September 20, 2010

Terry's was Wronged!

For those of you unfortunate, uninformed souls living in Cincinnati without a subscription to Cincinnati Magazine you are missing out and you definitely missed their recent July issue that rated the top burgers in the city.  But luckily you missed out feeling utter disbelief when you realized that Terry's came in 3rd place!  Really?  Now I haven't tried the top 2 (Wildflower Cafe and City View Tavern) but I felt shocked when I learned of the snub.  I have the top 2 on my list of "Must Try" but haven't seemed to get further than the ever so glitzy giant sized brightly lit woman dressed in blue that waves all angus craving maniacs into the dimly lit room.

Aside from having deliciously flavored burgers the sauces can't be beat.  Check out the same July issue for the "secret" recipe.  We made them recently for a BBQ but in slider version...turned out awesome!  I was pleasantly surprised when the recipe called for ground dark chocolate.  Now I'm just waiting for the recipe for those sauces to be published then I'll be on my way to heaven.

No need to re-rate this gritty paradise.  Let the burgers do the talking for you...if any of you have been to one of the Top 2 according to Cincinnati Magazine let me know your thoughts. I am going to make it up there soon as I can digest my last Terry's burger with Vermont Cheddar and bacon.

September 16, 2010

McSushi - The new Fast Food

The latest sushi phenom to hit the Cin City is surprisingly not another Thai/Sushi combo but a fast food solo sushi joint downtown! Walking up to the counter at Soho Sushi I had no idea what to expect let alone what to order and while it was busy the line did move quickly.  The talented crew rolled the sushi rolls as if they've trained with the professionals at Chipotle.  It was very fast paced and felt as if Seinfeld's Soup Nazi chucked the soup and started rolling fish.

It was a bit confusing who you were supposed to tell what to if you were making your own roll but I'm sure my 2nd visit it will come more naturally.   There was the person who got the seaweed, then the fish guy,  then passed to the "roller" and threw all the rolls into a slicer.  The final step was the topper guy - do you want spicy mayo, masago, sesame seeds and extra tempura? No problem.

Word to the wise - order less than you think you need.  My eyes are always bigger than my stomach but with the reasonable prices at Soho Sushi I assumed these rolls would be bite sized.  I was shocked when my two rolls were spilling over the sides of as were my husband's.  The rolls were filled with large pieces of fish which is very rare in our world of "half price sushi" nights when you find yourself asking..."where's the fish?" I got the spicy tuna and shrimp tempura.  For those sushi lovers that despise the minced up spicy "tuna" as much as I do at cheap sushi places have no fear here.  This is chunks of tuna that have marinated.  None of that spicy mayo mixed inside to hide that "not so sushi grade" fish.  I wasn't impressed with the eel but may give it another try since it's typically my favorite.  The best part was for less than $20 we both ate enough to want to unbutton our pants AND had extra left over for dinner that night!

Now don't get me wrong - there are better sushi joints in town with more gourmet selections. However, if you find yourselves downtown around lunch time hit this spot up. I don't think you'll be disappointed and your wallet won't be too much thinner.

Score: 32 points (3 Turkeys)
Ambiance (2), Tastiness of Dishes (6), Menu (3), Drink Selection (2), Cost (8), Accessibility (4), Service (3), Location (4)

Soho Sushi on Urbanspoon

May 11, 2010

Coda - 4 Turkeys

Of all the restaurants we visited that weekend in Boston, I must say Coda was my favorite.  You'll find Coda in the South End, close to Copley, tucked around the corner from Cleary's.  They don't take reservations but that's not a problem...pull up a chair at their well stocked bar and pass the time away with a few Basil Gimlet Martinis. Who needs dinner with you have Gin?

Well if you do need something to fill your belly up you'll find plenty of comforting, filling food on Coda's menu.  The majority of our table ordered the Grilled Trout served with roasted fingerling potatoes and a pecan lemon butter sauce.  It was mouthwatering.

After some light begging my husband opted for the Steak Frites over a cheeseburger "off" the menu.  The steak was cooked to his order although the fries were a little soggy.  Although I had just had a bad run with Mac N Cheese at Post 390 I decided to renew my faith in the love of my life (I'm talking about the Mac N Cheese here).  And boy was I glad I did...I can't think of any other word except for delicious. Now it wasn't one of those attempts to fancy the dish up - it was simple, cheesy, creamy, amazing.  

We all washed down our delicious meals with some earthy Malbec.  This was a great compliment to our meals - a great recommendation by the waitress.

Score: 41 points
Ambiance (4), Tastiness of Dishes (8), Menu (5), Drink Selection (4), Cost (8), Accessibility (3), Service (5), Location (4)

Post 390 - 3.5 Turkeys

Sorry for the delay in posting...been having a little too much fun these past few weeks.  I now have a pile that keeps growing.  I'm starting back at our trip to Boston.  That Friday night we met up with a couple we had met in Greece on our honeymoon.  They are from Dayton, OH and are Buckeyes but live in Beantown.  I think it was fate we met half way around the world.  Ok...enough with the cheesiness.  We met up at Post 390 based on reviews in Boston Magazine which noted the Beer Bacon Mac & Cheese as a highlight on the menu.  We of course got a few drinks to get the night started.  I went for a glass of the Tilia Malbec and Brian picked the Narragansett, not for the novelty of a local beer but for the classiness.

The waiter came over to take our order and immediately recommended the fried clams which tasted like the ones I get on the beaches on the South Shore except for $10 more.  Carrie, our friend we were with, hates seafood and all strange food.  While in Greece I some how coaxed her into trying snails.  Tonight would turn out no differently.  After much procrastination she finally bit the bullet.  By looking at her face you would have thought the clam startled wriggling around in her mouth.  Priceless.

Now on to the main courses.  I touted the Mac & Cheese based on the reviews I read and it was a big disappointment - Carried and I both ordered it.  The flavor was okay but the consistency resembled cheese soup rather than the thick creamy deliciousness one expects for a restaurant quality Mac & Cheese. I'd take Kraft instead the next time.  Brian went with the Coffee Rubbed Duck which was an excellent choice.  It was cooked to perfection with the right amount of pink.  Each bit literally melted in your mouth.  The bacon-cheddar polenta cake that accompanied it lacked flavor and was definitely over powered by the braised red cabbage.

Carrie's husband went with the daily special of Baked Cod with deviled crab meat with asparagus.  He was generous enough to give me a bite which was flaky and with a light buttery taste.

I don't know how the boys had room for dessert but considering Carrie and I didn't really eat all that much of our entree we had plenty for the classic creme brulee.  It was similar to any other creme brulee I've had but nonetheless a perfect ending to our dinner.

The restaurant is located in Copley Square so a perfect after work place for a few drinks a quick bite.  It was already getting crowded at 6 PM when we arrived.  I really liked the interior design and the fire places really made you feel comfortable.

Score: 35 points
Ambiance (4), Tastiness of Dishes (6), Menu (3), Drink Selection (4), Cost (6), Accessibility (3), Service (5), Location (4)

April 21, 2010

Coppa - 4 Turkeys

Coppa was my 2nd stop on my food travels in Beantown.  Elyse and I stuffed ourselves silly at lunch but still had room to head to dinner that night in the South End in Boston.  After perusing a local boutique we stumbled upon (and Elyse buying half the store...haha) we made it to Coppa.  At 7 PM it was already overflowing with the after work crowd at the bar and we were at an hour wait.  After yelling over a couple's conversation to the bartender to order we moved over closer to the door.  The hostess saw us and asked if we want to go ahead and sit down at the counter at the window...Score!  As we are glancing over the extensive menu of small plates and pizzas I look at the drink list again to see what the heck is in my drink (it tastes like straight up bourbon).  I notice that the drink that I thought said "Macaroni" actually was listed as Marconi.  Not that it would have clued me into what was in the drink but I got it because I was starving and I thought a drink called Macaroni (one of my favorite meals you will see in upcoming posts) would satisfy that need. ha. While I really enjoy Bourbon drinks I am old enough to know it's a bad idea to drink on an empty stomach.  Meanwhile, Elyse was enjoying a fizzy concoction.  

Our initial plan was appetizers at Coppa then on to Franklin Cafe or another nearby locale but with all the yummy options at Coppa we knew we were hooked for the night with the selections here.  We chose the marinated cauliflower which was a melange of purple, white, orange florets. Elyse was disappointed because she thought they'd be hot...while I had no expectations.  Was I impressed? No but then again it's cauliflower. I don't know if I've ever been impressed.  On to the next few plates.  The cauliflower was followed by Arancini...very standard filled with risotto and fontina served with some sauce.  It was delicious.  The risotto was creamy and cheesy.  

The final couple plates were the Salted Cod Crostini which at first surprised me because I was expecting a couple pieces of cod on top of the crostini. Instead it resembled mashed potatoes but upon tasting it tasted really good and really salty.  For the weak hearted or if you are prone to high cholesterol steer clear.  This is salty...just as the name implies.  Just be prepared for the texture.  The pasta dish was amazing - it was stuffed with celery root with a parmesan sauce with a hint of apple.  Again, the perfect combo of salt and sweet except this time it had plenty of sauce (really the exact right amount).  There were toasted almonds on top as well which just complimented the celery root with crunchiness.  It was a special that night but if you are lucky to hear it on the special list again...Jump on it!  The waitress did a great job with this recommendation.   

The drink list was extensive but many ingredients we were clueless on so we decided to go with another of the waitress' recommendation...Aperol Spritz.  She described it as being similar to Campari.  It got better as we drank it...unsure if it was due to the increase alcohol levels or the taste itself.  I'd recommend not getting it though unless you are a fan of Campari.  

Elyse astutely pointed out to our waitress that we were charged $9 for the cocktails but they were listed on their blackboard as $8.  Not that a $1 is going to make or break our check for the evening but nonetheless it needed to be pointed out.  Anyway, I thought the blackboard was worthy of a picture so I started snapping.  The manager must have seen me because shortly afterwards we received a visit from the manager along with a refund for the difference.  Oh well - our waitress got a few extra bucks for the tip. It was a nice gesture.  

They don't take reservations so go early.  The bar area isn't very spacious so if you don't snag a seat you'll be dancing around the wait staff.  The food is worth the wait and in good weather there are some good patio seats.  

Score: 40 points
Ambiance (4), Tastiness of Dishes (7), Menu (5), Drink Selection (4), Cost (8), Accessibility (3), Service (5), Location (4)

Coppa on Urbanspoon

Sportello's - 3.5 Turkeys

We made it to Boston and I am well into my food journey thru the city.  I started off with an old favorite in the Fort Point area - Barbara Lynch's Sportello. First, how can you go wrong eating at a Barbara Lynch restaurant?  She's an icon in the Boston restaurant scene and her new cookbook, Stir, has inspired me to attempt making my own homemade pasta.  I'm still researching it :)

Anyway, on to the yummy first review...Sportello is set up perfectly to cater to the lunch crowd.  With the white gleaming countertops and bar stools patrons can get an up close view of their food being prepared.  My friend, Elyse, and I came here a little over a year ago to celebrate my engagement (when our waitress heard the news they gave us complimentary champagne).  We sat down and immediately received some scallion bread accompanied by some rhubarb ricotta spread with a little olive oil.  As we munched on the bread we chose the tagliatelle bolognese and the squash cappellacci.

The tagliatelle was not up to par with what I remember from my first visit.  The pasta was clumped together and the sauce was much blander than I recall and was overrun with meat.  It tasted good but didn't live up to what I know Barbara Lynch's restaurants can offer.

The cappellacci combined sweet and salty very nicely. It was stuffed with squash, topped with brown butter, sage and marcona almonds.  A few dates were thrown in which added the right amount of sweetness, however, we both agreed there could be more dates and a bit more sauce.  Who doesn't love a little extra sauce to mop up with the bread?

Overall, the atmosphere is great. I'd like to give it a try for dinner and then hit up her new bar, Drink, where they mix up speciality drinks based on the customers likes and dislikes.  I have to try this place again...I'm not sure if we were just on some incredible high the first time (well me for sure) but this one didn't live up to the amazing lunch we held in our minds.  The polenta for one was a high light last time but they cut down the options to just one on this season's menu (note: our waiter did say the could make up the mushroom polenta if we wanted).

Score: 35 points
Ambiance (4), Tastiness of Dishes (6), Menu (3), Drink Selection (4), Cost (6), Accessibility (3), Service (5), Location (4)

Sportello on Urbanspoon

April 12, 2010

5 Guys Burgers and Fries - 2.5 Turkeys

Since we moved here two years ago I've heard nothing but praises for Five Guys Burgers and Fries.  I unfortunately never make it to Clifton so when a new location popped up in right down the street at Rookwood Commons we jumped at the chance to finally have the famous burgers.

First of all, I had no idea this was a national chain so right off the bat it took it down a notch for me.  It was a typical diner set up with checkered tiles, however, I haven't been to many with sacks of potatoes stacked around you.  I liked that they really emphasized where their potatoes came from that day.

I had heard they oversize things so I got a Little Bacon Cheeseburger and I shared a small fry with my husband.  The burger had cheese oozing from under the bun which was pure eye candy to me.  The Little Burger is a misnomer because this thing was the size of a double quarter pounder at McDs (well maybe almost that big).  I asked what beers they had...answer was "none".  Strike 2.

Now for the first bite - the one we have been waiting two years to take.  It was, in one word, disappointing.  Not that it was bad but it just wasn't delicious.  I've had countless amazing burgers as I'm sure anyone who has visited Terry's can claim and this just wasn't one of them.  I know this is a "fast" burger joint but nonetheless I would prefer to go thru the drive-thru or wait the hour for Terry's than go back.  The burger was a bit overcooked to the point it was crumbly.

As for the fries - I had heard how they give you an excess so we opted for the small fry.  We finished the fries that were in the cup but when we looked in the bag this is what we found.

This is another entire small (or even medium) fry.  I couldn't believe how many fries we ended up wasting.  I know people like to get their money's worth but really?  If I wanted this many fries than I would have ordered them.

Overall, it's not terrible but I wouldn't shout it's praises from the mountain tops. It's convenient if you are shopping all day in Rookwood followed by dessert at Yagout.

Score: 28 points
Ambiance (2), Tastiness of Dishes (4), Menu (3), Drink Selection (2), Cost (6), Accessibility (4), Service (3), Location (4)