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Old 04-30-2012, 05:20 PM
 
37 posts, read 115,715 times
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I'm a bit surprised that such a thread doesn't already exist; I searched but didn't find much so I apologize if this is redundant.

I'm hoping this thread can serve as a place where food enthusiasts (I use the term "foodie" slightly tongue-in-cheek) can discuss where they've eaten lately and what they've enjoyed in the area. No rules here, just talk about food!

Here's some of my current favorites - I'm going to kind of ramble here to get things kicked off.

Fine/Upscale Dining

I think Orchids stands out above the other options here, mostly because it ties together the entire experience so well. Places like Boca and Nicola's can surely match or beat the occasional dish from Orchids, but the service at Orchids is a cut above the rest - not to mention the fabulous ambiance of the dining room. I've been here twice so far, and will be taking my mother here for mother's day when they fly in from out of town. This is my "special occasion" place. And honestly, while expensive in absolute terms, it's a very good value in my opinion. In NYC, it would be $250 per plate for an equivalent dinner. The thing about Orchids is that it's also the most cutting edge I've seen in the area, for better or for worse - I've not seen another establishment doing things like sous vide, deconstructed soups, etc. Overall it's just a great experience if you are passionate about food. This is the only "proper" fine dining establishment in the city that I've found.

For Italian, I like Nicola's. The bread basket is my favorite part of the entire meal, actually - though I don't like the Shaddeau bakery bread they include. I think Shaddeau bakery is overhyped because of the location and the whole "story" aspect of it. Honestly, I think their in-house creations are far better and wish they would stick with that. The apple goat cheese salad is standard, but fantastically executed. Pastas are great, as expected, and they have the best gnocchi in the city. Proteins are decent, but not their forte. Via Vite, their sister restaurant, I've been disappointed with lately - a couple of years ago it was fantastic, but I think the service is really lacking. Three times in a row now I've been let down, so I'm going to take a break from it for a while.

Boca: Only have been there once, but was really great. More creative than Nicola's, but I think it is very slightly overpriced. Don't get me wrong - it's VERY good - I just don't think it should be more expensive than Orchids. The standout for me was the Wood Grilled Lemons.

Jean Robert's Table: Inconsistently great. Quality for the dollar, their $14 French Lunch Tray menu is the best deal on a lunch in the city. Great service, generally. I love the normal menu as well; the croque monsieur is fantastic and wonderfully rich. I'm generally disappointed in their salads, but they have great bread and butter. I like that most of their table accessories and glasses are imported from France as well - little details like that matter to me. The skate fish is perfectly cooked, if a bit bland, but the pork items make up for it. Something to note - I miss the chocolate macadamia tart. Apparently, their previous pastry chef left and owned the recipe as intellectual property.

Jeff Ruby Places: I've had mixed experiences here, which I think is a bit unusual. I think I'm in the minority that each time I've been to the Precint, I've left unimpressed. On the other hand, I've had GREAT experiences at Carlo and Johnny. To me, Jeff Ruby is nothing very "special" in the way that Orchids is, but is a much-welcomed alternative to larger chain steakhouses. It's classic steakhouse, well executed. Service is a notch above average, which is nice.

Primavista: Meh, for the prices. Kind of a quaint place, spectacular view. Food is merely okay, not very creative. Would I complain if someone took me there? Not at all. Do I wish it was cheaper for what it was? Yes. Bonus points for a gluten free menu though (I have family allergic to gluten).

Nada: Love it. I think it's one of the more reasonably priced downtown lunches for the quality, provided you choose widely. Carnitas Tamal with a fried egg on top is one of my favorite lunch dishes ever, and their Mexican Mac and Cheese is fantastic as well. I think the chips are just okay, as is the Guac, but the salse is very good. Again, bonus points for gluten free.

I still haven't tried TRIO in Kenwood or Local 127; they are next on my list. Closely behind that are Honey and Nectar.



Burgers:

Nothing I've had can compare to Zola in Covington and Terry's, which as far as I'm concerned should be treated as two different categories. Zola is a standard burger, while Terry's is more of a haute-cuisine take on the classic. I actually hate the atmosphere at Terry's; I always wind up sharing a table with someone rude, and the service is beyond awful. They always get my order wrong and the wait times are through the roof - and worse yet, don't go there with someone international. Each time I have, the staff pesters them with questions about their accent, how long they've been in America, and if they can get burgers where they come from. They also don't ask you how well done you want your burger - I prefer it medium, and they always overcook it. That being said, I do like how they taste and occasionally get the craving for them. Zola is totally different - I get a medium burger with cheddar, bacon, and barbeque sauce. There is nothing better- fantastic buns, great meat quality, and great sauce. I prefer it to Authurs, Zips, and the other usual candidates. FWIW, one of their chefs graduated from the Midwest Culinary Institute - a rare find for what is essentially a pub.

Pizza

This is where I will stick to my guns and admit I'm a spoiled east-coaster. Being from Ct, I've yet to find a pie that truly satisfies me in Cincinnati. The best I've had is from Ramundo's in Mt Lookout, with Dewey's following closely behind. There is not a real "New York" style place I've found. That's not to say they are all terrible - I admittedly get cravings for greasebombs like Adriatico's sometimes, but there is nothing that I'd really consider a knockout "pizza pie." Thin crust, yet sturdy enough to fold, good quality cheese, and a sauce that actually has herbs in it - that's all I ask for, yet seems to be impossible to find!

Assorted Random Places and Dishes

These are places or dishes that I like; just typing out stream of conscious what I can remember:

Melt in Northside: Great sandwiches. Love the herbed potatoes with curry catsup

Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls and the Pasta Bolognese at Tellers - I'm not blown away by Tellers as a whole thanks to their pricing, but I love these two dishes. The pasta bolognese isn't ultra traditional thanks to them including pork belly, but I really enjoy it anyway (even though my Italian grandfather would disapprove).

Doodles in Hyde Park - Love the Thai Noodles with spicy level 10. Cheap, solid noodle place. I like it better than Shanghai Mama's

Pho Lang Thang in findlay Market - great pho! Love the vibe and the ultra-friendly service.

Gorgonzola fries at Palomino's - shoot me. An artery clogger for sure, and probably frozen fries, but I think they taste fantastic.

Raya's Lebanese - my favorite gyro in town. They have a great menu, actually, with really well executed traditional Lebanese food. A husband and wife team own it, and they get at least some of their ingredients from Findlay Market. Great kabobs as well.

I know I'm forgetting tons of places, but this is already long enough so I'll leave it as it stands. Feel free to argue with/correct me/suggest new things!

I think as a whole, Cincinnati has a remarkable amount of quality establishments given its size and fragmented nature. As an east-coast transplant, I think Cincy is often given an unfair rap in this area and it's one of the things I really enjoy.

Last edited by computerpro3; 04-30-2012 at 05:51 PM..
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Old 04-30-2012, 05:45 PM
 
10,139 posts, read 22,414,398 times
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Heresy, heresy! Shadeau is the bomb.

You'll like Trio. Also try China Gourmet (lobster with ginger and scallion - lobster night it was $20 per lobster). Also try Zips. I love it, but probably now in the minority.
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Old 04-30-2012, 05:48 PM
 
37 posts, read 115,715 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wilson513 View Post
Heresy, heresy! Shadeau is the bomb.

You'll like Trio. Also try China Gourmet (lobster with ginger and scallion - lobster night it was $20 per lobster). Also try Zips. I love it, but probably now in the minority.
I suspect that part of the reason I don't like the Shadeau that Nicola uses is because it is not as fresh as their in-house breads. Particularly towards the end of the day! It's also possible I just haven't had the right loaf from them yet; I've only tried it twice not counting at Nicola.
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Old 04-30-2012, 07:12 PM
 
26 posts, read 51,673 times
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Quote:
Also try Zips. I love it, but probably now in the minority.
I grew up around there and will forever swear my allegiance.

Nicola - One of my favs. Sit at the bar Monday night for neighborhood night, one of the best deals in the city.

All of the new Vine st/Gateway district establishments are worth a visit: Senate (Gourmet hot dogs, other delicious items), A Tavola (Neopolitan style pizza), Abigail Street (mediterranean, small plates - get the grilled octupus and you won't regret it), Taste of Belgium (they are known for the waffles, I suggest the miltraillette or the tuna baguette for lunch) , Bakersfield (tacos, tortas, all good - bar atmosphere and long waits if you want a table most nights).

La Mexicana in Newport is my fav for more authentic mexican. I recommend the tacos birria (goat).

Sushi/Japanese: Ando in Blue Ash, Jo An near the airport, Myoshi in Florence KY

Boca: yes it is expensive. yes it is worth it. they specialize in "BPA" (Blowing People Away). Concepts and menu will change when it moves downtown, but for now the long time specialties are the brussel sprouts and the scallops. You can't go wrong with anything on that menu or wine list. It also has a cheaper bar menu.

My new obsession: Dutch's Larder - just opened and is a culinary enthusiast's dream. Go there to pick up high end food items. Get them to make you a sandwich.

I could keep going but I will stop for now.
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Old 04-30-2012, 07:46 PM
 
37 posts, read 115,715 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BasinDweller View Post
My new obsession: Dutch's Larder - just opened and is a culinary enthusiast's dream. Go there to pick up high end food items. Get them to make you a sandwich.\
I am such an idiot. For several months now, I've lived under 60 seconds away from this place by car (within walking distance easily) and I didn't realize they had the Larder there. You just made my entire week. I'm going there tomorrow. I've ran and driven by it countless times.
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Old 04-30-2012, 08:27 PM
 
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Europa in Covington is pretty solid, the menu changes every two weeks, reasonably priced and byob. The decor and ambiance is lacking but the food makes up for it.
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Old 04-30-2012, 09:50 PM
 
Location: Cambridge, MA
4,730 posts, read 10,933,946 times
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Get thee to Amma's Kitchen if you have any taste for Indian food whatsoever. They specialize in the harder-to-find Southern cuisines, and not only that are strictly vegetarian. (And kosher to boot!) Few places in Cincinnati can meet let alone beat something comparable in the Northeast - but I've never gone for "thirds" in any Indian buffet line elsewhere.
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Old 05-01-2012, 02:21 AM
 
10,139 posts, read 22,414,398 times
Reputation: 8239
Quote:
Originally Posted by computerpro3 View Post
I am such an idiot. For several months now, I've lived under 60 seconds away from this place by car (within walking distance easily) and I didn't realize they had the Larder there. You just made my entire week. I'm going there tomorrow. I've ran and driven by it countless times.

Is there food in that place? I don't believe it.

But, I live closer than you, as the crow flies, so I suppose I will have to amble down there and see if there are eats.
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Old 05-01-2012, 08:46 AM
 
26 posts, read 51,673 times
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^ They took over the old Starbucks and just opened up in the last couple weeks.
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Old 05-01-2012, 09:13 AM
 
Location: Cincinnati
171 posts, read 295,056 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by computerpro3 View Post

Pizza

This is where I will stick to my guns and admit I'm a spoiled east-coaster. Being from Ct, I've yet to find a pie that truly satisfies me in Cincinnati. The best I've had is from Ramundo's in Mt Lookout, with Dewey's following closely behind. There is not a real "New York" style place I've found. That's not to say they are all terrible - I admittedly get cravings for greasebombs like Adriatico's sometimes, but there is nothing that I'd really consider a knockout "pizza pie." Thin crust, yet sturdy enough to fold, good quality cheese, and a sauce that actually has herbs in it - that's all I ask for, yet seems to be impossible to find!
We are from the Northeast as well and we always find a pizza place when we relocate. We moved from CT about 7 years ago, and immediately started hunting for pizza. We swear by Rockafellas in Sharonville for our NY style pizza. All our NY friends also head there for pizza. It has a nice garlicy sauce and a great crust. I used to like Aponte's in Mason, but it seems to be becoming more and more like Ohio pizza (sacue is getting too sweet), so we stopped going there...
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