.

“Part of what’s going on in OTR is saving something that used to be there,” says Taft’s Ale House General Manager Keith Maloy. “It would have been easier for us to start from scratch and build a new place. It would have been easier to construct and less expensive, but we would have lost a lot of the charm that’s in this building.”

The building’s three levels essentially create three different environments depending on an individual’s mood. There is the main beer hall level, with picnic tables, bar games and TVs; a mezzanine level for casual dining; and then Nellie’s Tap Room on the lower level. Nellie's, named after William Howard Taft's wife, is more of a cocktail bar than a beer hall, though the drink menu is still beer-centric; Nellie's serves Taft brews with eight guest taps from local and regional brewers, plus wine and cocktails. 

The entirety of the building's décor, with Rookwood tiles and assorted antique ephemera, is inspired by the William Howard Taft National Historic Site in Mount Auburn, Taft's boyhood home. 

“As soon as you walk in Taft’s home, you see this kind of laid-out pattern of multiple colors," Moreland says. "I wanted that to be something as a key feature in our place, so we did it. We had some hand-cut tile made to match that pattern. … A lot of the furniture matches and the color of the wood as well.”

Moreland considers Taft’s Ale House to be a gift to the city, specifically to OTR.  “I wanted to keep things here in the heart of OTR and try to work with our neighbors because they’re going to be our patrons as much as we’re going to be their patrons,” he says. And in terms of patronage, Moreland started by working with other local vendors, linking local products and businesses to his passion for creating unique and innovative craft beers. 

Taft’s partnered with Maverick Chocolate in Findlay Market to create their Maverick Chocolate Porter, featuring Maverick's cacao nibs and roasted cacao husks. Moreland also incorporated Findlay vendor Dean’s Mediterranean's products into the Culebra Cut Coconut Brown, an American brown ale infused with toasted coconuts. And Taft’s Mooly Wooly Coffee Milk Stout is made with oatmeal, lactose and coffee that comes straight from Coffee Emporium. 

“You can classify it however you want, but I classify beer by what it is," Moreland says. "There are these style guidelines that people like to follow, but I’m not that person. You can only brew so much IPA that tastes like everyone else’s IPA, so we have that but we wanted to spin it around.”

Other favorite brews include a Caribbean style ale — Nellie's Keylime Caribbean Ale —that focuses on key lime and coriander, and an IPA called Rookwood Mosaic, with mosaic hops. 

With creative beer, comes a creative menu, so don't expect pizza or burgers at Taft’s Ale House. During his time studying breweries and pubs around the country, Moreland saw different variations of the same menu time and time again, but his discovery of tri-tip beef changed the game. And General Manager Maloy could not agree more. The restaurant trims and ages the steak for 21 days, massages it with a dry rub, chars it, smokes it over hickory chips and then bakes it. 

“The tri-tip beef is great," Maloy says. "It’s a great cut of beef — we char it, smoke it. You can slice it thin and make a sandwich or cut it bigger like a traditional steak. We have interesting sides too: roasted vegetables, tater tots instead of french fries and sweet potato fries.”

Moreland and Maloy’s main focus is “marrying the [tri-tip] beef with the beer” while still making it affordable. They understand the importance of serving customers at a rate where it's cost-effective to come back. Sandwiches, like the Alehouse (tri-tip steak, onions, blue cheese and red ranch sauce) run between $7.50 and $10, while platters, which are served with mashed potatoes, gravy, roasted veggies and cornbread, are $17 (for grilled chicken breast) to $20 (for 12-ounces of tri-tip steak). A small kids menu features little steak and chicken sandwiches and chicken wings, served with tots. For vegetarians, there's a large selection of salads with housemade dressing. 

The experience of the customer is an ongoing theme in the vision of Taft’s Ale House. Many restaurants could say the same, but Taft’s physical setup lends itself to attaining customer satisfaction. Quality, an experience, and being passionate about what you do is how Moreland describes their mentality.

“Sometimes I have to pinch myself," he says. "I don’t feel like it’s real yet. I’ve learned a lot. I can tell you it’s been an awesome experience. Passion breeds success. The passion we’re putting into crafting great beers is incredible.”

Taft’s Ale House opens Monday, on Moreland’s birthday. The first 100 people to arrive receive a free Red’s-Cincy-W.H.Taft-inspired T-shirt along with a glass of First Pitch Pale Ale. As for the future, Moreland is already thinking about taking the brand national, hoping to bring “big dollars” back to the city’s hotels, bars, eateries and more. “That is my focus: putting Cincinnati on the map for great craft beers,” he says.

Taft's Ale House is located at 1429 Race St., Over-the-Rhine. More info at taftsalehouse.comfacebook.com/taftsalehouse, @taftsalehouse on Instagram and @bigbillytaft on twitter.


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 Maija Zummo 04.02.2015
Posted In: Cincinnati, Events, local restaurant, Food news at 10:51 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
carriage house farm dinner

Pop-Up Dinners Return to Carriage House Farm

The popular intimate outdoor dinner series kicks off in May

North Bend's Carriage House Farm is fully embracing the farm-to-table movement with this year's pop-up dinner series. From May through November the farm will play host to a variety of local chefs, who will be preparing more than two dozen seasonal dinners, utilizing ingredients available on the farm, like garlic, ginger, beans, heirloom tomatoes and comb honey. The intimate dinners seat 13 patrons in an open-air dining terrace, where the chefs will prepare their multi-course meals over a wood-fired oven — right in front of the guests.

Some dinners will also include special appearances by guest chefs, like Todd Kelly and Megan Ketover of the five-star Orchids, Jose Salazar of Salazar, Dan Wright of Abigail Street/Pontiac/Senate, Nino Loreto of food truck panino and others. To complement the bounty of Carriage House, chefs will also be working with additional artisan producers to complete the dinners, like Mudfoot Farm, Sheltowee mushroom farm, Weber Family Farm, Sixteen Bricks Bakery and more.

Here's a list of current dinners (some may be added later in the year):
  • May 17 - Chef Dana Adkins of the Eagle OTR and chef Jason Louda of Meatball Kitchen
  • May 31 - Chef Ryan Santos of Please
  • June 7 - Chef Mark Bodenstein of NuVo at Greenup
  • June 21 - Chef Mike Florea of Maribelle's eat + drink
  • June 28 - Chef Ryan Santos of Please's Kickstart Thank You dinner (sold out)
  • Aug. 16 - Chef Renee Schuler of eat well celebrations and feasts
  • Aug. 30 - Chef Stephen Williams of Bouquet Restaurant and Wine Bar (sold out)
  • Sept. 20Chef Mark Bodenstein of NuVo at Greenup
  • Sept. 27 - Chef Jared Bennett of Metropole
  • Oct. 4Chef Dana Adkins of the Eagle OTR
  • Oct. 11Chef Ryan Santos of Please
  • Nov. 1 Chef Mike Florea of Maribelle's eat + drink
Dinners start at 4, 5 or 6 p.m. (Carriage House is about a half-hour drive from downtown Cincinnati) and cost between $80 and $85. Reserve seats here

Carriage House Farm, 10252 Miamiview Road, North Bend, carriagehousefarmllc.com. 
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.