Monday, October 8, 2012

Road Trip Cincinnati - Part 2

 On our second day in Cincinnati we had a busy day—food wise and otherwise.  We started in the morning at the Findlay Market which was a place I had always wanted to go and hadn’t.  I loved the energy of it—it was jam packed with people. The neighborhood around seems a little deserted, but I really enjoyed the market itself. We had a nice breakfast at one of the vendors—A Taste of Belgium.  Egg, gruyere and thin ham wrapped in a crepe.  It was a perfect thing to grab for breakfast.
After some wondering around, we met up with hubby’s good fried at Nicholson’s.  It’s a gastropub, and has a very pubby looking exterior—although I was surprised at how new it looked both inside and out.  Our friends were running a little late, so we went ahead and ordered the Scotch egg appetizer ($8).  They were good, although not the best I have had—I liked that they served them with some dressed greens on the side and I liked the drizzle of mustard sauce, although I would have liked a little more for dipping. I do think mustard and eggs is a good combo.

Hubby and I decided to split the mussels for our main dish ($12).  They were really, really good—the broth was described as white wine, garlic and herbed butter—and those ingredients were definitely there. Pretty sure based on the creamy color that there was cream in there as well.  But the mussels were some of the best I have had in awhile. Super tender and the broth had a ton of flavor. Oh yeah, and they came with duck fat frites.  Those frites dipped in the broth were amazing.  I have had duck fat frites before and have enjoyed them, but these had a lot more flavor than any of the others.  The only downside with the mussels is it really was a portion for one.  Normally with mussels you get so many that we always share, but this was a very reasonable portion. In other words, I was annoyed I had to share. So we added an order of the poutine ($7.50) on and I was really glad we did.  Man, this was really good too (and apparently completely distracting because somehow I took no pictures after the Scotch eggs).  The poutine was more of those duck fat frites topped with truffled mushroom ragu and fresh cheese.  I loved this—I loved that they used mushrooms instead of the rich meaty gravy I usually see (and often pork, etc).  It made it feel not so heavy and greasy.  The fries in general stayed pretty crispy too which was nice (maybe it was just because we ate them so fast).  I would so order this again.
All in all, a great lunch and base for preparing for the Reds’ game we then went to after lunch (the Reds won) which was good because hubby and his friend, shall we say, enjoyed their beers.  After the game was over, we just sort of started walking toward downtown with the intention of a few more drinks and more food.  We didn’t have any plans, and weren’t dressed particularly well but ended up randomly walking into Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse and scoring a table in the bar.  Even though we looked like we had spent the afternoon at the game, I appreciated the professionalism of the staff—they were really nice (and we weren’t the only ones for sure).  Turned out to be a good choice too because after an hour or so all the baseball players from both teams started filtering in which was kind of fun to watch.

We just got a bunch of appetizers from the menu to share—and I have to be honest, I wasn’t wowed by any of them.  Probably my favorite thing was the barbecued shrimp and grits ($21).  The shrimp were New Orleans style “BBQ” which is more of a butter and Worcestershire type of sauce.  The grits were nice and creamy and buttery and the shrimp wasn’t overcooked.  We also had a chophouse salad ($8) which had all my favorite ingredients—blue cheese, egg, bacon, and red onion, but something about it seemed flat to me—it had a Parmesan dressing but it just didn’t have a zip that I wanted. Hubby liked it quite a bit better than me though.

Sadly, the beef tartare ($13) was a letdown as well.  The beef was clearly good quality and fresh, but there just wasn’t much seasoning at all—a cute little poached quail egg that gave it a teeny bit of extra richness, but it was really calling out for some mustard or something salty.  The crab cake ($15) didn’t fare much better. It was a little dry, even with the dollop of crème fraiche on top.  The pommes Anna ($8) were beautiful, and were a nice side to have with everything and had a nice buttery and crunchy exterior.  Not sure I would order them again, but I enjoyed them at the time.

Honestly, we were having more fun hanging out with our friends, drinking some nice wine and enjoying the Reds’ win, so we didn’t mind, but this meal was in retrospect very disappointing, particularly compared with all the other wonderful food we ate in Cincinnati.  But I would highly recommend Orchids at Palm Court (see my last Cincinnati post) and Nicholson’s. 

625 Washington Street
Cincinnati, OH  45202

Nicholson's on Urbanspoon

Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse
700 Walnut Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202
513/ 784-1200
Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

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