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by Staff 03.16.2015
at 11:06 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend

Ilene Ross hits up Nicola’s and tea time; Zula, Gaslight Cafe and snackin commence

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.

Ilene Ross: As a food writer, I get to spend a lot of time with chefs. Sometimes it’s work-related, and sometimes it’s not. Chef Jimmy Gibson and I meet for coffee regularly to catch up on world news, local gossip and of course food ideas. The surroundings aren’t fancy, our coffee shop of choice is Jimmy’s “office,” the back hallway off the kitchen at Jimmy G’s, but the coffee is good and strong, and the company is sublime. Thursday was off to a wonderful start.

Spring was in the air, so after a two-mile walk in Ault Park, I decided that lunch should be something fresh and light in order to match the mood of the weather. I’ve been meaning to give the new juice place in Hyde Park, The Weekly Juicery, a try. I ordered Two Roots and a Fruit — carrot, ginger and apple juice — and the teensiest salad comprised of jicama and kale I have ever seen in my life. I left feeling sticker shock at the $17 price tag and still starving. For the same price, I’ll stick to the lunch tray at Jean-Robert’s Table.

I love having friends in from out-of-town so I can show off our locally owned restaurants. On Saturday night I took a Chicago native to Nicola’s for dinner, and of course Chef Joel Molloy’s cuisine wowed the socks off of him. We had the Scallops with spiced fumet, celery root and scallions, the Roasted Beet salad with avocado, black quinoa and goat cheese, the Butternut Squash Tortelloni with speck and fregolotta, the Short Ribs with sunchoke, shiitake mushroom and sunflower seeds, the Duck with wild rice, lavender and sweet potato, and the most delectable pistachio sfoglia. The service was exceptional, and my friend was dually impressed. I, naturally, needed to be rolled home.

My friend Kelly is the consummate party giver. From her son’s first birthday party — an elaborate backyard shindig which turned out to be her own surprise (for us!) wedding — to opening up her home during a snowstorm for all to be wined and dined, every day for Kelly is a celebration of family, friends and love. Sunday was no exception. Afternoon Tea at The Cincinnatian is a truly elegant affair complete with pots of perfectly brewed tea, delightful little sandwiches, scones, pastries, Devonshire cream and of course cocktails. Yesterday, Kelly decided to get a group of her best girlfriends together to “take tea,” and thankfully I was included. It was the perfect way to relax and unwind after a busy weekend with a great group of ladies.

Nick Swartsell: My girlfriend and I went to Music NOW Saturday night, but we forgot to eat dinner beforehand so we just had some beers and ate a ton of that fancy chocolate they sell at Music Hall because you can do that kind of thing when you're grownups at a big grownup event and one of you is wearing a tie.

Jac Kern: I went to a friend's St. Patrick's Day party and tried a bunch of homemade Irish favorites: beef and potato stew made with Guinness, Irish soda bread, corned beef sliders, grasshopper brownies (they're green, OK?), plus plenty of Jameson. I think it's a definite sign of adulthood when you trade in kegs of green Bud Lite for a Celtic-inspired dinner (also when you're partying in West Chester), but don't worry, I still got pretty drunk. Sláinte!

Jesse Fox: I went to Chicago this weekend to see my friend’s band The Orwells play and I consumed a lot of strawberry vodka and High Life on Friday evening.  On Saturday I went to The Chicago Diner for my only proper meal that weekend. I got the vegan Poutine, a chocolate and peanut butter milkshake and a Titanic BLT burger. The poutine was incredible and I kind of wish I would have just got two orders of that because the burger, although super filling, didn't have much flavor for being something made up a variety of grains and veggies.  

Rebecca Sylvester: If you're 30-plus and want late night pizza but know you're going to have night terrors if you call Adriadico’s, there is a respectable solution for you: flatbread at Zula. They have a late-night “flatbread” menu (flatbreat is adult for pizza). I recommend the Bulgarian Feta. :)

Danny Cross: A friend’s housewarming party in Pleasant Ridge led my girlfriend and me to stop by Gaslight Café on the way, where we were met by many people in full St. Paddy’s Day party mode. Gaslight has a super neighborhood feel and the locals were plenty welcoming even if they were mostly shouting and unabashedly dancing in very near proximity to our table. A girl asked us if her cell phone was left at our table. It wasn’t but she found two quarters on the floor and a guy with her asked me to hand him the green man suit sitting in the corner of the booth, which I gladly passed along. Our burgers were pretty straightforward but I tried an onion ring and it was better than I expected. Probably shouldn’t have waited 15 or so years between eating them.

 
 
by Staff 03.09.2015
 
 
girl scout cookie cake

Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend

Cauliflower Buffalo wings, Amma's Kitchen, Pelican's Reef, Girl Scout Cookies

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. 

Jac Kern: This weekend I finally tried my hand at the cauliflower Buffalo "wing" trend. There's plenty of recipes out there (and I'm incapable of following any precisely), but most of them involve taking raw cauliflower pieces, tossing them in a simple water-flour batter, baking, tossing again in sauce and baking again at high heat until crispy. They're pretty much fool-proof and the taste exceeded my expectations. These need to get added to bar menus stat.

I also went to the Cincinnati International Wine Festival Saturday. I didn't do much eating (though there were mini Graeter's cones and grilled cheese and tomato soup bites floating around) but I did taste copious amounts of reds, whites, roses and sparkling goodness. Fun fact: There's a surprising amount of wine tasting accessories out there today. Wine glass harness, anyone?

 

Ilene Ross:
There are some weekends when you’re more thankful for your stretchy pants then others. Needless to say, this was one of them. 

Friday started my marathon food-fest with not one, but two lunches. The first was at Park+Vine after a meeting in OTR. As I sat enjoying the zesty new OITNB Burger (black beans, brown rice, orange zest and cumin mayo) with a side of mac and cheese, who should walk in but super adorable CityBeat photog, Jesse Fox, carrying a box of macarons from next door’s Macaron Bar. My second lunch that day was during a meal at my favorite Chinese restaurant, Oriental Wok in Hyde Park. I had chicken Pad Thai and shrimp toast. I could eat Oriental Wok’s shrimp toast every damn day because unlike most restaurants, which only wave shrimp over limp, lifeless bread, OWok liberally covers crispy, crunchy hunks of toast with huge chunks of the seafood. It’s divine. 

Friday night I attended the Woman’s City Club of Greater Cincinnati’s 100th Anniversary Gala at the Hall of Mirrors in the Netherland Hilton with a group of friends. That place really knows how to throw a dinner. Surrounded by the splendor of the Art Deco masterpiece that is the Hall of Mirrors, we dined on marinated cucumbers and microgreens with soy sesame vinaigrette and rice crackers; grilled flank steak with Sichuan-style eggplant; and basmati rice with scallions. And for dessert, we had passion fruit cheesecake with toasted coconut. After dinner, our group headed downstairs to the Palm Court bar — easily one of the most beautiful rooms in the city — for cocktails, and proceeded to order pretty much all of the appetizers and desserts off of the bar menu. 

On Saturday, I hit Findlay Market to stock up for the week, binge-watched The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and ate nothing but popcorn. 

Sunday night was quite possibly the most fabulous birthday party I have ever had. My dear friend Summer Genetti —Pastry Chef at Lola Bistro in Cleveland — and I share March 11 as a birthday, so we decided to hold a joint birthday party at Myrtle’s Punch House to raise money for the Girl Scouts of Lower Price Hill. We had food donated from chefs Jason Louda of Meatball Kitchen, Andrew Mersmann of Django Western Taco and Jana Douglass of Happy Chicks Bakery. People showed up in droves to buy cookies, drink punch that Molly Wellmann had concocted to “coordinate” with the cookies, donate money, and eat the most spectacular birthday cake I’ve ever had in my whole life, which, of course, was baked by Summer. Best weekend ever. 

Nick Swartsell: Some friends and I went to Amma's Kitchen this weekend, which is always rad. They're a small place in Roselawn that is South Indian-style and all vegetarian, and there are a lot of dishes you can't find other places around here. Despite the lack of meat, I think they're my favorite Indian place in town. I got the Vegetable Jalfrezi — super good and spicy. One friend just chowed down on their samosas, which are some of the best around. Another got the Madras Thali, which is a crazy-huge plate full of different curries, soups, yogurts, rice and other stuff. The Rasam (a stew with tamarind juice, tomatoes and chilis) and Avial (veggies in a seemed like a coconut sauce) were both super good. There was also some kind of cilantro-y stew in the mix I didn't know the name of that was excellent.

Samantha Gellin: I ate at Pelican's Reef in Anderson. It's a seafood place tucked away in a strip mall and it's what I'd call a hidden gem. (Don't let the strip mall exterior scare you. The food is fresh and delicious.) We went on Saturday night and it was packed; there was a 30 minute wait. But it was well worth it: the warm bacon vinaigrette salad with grilled scallops I ordered was really, really good. The scallops were very tender and buttery, and the salad came with five or six, so no skimping here. My husband got a tuna steak "Oscar" style with grilled asparagus. That was also seriously delicious; very flavorful and cooked just right. The place is pricy (fish platters or specials can run you $16-$20) but the menu is large and does have other, less expensive options, like po'boys, non-fish sandwiches and burgers. It's a cozy and casual place but with upscale food. I'd definitely recommended it if you're craving really fresh, flavorful seafood or want to go out for a special occasion.

Maija Zummo: I went to Sotto Friday night for a friend's birthday party. As always, it was delicious. But instead of ordering my usual tonnarelli cacio e pepe, I shared an order of penne with vodka sauce and the tagliolini con tartufo with a friend (as well as some of their cost-effective house wine). The ribbon pasta was flavored with black truffle and truffle shavings and was amazing. I'm like a little truffle pig, so I feel like the pasta was relatively worth the $27 price tag. (I buy into the whole exaggerated-cost truffle economy, and truffle is a special treat on pasta if you don't eat meat.) Add in the quality of service at the restaurant, and I'll pretty much pay whatever. It's of the best places to dine in the city.

Garin Pirnia: Friday night the boyfriend and I braved the Bockfest crowd at Arnold's. We got there right after the parade ended, and it was packed to the gills. We were able to push our way up to the bar and order a couple of their 16 bocks on draft: a Warped Wing Abominator doppelbock and a Weihenstephaner Korbinian doppelbock. After, we somehow miraculously got a table in their upstairs section. We sat at a table next to a bathtub, and my boyfriend, who regularly eats food in the bath at home, joked, "I've never dined next to a tub before." I told him he should feel right at home. Their menu for that night was bock-centric and included a lot of weird foods such as camel nachos, goat (!) and elk meatballs. We both eschewed the exotic meats, and he ordered a bock Hot Brown and I ordered the wild mushroom ragout. It had mushrooms and shallots cooked in a creamy and spicy red wine reduction and beer sauce, and was mixed with bock beer grits. His sausage had fries on it, bock cheese and mustard. Note: Everything should be doused and cooked with beer. While we were dining, some guy in the nearby restroom kept cursing about something, and when he came out, he was chagrined to find out the entire upper floor heard him yelling. He apologized, saying he was jokingly yelling at his friend and didn't think anyone else could hear him. Ah, gotta love Bockfest! Go home, you're drunk.


 
 
by Maija Zummo 03.05.2015
Posted In: News, Beer, Events at 11:47 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Rhinegeist to Release Saber Tooth Saturday

The rare Imperial IPA is only available to-go in bombers

If you live for IPAs or are just looking for a reason to get a lil tipsy this weekend, Rhinegeist is releasing its highly sought after and limited Saber Tooth Tiger IPA with a party on Saturday. 

The "prehistorically hopped" Imperial IPA has a bit of a bite, with notes of papaya, mango, peach and a clean, bitter finish (IBU 95). The launch party will be your first chance to get ahold of the beer, and the only place to get it to go. Each person is allowed to take home two 22-ounce bombers of Saber Tooth. That's it. They won't be filling growlers, howlers, crowlers or any other "owlers." 

The brewery opens at noon. Live music from Peter Dressman starts at 1 p.m., followed by Grady Burton at 4 p.m.

Free. Rhinegeist, 1910 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, rhinegeist.com.
 
 
by Maija Zummo 03.02.2015
Posted In: Food news, Openings, local restaurant, News, Cincinnati at 12:52 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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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 Staff 03.02.2015
Posted In: Leftovers at 10:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
what we ate_ilene ross

Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend

Sugar n' Spice, Pure Romance flavor creams, blueberry vodka, pizza and goetta omelets

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. 

Mike Breen: I’m 74 years late to the party, but I had a late breakfast at the wonderful Sugar n’ Spice restaurant (which opened in 1941) in Bond Hill on Saturday morning. When we got there, my claustrophobia/social anxiety kicked in and I got a little grouchy because there was going to be a 30 minute wait for a table and the place is so tiny the “waiting area” is basically just standing or sitting smushed up against the walls near the entry door. But I’m glad I waited. It’s a really great place that has a lot of character, with its wild, playful murals and decor. The staff is remarkably friendly, the clientele is incredibly diverse and the food was delicious. 

I had a giant Greek omelette and it was one of the best I’ve ever had. Usually some of the flavors are lost when others attempt a Greek omelette, but in Sugar n’ Spice’s version my tastebuds could pick out every black olive, chunk of feta and piece of spinach. I also had a side of biscuits and gravy that were very fresh and delicious. (They also serve lunch and are open daily 7 a.m.-3 p.m.) I found out why it is my 10-year-old daughter’s favorite restaurant (her mom takes her often): the ducks (the waitresses bring around a bucket of various types of small rubber duckies for kids/adults to pick from) and the sweet treats (my daughter was presented with a tiny strawberry milkshake toward the end of our meal). The owner also walks around and offers little appetizer bites — the day I was there he had little nuggets of fried macaroni and cheese that were quite good. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend it. Great experience and great food. Because of this, it’s very popular, so expect a little bit of a wait. It’s worth it. 

Ilene Ross: Last Thursday found me eating an incredibly interesting lineup given my incredibly interesting schedule. I began the day by teaching a cooking class at Cooks’ Wares in Montgomery. The title of the class was entitled, “All About . . . Chicken,” and we covered the gamut from making stock to roasting a whole bird to creating tasty dishes with the stock and roasted chicken. That evening I was also honored to have been asked to be one of the restaurant judges at Cincinnati’s Finest Event for Cystic Fibrosis. Eleven restaurants participated, delivering delicious dishes, all in the name of a great charity. Two of my very favorite dishes were the celery root apple and clam bisque with a clam and cheddar arancini from chef Paul Barraco of 20 Brix in Milford, and wood-grilled lamb ribs with pomegranate and black pepper glaze and chopped edamame-herb salad with a yogurt-honey dressing from chef Jimmy Gibson of Jimmy G’s

After a quick bourbon in one of my favorite rooms in town — The bar at The Presidents Room in The Phoenix downtown — I headed to my second event of the evening, a party at the Pure Romance pop-up shop, hosted by my friend Pam Kravetz. Now, hold on, I know you’re thinking — that there isn’t much to eat there — but Pure Romance does offer flavored enhancement creams, and yes, we did get to sample them. 

On Wednesday night, my son and I had dinner at The Eagle OTR, and since we always order all the food at Eagle, I had plenty of leftovers for Friday dinner. On Saturday night my daughter, who was in town for a bit of wedding planning, and I headed to Le Bar a Boeuf for dinner. Now that the official opening has been announced for Tuesday this week, we wanted to make sure that everything was completely ready, and it. is. perfect. We dined on snails in parchment, beef tartare, both the lamb and beef burgers and of course french fries. For dessert we shared a pot de crème, which is so large, it’s more like a divine bathtub de crème. 

On Sunday we attended a bridal show at Memorial Hall. Caterers wooed us with nibbles and cake bakers wooed us with cake. A complete standout was Patricia’s Weddings and Custom Cakes Unlimited. The cake was super moist, and there were lots of flavors to choose from. Of course we had to sample all of them. Sunday night dinner was Bar a Boeuf leftovers while watching SPOILER ALERT Mr. Carson propose to Mrs. Hughes on Downton Abbey. FINALLY!

Danny Cross:  I met my buddy Luke at Keystone in Clifton to watch the Bearcats dunk on Tulane from 2-4 p.m. on Saturday. A little hungover and having not eaten to that point, I was very hungry. I got there in time to catch a glimpse of the brunch menu and almost ordered the breakfast tacos (three flour tortillas, scrambled eggs, chorizo, jalapeños, red onion, pico, Sriracha-lime sour cream) but a blueberry-vodka lemonade quickly appeared before me (yea, I ordered it), along with the lunch menu, which had about 10 more things on it I wanted to eat at once. I ended up playing it pretty straight — classic burger, bacon, fries. Luke ordered the hot wings, which caused me to consider flip-flopping, but I needed a lot of food. He ended up giving me three of them so it all worked out. 

We sat at the bar in front of two TVs with our game on, and the dude bartender was quite friendly, after a few minutes popping back over with a second blueberry-vodka drink — his own version ("You like blueberry vodka, huh?" "I mean, I'm no expert..." Luke: "Who is?"). It was pretty good — a little lighter than the lemonade version. He encouraged Luke to try about five beers in tiny glasses since for some reason my friend was feeling indecisive (just pick the one with the coolest tap handle, dumbass). We enjoyed our food and UC's thrashing of Tulane with little disturbance from the college kids sauntering about. We started discussing how shitty the neighborhood was when we went to UC and how bartenders were never nice to us back then, eventually concluding that we didn't know how to treat nice things during college and that throwing rocks at the rats in Hardee's parking lot was probably best for our psychological development during those days. 

Keystone is a solid place to watch sports. Two weeks ago there were so many Kentucky fans at Rock Bottom we could barely get our game on TV. "You don't live in Kentucky! You live in Cincinnati!"

Jac Kern: I went to Westside landmark Price Hill Chili on Saturday. Obviously the longtime neighborhood chili parlor is known for its take on coneys and three (or more)-ways, but I almost always order off their all-day breakfast menu. PHC's goetta and cheese omelet comes loaded with the savory breakfast meat and cheddar cheese, all folded in a super-thin eggy blanket with a side of toast and home fries. Super simple, but always a treat. I'm pretty sure if you visit PHC and order that, you're automatically a Cincinnati citizen, regardless of your actual residence.

Brandi Case (CityBeat Office Manager): Saturday I made chicken and dumplings with a chicken stock I made myself, from scratch. Southern cookin’ is so comforting; a perfect dish for winter evenings at home. We also had 7 and 7s to wash it all down. Seagram's is surprisingly very tasty.

Sunday we ate at Uno’s Anderson location and had their signature deep dish pizza. Create your own with chicken, spinach, mushrooms, onions and goat cheese. So good, so filling! And for dessert we had a fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie with ice cream and whipped cream. Really heavenly. We also drank a lot of pints of Fat Tire amber ale.


 
 
by Staff 02.24.2015
Posted In: Cincinnati, classes at 04:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
todo_jungle-jims-cooking-school-hands-on-class_photo-provided

This Week's Dining Events and Cooking Classes (2/25-3/4)

For foodies, people who like cooking, winos and everyone in between

A list of cooking classes, dining events and alcohol parties taking place this week. Warning: Cooking classes frequently sell out.

WEDNESDAY FEB. 25 
Hone Your Knife Skills — Learn to properly care for and hold a knife. 6-8 p.m. $60. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.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.

Wine Tasting and Food Pairing at 20 Brix — Featuring wines from California vintner Row 11. 6:30 p.m. $55-$70. 101 Main St., Milford, 20brix.com.

Sweet and Savory Young Chef’s Kitchen — The Northside Farmers Market hosts this class for kids ages 7-10. Kids learn to cook with local products, meet farmers, learn new skills and take home recipes. 4:45-6 p.m. $3. Northside Farmers Market, 4222 Hamilton Ave., Northside, northsidefm.org.

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.

Cincinnati E.A.T.S. at Enoteca Emilia — Cincinnati E.A.T.S. (Epicureans About Town Society) head to Enoteca Emilia for an evening of cocktails, socializing, food and mingling to benefit the Freestore Foodbank. 7:30 p.m. $45. 2038 Madison Road, O’Bryonville, cincinnati.com/cincinnatieats/index.shtml

Wine Walk on the Levee  — Take a walk around Newport on the Levee and sample red and white wines and light hors d’oeuvres. 6-10 p.m. $40; $35 advance. Newport on the Levee, Newport, Ky., newportonthelevee.com

THURSDAY FEB. 26 
One Pot Wonders — Prepare an entire meal using only one pot. You’ll make chicken pot pie soup and a pasta. 6-8 p.m. $60. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

All About Chicken Lunch and Learn — Ilene Ross (CityBeat dining writer) leads this class on preparing chicken: stock, soup, roast, taquitos and chickena dn biscuits. 11 a.m.-1 p.m. $40. Cooks’Wares, 11344 Montgomery Road, Harper’s Point, cookswaresonline.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 at 2062 Riverside Drive, East End, brewrivergastropub.com

FRIDAY FEB. 27 
Winter Passport to Wine & Beer Tasting — Features tastings of more than 25 ales, porters and wines from around the world. 7-9:30 p.m. $29.95; $16.95 designated driver. Mill Race Banquet Center, 1515 W. Sharon Road, Winton Woods, greatparks.org.

Cold Nights and Warm Spirits — This fundraiser for Ault Park is a whiskey tasting event, featuring more than 40 different whiskeys. 6:30-10 p.m. $30; $40 day of. Tickets include seven tastings. Ault Park, 3600 Observatory Ave., Hyde Park, aultparkac.org.

Street to Plate Pop-Up Dinner — Daveed’s hosts this pop-up dinner with eight small plates and two glasses of wine. 6:30 p.m. $65. Daveed’s, 934 Hatch St., Mount Adams, 513-683-2665.

Fundamentals of Pairing Wine and Food — This class has multiple tasting courses paired with assorted wines to evaluate how various components, flavors and textures can result in a perfect match. 6:30 p.m. $85. Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State, 3520 Central Parkway, Clifton, culinary.cincinnatistate.edu

Warped Wing Beer Dinner — Five courses prepared by the Golden Lamb chef Josh House, paired with beers from the Warped Wing Brewing Company. 7 p.m. $50. Golden Lamb, 27 S. Broadway St., Lebanon, goldenlamb.com

SATURDAY FEB. 28 
Sushi Workshop for Parents and Kids — Chef Jamie will teach you the basics of sushi. Learn how to prepare sushi rice, Ponzu and Teriyaki sauces, and complete a variety of sushi rolls. For ages 10 and older. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. $95; each additional family member $40. Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State, 3520 Central Parkway, Clifton, culinary.cincinnatistate.edu.

Quick and Easy: Pizza — Learn to make pizza at home. Noon-1 p.m. $20. Cooks’Wares, 11344 Montgomery Road, Harper’s Point, cookswaresonline.com.

Vegan Pressure Cooking — Vegan cook and author of Vegan Pressure Cooking: Beans, Grains and One-Pot Meals in Minutes JL Fields introduces the world of plant-based pressure cooking. $20. Park + Vine, 1202 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, parkandvine.com.

Bier and Wine Tasting — The Donauschwaben Society hosts an American vs. European wine and beer tasting. Also featuring a stein shuffle, silent auction, barrel of spirits raffle and golf ball drop. 6-11 p.m. $35; $30 advance. Donauschwaben Haus, 4290 Dry Ridge Road, Colerain, cincydonau.com.

German Bier Dinner — At Mecklenburg Gardens with the Ziniznnati Bierband and Wiedemann Bier. 6-9 p.m. $25. 302 E. University Ave., Corryville, mecklenburgs.net.

Great Parks Dinner Series — Tonight it’s an adventure dinner with the theme “Kissing Kilimanjaro.” Dinner includes a buffet with prime rib, chicken, lasagna and assorted sides. 6:30 p.m. $29.95. Mill Race Banquet Center, 1515 W. Sharon Road, Winton Woods, greatparks.org

SUNDAY MARCH 1
Ohio Winter Food Festival — Previously known as Taste of Northern Cincinnati. A food festival featuring more than 30 restaurants. Noon-4 p.m. $20; $18 advance. Sharonville Convention Center, 11355 Chester Road, Sharonville, sharonvillechamber.com.

TUESDAY MARCH 3
National Pancake Day — All IHOPs in Greater Cincinnati are offering a free short stack of buttermilk pancakes to benefit Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, Shriners Hospitals for Children and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. 7 a.m.-10 p.m. ihop.com

A Plethora of Potatoes — Slice, dice, bake or fry a variety of types of potatoes. 6-8:30 p.m. $50. Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com.

WEDNESDAY MARCH 4
Bier Dinner: Bockfest Kickoff — A kickoff party with Alpen Echos and Schoenling Bock. 6- 9 p.m. $25. Mecklenburg Gardens, 302 E. University Ave., Corryville, mecklenburgs.net.

Wine Dinner at Via Vite — Five courses from chef Cristian Pietoso paired with five wines from Agricola Tamburini. 7 p.m. $65. Via Vite, 520 Vine St., Downtown, viaviterestaurant.com.

Find more dining events here.

 
 
by Maija Zummo 02.23.2015
Posted In: Food art, Food news, Coffee at 12:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
eats_collectiveespresso_jf01

Collective Espresso to Man New CAC Cafe

Coffee shop owners will operate new cafe in the remodeled Kaplan Hall Lobby

The Zaha Hadid-designed Contemporary Arts Center's Kaplan Hall Lobby is currently undergoing an estimated $1.1 million renovation to make the space more welcoming to visitors. The goal of the renovated lobby, which was designed by local design and architecture firm FRCH Design Worldwide, will be to engage visitors through an updated lounge space, cafe and bar, relocated welcome desk and more carefully curated gift shop. 

And the CAC has just announced that Collective Espresso will be manning the aforementioned cafe space. Owners Dustin Miller and Dave Hart have signed on to bring their expertly crafted coffees to the center, along with a menu of breakfast, lunch and evening treats. The new space, Collective CAC, will open just mere months after the duo's second Collective Espresso location opened in Northside. Collective CAC, which will seat 48, will be open during lobby hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday; 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Tuesday; 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Wednesday-Friday. 

Rendering of the cafe from FRCH

"Our approach to coffee is really quite simple," say Miller and Hart in a recent press release. "We use the best, quality sourced ingredients, and do our best to simply and beautifully prepare them. There is beauty in the traditional espresso drinks, beauty in steamed milk poured into expertly extracted espresso. Our approach to food will be in the same vein: using the best ingredients and time honored skills in the kitchen to produce beautifully simple dishes."

"Everybody here at the CAC loves their coffee and the process they engage to make one of the city's best cups," says CAC Director Raphaela Platow in the same release. "The care they take to prepare their offerings is very similar to how we think about our own work of extraordinary artistic experiences that are carefully put together and executed."

The new Kaplan Hall Lobby will be unveiled on March 13 with a members-only reception, and will be open to the public starting March 14. For more information, visit contemporaryartscenter.org.

 
 
by Staff 02.23.2015
 
 
o pie o_ilene ross

Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend

Pie. The Art of Food. Potatoes. Pizza. Secrets.

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.

Jac Kern: I stocked up on groceries Friday night in preparation for a weekend full of snow, pajamas and movies. Pizza-making is a perfect snow day activity, so that's what I made for dinner on Saturday. My two go-tos are classic pepperoni and a fig and prosciutto inspired by A Tavola. The local eatery's version includes fontina, parmigiano and balsamic arugula; I used the fresh mozzarella and spinach I had on hand, plus fig jam and prosciutto. It's no A Tavola — my oven pales in comparison to their Italian wood-burning beauty — but it was tasty and easily consumed in the aforementioned pajamas. Also: Plenty of popcorn during the Oscars!

Ilene Ross:
I feel as if I did nothing but eat out this weekend, but given what I do for a living, this should come as no surprise. On Friday night I attended the ninth annual Art of Food at The Carnegie in Covington. This event, a combination of art and food, never disappoints; it’s a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds. Local artist Pam Kravetz put on quite a spectacular show — the theme was Candy Land — with even chef Jean-Robert de Cavel getting into the act with a starring role as Lord Licorice. Some of the more outstanding dishes were The Littlefield’s house-cured and smoked bacon with house pickles; Wunderbar’s bacon, spinach, brie and fig jam finger sandwiches; The Rookwood’s Porchetta, with Marksbury Farm pork belly, Beeler's Farm pork cheek rillettes, rosemary-cured lardo, carrot mostardo, shaved celery and red cress; The Sleepy Bee’s flatbread stalactites with Moroccan chicken and date herb chutney; Bouquet Restaurant and Wine Bar’s whipped goat cheese with popcorn, pickled fennel and pear gastrique; and Django Western Taco’s beer-braised pork belly with corn relish, guacamole and corn chips.   

On Saturday my son and I got to try one of O Pie Os latest creations, a honey vinegar pie. Now, that might sound a tad bit strange, but believe me, it’s not. Picture a rich, slightly tangy, not-too-sweet custard filling in a perfectly flaky crust. A little packet of crisp sea salt comes along with the pie so you can sprinkle a bit on top to taste, therefore achieving a nice salty balance. We also dug into an apple pie with rosemary caramel. I have to say that O Pie O’s apple pie is so good, I didn’t care one bit that I forgot to buy ice cream.   

Saturday night I got to be a guinea pig of sorts during a trial run for the staff at chef Jean-Robert de Cavel’s latest restaurant, the soon-to-be-opened Le Bar a Boeuf in The Edgecliff. The restaurant will be opening quite soon and I was overjoyed to be able to participate. While I can’t divulge too many details, I can say that the space is beautiful, the staff — under the watchful eye of hospitality expert Richard Brown — is charming and diligent, and as far as the food, well, you’re in for a real treat.   

I have a good friend who lives in Indianapolis, and her daughter is a Girl Scout. This year was the second time I’ve bought cookies from her and the two have driven in and delivered them to me on a Sunday. It’s also the second time that we’ve met at Maribelle’s eat + drink for brunch to make the cookie drop off. My son and I took them to Maribelle’s for the first time last year and they loved it so much that they specifically requested it again. I don’t blame them. Brunch at Maribelle’s is a crazy good combination of breakfast and lunch foods everyone loves. The four of us had White Bean and Frog Leg Chili; a Pig Tostado (shredded pork, cumin crème, pickled red onion, queso fresco and cilantro); fried cashew butter, jelly and banana sandwiches; a hamburger; some sort of yummy egg dish that I can’t remember the name of; and, of course, bloody mary’s for the adults. Yes, it was a lot of food, and there were leftovers, but for me the best thing about a busy weekend is a Sunday afternoon nap followed by not having to cook. My Oscar watching dinner consisted of Maribelle’s leftovers, Samoas and bourbon.  

Samantha Gellin: I ate a grilled chicken club at Anderson Pub & Grill on Beechmont Avenue, aka APG. Normally I shy away from chicken sandwiches because they tend to turn out dry and tasteless. But I've never been disappointed with the food at APG so I decided to give it a try. It was worth it. So juicy and full of flavor. It's topped with bacon, lettuce, tomato, American cheese, onion, pickle and chipotle mayo. Probably one of the best grilled chicken sandwiches I've had in a long time. If you're on the East Side and you're looking for simple but really satisfying bar food (at decent prices too) this is the place to go.

Anne Mitchell: I've barely left the house since Snowmaggedon began, but luckily we are within slogging distance of several MainStrasse eateries. So Friday night we slushed up to Dee Felice Cafe for cocktails and appetizers. I had the fried oysters with cream sauce, a cup of gumbo, and a delicious Manhattan made by Ron the Awesome Bartender. I may have even had a second, just because even numbers are luckier. On Saturday, we went to Otto's. Their beef short ribs were cozier than a fleece snowsuit, and twice as sexy. I sipped on the Ginger Punch special. I should have deduced, when they said they were trying it out for the menu at their eagerly-anticipated Frida, that it was tequila based. Ole!

Rebecca Sylvester: To pre-game before The Price is Right Live! my husband and I decided to try one of the restaurants in the Horseshoe Casino (where the show was). We weren't wearing elastic waistbands so that ruled out the buffet and we were (luckily) turned away from Margaritaville, which I guess was every other audience members' plan, so we ended up at the fancy option: Jack Binion's Steakhouse. It was easily the quietest place in the casino, even with a live trio playing lounge versions of Nirvana and top 40 songs. The booths look like nap-worthy couches, but we sat at the bar since we were only ordering drinks and snacks. The super exciting part of the menu (for a vegetarian) was The Potato Bar, which listed a few heavily topped baked potatoes, pub fries and a few other potato-based sides. Also a pleasant surprise was the list of salads, all vegetarian friendly and a little more interesting than the standard steakhouse iceberg wedge. The servers were really nice and the wine selection was good. If I'm ever back there and need a place to rest my slot machine arm that is probably the best spot in the building.

Maija Zummo: I went to an Oscar's potluck on Sunday and I was tasked with bringing dessert. Usually I'll make something fruit based — a pie or a cobbler — but my friends wanted chocolate. I'm not a huge fan of brownies or anything really cakey and chocolately, so I made cute little chocolate pot de cremes in bright teal ramekins. I found a super easy recipe that just calls for pouring your hot custard into a blender and then refrigerating it to set versus making a water bath and baking the little things. They turned out really well — I added some vanilla and coffee to the custard mix because I'm fancy like that —  and were super easy. Top them with some homemade whipped cream and they seem much more impressive and hard to make than they actually are.

 
 
by Hannah Bussell 02.20.2015
Posted In: fish at 03:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
fish fry

Fish Fry Fridays

Living in a historically Catholic city comes with fried fish benefits

You don't have to be religious to reap the benefits of the fish fries of the Lenten season. Area churches, Catholic high schools, Masonic lodges and more are offering up all variety of fried cod and other fish on Fridays, with bonus side dishes like homemade mac and cheese and coleslaw. The fries also frequently try to one-up each other, so expect special additions like Bingo, beer and wine and even costumed characters.

All Saints Catholic Parish
 
Choose from fried cod, grilled salmon, grilled tilapia, cheese pizza, french fries, baked potatoes, sweet potato fries, slaw, tossed salad, applesauce and assorted desserts. Fish tacos back by popular demand. Beer and wine available. 5-7:30 p.m. Fridays. Through March 27. 8939 Montgomery Road, Montgomery, allsaints.cc. 

American Legion Post 318 
Enjoy fried or baked fish, shrimp and chicken nuggets dinners with sides and a beverage included. Soft drinks and alcohol will be available for purchase at the bar. Enjoy this fish fry dining-in, or carry-out. $5-$8. Feb 20, 27, March 6, 13, 20, 27, Apr 3. 

American Legion Post 513 
Enjoy a choice of cod, catfish, fantail shrimp, popcorn shrimp, crab cakes and chicken strips. Dinners include fries, mac and cheese or onion straws and coleslaw. Cupcakes will be served as a dessert. 4:30-7:30 p.m. Fridays. Through April 3. American Legion Post 513, 7947 Hamilton Ave., Mount Healthy, 513-729-0061. 
 
Beechwood High School 
Benefits the Beechwood Band Boosters. This fish fry includes fried fish with choice of bun or rye bread, coleslaw, french fries or mac and cheese. Drinks and desserts available. 5-7:30 p.m. Fridays. Through March 27. 54 Beechwood Road, Fort Mitchell, Ky., 859-620-6317. 

Bishop Fenwick High School 
A fish fry with an added bonus of Monte Carlo. 7-11 p.m. March 7. (Carryout available beginning at 5 p.m.) 4855 State Route 122, Franklin, 513-423-0723. 

Bockfest Fish Fry 
The third annual Old St. Mary's Bockfest fish fry runs along the Bockfest parade route. Enjoy sandwiches, sides and drinks until they're gone. 5 p.m. March 6. 123 E. 13th St., Over-the-Rhine, oldstmarys.org.

Boondockers Fish Fry at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church 
Presented by the Boondockers, choose from a menu of fried fish, baked fish and fried shrimp dinners, you can either dine-in, carry-out or drive-thru. Order a Tommy Boy: fish on a grilled cheese. 5-8 p.m. Fridays. Through March 27. 5876 Veterans Way, Burlington, Ky., 859-689-5010. 

Boy Scout Troop 452 Fish Fry 
Enjoy a choice of main entrée, two sides, dessert and a drink. Papa John's pizza and Frisch's tartar sauce available. Special visit from radio station 94.9 on March 20. Carry-out meals available. The meals will be served by the Scouts at St. Thomas More Church. Fees help the boys earn their summer camp fees. 5-7:30 p.m. Fridays. Through March 27. 7800 Ohio Pike, Withamsville, 513-315-3991, sttmschool.org. 

Boy Scout Troop 271 Fish Fry 
This dine-in or carry-out fish fry is presented by St. Teresa Boy Scout Troop 271 at St. Teresa of Avila Church. Rotating meals throughout Lent such as shrimp and tilapia meals. 4:30-7:30 p.m. Fridays. Through April 3. 1175 Overlook Ave, West Price Hill, 513-282-0840. 

Brown Chapel AME Church 
Fish, Mac and cheese, green beans, coleslaw, bread and a dessert. 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. and 4:30- 7 p.m. Feb. 20, March 6 and March 13. 2804 Alms Place, Walnut Hills, brownchapelamecincinnati.org.

Fort Thomas Masonic Lodge No. 808 
Enjoy fish, ,ac and cheese, and/or fries, coleslaw and tartar sauce. 4-8 p.m. Fridays. Through April 3. 37 N. Fort Thomas Ave, Fort Thomas, Ky., 859-441-1280. 

Germania Society Fish Fry 
The Germanis Society of Cincinnati presents their fish fry with sides including mac and cheese, french fries, coleslaw, collared greens and corn bread. Assorted desserts and beverages are available for purchase. Tea, coffee and lemonade are provided for free. Carry-out and credit card purchases also available.4:30-7:30 p.m. Fridays. Through March 27. 3529 W. Kemper Road, Colerain Township, 513-742-0060. 

Hartzell United Methodist Church 
This all-you-can-eat fish fry has fried Atlantic cod with homemade tartar sauce. Dinners come with sides of homemade mac and cheese, coleslaw, bread and a drink. Also have two-piece grilled chicken breast dinner, shrimp baskets or two-piece cheese pizza dinners. 4-7 p.m. Fridays. Through March 27. 8999 Applewood Drive, Blue Ash, 513-891-8527. 

Knights of Columbus Kehoe Council 
Choose from a menu of fried fish, beer-battered and baked cod, chicken, steak, french fries, mac and cheese, coleslaw, onion rings and fried mushrooms. Desserts and refreshments are available for extra. 4:30-7:30 p.m. Fridays. Through April 3. 828 Elm St., Ludlow, Ky., 859-261-2704. 

Mary, Queen of Heaven Parish 
Enjoy this fish fry as dine-in, carry-out or a drive-thru. Home of the "codfather," expect to see some mafia costumes for photo ops. They use natural cuts of Icelandic cod cooked in cholesterol-free vegetable shortening. Also serves bottled beer. 4-8 p.m. Fridays. Through March 27. 1130 Donaldson Highway, Erlanger, Ky., 859-525-6909.

Nativity Parish Fish Fry
Offering hand-breaded fish fry dinners, with sides like mac and cheese, sweet potato fries, green beans and cole slaw. Beer available. 5:30-7:30 p.m. Fridays. Through March 27. 5935 Pandora Ave., Pleasant Ridge, nativity-cincinnati.org.

Pleasant Run Presbyterian Church 
A menu of fish or chicken nuggets with choices of two sides: mac and cheese, green beans, coleslaw and applesauce. Meal includes bread and a dessert plus a drink of either coffee, iced tea or lemonade. 5-7:30 p.m. Fridays. Through March 20. 11565 Pippin Road, Colerain, 513-825-4544. 

Silver Grove Firefighter Association 
This fish fry benefits the Fire/EMS for Campbell County Fire District 1. 4-7:30 p.m. Fridays. Through April 3. 5011 Four Mile, Silver Grove, Ky., 859-441-6251. 

St. Aloysius Gonzaga Church 
You can carry-out, drive-thru or dine-in choosing from a menu of fried and baked fish, shrimp, pizza, mozzarella sticks, homemade mac and cheese, green beans, coleslaw and homemade desserts. Beer is available for purchase.4:30-7 p.m. Fridays. Through April 3. 4390 Bridgetown Road, Cheviot, saintals.org. 

St. Antoninus Boy Scout Troop 614 
Dine-in, carry-out, or drive-thru with a curb-side pick-up. Choose from a menu of fish sandwiches, jumbo shrimp, grilled salmon, pizza, grilled cheese, homemade soups and homemade desserts plus other side dishes. 5-7 p.m. Fridays. Through April 3. 1500 Linneman Road, Cheviot, 513-922-5400. 

St. Augustine Church 
Enjoy deep fried and baked fish, shrimp, and cheese pizza. There will be a choice of side dishes including french fries, hush puppies, coleslaw and mac and cheese. Desserts available. 4-7 p.m. Fridays. Through April 3. 1839 Euclid Ave., Covington, Ky., 859-431-3943.

St. Barbara Fish Fry 
Enjoy fried fish, baked tilapia, shrimp and cheese pizza. Adult dinners include three sides. You can enjoy your fish fry either by dining in or carrying out. 4:30-8 p.m. Fridays. Through March 27. 4042 Turkeyfoot Road, Erlanger, Ky., 859-371-3100. 

St. John the Evangelist 
Pick from baked or fried fish and shrimp, fish sandwich, cheese pizza, crab cakes, side dishes and dessert. New for 2015 is a kid’s fish stick meal. This fish fry benefits the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Campton Mission, Christ Renews His Parish, the West Chester Firefighters and Knights of Columbus. 4:30-8 p.m. Fridays. Through March 27. 7121 Plainfield Road, Deer park, 513-791-3238. 

St. John the Evangelist West Chester 
Choose from fried fish sandwiches, breaded and unbreaded baked fish, shrimp, crab cakes, cheese pizza, mac and cheese, french fries, green beans, coleslaw and applesauce as well as a large selection of desserts. There is even a supervised kids room back. 4:30-8 p.m. Fridays. Through March 27. 9080 Cincinnati-Dayton Road, West Chester, 513-777-6433. 

St. Lawrence Elementary 
Breaded jumbo shrimp, baked salmon, beer-battered or breaded cod, spaghetti with tomato sauce, grilled cheese sandwich or garlic grilled cheese sandwich and pizza bread. 4-7 p.m. Fridays. Through April 3. 1020 Carson Ave., East Price Hill, 513-921-4230 

St. William Fish Fry
A fish fry with weekly live entertainment. The Magnificod Platter features a piece of hand-breaded cod, fries, two hush puppies and coleslaw. Go healthier with baked salmon. Pizza available for kids. Beer and dessert sold separately. 5-8 p.m. Fridays. Through March 27. 4108 W. Eighth St., Delhi, stwilliamfishfry.com.

 
 
by Staff 02.17.2015
Posted In: Brunch, Cincinnati, Indian, Leftovers, Wine, Holiday at 12:51 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
brij mohan

Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend

With a delay because of President's Day and Snowmageddon

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.  

Ilene Ross: I ate out quite a bit this weekend due to the fact that my newly engaged daughter was in town for some wedding planning. On Friday we spent the day trying on wedding gowns, which left us feeling quite peckish, so we treated ourselves to afternoon tea at The BonBonerie. I find the $25 per person a bit high for the amount of food you get, but for a special occasion, you can’t beat the pomp and circumstance of tiny scones, macarons and finger sandwiches. *Note: You must make reservations for afternoon tea. 
Saturday found us in OTR looking at reception venues, so we popped into Park + Vine for their annual Customer Appreciation Day. I had the tofu and roasted vegetable sandwich with a side of macaroni and cheese. Now I know P+V is a vegan restaurant and it’s not “real” dairy cheese, but as an omnivore, I can honestly say that it’s one of my very favorite renditions of the mac and cheese. 
On Sunday night I tried new-to-me Brij Mohan Indian Sweets & Restaurant out in Sharonville with a group of friends. I had the Navratan Korma (fresh assorted vegetables and dried fruits cooked in creamy gravy), onion naan and a mango lassi (a yogurt smoothie). This place is super authentic and incredibly popular. There was a long line of people waiting to get in before they even opened for business. We were told that everything is made from scratch and in-house. Brij Mohan is wallet-friendly and super-casual, right down to the paper plates, but don’t let the dinnerware stop you from enjoying the incredible food. Said my dining companion Danny Korman (of Park+Vine), “The  paper plates I don’t get, but the food I do.” 

Kristen Franke: My Valentine and I spent Saturday morning at Findlay Market searching for wine-and-cheese-night goodies. We picked up three cheeses — St. Andre triple cream, Spanish manchego and creamy smoked gouda — and some freshly-sliced proscuitto from Gibbs Cheese, country French bread from Blue Oven, Castellare Chianti from the Market Wines and a package of dates from Madison's. Later, the dates were stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped with bacon to complete our little V-day spread.  

Maija Zummo: My friends and I had a girls night at Pontiac in Over-the-Rhine on Friday. Two of the four of us got there at 5:30 p.m. and there was no wait, which was great. However the other half of the group was late (which some portion of us always is), and they won't seat you until your whole party is there, so we sat at the bar and had some drinks until they showed up. The drinks at Pontiac are awesome. There's a whole menu of Tiki drinks, all served in tall Tiki cups. Note: If you steal a Tiki cup, they will charge you $75. I had the Bahama-Lana ($13) at the bar, which tasted like bananas and coconut and was full of rum, Domaine de Canton ginger liquor and bourbon cider. It was pretty sweet but I felt great after drinking it; vacation-style relaxed. My friend had a glass of chardonnay and the bartender was really nice and warned her about the kinda steep price ($10-$12 for a glass). She didn't mind.
In terms of food, I can't say much. I don't eat meat so I just had an assortment of sides. (Food reviewer Michael Taylor has more to say about the meat here.) Mostly I just wanted more Tiki drinks, so we ordered a bowl of Rumspringa Punch ($30). The mix of rum, ginger, champagne, pineapple and some more stuff came in a giant Tiki bowl with four straws and a flaming volcano in the middle (on fire because of the 151 puddle in there). Also fantastic. We finished it and then split another one. Turns out I love rum served in thematic cups. Also, I had to pee pretty bad because of all the Tiki drinking, and on the way to the bathroom I saw CityBeat dining writer Kristen Franke. Adorable.

Jesse Fox: I went to Tacocracy and got their vegan chorizo taco and their shroom taco (substitute avocado for cheese) and a black margarita. The shroom taco is always my go-to there and I still prefer it over the vegan chorizo, but it's awesome to see more vegan options on menus around town. The black margarita was good and not too sweet and syrupy, like some inexpensive margaritas tend to be. 
 
 

 

 

 
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