CityBeat Blogs - Food & Drink http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/blogs-1-1-1-40.html <![CDATA[Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend]]>
Each week CityBeat staffers, 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: Friday night’s ReUse-apalooza! at Building Value in Northside gave me the opportunity to do one of my favorite things for dinner: graze. Northside’s proliferation of tasty restaurants is the perfect place for progressive noshing, and an event like this is the perfect way to sample most of them in a compact setting. Some of my favorites were the ceviche from Bistro Grace, the chiles rellenos from Django Western Taco, the kale and white bean dip from Park + Vine and pierogies from Babushka Pierogies (neither from Northside, but I’m not that picky), and then dessert goodies from Happy Chicks Bakery and Grateful Grahams.

Colleen McCroskey: You either wholeheartedly agree with me or think I’m insane, but I am 110 percent convinced that cheese coneys from Great American Ball Park taste LIGHT YEARS better than coneys from a regular Skyline, so I treated myself to two of them this past Friday night when we played (read: lost to) the Giants. The cheese is lighter and fluffier and the flavors of the chili seem more complex and nuanced somehow. I washed down all that deliciousness with a vodka-spiked slushie. I also happened to be sitting right next to the smoke stack that caught fire so the black billowing smoke added some nice ambience to my own personal coney-fest.

Jesse Fox: I've been on a mission to eat better and minimize my portion size the past couple weeks, but this weekend I took a break from that. This started on Saturday when I went out with my friend Erica to use up a gift card I had from Moerlein Lager House. Knowing that we had a whopping $50 of free money we decided to go wild (for two broke girls) and order a couple margaritas, an appetizer (calamari) and an entree that was more than $7. Erica went with the herb-crusted salmon and I chose their crispy balsamic tofu. After that we went up to Clifton where my band was having a house-show and finished the night out with some Bud Light Razberitas and a few PBRs.  

Katie Holocher: I, no joke, literally ate Dewey's all weekend. A calzone Friday night, those leftovers on Saturday and then another pie on Sunday. Same order every time — banana peppers and pepperoni (or BPPep as we call it in our house), with extra sides of their ranch. Furthermore, I had a delicious lemon cake, that was as equally adorably decorated, at a baby shower, made by a local gal named Sara Kenny. She calls herself the Baking Actor but I was talking to my friend who knows her and it sounds like she's getting more away from the acting side so that she can get more into the baking side. 

Sarah Urmston: This past Saturday, OTR was buzzing with action — a 5k, the City Flea, store grand openings and more; every restaurant seemed to be flooded to their very brim. I gratefully remembered The Taste of Belgium (one of my favorite breakfast places in Cincinnati) had another location off of Short Vine, not too far from the one in OTR. Our scheduled 2-hour wait turned into no wait at all as my buddies and I gathered around a high-top for some their famous waffles. Switching it up from the usual chicken and waffles I get, I ordered the Waffogato: a Belgian waffle topped with vanilla bean gelato alongside a shot of rich espresso to dip, pour or do with whatever your heart desires. It was the perfect blend of cold and hot together, with a sweet-meets-bitter taste. It was the best way to wake up and begin a Saturday.  

Casey Arnold: My boyfriend Brian and I were traveling around the suburbs checking out yard sales on Saturday when we both were hit with some painful hunger. We remembered that there was a Mexican restaurant pretty close to where we were in Maderia called Chuy's. Neither of us had ever been there or heard of it. It seemed a little gimmicky at first: hubcaps hanging from the ceiling, T-shirts for sale and general flair on the walls. When the fresh salsa came (where was our red slime?) we were pleasantly surprised. I had the bean and cheese burrito with creamy jalapeno sauce. It was delicious, but we both swore that the sauce was just ranch dressing. Brian had the stacked enchiladas which were blue corn tortillas sandwiching shredded chicken. Everything was fresh, different and so much better than an average Mexican restaurant. I posted about it on my Facebook and my Austin, Texas-transplant friends started commenting about how surprised they were that the chain made it all the way up to Cincinnati and raving about their favorite dishes. I realize I've been spending too much time downtown. 

Garin Pirnia: On Sunday, my friend and I brunched at The Palace restaurant inside The Cincinnatian Hotel. In March, they introduced Saturday and Sunday brunch (11 a.m.-2 p.m.). The restaurant wasn’t crowded or loud, so you could actually carry on a conversation. Besides their brunch menu, you can also order off their breakfast and lunch menus, so there were a lot of options such as challah bread pudding, and chicken and cornbread waffles. I had their eggs Benedict (arugula, grilled tomato, poached egg on English muffin, avocado mousse, hollandaise sauce). The eggs were a little overcooked but otherwise were good. My friend ordered the steak and eggs flatbread, which came with coffee-cured bacon. We also indulged in home fries, which were the right amount of crispy and pillow-y. The best part of their brunch menu is the inventive collection of bloody marys: a spicy lobster and shrimp gazpacho bloody that came with fresh-shaved horseradish mixed in, and chunks of lobster and shrimp on a skewer. I mean, lobster in a bloody! They also offer a Southwestern bloody (avocado, cumin, cilantro), and a Korean (kimchee, soy, ginger). You can order the bloodys singularly ($8-$11) or by the pitcher, but we refrained from doing that (maybe next time). They also make blueberry mimosas and housemade strawberry sodas. If you like a fancy (and boozy) brunch with affordable prices and food served atop white table cloths, then you need to go.
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<![CDATA[This Week's Dining Events ]]>
This week's dining events and cooking classes — beer dinners, German dance parties, crawfish boils, wine tastings and more.

WEDNESDAY 13

Wine Tasting and Food Pairing — 20 Brix pairs food and wine in a winemaker dinner with Matt Flick and La Crema. 6:30 p.m. $55-$75. 20 Brix, 100 Main St., Milford, 20brix.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.

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.


THURSDAY 14
Midwest Culinary Institute Wine Dinner — A five-course paired wine dinner from the students of the Midwest Culinary Institute and Seifried Estate Winery. 6:30 p.m. $60. Summit Restaurant at the Midwest Culinary Institute, 3520 Central Parkway, Clifton, culinary.cincinnatistate.edu.

Chicken: Season, Sear & Sauce — On the menu: ginger lemongrass chicken, chicken paillard with white wine cream sauce, and curry chicken with jasmine rice. 6-8 p.m. $75. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

FRIDAY 15
CincItalia Festival — The CincItalia festival celebrates all things Italy. You’ll find main dishes with lots of authentic Italian flavor like stromboli, lasagna, grilled spiedini and more, complete with a wide selection of wine and beer and cooking demonstrations. Visit the ladies of La Societa Fuscaldese Femminile to try their famous cannoli or enjoy lively music and a glass of vino in the mini piazza, with fountain and Tivoli lights. 6 p.m.-midnight Friday; 3 p.m.-midnight Saturday; 1-9 p.m. Sunday. Free. Harvest Home Park Fairgrounds, 3961 North Bend Road, Cheviot, cincitalia.org.

Modern Makers Arts & Crafts — Organized by a handful of sophomore graphic design students at the University of Cincinnati’s DAAP (and with sponsorship from Modern Makers, a multidisciplinary arts collaborative), Arts & Crafts involves the consumption of local craft beer and the exhibition of up-and-coming artists — with accompanying food trucks and live music. With the expressed intent of supporting local breweries and artists in an effort to nurture the arts in the Clifton community, organizers enlisted UC students to participate as well as breweries MadTree, Rhinegeist and more. 7-9 p.m. Friday. Free. Niehoff Urban Studio, 2728 Vine St., Corryville, artsandcrafts.beer

Date Night in the Kitchen — Celebrate the bounty of spring through romantic culinary creations with your loved one. After cooking, enjoy a candle-lit dinner with wine. 6:30-8:30 p.m. $60/couple. The Baker Hunt Art & Cultural Center, 620 Greenup St., Covington, Ky., 859-431-0020, bakerhunt.org.

Nacht Der Tracht — The third Friday of the month the Christian Moerlein Taproom hosts a German dance party. Dress in dirndls and lederhosen and dance to Electro DJs. 8 p.m.-midnight. No cover. 1621 Moore St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/christianmoerlein.

SATURDAY 16
Mt. Carmel Firkin Festival — Mt. Carmel celebrates a decade with a Firkin Festival. Features food booths, food trucks, live music and special small-batch beer. Noon-9 p.m. Free. Mt. Carmel Taproom, 4362 Mt. Carmel-Tobasco Road, Mount Carmel, mtcarmelbrewingcompany.com.

East Price Hill Jazz Fest Crawfish Boil — This crawfish boil — crawfish, potatoes, corn boiled up in a pot and served — is a fundraiser for the Jazz festival. 6 p.m. $20 donation. Warsaw Project Space, 3116 Warsaw Ave., East Price Hill, facebook.com/eastpricehilljazzfest.

Simple Health-Smart Cooking Class — An informal and interactive class to learn how to prepare and cook healthy and tasty meals. 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. $139. Cincinnati Nutrition Counseling Center, 7400 Montgomery Road, uc.edu/ce/commu.html.

Cincy Wine Wagon — Hop on the wagon and take a tour of Cincinnati area wineries: Valley Vineyards, Meier's Wine Cellars, Vinoklet Winery and Henke Winery. Ride includes wine trivia, tours and tastings on a four hour trip. Meets at 11:40 a.m. at Maggiano's Little Italy at the Kenwood Towne Centre. Starts at $75. Private tours available. cincywinewagon.com.

SUNDAY 17
Dewey's Pizza School — Learn to toss a pizza from Dewey's pizza experts. Proceeds benefit Make-A-Wish. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. $25. 3014 Madison Road, Oakley, deweyspizza.com.

MONDAY 18

Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic Good Spirits — Get a sneak peak of September’s second annual Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic at Good Spirits, a paired cocktail dinner party featuring mixology and bites from the crew at Metropole. The party will be held at New Riff Distillery’s bar and outdoor patio, and will celebrate the recent release of the distillery’s Kentucky Wild Gin. Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic will also release the names of local, regional and national chefs, beverage experts, winemakers and storytellers booked for their 2015 event. 6-8 p.m. Monday. $25. 24 Distillery Way, Newport, Ky., cincinnatifoodandwineclassic.com.


TUESDAY 19

Crawfish Boil — BrewRiver GastroPub flies crawfish in from Louisiana for a weekly Tuesday night crawfish boil. Buy them by the pound; includes potato, mushroom and sausage. $15 per pound. 2062 Riverside Drive, East End, brewrivergastropub.com.


How to Make a Steak — Precinct sous chef John Ruppel teaches this class. 6:30-9 p.m. $65. Cooks’Wares, 11344 Montgomery Road, Harper’s Point, cookswaresonline.com.


Homemade Pasta Workshop — Chef Bridget Lieb will teach you to make your own linguini using an Italian manual countertop pasta machine, and then finish it with a delicious Sauce. Noon-2 p.m. $70. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox lane, West Chester, 513-847-4474, thelearningkitchen.com.


Lebanese Favorites — Learn some family-recipe Lebanese cuisine from Rita Heikenfeld, and learn some tips for growing the best produce, flower and herbs in containers or in the ground from Ron Wilson. 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. $50. Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com.


WEDNESDAY 20

Clean Eating & Label Reading — Chef Bridget Lieb will discuss what clean eating actually is and how to spot processed ingredients. In class you will prepare a soul-warming chicken soup with avocado, egg-fried quinoa with chicken, and snap peas with shallots. Noon-2 p.m. $65. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox lane, West Chester, 513-847-4474, thelearningkitchen.com.


Lebanese Favorites — Learn some family-recipe Lebanese cuisine from Rita Heikenfeld. 6-8:30 p.m. $65. Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.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.


May Beer Dinner at Christian Moerlein — A paired beer dinner featuring brews from Revolution Brewing. 6 p.m. $55. Moerlein Lager House, 115 Joe Nuxhall Way, The Banks, Downtown, facebook.com/moerleinlagerhouse.


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.


THURSDAY 21

Pints for Paint — #PintsforPaint is a fundraising effort to benefit Memorial Hall's renovations; buy a drink, the money goes to Memorial Hall. 6 p.m. Free; buy alcohol. Memorial Hall, 1225 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/events/425141254331782.

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<![CDATA[Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend]]>
Each week CityBeat staffers, 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: On Friday night I was “ordered” by the boy and his friend to pick up pizza from Goodfellas on my way home. Ham and pineapple for the boy, sausage for his friend, and a Taste of Naples for me — tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella. Simple yet satisfying. On Sunday night — Mother’s Day — the boy artfully arranged a giant platter of supermarket sushi and presented me with a hand-decorated box in which to store my treasures. The night was divine.

Jac Kern: I took my fiance to the Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally show at the Taft on Saturday as a late birthday present, and we went out to dinner before at Jimmy G's. We split a crab cake to start. I don't think I've ever had a crab cake I didn't like, but this one was particularly good — full of fresh crab meat without breadcrumb fillers. I stuck with seafood for dinner and ordered a rare yellowfin tuna steak. It was so flavorful, I think it was even better than the steak they're known for (which my date ordered). We shared a couple side dishes — 4 fat fries and mac and cheese — but could barely put a dent in the oversized portions. I also pretended to be fancy by ordering lemon basil martinis, which were insanely good.

On Sunday we took our moms and grandma to Bronte Bistro inside Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Rookwood Pavilion. Half of us ordered quiche (Mother's Day brunch staple!) and the others ordered a big breakfast platter, a ham and brie sandwich and tilapia. I worked at Bronte in college, so you'd think by now I'd be sick of the food I'd relied on for shift meals so many times, but nope! I'm a sucker for good ladies-who-lunch fare and a coffee shop with a full bar. We're now thinking of making it a Mother's Day tradition.

Casey Arnold: At the Aronoff on Saturday I saw the Cincinnati Ballet for the first time ever. It proved to be impressive and something I should have done a long time ago. Before the ballet, my friends Corrie, Julie, Katie and I went to Igby's for cocktails and small plates. We nibbled on seafood guacamole and bread and butter while sampling from the cocktail menu. My favorite was the Tito's Austin Blossom, a vodka and citrus cocktail with rosemary. After the ballet we attempted to go to the 21c rooftop but were thwarted by a private party. We ended up at Taqueria Mercado where we sipped Palomas and talked about our favorite parts of the ballet — all between scoops of queso and guacamole on fresh chips. 

Maija Zummo: Sunday, my husband and I had brunch at the bar at BrewRiver GastroPub for our anniversary (note to self: don't go to brunch on Mother's Day without a reservation and expect a table). We got engaged in New Orleans so a New Orleans-style brunch seemed apt. He loved his shrimp and grits and I enjoyed the texture of my eggs-and-biscuit breakfast. I've been super sick and couldn't taste any of it, but I liked how dense and square the biscuit was. I forgot how fun the atmosphere is at BrewRiver — usually I hate live music, but they had a pretty good singer there doing Tom Waits covers, and then we found out they do Louisiana crawfish boils weekly, where they fly in the little things and cook em up with like mushroom or potatoes or corn or whatever you're supposed to do. And if you get there between 5 and 6 p.m., they have super cheap beers (with like 23ish on draft). I won't eat crustaceans but I'm not opposed to beer.
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<![CDATA[James Beard Foundation-Style Progressive Dinner]]> This time last year, chef Jean-Robert de Cavel wrangled six of our finest local chefs for the best road trip ever to New York City's James Beard Foundation as part of Cincy in NYC, a weeklong excursion where a variety of local performing arts and cultural groups — the Cincinnati Ballet, May Festival Chorus and more — left the Queen City for the Big Apple for a seven-day showcase. 

The Beard dinner truly was a gastronomical feast, but if you didn't get the chance to partake then, no worries, because guess what?!? Every single one of the Cincy in NYC food phenoms will be recreating their Beard dinner dishes this weekend. Each chef will be making one course at their respective restaurants, so you can create your own progressive dinner.

Chef Jean Philippe Solnom of French Crust Café is creating a composition of chocolate and strawberries (prices vary) at lunch (and for carryout) on Friday and Saturday — strawberry shortcakes, pistachio, raspberry and chocolate macarons, and dark chocolate ganache truffles.

Chef Stephen Williams of Bouquet Restaurant and Wine Bar in MainStrasse is offering halibut encrusted with pistachio relish, rhubarb, fennel, edamame, pickled shiitakes and soy ginger reduction ($32) through Saturday for dinner.

Chef David Cook of Daveed's at 934 in Mount Adams will be preparing his hickory-smoked duck breast with crisp goose goetta and wild juniper ($22) as part of the tapas menu on Friday.

Chef Julie Francis of Nectar in Mount Lookout will have roast leg of lamb with fūl, local morel mushrooms and asparagus, preserved lemon and harissa ($26) through Saturday.

Boca will offer chef David Falk's robiola cappelletti with house-cured guanciale ($12) during dinner on Saturday night. 

Chef Jose Salazar of Salazar will feature his fluke crudo, green strawberries, spring vegetables, verjus and yuzu gelee ($14) during dinner on Friday and Saturday. 

And chef de Cavel will be serving his Maine Lobster with “Big Fish Farm” local caviar, beet barigoule, avocado, arugula, seaweed and lemon crème fraîche ($21) through Saturday at Jean-Robert's Table. 


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<![CDATA[Mother's Day Brunch]]>
If you aren't making brunch for mom at home, take her somewhere nice. Here are some local restaurants hosting Mother's Day meals. Call ahead to make reservations. 

Holiday Jazz Buffet — A Mother’s Day brunch buffet, featuring a carving station, breakfast egg bake, pastries, pasta and more, plus live Jazz music. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. $23.95. Washington Platform Saloon and Restaurant, 1000 Elm St., Downtown, 513-421-0110, washingtonplatform.com.

BB Riverboats Mother’s Day Cruise — Cruise along the Ohio River and enjoy either brunch or dinner, which includes a souvenir photo. 1-3 p.m. brunch; 5:30-7:30 p.m. dinner. $43; $22 children. 101 Riverboat Row, Newport, Ky., bbriverboats.com/mothers_day_cruise.html.

Django’s Mother-Loving Brunch — Django Western Taco reinstitutes brunch for Mother’s Day. Reservations for parties of 6 or more. Will accept call ahead seating. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. 4046 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-542-3664, facebook.com/djangonorthside.

Mother's Day Brunch at Capital Grille — A multi-course brunch menu with choice of soup or salad, entree, dessert and a signature cocktail. $49. 3821 Edwards Road, Hyde Park, 513-351-0814, thecapitalgrille.com.

Mother's Day Brunch at deSha's — Brunch items include French toast casserole, fried chicken and waffles, quiche Lorraine, country fried steak sliders and options for kids. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Prices vary. 11320 Montgomery Road, Montgomery, 513-247-9933, deshas.com/cincinnati/menu/mothers-day.

Mother's Day Brunch at Grandview Tavern and Grille — Brunch menu with complimentary mimosas. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. $25.95; $11.95 children. 2220 Grandview Drive, Fort Mitchell, Ky., 859-341-8439, grandviewtaverngrille.com.

Mother’s Day at Henke Winery — Treat mom to lunch or dinner and wine at Henke. Noon-6 p.m. 3077 Harrison Ave., Westwood, 513-662-9463, henkewine.com

Mother’s Day Brunch at Jag’s Steak and Seafood — A special brunch and dinner menu, plus kids craft area and sundae bar. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. 5980 West Chester Road, West Chester, jags.com.

Mother’s Day Brunch at La Petite France — A fine French buffet featuring an omelet and crepe station. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. $33.95; $15.95 children. 3177 Glendale Milford Road, Evendale, 513-733-8383.

Mother’s Day Brunch at La Poste — Brunch plus a local artist trunk show. 3410 Telford St., Clifton, 513-281-3663, laposteeatery.com.

Mother’s Day Brunch at Metropole — Executive chef Jared Bennett treats moms to a three-course brunch with highlights like Avocado Toast with scrambled eggs, Blue Oven bread and Aleppo pepper. 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. $29. 21c Museum Hotel, 609 Walnut St., Downtown, 513-578-6660.

Mother’s Day Brunch at The Palace — A buffet featuring everything from an omelet station and assorted mini quiches to carved prime rib. Desserts prepared by the in-house pastry chef. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. $49.95; $39.95 seniors; $29.95 children. 601 Vine St., Downtown, 513-381-3000, palacecincinnati.com.

Mother’s Day Brunch at Park + Vine — Brunch includes vegan biscuits and gravy, roasted potatoes, tofu scramble, gluten-free pancakes, O Pie O, coffee and tea, plus every mom gets one Hudson Valley Seed Library seed packet with brunch purchase. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. 1202 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-721-7275, parkandvine.com.

Mother’s Day at Parkers Blue Ash Tavern — Buffet goes from lunch to dinner, switching to dinner items at 3 p.m. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. $34.95; $11.95 children. 4200 Cooper Road, Blue Ash, 513-891-8300, parkersblueash.com.

Mother’s Day Brunch at The Phoenix — Includes a variety of breakfast and lunch options, including a mini dessert bar. 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. $34; $15 children. 812 Race St., Downtown, 513-721-8901, facebook.com/thephoenixcincinnati. 

Mother’s Day at Red Roost Tavern — Located inside downtown’s Hyatt, the restaurant offers a full brunch menu and buffet, featuring an omelet station, seafood display, carving station and more. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. $49; kids 1-12 pay half their age. 131 W. Fifth St., Downtown, 513-354-4025. 

Mother’s Day Brunch at Steinhaus — Celebrate mom with a taste of Germany. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. 6415 Dixie Highway, Florence, Ky., 859-371-3000, steinhausrestaurant.com.

Mother’s Day Brunch at The Summit — Brunch buffet includes omelets, eggs Benedict, prime rib, Belgian waffles, mixed grill, a bloody mary bar and champagne. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. 3520 Central Parkway, Clifton, facebook.com/thesummit.MCI.

Mother’s Day Brunch at Trio — Brunch includes Scottish salmon, assorted egg dishes, baked Virginia ham, pastries and more. 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. $29.95; $15.95 kids. 7565 Kenwood Road, Kenwood, triobistro.com.

Mother’s Day Brunch at Via Vite — Via Vite hosts an Italian buffet brunch, featuring Italian items and drink specials. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. $40 adult; $15 child. 520 Vine St., Downtown, 513-721-8483, viaviterestaurant.com.

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<![CDATA[Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend]]> Anne Mitchell: What would you make for dinner if you opened your fridge and saw pork jowl, bee pollen, sorrel and ancient-grain bread? If you’re chef Nick Marckwald from Hen of the Woods, you’d make a panzella salad with bacon and French breakfast radishes, and a yogurt and bee pollen dressing. That’s just one of the amazing things I got to taste on Saturday as one of three judges for the Raid the Garden chef’s competition at Gorman Heritage Farm’s Savor the Season.

Bryant Goulding from Rhinegeist and Grace Yek from WCPO.com shared the arduous task of eating delicious things with me. The competition is set up with two preliminary rounds and then a final cook-off between the winners. There’s a basic pantry stocked with goodies from Whole Foods in Mason but each round has “secret ingredients” that no one knows until the clock starts to tick.

While DJ Mowgli spun tunes, Brad Bernstein of Red Feather Kitchen and Martha McGinnis from Whole Foods went up against last year’s champ, Jaime Carmody in Round One. Carmody, of Out of Thyme, is a personal caterer and cooking instructor, and she’s a calm but determined force when you put her behind a butane burner. The mystery ingredients for the first round were foraged ramps — a chef’s darling of spring — Grateful Grahams, Fab Ferments' Beet Kvass and quail. Chef Jackson Rouse of The Rookwood, emcee of the event, assured me that he loves to cook quail, but 20 minutes is not a long cooking time for tough little game birds. All three of the chefs in this round did an amazing job of plating up pretty food, and McGinnis’ dish had a Cordon Bleu-worthy sauce, but Carmody managed to get her quail closest to done, and won the round.

Marckwald was up against James Dean Gadd from The Rookwood, and Mike Florea of Maribelle's eat +drink in Oakley, the founder of the local friendly chef competition, Food Fight. Florea put together an earthy cassoulet style dish with white cannellini beans, and Gadd nearly won the judges’ hearts with two simple words: candied bacon. Oh, yeah. But Marckwald’s dish wowed us — as judge Goulding said, “They’re all good, but I’ll still be talking about this one tomorrow.”

Mixologist Lance Bowman from Japp’s saw that we were working up a powerful thirst, and brought us each a sorrel-inspired cocktail to go with Course Two. We also got to revive ourselves with Nitro Coffee from Deeper Roots and a new local product, Hopwater. For the final round, though, there was no better pairing than a Rhinegeist Hustle.

The final competition is for dessert, but the ingredients aren’t all sweet. Maverick Chocolate from Findlay Market supplied their hand-crafted Espresso chocolate bar, but there were also morel mushrooms and fresh thyme. Chef Carmody whipped together a chocolate cream-of-wheat garnished with spicy tortilla crisps that was a big bowl of comfort food, but Marckwald wowed us with chocolate pancakes with cranberry, morel and thyme gastrique. 

Besides Raid the Garden, Savor featured chef demos from amazing talents like Todd Kelly of Orchids at the Palm Court, Allison Hines of Butcher Betties, Jose Salazar, Ryan Santos, Patrick Hague of Dutch’s Larder, and Marcus Hazel from Cincinnati Cooks. There were food trucks and wonderful food purveyors like Sheltowee Mushroom Farm, and cocktail pairings from Japp's Bowman with crostini from Julie Francis of Nectar. Savor is spring’s best food event — mark your calendar for next year now!

Ilene Ross: On Thursday night my daughter and I attended the dress rehearsal of the DAAP fashion show to watch my niece, a senior, debut her fabulous collection of sportswear. The show was amazing, but unfortunately we had arrived with empty stomachs. Luckily there is a little market right next to the student center, so I grabbed some small plastic cups filled with cheese-like product, yucky tasting grapes and cheap crackers for us to nibble on. When I asked my daughter why the grapes tasted so foul, she looked at me with a straight face and said, “preservatives.” On Friday morning a very sweet person showed up expectantly at my doorstep with a donut from Holtman’s because I had a not-so-great week. Whoever said food isn’t love is an asshole — at least in my book.

On Saturday night I hung out at Japp's with my pal Molly Wellmann — something I don’t get to do enough of because of her ridiculously busy schedule — while she tended bar for a bit. She made me the most perfect Manhattan, and when she was done working, we walked around the corner to Neons, met up with her boyfriend Bee and had some burgers from Taste 513 who were grilling there.

Casey Arnold: Friday and Saturday were pretty average days. Sunday Funday became a tour of OTR. I biked down and met with three friends for brunch at Kaze to start. We shared a delicious carafe of brunch punch, which consisted of pineapple and rum. We also got some tasty shrimp sliders and shared their delicious french fries. We subsequently hit up Neons and Goodfellas. Our final stop was Kreuger's Tavern, where we shared hot beer cheese and a pesto spread in front of the open doors by the patio. We shared a carafe or two of gin and juice to finish off the afternoon which had become evening. It was one of the best Sundays I've had in a while. Viva la spring!

Maija Zummo: I went to brunch at Sugar n' Spice on Sunday. We only had to wait like an hour, which is a relatively short amount of time for the ol' SnS. We ended up getting the "honeymoon" table, which is a one-sided booth where you sit next to your dining partner and both face the same way. A little odd if you were having a business lunch, but pleasantly quirky otherwise. I ate a huge veggie omelet and a side of wispy thin blueberry pancakes. Their omelets are seriously huge — like a Chipotle burrito. I hate cooking eggs at home because they freak me out — they are like little sunshine mucus globs — but I love eating them. 
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<![CDATA[Urban Artifact Now Open in Northside]]>

Northside’s Urban Artifact Brewing opened its doors last week, hoping to push the envelope by displaying a finessed brand and aesthetic by reinvigorating old styles of beer and celebrating local artists of all genres. Residing in a renovated church, the brewery is collaborating with restaurant Meatball Kitchen and has big plans for the future as a destination to hear live music. 


“We love Northside and we love the neighborhood, so that was at the top of our list from the beginning,” says Scott Hand, who opened the brewery with partners Brett Kollmann Baker, Scott Hunter and Dominic Marino. Hand, a DAAP graduate, was working as an architect in Chicago when he and Marino, a musician and artist, began talking about opening a brewery. Knowing the financial restrictions they would face as a new business in the Windy City, the duo relocated to Cincinnati to begin the project. 


Hand was familiar with the process of reconstructing an old space, so when St. Pius X on Blue Rock Street, formerly home to Queen City Cookies’ bakery, became available, the team thought it was the perfect fit for their vision. Originally, Hand and Marino had planned to open Greyscale Cincinnati, a multi-use performing arts facility and craft brewery in the former Jackson Brewery on Mohawk Street in Over-the-Rhine. But plans and funding change, and the Northside church’s sanctuary, gymnasium, next door rectory and other open spaces have now become Urban Artifact, a brewery and event space still focused on blending music (their music label retains the Greyscale Cincinnati name) and unique beer, but with an additional spotlight on good food, design and elevated branding. 


“Because of branding, we made a point to reuse a lot of the church and what was already there,” Hand says. “This is a lot harder than just gutting it and starting from scratch. Most breweries are in warehouses or large rooms; our brand and beers come together for a unique experience.” In the final renovation, the team highlighted the church’s historic features, like its stained glass and old columns. They’ve also kept the radiators and reincorporated the 1940s maple floors they plied up from the gymnasium, now home to brewing equipment and fermenters, as finishes in the main church building’s lower-level taproom.  


Featuring old things while incorporating contemporary necessities was crucial for Urban Artifact. Most of their beer styles, which utilize wild yeast, bacteria and other captured local cultures, are from the Prohibition days — brewers Hunter and Baker both have backgrounds in chemical engineering. Hand’s favorites are the Maize, a Kentucky Common-style beer, and Harrow Gose, a bready beer of German origin. “The Gose is the most enjoyable for me, and it’s a light beer so I can have two or three without feeling bad about it,” he jokes. The brewery will also focus on experimental wild and tart ales, listing the ale’s pH and other information in the taproom to add an educational element to the experience, and will have local Skinny Pig Kombucha on tap as a non-beer fermented alternative.


The brewery also partnered with Meatball Kitchen, leasing part of rectory’s first floor to become the restaurant’s second location. Food runners will unify the two buildings and make Meatball Kitchen available to everyone. (Currently, Meatball Kitchen is set up in a corner of the taproom until the restaurant renovations are complete.) Hand says the partnership was a natural fit due to their similar aesthetics. 


“[Meatball Kitchen’s] Short Vine location has a similar feel — old wood, exposed pipes and things. The menu really identifies with our beers as well,” he says. “I think they are redesigning and making little changes to their menu to make our collaboration more cohesive.”


The brewery’s lower level, which can hold about 200 people, is separated into two parts — the taproom and a listening lounge — in addition to a beer garden outside. Every Wednesday, the listening lounge will feature Cincinnati Jazz institution the Blue Wisp Big Band, which features brewery partner Marino on trombone. The band has been performing every Wednesday night since 1980, but lost their home last year when the Blue Wisp Jazz Club closed. Hand says the “Cincinnati cultural icon” will be at Urban Artifact indefinitely.


In terms of other live music, the brewery scored Soul/R&B/Funk band The Almighty Get Down for their opening night last Friday and World-Fusion band Baoku last Saturday. While powerhouse local bands are flocking to Urban Artifact, they are still looking to book less established, up-and-coming local bands of any genre for other nights. (Hand encourages interested bands to contact Marino at dominic@artifactbeer.com.)


The four partners are working hard to have a successful first week of business, but Hand has big plans for the future. The lower level renovation is complete, but the main floor sanctuary is phase two. As a music enthusiast with an architectural background, Hand’s main passion is acoustics. His goal in the next couple of years is to create a “formal but flexible” space for ticketed events, live theater, receptions and eventually big-ticketed performers in the sanctuary. 


“I do not want it be your typical standing space,” he says. “It will not be the environment where you blast bands to the loudest decibel and come out with your ears ringing.” 


Hand says performers would have the opportunity to record their live shows for personal use or redistribution. He hopes creating the ideal acoustic space will attract larger name performers.


Urban Artifact, whose motto is “Wild culture” for their beers and their brand, focuses on creating a unique product, building promising partnerships and including local artists and culture in their brewery. “We have identified what we’re best at and we do it well, but the best thing is that we come together in the end and figure out how to get things accomplished best as a team,” Hand says. “I think we are pushing the envelope for what a finessed brewing aesthetic is and how that affects the overall experience.” 


Urban Artifact is located at 1660 Blue Rock St., Northside. Hours are 4 p.m.-midnight Monday-Thursday; 4 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Friday; noon-1:30 a.m. Saturday and noon-midnight Sunday. For more information, visit artifactbeer.com.


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<![CDATA[This Week's Dining and Food Events]]>
Events, tastings, classes and more to feed your inner foodie.

WEDNESDAY APRIL 29
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.

Wine Down Wednesdays — The sixth annual Wine Down Wednesday at Greenacres benefits Oyler School in Lower Price Hill. Enjoy a wine tasting, light bites, live entertainment and silent auction. 6-9 p.m. $80. Greenacres Arts Center, 8400 Blome Road, Indian Hill, green-acres.org.

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. Findlay Market, 1801 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, cincinnatifoodtours.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.

An Authentic and Classic Mexican Meal — Learn how to make an authentic three-course Mexican meal, including cold Avocado soup, chilaquiles, fresh tomatillo salsa and a traditional vanilla flan. 6-9 p.m. $65. Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State, 3520 Central Parkway, Clifton, culinary.cincinnatistate.edu.

Homemade Pasta Workshop — Chef Bridget Lieb will teach you to make your own linguini using an Italian manual countertop pasta machine. Noon-2 p.m. $70. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox lane, West Chester, 513-847-4474, thelearningkitchen.com.

THURSDAY APRIL 30
ArtWorks Breakfast — This third annual event celebrates the mission of ArtWorks and its local youth, public art and community impact. At the end of the breakfast there will be an opportunity to engage with the nonprofit, as well as learn about volunteer opportunities. 7:30 a.m. Free; donations welcome. Duke Energy Convention Center, 525 Elm St., Downtown, artworkscincinnati.org.

Hands-On: Low-Country Shrimp Boil — Shrimp boils are the ultimate summer party meal. This easy, one-pot meal features shrimp, sausage, corn and potatoes. Also learn to make spiked lemonade, blackberry cobbler cake, pimento cheese and buttermilk cornbread. 6-8:30 p.m. $65. Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.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 MAY 1
Food Truck Fridays — Mt. Carmel Brewing Company hosts a different food truck at the brewery every week. 5-9 p.m. Prices vary. 4362 Mt. Carmel-Tobasco Road, Mount Carmel, mtcarmelbrewingcompany.com.

Date Night: Homemade Ravioli — Couples learn to make and fill ravioli. 6-8 p.m. $145 per couple. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

SATURDAY MAY 2
Kentucky Derby Buffet and Simulcast — A four-course buffet with a live derby simulcast. Reserved seating available. 10 a.m. $45-$50. Turfway Park, 7500 Turfway Road, Florence, Ky., turfway.com.

Derby Day Soiree — Neons hosts its second annual derby party, with live music, food, a variety of mint juleps and more. Also doubles as a Cinco de Mayo party. 2 p.m. Free. 208 E. 12th St., Downtown, facebook.com/neonsunplugged.

Kentucky Derby Party — Classic Kentucky derby dishes, with prizes, raffles and other drawings. Mint juleps will be served in commemorative derby glasses. 3:30-7:30 p.m. $10. Parkers Blue Ash Tavern, 4200 Cooper Road, Blue Ash, parkersblueash.com.

Sushi Basics — Learn the proper way to prepare sushi rice, and then make a California roll, spicy tuna or salmon roll, nigri and chef Calvin Tam’s spicy mayo. Noon-2 p.m. $65. Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com.

Peachy’s Cooking Classes — In this 90-minute cooking class, watch Peachy make health smart turkey lettuce wraps with kohlrabi enchiladas. Noon-1:30 p.m. $30. Peachy’s Health Smart, 7400 Montgomery Road, Montgomery, peachyshealthsmart.com.

Simple Health-Smart Cooking Class — An informal and interactive class to learn how to prepare and cook healthy and tasty meals. 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. $139. Cincinnati Nutrition Counseling Center, 7400 Montgomery Road, uc.edu/ce/commu.html.

Kids in the Kitchen: Mother’s Day Brunch — Kids can learn how to make an awesome Mother’s Day brunch of quiche Lorraine, crepes with bananas and caramel sauce, and chocolate-dipped strawberries. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. $50. Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State, 3520 Central Parkway, Clifton, culinary.cincinnatistate.edu.

Savor the Season: Farm to Fork Celebration — Local chefs team up with Gorman Heritage Farm for a celebration of spring’s bounty with tastings, competitions and farm demonstrations. 11:30 a.m.-7 p.m. $35; $10 Raid the Garden competition only. 10052 Reading Road, Evendale, gormanfarm.org.

Blues, Brews and BBQ — Five drinks, seven food courses and live music from Dirty McQueens. 4-7 p.m. $35; $30 advance. The Art of Entertaining, 2019 Madison Road, O’Bryonville, cincyartofentertaining.com.

Shrimp Three Ways — Learn to prepare fish three ways: panko-crusted, in tacos and rubbed with chili and paprika over cheesy grits. 5-7 p.m. $75. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

SUNDAY MAY 3
Park + Vine Salsa Making Competition — In the spirit of Cinco de Mayo, P+V hosts a salsa-making competition. Create your own bowl and enter the contest or just sample the salsas of others. Judges include Dave Cunningham of The Comet, Jennifer Gleason of Sunflower Sundries Farm, Andrew Gomez of Gomez Salsa and chef Andrew Mersmann of Django Western Taco. 3-5 p.m. $10 to taste; $15 to register. 1202 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, parkandvine.com.

Flying Pig Viewing Party — Watch the race from the Moerlein Lager House, with a breakfast buffet on the deck. 6-11 a.m. $16. Moerlein Lager House, 115 Joe Nuxhall Way, The Banks, Downtown, moerleinlagerhouse.com.

Frisch’s Founders Day — Celebrate Dave Frisch’s birthday by dressing as Big Boy. Go to any Frisch’s restaurant and get a free big boy while in costume. 7 a.m.-11 p.m. Prices vary. Greater Cincinnati Frisch’s locations, frischs.com.

TUESDAY MAY 5
Camp Washington Chili’s 75th Anniversary — 75-cent cheese coneys and discounted chili prices, live music, giveaways and cake from the Cake Boss. Noon. Prices vary. Camp Washington Chili, 3005 Colerain Ave., Camp Washington, campwashingtonchili.com.

Pork: Season, Sear & Sauce — Learn to make pork three ways: brined, glazed and on an open-face sandwich. 6-8 p.m. $75. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

Peachy’s Cooking Classes — In this 90-minute cooking class, watch Peachy make pad Thai with tofu and vegetables and health-smart egg rolls. 5:30-7 p.m. $30. Peachy’s Health Smart, 7400 Montgomery Road, Montgomery, peachyshealthsmart.com.

Pop-Up Tasting — Food from Provence, France with a flight of three paired wines. 6-8 p.m. $25. The Art of Entertaining, 2019 Madison Road, O’Bryonville, cincyartofentertaining.com.

Wine Tasting and Food Pairing — 20 Brix pairs food with the wines of Sean Minor. 6:30 p.m. $55-$75. 20 Brix, 100 Main St., Milford, 20brix.com.

Phoenix Restaurant Group Chefs Wine Dinner — Chefs Chase Blowers of The National Exemplar, Jeremy Luers of The Presidents Room and The Phoenix, and Josh House of Golden Lamb present a five-course wine dinner with wines from Cadence Winery. 7 p.m. $60. National Exemplar, 6880 Wooster Pike, Mariemont, nationalexemplar.com.

WEDNESDAY MAY 6
Five Courses for Clovernook — Nicola’s presents a dinner to benefit the Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Five courses with a cash bar and silent auction. 5:30 p.m. $150. Nicola’s, 1420 Sycamore St., Pendleton, clovernook.org, nicolasotr.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.

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.

Potato Crusted Cod — A high-end menu focused on creating impressive potato-crusted cod. 6-8 p.m. $75. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.
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<![CDATA[Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend]]>
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.
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<![CDATA[This Week's Dining and Food Events]]>
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.

WEDNESDAY APRIL 22
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.

THURSDAY APRIL 23
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.

FRIDAY APRIL 24
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.

SATURDAY APRIL 25
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.

SUNDAY APRIL 26
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.

TUESDAY APRIL 28
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.
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<![CDATA[A British Foodie in the Queen City]]>
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. 

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<![CDATA[Dining En Plein Air]]>

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.


Dutch’s

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.



Nicola’s

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.



Nectar
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.


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<![CDATA[Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend]]>
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.

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<![CDATA[Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend]]>
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.

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<![CDATA[Taft's Ale House Opens Today]]>

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.


 

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<![CDATA[Apothecary-Themed Cocktail Bar Sundry and Vice Now Open]]> 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

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<![CDATA[Pop-Up Dinners Return to Carriage House Farm]]> 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. 
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<![CDATA[Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend]]> 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.
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<![CDATA[From Otto's Kitchen: Smoked Tomato Aioli]]> Chef Paul Weckman, owner of Covington mainstay Otto's, is getting ready to launch his second restaurant, Frida, in MainStrasse this May. Frida, named after Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, will be the first and only mezcal bar in town. Mezcal, of which tequila is a specific type, is really a community-oriented beverage, in both style and process. “Mexican moonshine, they call it,” Weckman says. The restaurant will also offer Latin-inspired street food, boasting tortas, empanadas, tacos and lime-zested wings. 

While you wait for Frida, recreate some of Otto's magic at home with the restaurant's popular smoked tomato aioli, which is served with seared scallops. It is also a great “go-to” condiment when looking to add a smoky hint. 

Smoked Tomato Aioli 
Recipe provided by Paul Weckman 

Ingredients: 
4 large ripe tomatoes 
3 cloves garlic 
6 cups mayonnaise (Hellmann’s) 
Salt and fresh ground pepper 
Hickory chips 

Instructions: On the grill, smoke tomatoes over soaked hickory chips until skins turn dark brown. Remove and add remaining ingredients with tomatoes to blender or food processor. Blend on high until all ingredients are mixed and aioli has smooth consistency.

Read more about Weckman's journey here.
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<![CDATA[Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend]]> 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.

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