People who hate surprises, rejoice! I have good news. You may now come downtown, park your car and enjoy dinner and a show at the Aronoff and a very nearby eatery. Jeff Ruby has opened a new place that is custom tailored for you — the Walnut Street Grill. There are no bad surprises here. Nothing unfamiliar. These are upscaled (ever so slightly) versions of dishes you’ll find in most familiar casual restaurants.
No one is happier to see signs of spring than locavore chef Julie Francis, chef and owner of Nectar. She’s anticipating the growing season the way most of us wait for Santa Claus, with visions of sugar snap peas dancing through her head.
Carla and Joe’s family-owned restaurant has always been a safe haven on Vine Street. Even during the riots 10 years ago, the property remained virtually untouched. It’s always been an inclusive place, where the Tuckers welcomed the entire community to enjoy Joe’s crisp hash browns, overstuffed omelets and towering, tartar-sauce-topped burgers. That’s why “what happened” was such a shock.
Does the nationwide “Starbucks on every corner” phenomenon invading the area make Starbucks less special? I don’t think it’s been special for a while. It’s become the place I stop for coffee on long highway drives, but if I have the option, I prefer a neighborhood coffeeshop every time. For instance, how about Mammoth Coffee.
Along with George, Ryan Gosling, Marisa Tomei and the other stars, the movie shoot has brought to town a huge crew — an army, really. So who’s feeding them? I was cutting through the Carew Tower arcade when I thought I saw the answer to that question — a redhead wearing a black chef’s jacket and a baseball cap with a skull-and-crossed-cutlery logo. “Hey, catering guy!” I hollered. That’s how I met Dan Gearig, co-founder of Chow Catering out of Detroit.
Former President Clinton is a vegan. Does that surprise you? I mean, this is a guy who used to stop during jogs to get a Big Mac. Now he’s given up meat and dairy products and has reportedly lost 24 pounds. So clearly this vegan thing is gaining some momentum. It’s super healthy, animal friendly and makes you skinny. What’s not to like?
Zach Weprin, his brother Josh and their friend Stephan Harman — three twentysomethings who grew up together — are business guys. When they started Soho Sushi (28 W. Fourth St., Downtown, 513-421-7646) last year, it wasn’t on a whim. They were hoping to be the next big thing and it looks like they’re headed that way.
There are two spots you’ve got to try downtown, especially if you’re a macaroni and cheese person. Don’t laugh! There are people who count macaroni and cheese as one of the holy sacraments, because when it’s done right, it’s heaven.
Summer Genetti — the pastry chef at the Palace Restaurant at the Cincinnatian Hotel (601 Vine Street, Downtown; 513-381-6006) — is an incredibly talented woman who loves her work. When I spoke to her at Christmastime, she’d just put together a series of playful “Teddy Bear Teas” for little guests to discover the magic of fancy tea parties. She attributes her creativity and enthusiasm to her “ADD,” but I think it’s a lot more than that. It’s a gift.
CityBeat’s kicking off a new mid-month series of breakfast and brunch reviews with today’s look at the super-popular brunch at Take the Cake (4035 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-421-2772). Sunday is the only day that brunch is served (9 a.m.-2 p.m.), and it’s apparent that the customers build up lots of anticipation. There’s a real mix in the crowd — families, singles, couples — and it’s not all Northside neighbors.