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Cincinnati Dinner suggestions?

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I am planning a birthday dinner in Cincinnati this weekend and am looking for restaurant suggestions. We recently moved here from San Francisco and would love to find someplace with that type of concept/sensability. Basically a chef with a point of view rather than a chain or place that doesn't do any one thing particularly well so they have 300 options on the menu. We are definately adventurous or open minded eaters (I'm not sure that matters here.) Any good or interesting suggestions would be appreciated, we recently went to Boca and really enjoyed it. I'm looking at Local 127 and Nectar, anyone have opinions on these places. Thank you all.

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Local 127
127 W. Fourth Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202

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  1. Nectar is good, Local 127 is good, though I haven't eaten there since they moved to the old Bistro space. We're paying our first visit to Jean-Robert's Table on Saturday based on good reports. We're also fans of Honey in Northside (but it can be very loud), Nicola's in OTR, and Otto's in Covington.

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    Northside Cafe
    1697 N Stephenson Ave, Iron Mountain, MI 49801

    Local 127
    127 W. Fourth Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202

    1. Based on the criteria you listed, my vote is Jean-Robert's Table. I've taken four groups there in the past 6 months--everyone has gone back on their own.

      1. 127 is to be avoided at all costs. Don't be fooled by the "farm to table" concept. I am actually writing a review right now. I can't tell you how disappointing this place is. I also don't have a very high opinion of Jean Robert's Table.

        Two places that are extraordinary, in my view; A Tavola in OTR and Miyoshi in Florence.

        If you do Miyoshi, ask for Alan as your waiter, tell him Ryan sent you and that you want him to order for you. For $50 per person, you will have a Japanese meal you are not going to forget. They bill themselves as the Best Japanese in Northern Kentucky but I would put the two meals I had there against any I have had in New York or elsewhere.

        A Tavola does not accept reservations. The owners are young, place is very popular and it can be swamped. I make a point to go around 5.30 if I want to get straight in or, more typically around 9-9.30. It is hands down the most satisfying restaurant concept to come to the city in many many years. Trust me, though, if you go before 9, be prepared to wait. .

        There will be many locals who tell you that you don't want to go to Over the Rhine for dinner or otherwise. Cowards! May they be consigned to a lifetime of meals at the Cheesecake Factory.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Ernie Diamond

          I read your review; one fact hit me wrong: Your criticism of Mt. Carmel (please check spelling) seemed gratuitous. There are other beers than your beloved Belgian and Belgian inspired.

          1. re: jmckee

            My point is that Mt. Carmel, besides being local and a very decent beer has few distinguishing characteristics when compared with the broad spectrum of brews. Bistro offered a fine cross section of styles and labels, some which could be found few other places. 127 does exactly the opposite by offering beers that can be found in just about every other bar or restaurant in town.

            Perhaps it isn't fair to use any one beer to emphasize a lack of inspiration but that's exactly what struck me when I saw the taps.

          2. re: Ernie Diamond

            Thank you, this is the type of feedback I was hoping for. Thanks to everyone really. Having not dined there, I don't know if I agree with your views or not but I respect that its a considered and informed opinion. Where can I find your review?

            I've become suspect of the local/seasonal claims now that I've read through some review sites. Some popular dishes are sea scallops and veg that is way out of season for the time the meals were reported to have been enjoyed.

            A Tavola sounds like the type of place we love, but maybe more casual than this occasion. I've lived, worked, and dined in many neighborhoods of Oakland, Berkeley, and SF that would make OTR blush. I am certainly not put off by diversity, whether racial or socio-economic.

            1. re: NL5xHaze

              Ha! Funny you say that! My sister's dinner last night was Scallops and Summer Succotash. She said it was very good but there's something about local dining that does not invite scallops and seasonal dining that does not invite "summer succotash!"

              I lived for a number of years in Boston which, like San Fran has no shortage of very fine upscale and downscale restaurants. In truth, I have not been wowed by many places in Cincinnati. Nada is fun and ten times better if you ask for your tacos to be served on corn, rather than their standard flour tortillas. Hugo's is nothing special, 20 Brix is forgettable, the Quarter is decent. Cincy is still trying to play catch-up on the restaurant scene; lots of overly complicated, overwrought, over seasoned dishes that to me make no statement. You won't easily find simple, clean flavors that offer something identifiable and unique.

              Three that I have never been to but I would point to as options are Nicola's, Boca and Virgil's in Bellevue. I can't say anything more about them except that I have heard very good things.

              As you can probably tell, I have very strong opinions about restaurants. There are many people who would disagree with me but fine dining in this city is not all that it is cracked up to be. There are some gems but it takes work to find them.

              Actually, my recommendation for a fun birthday weekend is a stay at 21C in Louisville and dinner at Proof. I would recommend that without hesitation to anyone. You will be very very satisfied.

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              20 Brix
              100 Main Street, Miford, OH 45150

              1. re: NL5xHaze

                We ate at A Tavola on Tuesday. Good, but not great, and not someplace I can't wait to get back to. I will say it was fast and comparatively cheap, but not a special-occasion restaurant.

                One other place I'll suggest -- Riverside, a Korean restaurant in Covington. I honestly don't know good Korean from bad Korean, but we've had several great meals there, it gets great reviews and it's usually busy. It's really different and a lot of fun.

                1. re: johnbycz

                  Riverside is one of my favorite restaurants in the Cincinnati area. I've had Korean in California, NY, and Boston, and honestly, Riverside's one of the best Korean places I've seen anywhere.