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Cincinnati Nostalgia

I lived in Cincinnati in the late 90's. I'll be returning later this summer for a long weekend. Can anyone tell me if my old favorites are still there? Let's see... The Precinct, Maisonette (heard it moved, then maybe closed?), Izzys, Zips in Mt Lookout (I think that's the area), The National Exemplar, the Palace (if there is it still as good as when Anita Hirsch Cunningham was chef?)

Also any recommendations are appreciated, how many meals can you fit in a long weekend I wonder!?

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  1. Still in existence, probably much like you remember
    The Precinct
    Izzy's (the chain is still open, some locations have closed, others has opened)
    National Exemplar

    Probably changed a bit...not sure how much as I don't tend to spend more than 10 bucks even on a rare top quality lunch
    The Palace.

    Closed for good
    The Maisonette

    The top restaurant in town is now arguably Jean Robert's at Pigalls, owned and run by Jean Robert de Cavel

    Call that my recommendation, as you've almost certainly already been to the chili parlors, Mio's, Aglamesis, and eaten goetta, etc

    1. 90s is nostalgia? Gosh, I was thinking 60s and I know the place I met my wife, the Lakewood Bar on Jefferson is long gone swallowed up by the march of the UC medical campus towards the main campus. The last time I was at the University of Cincinnati the entire center of the campus was torn up for construction and what was surrounding it was almost unrecognizable. I know there was a College of Design, Architecture, Art & Planning that I remember buried somewhere under that bizarre addition.

      I would guess Scotti's, the Italian restaurant is also closed.

      So, what is open that might have been around circa 1960s near UC?

      1. Skip Zip's and go here for a seriously fine burger:


        Scotti's is still in business, although I've never been there so can't vouch for the quality. I can't recall anything in the UC area that dates from the 60s.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Emm

          Scotti's in the 60s was a small, deep, narrow restauarnt with red and white checker table cloths and candles in a chianti bottle. The proprietors at the time were old, spoke Italian in the kitchen and probably were from Italy or not too far from. Scotti's was considered then to be the best Italian. It was very basic fare like large plates of spaghetti and meat balls. By today's standards and expectations it would be considered primitive. If it were still in business today I would imagine it would be nothing like the 60's.

        2. It should be mentioned that Jean Robert was chef at the Maisonette in the 1990s, so if it's the food you long for and not the decor, then by all means go to JR's. Also, Pho Paris in Oakley -- which JR operates with the Vietnamese family that owns the Soong Long in Roselawn -- is also terrific.

          As for other recommendations (Slim's, Boca etc.), just search this board.

          1. Well, the CVG Burger Guys unfortunately don't tend to rate a burger well unless the patty is loaded with seasonings, so that in some cases the burger they rate highly really isn't a burger anymore. That said, we agree on the burger at Zola's (Covington in the Mainstrasse district) as being quite good.

            On the other hand, I agree with you (and them, by rare chnce) that the Burger at Zip's isn't so good. For a truly great burger in that part of town, head to Arthur's in Hyde Park Square, particularly on one of their "Burger Madness" nights.

            Had Scotti's lasagna for lunch about a year ago - good but not great.

            In Clifton, it is my belief that Papa Dino's pizza, Mecklenburg Gardens, Martino's on Vine, and Proud Rooster (to name but a few) have been around for ages. Adriatico's has been around for at least 25 years, albeit they are at a new location.

            6 Replies
            1. re: TJ Jackson

              I can't tell if you've actually eaten the Oakley Grill's burger, and I haven't had the one from Zola's. I also can't swear that no seasonings were added to Oakley burger, but if there were they were largely undetectable. It wouldn't fit the "not really a burger anymore" description as far as I'm concerned. I'll stand on the recommendation!

              1. re: Emm

                That's cool - just a warning about the CVG Burger Guys in general. No, I haven't eaten the Oakley Grill's burger yet - stopped in onc just after the kitchen closed, ended up at Arthur's (again) instead :-)

                1. re: TJ Jackson

                  Arthur's menu is so varied, the food quality and service are so dependable, and the prices are so reasonable it merits a discussion of its own. Personally I haven't found any real individual standout items on the menu, but I think it's a great place to go when I'm not sure exactly what I'm hungry for. I know whatever I order will be carefully prepared and tasty.

                  1. re: Emm

                    I'm trying to remember Arthur's...if I've been there or not. In HPS I remember a couple of places. On e was a basic old timey luncheonette place sort of like the Village Kitchen (I think) in Mariemont. Another place was multilevel (maybe originally a house?) And I had a seven layer salad there once. I think there was a sunroom, glassed in porch, or big wall of windows? Is either of these Arthur's?

                    1. re: Emm

                      I'm guessing The Echo is the luncheonette place, and it's right next to Arthur's. I'm not sure about the multi-level place ... the space sounds like Teller's, which is an old bank, but I can't imagine a seven layer salad being on the menu. (At least the small-town seven layer salad I grew up with -- maybe Teller's serves a fancier version.)

                      1. re: Emm

                        For years, the Echo was the ONLY restaurant in the Hyde Park Square with the exception of Zeno's which was in the multi-story building in the area.

                        I have to confess that the average of the patrons of the Echo was well above 60 - and I have not made it back since my grandparents died. The food was always pretty good.

                2. Thanks for all the info everyone, I'll try as many of the rec's as I can fit in my belly!

                  I only ate at Maisonette once, but I used to work at La Normandie (semi-shared kitchens) as well as the Palace and the National Exemplar... the real reason I ask about these spots is that I hope to see some familiar faces. Maybe the chef brought some people with him to the old Pigall's spot?

                  Can't wait to visit Porkopolis... thanks again!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: The Engineer

                    No, Jean Robert went his own way. Maisonette is dead.

                    That being said: I ate at Jean Robert at Pigall's last Tuesday; my wife and son surprised me for my 50th birthday. And it was the single best meal I've ever had in my life.

                  2. Zino's was in the multi-level house near the Echo on HPS. They did indeed have a seven layer salad, which I sometimes fix for a gals' luncheon. The Village Kitchen has moved slightly east from Mariemont Square to a bigger place. Still has home cooking, and definitely caters to the older crowd. Have only been once since they moved, but it was good comfort food.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: sudiepav

                      Thanks everyone for clearing up my foggy memory. True, I was only in the Village Kitchen and the Echo when I was driving Granny around on shopping day! I'll raise a glass of milk to her memory if I'm in one of these places. ;)

                    2. Scotti's is still open. Other than the old couple who ran it, its still the same. Ate there on Saturday and the food was very good. Authentic Italian, unlike some of the current chains.


                      1. There used to be a place at the top of the Terrace Hilton called the Gourmet room. I think it was supposed to spin but never did (some sort of regulation in the fifties based on this fear that it would spin off). Is it still there. George Pulver was the chef. Is he still around?

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Lemoyne

                          No, the Gourmet Room is no more; it is from the era when we had three five-star establishments in the city, along with Pigall's (the original) and Maisonette.

                          The Joan Miro mural from the Gourmet Room resides in the Cincinnati Art Museum.

                          1. re: jmckee

                            It was an amazing time with three grest restaurants in the area... Pigalls, Maisonette, and the gourmet room

                        2. OK, now I'm remembering a ton of places where I used to love to eat. Cricket, in front of the old Enquirer building. The Pogue's and Shillito's restaurants. Pogue's was on the crossover through the Carew Tower arcade.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: jmckee

                            I loved that sandwich they had in the tea room at Shillito's, turkey breast on rye with anchovies. And remember the place downtown at the dawn of the "Ponderosa" age, maybe the mid-1960s? A cafeteria-style hole in the wall with grilled steaks, salads and baked potatoes? As I recall the steaks were pretty tough, but I was thrilled with the concept. And the earliest fast food I remember, the Red Barns with their prototype double decker burgers with special sauce. I'd love to taste one again--I wonder if it was actually good or not.

                            1. re: Emm

                              My favorite place downtown in the 70s was the old Wheel Cafeteria on Sixth St near Walnut. Consistently good deli food.

                              Of course, when I was downtown at age 12, the Burger Chef of Race St. was more in my budget range. A hamburger for 0.39 and all the condiments that you could throw on.

                              1. re: jlawrence01

                                Evidence of the existence of that particular Burger King still exists....around back, in the alley behind where it (and later Hardees) was located

                                see: http://danmahan.com/blog/mobile_image...

                                There is still a easily identifiable Red Barn building on Vine near 15th street

                          2. Ah the memories of the Wheel Cafe! Not there anymore, and I'm now in Baltimore, MD. But when I was a student back at the old St. X downtown at 7th & Sycamore, a group of fellow geeks & I would almost every day trek over to the Wheel, where we could buy a small slice of apple flatcake and get unlimited free coffee and salad--and conversation with some of the Stammtisch characters like the old Greek guy with the loose dentures who would criticize our Jesuit-pronounced Homeric Greek and Vegilian Latin.
                            "Breakfast" was served 24/7, so if you were really hungry you could watch the master griddle-chef, who could hold two eggs in each hand and smack them on the hot greased griddle, all four eggs opening perfectly, never a yolk wounded, and fried to perfection as you wished it: once over lightly, sunny side up, scrambled. Such elegance!!