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weekend visit

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Andrew Mellman

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weekend visit

by Andrew Mellman » Mon Dec 03, 2007 2:52 pm

Spent last weekend in Cincinnati, eating, shopping, eating, visiting Jungle Jims, and did I mention eating???

1. Lunch @ Vineyard Cafe in Hyde Park. Charming place. In what would prove to be common throughout the weekend, the server was exceptionally efficient! We never had to ask for anything (water, drink refills, whatever), yet there was no hovering! Zagat gives it around a 19 or so, and I might raise that a point or two but no more. The food was good - onion soup and turkey noodle soup both very hot, tasty, plentiful. Not exceptional, but reasonable and exactly as advertised. Sandwiches (Cobb wrap and turkey/Havarti) adequate - the turkey very good, hot, plentiful, tasty, and the Cobb interesting (tho it seemed like 1/2 olives and 1/2 all the other ingredients). I would tend to downplay or downgrade the experience if it weren't for the wait staff, who, as stated, were exceptional.

2. South Beach (Jeff Ruby restaurant on Kentucky side on the barge) for dinner. I think either you love this or hate it, and we're in the former camp. All we had to do was to sit down at the window table (we had asked for one in the reservation, and had received it), look at the view, sip on a wonderful cocktail (the bartender was able to make a Between the Sheets - popular in the 1920's), and the evening was set. While our dining companions had more standard meals, my wife & I had what has become our "regular" there: we had the crab cake (no discernable filler at all!), the non-Greek dinner salad (if you like bacon, you'll love it), the 26 oz bone-in "boomer" strip steak, a baked potato, and a side of spinach, followed by the hazelnut ice cream cake. We split the entire meal, ending up with a bill of just over $100 for the two of us! I truly believe their steaks are the best around; dry aging really works better than wet - the outside was beautifully charred, while the entire inside was a perfect medium-rare, incredibly tender and flavorful. The baked potato was possibly the only minor weak point of the meal, as sour cream and chives were served but we had to use the butter on the 'bread & butter' plates.

3. Pappadeaux for lunch on Sunday. This is probably our favorite "chain" restaurant, as we've eaten at Pappadeaux in Chicago and Dallas previously. The four of us shared small alligator and calimari appetisers (whomever fries there has a charmed hand with the fryer, as all was absolutely tender, a rare occurance), and had gumbo (spicy without being too hot, filled with seafood). Three had the lobster seafood salad (a true bargain, even at $17 - absolutly filled with vegetables, scallops, shrimp, crab, and lobster), and the fourth had the oyster poor boy (12" long, and almost too big to finish). Now, receiving quantity is one thing, but this all was so perfectly prepared and presented that we couldn't help but finish everything and still spring for desserts - an absolutely wonderful Key Lime pie and their holiday special: an Andes chocolate mint cheesecake (suprisingly light and refreshing). Every wait person on the trip was wonderful, but here she was exceptional, from the initial greeting to status updates on our food to perfect and well-thought out recommendations and suggestions. We discussed the experience, and both our companions and ourselves preferred this restaurant to etiher McCormick & Schmick (?) or Oceanaire, also top seafood chains, but more formal, stuffier wait staff, almost twice as expensive, and lower quality food!

Andy
Andrew Mellman
AJMellman@att.net
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Ron Johnson

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by Ron Johnson » Tue Dec 04, 2007 9:24 am

Great reviews Andrew!

I have just started going to Vineyard Cafe. My wife and I had a wonderful lunch there the other day. They also have a little wine bar next door with a delightful courtyard for outdoor dining.

South Beach is also a place I enjoy a lot. the decor is a little campy. It's kind of like being in a bad 70's nightclub in Miami. The food however, is classic Ruby's, which means huge portions and excellent aged steaks. It also offers some really nice seafood from the raw bar. I like the oysters and crab legs. The salad that Andrew mentioned is called the Freddie Salad, and it is awesome, basically a B.L.T. in salad form.

I've not been to Pappadeux, but maybe someday when I ma headed up to Jungle Jims, I will stop in.

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