There is a biker bar or so I have been told it is a biker bar in my neighborhood called MAYDAY in Northside. Until the Senate Restaurant arrived with notoriously delicious hotdogs. It was rumored that MAYDAY had the best hotdogs in town. A biker bar? I picture guys on Harleys with tattoos, arriving on their hogs, long beards, looking like the ZZ Top Band, all the stereotypes one can imagine. Why would that be home to an amazing gourmet hotdog? Are the bikers closet foodies? Apparently, the owners are! I have wanted to go for such a long time but forgot about the place. The other day I found a note with the hours reminding me to go. My mom is an adventurer. I took her.
I really liked the place. I liked the ambiance. I loved the exposed brick contrasting with the navy walls. I just liked it. The menu was awesome. I asked the bartender if it was two people who owned the bar that were foodies. He told me yes. The special of the day was evident to that fact.
My mom and I ordered and split. An applewood sausage with brie, sage mustard, caramelized onions and it came with a spinach salad with a warm bacon vinegarette dressing. The brie or the sage mustard may have been a tad overpowering for the taste of the applewood sausage was delicious and the spinach salad was OH SO yummy! As for the menu, it was a fantastic menu. So many things that I wanted to try.
The next morning for breakfast, we did something very Parisian that I crave and adore. We had leftover homemade French baguettes so we ripped off chunks and spread a variety of things on the pieces that ranged from butter with lavender honey to hunks of brie and with a good cup of coffee. It was delicious. We just sat there and gabbed like two old girlfriends.
We later went to meet one of my Grandmother’s friends for lunch. Yes, you read that correctly. Amazing Marion is a golfer that plays three days a week at the ripe old age of 94! She is still sharp. Marion and her husband got married the day my mom was born and she and her late hubby were dear friends of my grandparents. When my grandparents passed, my mom and Marion became close and now me.
We went to Suzie Wong’s where the food was good. The acoustics were horrendous and the service even worse. It is such a shame because they have a pretty yummy bi bim bap. A bi bim bap is is a signature Korean dish. The word literally means “mixed rice”. Bibimbap is served in a warm bowl with white rice topped with sautéed and seasoned vegetables and some form of protein whether it be chicken, beef or shrimp and Gochujang, which is a chili pepper paste. Then a fried egg on top. The ingredients are stirred together thoroughly just before eating. I learned to eat Bi Bim Baps at Steve’s Lunch in Ann Arbor, Michigan. One of my best friends went to U of M and took me there. The idea of a fried egg on a dinner dish was fascinating to me. Now, many years later, it is still one of those dishes I really love.
In between lunch and dinner, we went back to Knickers of Hyde Park. The place where bras will “change your life!” My mom tried on more bras than I can count. She looked at the woman fitting her named Julie to gauge from Julie’s facial expressions if it was a good bra and fit or not. We were there for an hour. My mom was a hoot. I think Julie found us, especially my Mom pure entertainment.
That evening my mom and I decided to go restaurant hopping. Not to any ole’ restaurant in Cincy, but to the cream of the crop or at least the latest and greatest.
We started at the 21C Museum Hotel and wandered through the hotel space that was designated a museum. It is a cool story how 21C Hotel got started by a couple down in Louisville that loved art and came up with this fantastic idea. Some of the art was lost on me, some far out and some truly interesting and fun. After we toured the first two levels of this restored hotel that my granddad used to frequent for meals. Yes, meals.
We then went to the Metropole, which is the new restaurant in the hotel. We bellied up to the bar across from the sous chef named Jordan. She prepared with such knowledge and ease. She was so cool. It was so much fun to watch her create all these creations. We had two appetizers there.
The first app we ordered was: Crudo, which was yellowfin tuna, mandarin orange, fried shallots, red kress, avocado, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. It was so light, so fresh. It was delicious. The second app was good but I didn’t like it as well. It was Seared Octopus with garbanzo beans, currants, navel orange and hot pepper.
We left there and walked over to Boca. Boca is a restaurant that started in the Northside neighborhood and put that neighborhood on the map. They left there and went to Oakley another neighborhood that was on the edges but not as much as Northside. After a long stint in Oakley they purchased and GUTTED Cincinnati’s most famous restaurant a place called La Maisonette. This was Cincy’s five star restaurant for a consecutive 50 years and the only reason they lost a star was because the chef decided to retire and you automatically lose a star when the head honcho chef leaves the coveted post. So, many years ago a family named the Comisars owned the Maisonette and the restaurant next door called LaNormandie. My dad and I loved to go to LaNormandie for a steak and a LaNormandie salad. I was living in New York. I came home and my last night in Cincy we went to LaNormandie. The owner at the time was the son of a friend of my father’s. We were talking to him and he said, “Erin, see you the next time you are in town.” The next day the famed restaurant closed it doors and the building sat empty for years. That is until Boca decided to give it a whirl. They gutted it. They took it back to studs. They hung a huge and dramatic chandelier. We had to go there and try the food in the new locale.
We looked at the menu. We are food snobs. I need to keep reiterating this because it makes so much of my blog make sense. So, we have eaten in so many NY restaurants with world renowned chefs and we always UNFAIRLY assume that Cincy can’t compare. That is till we ordered the Pommes Soufflees at BOCA. They came to the table and I can’t describe what they looked like but I will try. They looked like someone had taken a potato, cut it into wedges. Gutted the center of it and then when it deflated they blew them up like balloons. THEN and this is the piece de resistance, the knock your socks off, mouth watering, finger licking amazingness. THEE hollandaise sauce that you dipped these light as a feather potatoes into this little bowl of heaven. Each bite was like fairy dust on your tongue.
The second dish was the same idea as the Crudo at Metropole, but a very different flavor and couldn’t hold a candle to the Pommes Soufflees. The second dish was called Hamachi Crudo with avocado, grapefruit, shishito, and ponzu. It was yummy but it was like a stepchild after the first dish.
The woman who waited on us suggested we head downstairs to Sotto. It occupied the old LaNormandie space also owned by the owners of Boca. She suggested that we go try the donuts. “Donuts?” I said. “Where?” We went downstairs and unlike Boca, we could see remnants of the old restaurant. They seated us at a table that was like a long community picnic table. We ordered some decaf coffee and one order of donuts. The donuts were the size of munchkins. I know I should not make the comparison, but I am. Three small bowls with dip accompanied them. One contained salted caramel, one had chocolate, and the third had pistachio. My favorite was the salted caramel, even though the chocolate was a close second. I love pistachios but I don’t like them on, in or in sauce form. Go figure. I can’t explain it. I am the same way with bananas. I love bananas and detest banana bread.
After dinner, we rolled back to my car with full bellies and big smiles. It was a yummy, fun filled night.
Next day, we decided to hit the local casino. Cincinnati after much hemming and hawing decided that a casino would bring in a much needed revenue source to the area. They built this massive structure and during the building of it, a portion of it collapsed. They rebuilt it. My mom and I wanted to see it. My mom loves to gamble. I Hate it with a capital “H”. It is so lost on me. My mom and I went to the casino in Monte Carlo years ago and her eyes lit up. Mine not so much! I went to a casino in Lake Tahoe years ago, I couldn’t wait to get out of there. Now, there was this adorable boy waiting for me in San Francisco, so that could have played a part, but I am not a gambler.
What got me to the Horseshoe Casino this trip beside my mother and a feeling that I should visit this monstrosity once in my life was that Mr. Bobby Flay opened up a burger joint in it. It is called Bobby’s Burger Palace. He has one in Paramus, NJ and I thought about taking two trains, a bus and what was necessary to go there one trip to NY, but I am so thrilled that he built one in Cincy so I don’t have to track out to NJ.
Flay is known for being a great burger maker. I heard him once say on a show that he was inspired by a burger joint in his neighborhood called Nick’s that he regularly visited. I need to go there too. Upper Westside in Manhattan.
So, here we are at the Burger Palace and the choices look great, but on a show called The Best Thing I Ever Ate someone had recommended his Buffalo hamburger crunchified. My mom and I split it because if you recall the evening before we were gorging ourselves on blown up potatoes or as the French like to call them “pommes”with hollandaise sauce. Splitting a burger didn’t seem like such a bad. Especially when the burger is wonderfully delicious and has the flavors of a buffalo chicken wing with blue cheese on it and then the crunchified part is the potato chips on it to give it the crunch. It was so good. To go with it, knowing Flay and how good of a chef he is, we decided to try his dark chocolate milkshake. OH YUM! I guess I will go back to the casino for the milkshake and burger, not the gambling. The milkshake was very good, rich and thick. I loved it. I used to hunt high and low for a great milkshake in NY and never found one. I used to go to Johnny Rockets for one. It was good. This one at Flay’s, left that one in the dust. After the lunch my mom wanted to play some slots. I won ten extra games. I gave them to her. I just couldn’t get into it.
After the pommes souflees, the Holtman donuts, the Bobby Flay burger it seemed like it was time to get my everyday growing tush out for a nice, long jog. Even the dog’s waistline was growing. We were feeding her scraps from the leftovers.
I came home from the run and made an Erin salad. And then the mood hit me and I decided that I was going to experiment and make cider donuts. When I lived in Beantown there were farms all over the place. There were pumkin patches and a lot of them had these fresh off the conveyor belt cider donuts and you would drop them into your mouth and they would melt. You had to eat them fast because they were hot and crumbly.
I have never ever had them since I lived in Boston. Every Fall, I talk about them. Last Spring, Saveur magazine did an issue on donuts and I saw a recipe for the cider donuts. I had to give them a whirl. I had told my mom about them. She loved them. What a perfect time to try them.
They were easy to make. The dough was yummy. I couldn’t taste the cider as much as I wanted and I more than doubled the cider in the recipe. They were good, but I think the cinnamon overpowered the cider flavor. They were good. They weren’t terribly sweet. So, I rolled them in sugar and cinnamon. My mom and I thought they needed a little extra something. I rolled them in powdered sugar. THAT did the trick. They were really good and very addictive.
On Saturday it was my mom’s 72nd birthday! She told me the thing that she missed the most about living in Cincy was going to the horse races at Keeneland. Now, of course, she didn’t want to be with the plebian crowds, the commoners, so I called my dear friend Alston down in Lex for some help.
We drove 1.5 hours to Lexington. She made bets on at least five different races. I think her horse came dead last each and every time. We went into the clubhouse for lunch. I told her to order what she likes because it was her birthday. I know, I know. My mistake. I seem to be going from one cholesterol bomb to another one. First we ordered the KY Burgoo, which is typically at least three different meats, and plenty of vegetables such as corn, okra, and lima beans and served with cornbread. That isn’t so heart stopping. The next item is! Then we ordered a hot brown. Let me tell you a few years ago, I went to Otto’s with my two best friends from law school and I ordered a Hot Brown, a KY staple for my birthday meal. I went home to discover it was a 1000 calories plus. A hot brown is an American hot sandwich originally created at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky. It consists of an open-faced sandwich of turkey and bacon, covered in a Mornay sauce and baked or broiled until the bread is crisp and the sauce begins to brown. Then for dessert we discussed ordering a piece of KY Bourbon Bread Pudding and decided against it and the waitress brought it to us anyway. That was bread pudding with what tasted like a fifth of Bourbon in it. Oh yes, we had Grey Goose Bloody Maries to start the meal.
We saw a few friends. I thought I would run into more people I knew, but I didn’t.
We left there and went to Alston’s house for cocktails and an appetizer. It was great to see Alston, visit with her mom and the wonderful Ina who raised her children. I had a
Gin & Tonic and memories of years ago at that house came flooding back to me.
I was on a trip with a guy I was dating that I affectionately referred to as the Jacksonville Jackass. He had to go to Lex to buy and sell horses. He was off doing that and Alston said do you want to take my horse and another one for a ride in the front yard? I said yes. No boots fit me properly so I wore my tennies. The horse took off and ran back to the barn. It tried to throw me off his back. He tried to ride into low hanging tree branches. All I could hear was Alston shouting, HANG ON! I did. I got off the horse and went and took two Advil and then poured a big glass of water. I dumped the water and made the largest Gin & Tonic the world has ever seen. I sat on the back porch, shaking, sipping and staring at the green fields. My Jackass boyfriend was out buying a horse. I finished my
G & T and took a nap. I don’t recall having a Gin ^ Tonic since that day! I walked funny for a week. Not from the boyfriend, but from that damn horse! And here I was at the same bar pouring myself that G & T like I did ten years previously.
We drove back to Cincy. We stopped at the Senate Restaurant and picked up an order of another heartstopping item called the Poutine, which is french fries with local cheese curds, braised short rib & gravy with a fried egg on top.
After we ate enough grease and fat to merit a nasty response from my fat specialist. We were ready to crash. I just hoped our hearts would wake in the morning with us!
I crawled into bed and felt my food baby. My stomach was round and hard and happy. The madness had to stop, but I didn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.
The following morning I decided that after brunch at TAKE THE CAKE I was going to start to behave again. I had to or I was going to be in trouble. My jeans were starting to get tight.
Take the Cake was closed so we ventured down to an old favorite. TUCKERS. We waited and we waited and were finally seated. I ordered the special of the day, which was the Greek omelet. It had feta, spinach and olives and tomatoes in it. It was so yummy. And they have such delicious coffee. I have a little crush on the red headed waiter Dave, who is probably young enough to be my son.
We left there and went home and dressed my 4-legged sister Dulce in her pumpkin costume and took her to the Wyoming Pooch Parade. There were two poodles there one of which had the side of it’s belly shaved to look like a pumpkin and spray painted orange and with black triangle eyes. The other poodle had the letters RELAY FOR LIFE carved into her side and spray painted purple. Those were the coolest. There was one other one I liked. A dog named Dunkin who was dressed like a donut and the owner was dressed in a Dunkin donut staff uniform.
On our way home, my mom had me go through the Frisch’s drive thru for a Big Boy a Cincy classic with tartar sauce on it. She gave me a few bites. I of course had to order a slice of pumpkin pie. I just adore their pumpkin pie.
We came home and made a big salad for dinner a few hours later. My Buddha was happy. I thought I was turning a new corner of healthier eating….I convinced myself the Pumpkin Pie was the last of me being bad.
Am I delusional or what?
Enjoy! Eat, travel, laugh…often….