CityBeat Blogs - local restaurant http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/blogs-1-1-1-40-187.html <![CDATA[Jean-Robert's Le Bar a Boeuf Opens Today]]>
Jean-Robert de Cavel's latest venture, the whimsically titled Le Bar a Boeuf (literally translated to "beef bar"), opens today in East Walnut Hills' Edgecliff building (2200 Victory Parkway). The neo-French bistro will only be open for dinner to start, with lunch and brunch service following shortly after. 

“It’s taken us a little longer to open than we anticipated," says de Cavel in a recent press release. "We have a wonderful team in place and we are ready." 

The restaurant, which was originally slate to open in November, will feature a new take on classic French and American dishes. The atmosphere — a funky 70-person dining room and 20-24 person separate lounge, designed with help from HighStreet — is more casual than Table, with the intent that everybody will be able to share (at least the appetizers). A 35-person patio, with panoramic views of the Ohio River and Northern Kentucky, will open when the weather warms.

"It's not a classic bistro, like when I did Jean Ro," de Cavel told CityBeat in November. "This neo-bistro is something from the past you are familiar with but in a modern way." 

The menu features everything from escargot to calves liver and macaroni and cheese to ground steaks, with entree prices in the $11-$25 range. CityBeat dining writer Ilene Ross got a sneak-peek dinner at the restaurant this past weekend. She tried everything from the steak tartare and the lamb and beef burgers to snails in parchment and a pot de crème, saying "It. Is. Perfect." 

Le Bar a Boeuf's Chef de Cuisine is Mirko Ravlic with sous chef Travis Reidel, both from Table. Table's wine director Evan Abrams has developed the moderately priced and global wine list. The bar will also serve classic cocktails, and local, import and domestic beers. Local hospitality expert Richard Brown, who worked with de Cavel at the Maisonette and Jean-Robert at Pigall’s, serves as general manager, assisted by Leslie Brunk.  

The Edgecliff previously hosted restaurants, including The View, all of which rested on the laurels of location. De Cavel's vision is different. "I never want to promote the view; the view, for me, it's an extra," he said to CityBeat in November. "It's an extra thing. I want it to be a fun restaurant; a destination restaurant. Fun for the younger generation to the older generation."

Le Bar a Boeuf's current hours are 5:30-9:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and 5:30-10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Reservations are available for early seating times (5:30, 5:45 and 6 p.m.). For more information, call 513-751-2333 (BEEF) or follow along on Facebook and Twitter @baraboeufcincy.



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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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: It wasn't exactly cold this weekend, but most frigid winter days find me jonesing for a body-warming bowl of congee, a type of rice porridge popular in many Asian countries. On Saturday, I enjoyed a tasty bowl of dried pork congee at Quan Hapa in OTR. It's filled with chicken, and there's a poached egg hiding in there. On top is yummy fried pork, five-spice oil and green onions. Deeply satisfying, no matter what the thermometer says. 

Rebecca Sylvester: LaRosa's! Did you know LaRosa's garlic butter dipping sauce contains no actual dairy, so it's vegan/lactose-intolerant friendly? If you think about it too much it's super creepy, but if you just don't think about it then it is a delicious option to dunk your cheese-less veggie pizza. #thestruggleisreal 

Jac Kern: Yesterday I had fajitas and margs at Cancun, my home away from home. The Western Bowl-adjacent cantina is a great brunch alternative for lazy/antisocial people: fast service, standard but consistent Mexican grub, dim lights and crack-like frozen margaritas. Come hungry; leave stuffed, tipsy and with a frost-bitten tongue. That's basically how all of my (frequent) Cancun adventures go.  

Samantha Gellin: I ate at Eli's BBQ for the first time. The inside was packed so we ate at a picnic table inside one of their big white outdoor tents. It was like 30 degrees outside, so thankfully I was able to nab a spot right by a working heater, but it was still pretty chilly. But now I know what all the fuss over Eli's has been about: It's freakin' delicious. And seriously cheap. A meat-stuffed sandwich and two generous sides will run you eight bucks. That's it. There's not many other restaurants in Cincy (at least not that I know of) that are so generous with their portion size and yet so easy on your wallet. And it's BYOB. I mean, what else could you ask for?!

I got a pulled pork sandwich with a side of baked beans and macaroni and cheese. The deliciousness of everything made me forget I was cold. The macaroni is to die for; it's everything you want a side of macaroni to be with a barbecue dinner — super rich, creamy and calorie-laden. The baked beans were also delicious: savory, with hints of bacon and brown sugar and something more complex that I can't put my finger on. And the pulled pork was pretty much everything you've heard Eli's pulled pork to be: savory, tender and with just the right amount of sweet. Will I go again? Most definitely, but I'll wait until it's warm out. 

Jesse Fox: On Saturday I did a freelance photo job for Ena's Jerkmania and fell in love with their fried plantains. I had never even had a regular plantain before so I wasn't sure what to expect. The texture reminded me kind of of like a thinner version of French toast, a little crunchy on the outside but soft in the middle. They were great on their own but would have been really good with some agave nectar on, too — but that's probably the sugar addict in me talking. 

Garin Pirnia: I’ve been nursing a cold, so I decided to stay in this weekend and make a few things. First up was homemade chai tea. You just throw a lot of spices — crushed cardamom, pepper, vanilla bean, star anise, ginger, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves — into boiling water and then add black tea and brown sugar. When I bought the spices at Findlay Market a couple of weeks ago, the guy was like, “Do you work at a restaurant or something?” I don't.

Next, inspired by The Comet’s housemade ginger ale, I took it upon myself to make my own. A caveat: If you hate ginger you will not like this; it’s super strong. You chop up a few ounces of fresh ginger and let it simmer in water for 45 minutes, and then dissolve sugar into it, which makes a simple syrup. Just add carbonated water and you have ginger ale that tastes better than Vernors and anything else on the market.

Finally, I made bagels. Yes, bagels. It’s so easy! You mix bread flour, yeast, a pinch of sugar and salt and malt syrup (I use honey) in a mixer or food processor. Form the dough into a ball and wait for it to rise. Then you shape the dough into the semblance of bagels and flash boil them. The hardest part is forming the dough, but the most fun part is sticking toppings like sesame seeds and poppy seeds onto the bagels. You can get a little crazy and creative — anything goes. Bake 'em in the oven for about 20 minutes and, voila, bagels without weird stuff like yoga mat component/flour whitening agent azodicarbonamide. You can freeze the bagels to make them last longer. Damn, I should open a café.

Anne Mitchell: I ate a fancy dinner at Covington's 200th birthday celebration gala. For giant catered-meal food, it was great — especially the bundles of green beans tied up with red and yellow peppers. Bean bondage! Seriously, there was real bacon on the salad and bourbon in the chicken sauce, so bravo COV200. I hope the next 200 years are just as tasty.

Kristen Franke: This weekend, I had a lot of things. 1. Dollar oysters at Anchor OTR. Thursday nights are the best. We were seated by the window and ordered a dozen delicious little numbers. Their granita topping — basically caramelized red onions that have been frozen into slushy-like goodness — and the fluffy fresh horseradish are dynamite. Our kickass server also brought Sriracha, which is a game changer when it comes to oysters. 


2. The volcano roll at Ichiban (half-price sushi, hell yeah!) on Friday night. The roll features a tower of crab meat on top of a deep-fried eel roll. That and a standard spicy tuna roll and I was set. No, it's nothing stellar, but when your bill comes back with $10.57 printed on the bottom, it's hard to resist doing your happy dance.


3. Homemade meatloaf, whipped potatoes and crisp green beans at my dad's house. His meatloaf is essentially a giant, baked meatball made with soaked french bread, fresh garlic, Parmesan and parsley. Dip it in those buttery potatoes and you can just feel your soul relax.


4. Late-night spoonbread at The Eagle OTR. Eagle is fantastic late night. We arrived at 10:41 p.m. and waited 30 seconds for a table for four. Their maple syrup-soaked spoonbread goes GREAT with a Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, an on-tap staple at this place.


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<![CDATA[Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend]]>
Each week CityBeat staffers 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: A couple of my friends' girlfriends had a birthday death wish on Saturday night, taking a party of more than 15 to Krueger's Tavern. My girlfriend and I showed up late, kind of assuming everyone would be standing on the Vine Street sidewalk like a bunch of tourists. Apparently, Krueger's will seat your giant party as long as half have arrived, though, and no one was mad when the final two of us showed up like 40 minutes after the reservation time. Krueger's is owned by the same people who run Bakersfield and The Eagle OTR, and its concept is similar: loud, hip atmosphere; really good, relatively inexpensive food; and pretty great service considering how crowded and busy the place is. We split the Cuban sandwich, fries and a kale salad someone told us was going to be awesome (true). It's nice to have an OTR option aside from Taste of Belgium where you can sit down with more than four people without forcing the restaurant to rearrange the entire room. CityBeat food writer Kristen Franke had good things to say about Krueger's last week, so you should probably take her word for it. 

Jac Kern
: I’ll tell you where I did not eat: Bridalrama. Cupcakes and macaroons and cakes at every corner, and I didn't touch any of it. I was proud of my self-control until the next day when Jeff insisted on ordering Pizza Hut during the Super Bowl. And we're not talking some regular fattening pizza. No, we had to order the Triple Cheese Covered Stuffed Crust Pizza. So, needless to say, any pride I had left was gone at this point. I wanted to be disgusted by it but I reluctantly found it really tasty. 

Rebecca Sylvester: Best Friday night: ordered too much Indian food and went to sleep. Since it was obviously too cold to leave the house, my boo and I took advantage of the fact that Amol delivers and made someone else deal with the frigid 2.5-mile trek between their kitchen and my couch. The food was great, but the best part of the meal was the fact that their delivery minimum is $25, meaning it is just a dollar or two out of reach of ordering only two entrees, so we were (I was) justified in ordering A THIRD ENTREE for additional feasting. 

Mike Breen: I largely had a depressed, shut-in kind of weekend, for which I loaded up on supplies from that gourmet food haven Walgreens and barely left my apartment. The cashier told me we might get eight inches of snow over the weekend as I checked out; even though I knew that wasn’t true, I hoped my sad purchases were seen as “stocking up” for the impending Snowmageddon (or at least as treats I was taking to a Super Bowl party). I should have grabbed a bag of rock salt to make it look less pathetic.

Along with the wasabi-flavored almonds, the best thing I grabbed on my junk food spree was a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Truffle Trifecta, which I first discovered last year. It’s only available at Walgreens (which seems weird; B&J’s also has “exclusive” flavors at Target, which is somewhat understandable, but Walgreens seems to be a weird place to have to go to score ice cream). It’s Ben & Jerry’s, so of course it’s really good. And pretty simple — chocolate ice cream with marshmallow, fudge and caramel-filled truffle candy. It’s become one of my favorite Ben & Jerry’s flavors.

I was proud of myself for not devouring all of the crap food I bought. Seemed like a good purchase at the time, but I just couldn’t stomach eating the small bag of Ruffles’ Deep Ridged Bacon & Cheddar Loaded Potato Skins flavored chips I bought. But there’s always next weekend. Grammys viewing party at my place, y’all! 

Jesse FoxI wanted to get some film that I shot developed on Saturday and apparently the Walgreens in Highland Heights is the only place around here that still does that. I didn't want to drive down, go home and drive right back, so I went with my freelancer Catie so we could talk or something while we waited. The guys working said it would take two hours so we did what any respectable humans would do — we went and bought mini vodka bottles from the liquor store nearby and ate at Taco Bell. Despite ordering different things, the total of both of our meals was $6.66. The next day I woke up with strep throat, so thank you Taco Bell satan.

Maija Zummo: I finally went to Packhouse in Newport to eat some vegetarian meatballs. (My computer keeps auto-correcting that to "packhorse," which is an altogether different type of meatball.) I had been to the meatball restaurant in Corryville, Meatball Kitchen, which has a different vibe (you order at a cash register there). I had been warned that the Packhouse menu was a little bit confusing — there's a ton of choices and you fill boxes in on your menu with a marker to order — but it wasn't so bad. The waitresses help you navigate.

You pick a type of meatball — I got quinoa and veggie and the rest of my party got one of each other type of meatball on the menu: fried chicken, turkey and sage, something with sundried tomatoes and blue cheese, a normal meatball and then a lasagna meatball (lasagna shaped into a ball and fried). Then you choose a sauce (marinara, parmesan cream, some type of stew sauce, and a couple others) and how you want it served. You can get it on a sandwich, on a slider, on pasta, with Brussels sprouts etc., etc. There are like a million possible combinations. I got three quinoa meatballs on some boursin mashed potatoes with parmesan cream on top and a quinoa slider with cheese and marina sauce because, as a vegetarian, I never get to eat sliders.

Portion sizes were big and the quinoa meatballs tasted like little arancini; they were little fried tasty nuggets. I loved them a lot more than I expected because I hate quinoa. The rest of my party, however, didn't love their meatballs. There was some confusion as to which was which, like they couldn't tell the difference between the turkey and sage an the sundried tomato one. But I was happy, which is the most important part. They also have bottles of wine for $19, and the service staff is paid a fair wage so you don't tip, which is a cool novelty. I'd go back for more sliders and cheap wine, and my one friend wants to go back to tackle their eating contest, where you need to eat like 25 of the same meatballs in an hour or something. 

Samantha GellinI had brunch at BrewRiver Gastropub. It's a New Orleans-style place. The food was delicious but the prices ... not. The entrees were all in the $12 to $16 dollar range, so I opted for two "sides": two sunny-side up eggs and a small bowl cheese grits. The eggs were delicious; the grits, while tasty, weren't life-changing. My husband got poutine and eggs, and the beef short-rib gravy was really rich and delicious. It had strips of really tender meat in it. For anyone who doesn't have to watch their cholesterol, it's a solid choice. The server was a bit pushy and anxious to get our party of eight out the door by the afternoon closing time, though. I'm not sure I'd go back, partly because of the prices and partly because I'm over brunch dates. Maybe I'm just getting too old to be drinking three mimosas at noon.
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<![CDATA[Revolution Rotisserie & Bar Goes Brick and Mortar]]> Revolution Rotisserie & Bar owner Nicholas Pesola grew up in Chicago, working a variety of jobs, ranging from starting his own patio and landscaping company to bussing at a Greek restaurant. Ironically, he hated bussing and to avoid the restaurant industry, he went to the University of Dayton to study psychology and Spanish. After getting rejected from the various Ph.D. programs he applied to, he took some time out to reapply and started in management at Dewey's Pizza in the meantime.


"After a couple months, I started to realize that I liked being in the restaurant more than reading and writing scientific articles," Pesola says. "It was fast-paced, challenging and gave me an avenue to interact with people dynamically. In addition, I really enjoy how tangible the hospitality industry is."


This past summer, Pesola branched out and started selling rotisserie chicken on pita bread at Findlay Market. The resulting Revolution Rotisserie was so popular, he's opening a brick-and-mortar location on Race Street in Over-the-Rhine in early 2015. The rotisserie and bar will do dine-in, carry-out and catering, plus vegetarian options and specialty cocktails. 


We caught up with Pesola to learn more about the restaurant and his chicken technique.


CityBeat: Why chicken and how did that relationship come to pass? 

Nicholas Pesola: The concept originally had nothing to do with chicken. I wanted to introduce something unique to Cincinnati and I thought that it would be cool to reinvent gyros, one of my favorite foods from my youth. I wanted to stack marinated beef/lamb and do it like they do in Europe/Middle Eastern countries. I knew that I would have to offer other meats so I chose to stick with the rotisserie meat theme. When I put on tastings, everybody liked the rotisserie chicken sandwiches with my gourmet toppings and sauces the most. When no one offered to fund my unproven restaurant concept, I decided to start small at Findlay Market and pilot the idea. I knew I had to simplify my concept in order to be successful so I gave the people what they wanted: rotisserie chicken. I wanted to become known for rotisserie chicken sandwiches on pita bread because I thought that was the most unique. I also thought I would sell more sandwiches versus whole chickens to the Findlay Market crowd. 


CB: What's been the best response you've seen from a customer? 

NP: We have had many great responses. I love when people walk by my stand, stop abruptly after seeing the sample, and say, "That looks good. But what is it?" When they find out there is rotisserie chicken under the toppings and sauce, it is usually game over. I also enjoy the skeptical customer who reluctantly orders our food and then comes back with friends 10 minutes later because they really liked it.  


CB: Can you tell me more about your chicken? Where do you source it? What separates it from other rotisserie? Is there a special technique, seasoning, butcher? A family recipe? 

NP: We use Amish chicken from Miller Farms and will be switching to FreeBird chicken which has even more strict standards when it comes to how the chickens have been raised: no hormones, no preservatives, all vegetable diet, more room to roam, etc. Our chickens are never frozen, always fresh. We brine our birds, season them with a custom blend of the best spices, cook them on a gas-fired 40-bird rotisserie to perfection. And I assure you our whole chickens will not sit around for hours and dry out like they do at the grocery store. For our sandwiches, we hand-pull the meat, white and dark, and make sure it maintains its juiciness before serving. We have arrived at our current technique after talking with chefs and experimenting with other methods, but the reality is I'm always looking for ways to make the product even better. 


CB: So you're opening a brick-and-mortar spot in OTR? What inspired you to take the jump? 

NP: Even before I started at Findlay Market, I wanted to open up a brick-and-mortar shop. I just didn't have enough money and that was a blessing in disguise because it forced me to start small. I knew the time was right to circle back with potential investors when my customers kept asking where Revolution Rotisserie was located after eating our food. 


CB: Why OTR? And why Race versus Main or Vine? 

NP: I live in OTR and it's a very exciting place to hang out and start a business. The real question should be why not OTR? I believe my concept contributes something very unique to the scene. I chose the spot at 1106 Race Street because it was the size I wanted, featured an open kitchen, and fit my budget. In my opinion, Race Street is the next logical restaurant street in OTR because of Washington Park, Zula, Anchor, and Taft Ale House all down the street. Plus I live on Race Street, you can't beat that commute. 


CB: What will be on the menu at Revolution? 

NP: Chicken! We will showcase the versatility of chicken with eight rotisserie chicken sandwiches served on grilled pita bread — all of which can be made vegetarian by substituting hummus, black beans or extra veggies. This is a bold statement, considering we are primarily a chicken restaurant, but I think our pita sandwiches and salads set us up to offer one of the best vegetarian menus in the city. Of course, we will do whole/half chickens, side salads, mashed potatoes, cinnamon applesauce and a few other sides. At the bar, we will specialize in specialty cocktail infusions and of course, craft beer.


CB: People love chicken during the holidays. With restaurant prep ahead of you, will you still be at Findlay Market or taking any orders for whole or half chickens? 

NP: Unfortunately, the cold weather prevents us from operating at Findlay Market under the tent. However, if people would like to place catering or large carryout orders, they can email revolutionrotisserie@gmail.com. The best way to do this is to visit our website revolutionrotisserie.com. 


Follow along with Revolution's progress on Facebook and Twitter @RevolutionOTR. 


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<![CDATA[Team Behind Kaze, Embers to Open New OTR Eatery]]>

Restaurateur Jon Zippersteain — the man behind Japanese gastropub Kaze in OTR and sushi/steakhouse Embers in Kenwood — is slated to open the new Mercer OTR on Nov. 4.

The Mercer, at corner of Vine and Mercer streets (on the ground floor of the Mercer Commons apartment complex), will be a casual, European-influenced bistro with seating for up to 60.

"This restaurant was inspired by the sophistication and Mod sensibilities of '60s cinema, which idealized and often parodied 'The Sweet Life' a la 'La Dolce Vita'," says Zipperstein in a recent press release. "There is a vibrant lifestyle here in OTR that we want to echo. I want people to think of The Mercer as a living room for the neighborhood."

Chef Dan Stoltz will interpret rustic Italian-European dishes — like duck-leg cassoulet, porterhouse for two, short ribs, risotto and chicken saltimbocca — in a modern, contemporary way. All pasta, including garganelli, will be made in-house. 

On the bar end, the full-service bar — overseen by head mixologist Greg Wefer — will seat 40 and include Prohibition-era favorites like the Americano (Campari, Aperol, sweet vermouth and lime) and a Blood Orange Sazerac (rye, Solerno and blood orange bitters), plus a diverse wine list and local and craft beers. 

The restaurant is slated to open on Nov. 4 and will be — get this! — accepting reservations. Make them at opentable.com or call 513-381-0791.

The Mercer OTR, 1324 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-0791, facebook.com/TheMercerOTR.

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<![CDATA[JRo to Open Le Bar a Boeuf in Edgecliff Building]]> Everyone's favorite French chef Jean-Robert de Cavel, owner of Table and French Crust Cafe, is opening a new destination restaurant in The Edgecliff condominium building in Walnut Hills (2200 Victory Parkway). 

The whimsically titled Le Bar a Boeuf — literally translated to "beef bar" — will be a French neo-bistro, de Cavel says, with new takes on classic French and American dishes; more casual than the Table with the intent that everybody will be able to share (at least the appetizers).

"It's not a classic bistro, like when I did Jean Ro," de Cavel says. "This neo-bistro is something from the past you are familiar with but in a modern way." 

The menu (which is currently being finalized) will feature six or seven appetizers, from homemade pate and crab cakes ("Of course crab cakes," de Cavel says) to beef and salmon tartare, deviled eggs and lobster macaroni and cheese, along with entrees that focus on ground meat. 

"So like a burger without the bread," he says. 

The chef has always wanted to do a burger bar-type restaurant, but Le Bar a Boeuf will be something more, elevating the street food with a French twist; a burger you eat with a fork and knife. The ground meat — which includes choices like Wagyu beef, seafood and lamb — keeps entree prices down (they're currently slated to be in the $16-$28 range), while still providing quality. It also allows patrons to top their "burgers" with a variety of add-ons. 

"You can have a burger with sautéed chicken liver on it, or you can have pork belly or foie gras, confit tomatoes or roasted portobello mushrooms," de Cavel says.

Le Bar a Boeuf's Chef de Cuisine will be Mirko Ravlic with sous chef Travis Reidel, both from Table. Table's wine director Evan Abrams will be developing the moderately priced and global wine list. The bar will also serve classic cocktails, and local, import and domestic beers. And Lindsay Furia, most recently of New York's 11 Madison Park, will come aboard as general manager.

Previously home to restaurants including The Edgecliff Room, View, Four and Coach, de Cavel has made a few changes to the 70-person dining room, lounge and patio, with help from HighStreet and the designer who helped with Table, to make the atmosphere "funky" and "different."

Slated to open by mid-November, one of the former selling points of the restaurant location was the panoramic river-view (hence the former eatery "View"). 

"I never want to promote the view; the view, for me, it's an extra," de Cavel says. "It's an extra thing. I want it to be a fun restaurant; a destination restaurant. Fun for the younger generation to the older generation."

Le Bar a Boeuf will open for dinner Tuesdays-Saturdays initially, and then for lunch and brunch Wednesday-Sunday shortly after. Follow progress on Twitter and Instagram @baraboeufcincy
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<![CDATA[Look Who's Eating: Ryan Santos]]>

CityBeat is resurrecting our popular "Look Who's Eating" column, where we ask local chefs and food industry insiders where they've been dining and what is exciting them about Cincinnati's current culinary culture. This month, we talk to Ryan Santos. 

Chef Ryan Santos has already built a reputation as the man behind Please, a mobile dining pop-up. Having recently returned from an internship in Denmark, Santos plans to wow taste buds again with a new dinner series — and soon, Please’s very own space. 

On a remote island in the middle of the Baltic Sea, Santos learned how to utilize and preserve ingredients. He toured the Nordic Food Lab, tasting their latest experiments — everything from bee larvae and grasshopper soy sauce to six-year-old quince vinegar. 

Santos will put his food expertise to work with a dinner series at Cheapside Cafe one weekend per month. To prepare, he picks chanterelle mushrooms a few times a week, and plans to use summer produce like blackberries, blueberries, corn and summer squash.

Using commercial cooking equipment for the first time, in addition to the communal seating and four walk-in spots offered each night, Please will be accessible to more Cincinnatians than ever before — and it’s only just getting started.  

CityBeat: What was the last great meal that you ate and where did you eat it?
Ryan Santos: I spent a week dining around Copenhagen before my internship and had some amazing meals. My meals at Kadeau, Relae and Amass were all fantastic. Copenhagen is also a big supporter of natural, organic and biodynamic wines. I had some eye–opening glasses (and bottles) of wine at wine bars. 

CityBeat: Locally?
RS: I'm happy any time my meal is in the hands of Jose Salazar.

CB: What's in the future for Ryan Santos and Please? 
RS: Right now I'm helping chef John Shields do dinners at Riverstead, in Chillhowie, Virginia, one week a month, doing our Cheapside Dinners one weekend a month, and we are in the process of getting the pieces together for a place of our own open. I think the time is finally right for us to have our home base!


To learn more about RYAN SANTOS and Please or sign up for a dinner at Cheapside, visit at pleasecincinnati.com. Wanna hear what your favorite chef's favorite meal is? Email suggestions to eats@citybeat.com.

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<![CDATA[New Cold-Press Juice Bar Coming to OTR]]>
Big news for local juice fans. Cold-press juice bars are a new staple in most big cities — follow any model, actress or fashion blogger on instagram and you'll see oodles of the stuff from places like Venice Beach's juice bar Moon Juice. 

Now, locals Annie McKinney, Cydney Rabe and Steve Vickers are bringing the trend to Cincinnati with their new OTR juice bar Off the Vine (1218 Vine St., OTR, facebook.com/otvcincy).

"Cydney, Steve, and myself firmly believe that healthy eating is vital to a healthy and happy life," says McKinney. "Juicing is such a fantastic way to easily absorb important nutrients — nutrients that the vast majority of Americans lack from their diet." 

Off The Vine will offer cold-press juices made from fresh produce and herbs. Cold-pressing is a form of juicing that basically uses extreme pressure to juice produce, without adding heat. Heat possibly denatures the enzymes, vitamins and minerals in the vegetables; cold pressing preserves the health benefits while also squeezing out more juice than traditional methods. Off the Vine juices will range from $8-$11, a pretty standard price for cold-press. They'll also be making their own vanilla cashew milk.

"We have three different 'levels' of green juice," McKinney says, "from a basic spinach and apple to a hardcore, all-vegetable juice. Something to please the person who has never tried a green juice before to those who are looking for an intense blend of greens."  

Off the Vine will also be offering juices cleanses with a daily series of five juices and one meal-replacement nut milk as a "kick start for people looking to rid their bodies of the toxins that build up from poor eating habits," McKinney says. The group will also offer support for those looking to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

They plan to open this fall, possibly in September. Follow their progress at facebook.com/otvcincy.

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<![CDATA[Former Dusmesh Owners Open New Indian Restaurant]]>
For die-hard Dusmesh fans, the former owners of Dusmesh Indian in Northside have opened a new Indian restaurant in North College Hill called Swad. 

After seven years of ownership, the family sold Dusmesh to new owners in July 2013 and have recently opened Swad — which translates to "tasty" —  a 110-seat dining establishment with 16-seat patio in the old Van Zant building. The menu focuses on North Indian cuisine with options for vegetarians, vegans and non-vegetarians alike, including their Thali, three special different curries and a creamy raita. They are currently in the process of obtaining their liquor license, so the restaurant is BYOB (with no corking fee). Free parking is available out front and in back.

The restaurant is open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday with a lunch buffet from 11 a.m-2:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.1810 W. Galbraith Road, North College Hill, 513-522-5900.


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<![CDATA[Dress Like Big Boy; Get a Free Sandwich]]>

Local Frisch's restaurants are celebrating the birthday of founder David Frisch with a day of free food on May 3. Frisch opened The Mainliner in 1939, the area's first year-round, drive-in restaurant. Nine years later, he opened Big Boy on Central Parkway. To honor his birthday, dress up like Big Boy — checkered pants/overalls and all — and get a free Big Boy platter; come partially dressed, get a Big Boy sandwich. The offer is only available for dine-in customers. A printable costume is available here.


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<![CDATA[Tom+Chee Newport on the Levee Grand Reopening ]]> Purveyors of delicious grilled cheese and grilled cheese donuts Tom+Chee are hosting a grand reopening celebration at their Newport on the Levee location. 

The all-day Saturday affair (10 a.m.-10 p.m.) will feature family-friendly entertainment; a raffle benefiting Awesome Fathers Taking Roles, a nonprofit dedicated to educating fathers and role models in homes of children with special needs; and the unveiling of Tom+Chee's latest grilled cheese donut creation, the Choco Bacon Bliss, which features bacon, chocolate, mozzarella and chocolate mascarpone cheese on a donut. 

When owners Corey Ward and Trew Quackenbush opened their flagship Levee location in 2011 in a former burrito joint, they did little more than clean and paint the space. Now, they've completely reconfigured the location to increase seating, update custom tables and flooring, added side panels to the patio and redesigned the kitchen to increase speed.

Grand Reopening Schedule of Events:
  • 10 a.m. Ribbon cutting
  • 11 a.m. Give away/prizes/games all day
  • 3-5 p.m. Tableside magic shoes by Wizardz Magic Theater
  • 5:30 p.m. Thank yous
  • 5:55 p.m. Raffle Grand Prize Drawing (grand prize is a hotel stay at Comfort Suites in Newport, tickets to the Newport Aquarium and gift cards to Tom+Chee)
  • 6-7:30 p.m. Performances by Circus Mojo

 

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<![CDATA[Blaze Fast-Fire'd Pizza Coming to Mason]]> Blaze Fast-Fire'd Pizza, a fast-casual build-your-own pizza restaurant, is coming to Mason mid-May.

Using the assembly-line format (similar to Chipotle, Fusian, etc.), each guest can walk down the counter and create their own custom-built pizza, fired in a blazing oven and ready in 180 seconds. Each customer starts with a house-made 11-inch crust and then selects toppings — either from existing menu options or customized. Housemade sauces include classic red and white cream plus unique choices like barbecue or pesto. Toppings range from grilled chicken and crumbled meatballs to standard veggies plus arugula, pineapple and several cheeses, including vegan.

Every Blaze Pizza restaurant makes its own dough from scratch, using a recipe that requires a 24-hour fermentation period. But if you don't want that crust, they also offer a gluten-free choice. The menu also features fresh salads, signature lemonades and house-made S’more Pies. 

Order online or head to the 73-seat restaurant.

Blaze Fast-Fire'd Pizza, 9341 Mason-Montgomery Road, Mason, blazepizza.com.
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<![CDATA[Washington Platform's 28th Annual Oyster Festival Starts Friday]]> Washington Platform kicks off its 28th annual Oyster Festival Friday, March 28. Enjoy more than 40 fresh oyster dishes, including smoked oyster salad, oyster-stuffed jalapenos, fresh-shucked oysters on the half-shell and more, through May 3.

And, like any good food festival, Washington Platform will also be hosting oyster-related contests and events, including a pearl count contest and trivia. (All special event donations go to the Saint Francis Soup Kitchen in Over-the-Rhine.) Check your shells for a "Big Red 28," and win $28 in Washington Platform gift certificates. 

Or get in on one of their oyster specials. For $28, sample any three dishes from their "Oyster Munchies" menu after 5 p.m. Monday-Thursday. And from 4-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, enjoy a buck-a-shuck. Get fresh-shucked oysters for $1, along with happy hour drink prices.

Download the Oyster Festival menu here.

Washington Platform, 1000 Elm St., Downtown, 513-421-0110, washingtonplatform.com.

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<![CDATA[Q&A with Lavomatic's New Executive Chef, Cameron Serrins]]> There’s a new face in the kitchen at Over-the-Rhine eatery Lavomatic. The restaurant's former executive chef, Josh Campbell, recently left to pursue another opportunity, leaving his position in the kitchen open. And Cameron Serrins — a Cincinnati native — stepped in. 

“I'm Cincy born and raised," Serrins says. "So many people close to me have left to chase dreams or look for opportunity elsewhere. The open road is beautiful and great for the mind, but so is home. I'm a lifer cook turned chef because I love to learn, share and show my work. One day Josh Campbell called me and said to come talk with (Lavomatic general manager) Brian Firth; I would like what he had to say. Josh was right, and I was welcomed to the Lavomatic team."

Now at the helm of Lavomatic, Serrins is making some very delicious changes. CityBeat's Ilene Ross recently got to chat with him via email about his background, his philosophy and what we can expect to see on his menu. (Outline lettering Serrins own.)

Ilene Ross: What’s your general food philosophy?

Cameron Serrins: A. Cook it and they will "come.” B. Think organic. C. I’m only in it for the money. D. Love what you do, do what you love.

IR: Who do you cook for; yourself, or the diner?            

CS: Both. I wouldn't be here without them and vice-versa.

IR: Who influenced you most in the kitchen?

CS: A. Anyone who has gave me tasty food is an influence. B. My mom. C. Meals with friends who introduce me to traditional dishes from their families and home. D. Girls I wanted to like me — kinda kidding, but there is some truth in it.

IR: What changes have you made to Lavomatic since taking over?

CS: A. I’ve made it more vegetarian/vegan friendly. B. I’ve added more features. C. The menu is a bit lighter and there are more snackier options. D. There’s more in-house product being made and we’re using more local meats, veggies and cheeses.

IR: Spring has finally sprung. What seasonal items can we look forward to seeing on the Lavomatic menu?

CS: A. Cadbury eggs — just kidding ... maybe. B. Shoots, sprouts and fresh greens. C. All things pea. D. Everything organic I can get my hands on.

IR: What does your day off look like?

CS: Ha ha, day off? We might not always be open for business but... I'll go skateboarding and think about food, play guitar and sing about work; I sleep and hear the ticket printer filling the rail.

IR: What tools do you find essential in the kitchen and why?

CS: Fire and knives.

IR: If you could cook for anyone in the world, who would it be?

CS: Nikola Tesla.

 

 

 

 

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<![CDATA[Taste of Belgium is the Official Waffle of the Cincinnati Reds]]>

Taste of Belgium has announced that it's partnering with the Great American Ball Park to become the "Official Waffle of the Cincinnati Reds." (Do any other teams have an official waffle? Didn't think so.) 

Starting on Opening Day, fans can now grab a Belgian waffle with toppings such as sweet cream, fruit or chocolate during a game, starting at just $5. If fans are looking for something more savory (with a bit more protein), Taste of Belgium is also offering their signature chicken and waffle combo. Add a side of twice-fried frites (Belgian french fries) for the complete experience.

“We at Taste of Belgium are honored to be counted among the Cincinnati brands supported by Great American Ballpark,” Taste of Belgium owner Jean-François Flechet said in a recent press release. “Our food has been embraced with open arms in Cincinnati, Columbus, and Friendly Market in Florence, Ky., and now we are delighted to show the best fans in baseball how to eat like a Belgian.” 


Great American Ball Park also offers local food favorites including LaRosa's pizza and Skyline chili plus beer from local brewery Rhinegeist. The Official Waffle of the Cincinnati Reds goes on sale Opening Day at Great American Ball Park in Section 130 of the Ballpark, near The Kroger Fan Zone.


Full Menu:

Waffle – $5

Chocolate & Cream Waffle – $7

Strawberry & Cream Waffle – $7

Waffle & Chicken – $10

Frites – $7


Taste of Belgium also has local locations in Over-the-Rhine, on Short Vine, in Findlay Market and in Florence, Ky.'s Friendly Market. Full-service bistro, 1133-1135 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine; Clifton, 2845 Vine St., Corryville; Findlay Market, 1801 Race St., Over-the-Rhine; and Friendly Market, 10050 Norbotten Dr., Florence, Ky., authenticwaffle.com.


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<![CDATA[Cincinnati-Based McDonald's Franchisee Invented Filet-O-Fish]]>

According to an article in LA Weekly, Cincinnati-based McDonald's franchisee Lou Groen invented the Filet-O-Fish sandwich in 1962. Apparently, he was having an issue selling his burgers to our huge Catholic population during Lent.

So he called up McDonald's founder Ray Kroc and explained his dilemma, suggesting they try selling a fish sandwich instead. Kroc said OK, but only if they also tested his invention: the Hula Burger, a slab of grilled pineapple and cheese on a cold bun. Kroc and Groen had a contest to see which would sell better. The fish sandwich won and fast-food fish sandwiches were born to the happiness of pescetarians, Catholics and cows nationwide. Wonder what would have happened if the pineapple burger won?

Read the whole article here

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<![CDATA[Packhouse to Open in Newport]]> As the meatball food craze continues, another local restaurant is opening and offering a version of the hand-packed snack. 

Packhouse in Newport, Ky. will be a laid-back place to get a variety of meatballs, according to general manager Kurt Stephens. "We will be offering four staple packs (beef, chicken, pork and vegetarian), along with four to five sauces that compliment our packs," Stephens writes in an email correspondence, "packs" being the term the team uses to describe their meatballs.

"The idea all came about while sitting around one day brainstorming and someone mentioned meatballs," he writes. "We found out some similar shops were having great success in the East. We developed some strong recipes and and are excited to bring them to the people of Northern Kentucky!"

The recipes will come from chef Tom Wenke, who has 30-plus years in the food industry. 

"What's going to make us different is our culinary staff," Stephens writes. "Constant ideas of recipes, ice creams and cookies are going to make some waves for sure in the area. We will also be listening to the public, so if you have a great meatball recipe, bring it down and we can give it a try."


The menu will include freshly ground packs, fresh salad, soup, homemade ice cream, homemade cookies and floats. There will be an ever-changing supply of craft beer on tap, as well as other booze. Price points will hover around $8-$10, with full-service seating. 

Packhouse will be located on Monmouth Street in Newport. Their current projected open date is Jan. 28, so keep an eye on the restaurant and get more details here.

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<![CDATA[Pompilios Returns to its Past with Bar Rebranding]]> Pompilios, the local Newport, Ky. restaurant famed for its family-friendly Italian fare and appearance in several major motion pitctures (Rain Man, y'all), is rebranding its back bar with the rollout of Colonel Pomps Tavern.

Established in 1933 by Colonel and Mrs. Pompilio, the bar and restaurant was the first to secure a liquor license in Kentucky after Prohibition ended. The back bar was a regular hang for Northern Kentuckians, featuring tiled floors, beveled-glass windows and a handcrafted cherry wood back bar that was built by the Wiedemann Brewing Company in 1886.

According to a press release, current owners Mike Mazzei and Larry Geiger are planning to "return to their past," imagining what the bar would have been like in 1933, when Prohibition ended. In concert with the vision, they'll be stocking a ton of local products, including a large selection of local beer.

"We intend to make Colonel Pomps Tavern a destination," Geiger says in the release. "We are featuring locally crafted beers, our large selection of bourbons, nightly bar food specialties and live music in the Rain Man room on Thursday and Friday nights."

They'll be keeping the bar's popular Monday $5 burger night and adding nights dedicated to flatbread and gourmet meatballs. 

Pompilios is located at 600 Washington Ave., Newport, Ky. They're open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. For more information visit pompiliosrestaurant.com.







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<![CDATA[Gold Star Chili Now Serves Doritos Nachos]]> Move over, Taco Bell. Deadspin, brace your taste buds and typin’ fingers for a twist on Cincy’s “abominable garbage-gravy.” Gold Star Chili now serves Doritos nachos.

Arriving just in time to sabotage your New Year’s health resolutions, Gold Star has added a Nacho Cheese Dorito-based dish to its menu. The nachos feature Gold Star's signature Cincinnati-style chili atop a mountain of orange-dusted tortilla chips, complete with all the fixins: tomatoes, jalapenos, black olives, a heap of cheddar, sour cream and chipotle ranch dressing. No word yet on a Cooler Ranch version.

The specialty nachos are available through Feb. 23 — Gold Star even has a countdown on its new specialty site, cincinnacho.com.

Patrons are encouraged to snap a nacho selfie with the dish and post on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using #cincinnacho for a chance to win an Xbox One, iPhone or iPad Mini, airline tickets, concert tickets, a smart TV or, best of all, more free Doritos nachos!

Related:

 

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