This was buried in my email and it almost slipped my mind. But then, no kidding, I dreamed of miniature cupcakes and remembered.
For those of you new to the blog, a few months ago the honorable old Palace Restaurant, in the Cincinnatian, started offering sporadic Thursday night deals. (You can read about our own recent experiences at the Palace.)
You see, the Palace has a new Chef, Jose Salazar, as well as my favorite Pastry Chef, Summer Genetti. The two of them are working pretty hard at breathing new life into an old establishment. They've made the food more friendly and approachable and the prices have been lowered a bit. In the midst of that, they've managed to keep the menu creative and at a high quality, using mostly locally sourced ingredients.
And then there are these random Thursday deals that really do qualify as a deal.
For $60 total (excluding tax & tip), you get a huge dinner for two plus a bottle of wine. You usually get to choose from between about 5 or 6 different bottles, all of decent or better than decent calibre. As for those courses, in my experience it's more like 3-courses with bonuses. You'll start the meal with a complimentary amuse bouche and finish the meal with a complimentary dessert. They say it's only the first 10 people who reserve that get free dessert, but they never actually tell you if you're in the first 10. So, no promises on that free dessert, but I bet you get it. There are also complimentary pastries with the check. All in all, you're getting quite a lot for $60. And no, that's not $60 per person. It's per two-people.
The full menu for tonite is after the jump. Make sure you call ahead to reserve a table, 513.381.3000. Tell them "Wine Girl" sent you. And folks, I know I promote the Palace pretty heavily. I get nothing out of it – I swear – except maybe a few tasty cupcakes here and there. Mostly I just want to see two young chefs succeed with some great ideas.
Update: I just read on the Palace Facebook page that this deal is now every THIRD Thursday. Hooray! Tonite, they add, Summer is offering 1/2 price desserts, so that dessert might not be tossed into your meal this time, but make sure to try some anyway. If you look through my Palace photos, you'll see that I just love her desserts. And I highly recommend the miniature cupcakes.
Tonight's prix fixe selections include:
Not long ago, Julie and I got to interview the new Chef at the Palace, and test drive some new desserts for Pastry Chef Extraordinaire Summer Genetti. Chef Jose Salazar has some great ideas for the restaurant. He's lowered the prices and has created an approachable but classy menu. I'm a picky eater, but there is a lot I would eat on that menu. I've embedded a slideshow of some of my more recent visits to the Palace:
And of course, the desserts. Note that in the photos, some of the desserts have eyes. Summer knows I hate to eat things that look at me … so no worries. You will probably not have cupcakes staring at you. But what good cupcakes they are!
Here's the deal. You and your date each enjoy a two-course meal, plus an amuse bouche to start and mini-pastries that arrive with your check. Dessert was a bonus that seemed to always be wrapped in as well, but no promises on that one. You also get a bottle of wine, and usually there is a decent selection from which to choose. The total – for the two of you and the bottle of wine – is $60, notwithstanding tax and gratuity. Trust me, it's a great opportunity to try a new restaurant that's always been a little intimidating in the past.
I love that this isn't a regular thing, but random and spur-of-the-moment. When you call to make reservations, tell them you read it on Wine-Girl. Reserve your spot by calling 513-381-3000.
The menu for this Thursday night is after the jump:
The three times I've been to Bootsy's, I've been too distracted by events or people to take good notes, but I want to recommend the place all the same, with a caveat. If you're like me, you prefer a quieter place, and on both a Monday and a Wednesday, Bootsy's was perfect. A low hum of conversation and unobtrusive music made it possible to carry on a conversation. On a weekend, the place is hopping, so stick to the restaurant or the patio if you want to chat.
The decor is fantastic. Colors, sparkles, and fantastic design is everywhere – even down to the menus. When you walk in to what was once an Uno's, you are presented with a little bit of rock and roll memorabilia thanks to Bootsy Collins: sort of a mini Rock and Roll Hall of fame exhibit.
I've eaten in both the bar and the restaurant now, and I have gotten excellent service in the bar with attention to my nut allergy. In the restaurant, our server tended to get lost and disappear for really long periods of time and I was never really sure if he checked on the peanut issue. I've heard other stories of poor service in the restaurant, so right now, my caveat is stick to the bar and patio.
That said, the food is excellent, and you can get the restaurant menu in the bar. I've had several different tapas so far, although I'm rather hooked on the plaintains and the patatas bravas. I've also split a great filet. Kevin and my friend Pam were both impressed with the sushi as well.
I was also thrilled with the desserts – yum.
We had a Social Media Happy Hour at Bootsy's a few weeks ago, and you can sort of see the layout of the place from my photos on Flickr.
Yes, it's a pretty happening bar, but it's also a pretty good restaurant. I highly recommend grabbing a seat in the bar or patio on a weeknight – perhaps before a show at the Aronoff – and splitting some tapas or sushi.
A few weeks ago, we wrapped up our Wine Festival weekend with a brunch on Sunday at The Oceanaire. (Editor's Note: We were comp'd the brunch from the nice folks at The Oceanaire.) The Sunday brunch featured wines by Rich Parducci, the winemaker for McNab Ridge and two of the Coro wines, all out of Mendocino, CA.
I'm not really a seafood girl, but every time I'm at The Oceanaire, I make it a point to try something new and I'm usually pleasantly surprised. I figure if I'm going to learn to appreciate seafood, a high-end seafood restaurant is probably the place to do it.
When we walked in on Sunday morning, we were greeted by Alli (her card reads Allison) who was an excellent server throughout the meal. In fact, we had two different servers, although I only got Alli's name, and both were friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable.
We started the meal with mimosas, followed closely by an amuse bouche of salmon with lemongrass on a crostini with a mint-infused grape (if I'm reading my notes correctly) and Bloody Marys. I'm not into Bloody Marys either, but Kevin said it was excellent – spicy and "his type of Bloody Mary."
Our first real course was the Oceanaire Porkopolis Breakfast, consisting of housemade goetta, sunny side egg, and creamed hashbrowns. This was paired with the 2007 McNab Ridge French Columbard. As far as the food goes, it was great. I tried the goetta and it ended up on Kevin's plate as well. I'm fairly convinced that goetta is an acquired taste in this town and you either love it or hate it.
2007 McNab Ridge French Columbard: French Columbard is a white wine that McNab Ridge is growing to "preserve history in the county." Not many people grow French Columbard anymore, but it used to be quite common. It's an off-dry wine with 1.8% residual sugar. It had natural, bright acid. I noted that it was sweet, light, aromatic, and refreshing. Kevin noted the intensely floral characteristics, such as white flowers and pansies. To my surprise, it added a bit of spice to the first course – or perhaps the food added the spice to the wine. It was certainly easy to drink and I've been inspired to seek out more French Columbard.
Our second course was the Fisherman's Breakfast: grilled Norwegian salmon, baked shrimp, fried oyster, and bourbon-glazed Nueske's Bacon. The course was paired with the 2007 McNab Ridge Sauvignon Blanc. My only complaint with this course was that the bacon was so strong, it sort of overpowered the Sauvignon Blanc.
2007 McNab Ridge Sauvignon Blanc: This was obviously a California-style wine, right from the nose, which was full of tropical scents and candied fruit. From my first taste, I got big mangos, as well as honeydew and cantaloupe. This one was aged in stainless steel and did not see any malolactic fermentation. If you enjoy the bright, tropical California style Sauvignon Blancs (as opposed to grassy New Zealands), you'll enjoy this wine.
Our third course of the morning was the hickory smoked Rushing Waters trout hash, with chorizo, sweet potato, poached egg, rosemary oil, and tomato concasse. The third course was paired with the 2004 Coro Mendocino Zinfandel Blend. This was a great finish to the brunch with a wine that deserved to be the last, as it was by far the best.
2004 Coro Mendocino Zinfandel Blend: Coro is a special project in Mendocino that really deserves its own blog post. Winemakers in Mendocino get together, blindly judge each others wines, and then go back and make changes to the blend based on the feedback. They've implemented all sorts of rules and restrictions in order to create the best wine possible representing the terroir of Mendocino County. Coro, by the way, means "Chorus" in Italian and only 12 winemakers participate out of the 70 in the county. That's really the short version.
As for the wine, I could have sipped on it all day. I got chocolate and bing cherries on the nose. It was followed by raspberries, cherries, and gentle tannins, and finally, a chocolate finish. This was such a luxurious wine that I hope I get a chance to try all of the wines in the Coro project.
Our wine brunch wasn't quite over, however. As we enjoyed the last of the Coro, we got a chance to chat with Andrew of Oceanaire, Rich Parducci the winemaker, and Brandon from Tramonte & Sons (distributor). In the process, we discovered that Tramonte & Sons has partnered with McNab Ridge to create Zincinnati, a limited edition Zin just for our area. They were completely sold out except for City Beverage – a liquor drive-thru in Hyde Park – where Kevin and I headed directly after the brunch. I think we bought the last bottles in town. Andrew also gifted us with several bottles of Graziano wines, left over from the Graziano wine dinner the previous week. Thanks Andrew!
Overall, I was thrilled with The Oceanaire wine brunch. They offered enough food for picky eaters like myself, coupled with great food for slightly more adventurous foodies like Kevin. Oceanaire is thinking about having brunches for both Easter and Mother's Day. I think a seafood brunch followed by a walk around the square on a Sunday Spring morning would be a great way to start the day.
Last week I posted about The Cincinnatian's $60 deal. Kevin and I had dinner at The Palace last Thursday and had a great time. Just to refresh your memory, their special is a full dinner for two, including a bottle of wine, for $60.
I don't know if The Palace is doing this so that they don't end up with "the special occasion restaurant" label that helped kill Pigall's or if they're just trying to show off their new chef and pastry chef. Maybe both. Either way, it appeared to be quite successful last week, and they're doing it again tomorrow night. The expanded prix fixe menu for tomorrow's dinner is at the end of the post.
While we were there, we chatted with Lindsay, the concierge. Thanks
to that chat, The Cincinnatian is donating a certificate for a
one-night stay to our Krystal Pepper Memorial Scholarship silent
auction. (You can still buy tickets.)
On to our own dining experience …
I love both The Palace and The Cricket Lounge because they have a live pianist, occasionally accompanied by a violinist, who play standards and Broadway favorites. Since I'm fully convinced I should have been born in time to enjoy the fabulous 1940s, I tend to love that sort of thing. Since I was meeting Kevin, I got to the Cricket early and relaxed while sipping on a Manhattan. It was an excellent Manhattan, although I find $12 a little on the pricey side. While you can't get the full Palace menu in the Cricket Lounge, you can get Summer Genetti's full pastry menu and they have lunch specials and happy hour specials now as well.
Once Kevin arrived, we were seated in the Palace Restaurant proper. We were also given a choice of the prix fixe or regular menu, but of course we went with the prix fixe. We went with a bottle of Chateau Saint-Sulpice 2005 Bordeaux. I don't have many notes on it, but I found it a little wimpy and lacking in structure. Kevin had no problems with it and pointed out that after my Manhattan, anything might be wimpy.
We were first given a complimentary amuse bouche of duck confit and tabouli with chile and fennel. I don't do duck – ever – but Kevin enjoyed both of our mini appetizers. We followed that with a salad course: I chose the Ceasar and Kevin went with the Farm Greens and Sherry Vinaigrette. I found the Ceasar to be excellent, but Kevin thought the sherry vinaigrette was a bit salty.
We followed that with our entrees. Everything at The Palace has amazing presentation, from the delivery of the entrees to the plating. I had the NY Strip Steak with cipolini onion, sautéed arrow leaf spinach, yukon gold potato puree and beef jus. Since I require my meat to be 100% dead, I was thrilled that it was cooked perfectly to order at medium well. The potato puree was amazing. Kevin ordered the Roasted Atlantic Salmon with cauliflower puree and piquillo peppers. It wasn't on the original menu and had been added for the evening. This was excellent as well. In fact, I tried his salmon and didn't overly mind it, which is saying something for picky-eater-me.
We finished the meal with awesome desserts. Remember that for me, any meal is just prelude to the main event of dessert. In this case we had a flight of Summer's mini cupcakes with a pink theme as well as "Pastry Chef's Choice," which was a chocolate pots de crème. My only complaint, and it's a tiny one, is that I was spoiled when Summer Genetti was at Chalk. Because of my nut allergy, they would often substitute out certain mini cupcakes (like pistachio) for duplicates (such as two red velvets). In this case, I was simply told which cupcakes I couldn't eat. So I found that a little disappointing, but I didn't let it get in my way.
Finally, with the check we were brought little bonus desserts, at least two of which I could eat. I'll never quibble with bonus dessert.
Overall, the evening was excellent. We're hoping The Cincinnatian does this on a regular basis – but not too regular. If they have it too often, it sort of spoils the fun. I know that we're going again tomorrow night and if they continue to host these, we hope to attend once a month from here on out. For $60, it's a steal.
The full menu for tomorrow night's dinner is after the jump. You can make reservations by calling 513.381.3000.
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