June 19, 2011

Quarter Bistro

June ROTM (restaurant of the month) took us to Quarter Bistro on Wooster Pike in Mariemont.  They offer french-inspired cuisine and are located right next to the Mariemont Theater in the heart of the square.   The presentation was beautiful! Food=Art

I initially had my heart set on the salmon but our server mentioned some of the specialties and the salmon was not included.  This worried me.  I changed my selection to the 18-hour short ribs.  I took one bite and this dish made it's way to my "Top 5 Meals" category.  So full of flavor and VERY rich.  Although the portion was on the smaller side, the richness and quality of the meat made up for it.  I asked the server what kind of spices were used to prepare the ribs and she was going to check with the chef but she never got back to me.  I'm sure it's a secret, and I imagine most of the flavor comes from the 18 hours the ribs spent slow cooking in their own juices and natural flavors.  Yum. 

The little round potato-looking things are spaetzle.  I've had spaetzle before and it looked nothing like this. You know when you're making pancakes and a drop of the batter falls onto the hot griddle and it makes a mini-pancake?  That's exactly what this spaetzle reminded me of!  It was a delicate addition to the short ribs.  The dish was also topped with a few button mushrooms and and the green drizzle is a basil pea emulsion.  The two purplish things on top are pickled ramp; they come from the same family as leeks and onion and it served as a nice tart addition to the entree.

I'm not going to go into detail on the entree choices of my dinner-mates, but there were no complaints!  Several of us had the short ribs and several others ordered the Steak Frites, it was topped with bleu cheese and included a side of homemade fresh cut fries sprinkled with parmesan (up charge for truffle fries).
Steak Frites w/ truffle fries

Handmade Angel Hair

BBQ Chicken Pizza
 The service was excellent, we had a group of 10 and it did take about 45 minutes for our entrees to arrive for such a large group.  My meal was $45, including a glass of wine, side dish, entree and 20% gratuity.  I recommend ordering an appetizer or salad with your meal since some of the portions are on the smaller side; I'm all about gourmet but I need to feel satiated as well.  We all shared an order of the guacamole and chips and an order of fried green tomatoes.  I saw several side salads go by as we waited for food and they looked substantial.  Servatti's makes a sour dough dinner roll specifically for Quarter Bistro; I declare them to be the perfect dinner roll with just enough crunch on the outside and soft, warm and chewy on the inside. 

We ended the evening with a stop at Graeters; last week they featured a limited-edition banana milk chocolate chip ice cream.  Fingers-crossed this flavor makes it's way to the list of regularly offered flavors!
Quarter Bistro on Urbanspoon

June 11, 2011

Taste and See Hilton Head Island

I spent Memorial Day week on Hilton Head Island relaxing and eating a TON of food!  Since HHI is a popular vacation spot for Cincinnatians I thought I would highlight a few of my favorites and recommend some dishes.

First up is Topside at the Quarterdeck, an upscale seafood restaurant in Harbor Town right next to the famous lighthouse.  I had the pan seared salmon with herb butter, green beans and a side of corn pudding.  I loved how it was prepaed, slightly crisp on the outside with thinly sliced fried onions on top which added a nice layer of flavor.  Everyone in our group enjoyed their meal; if you're going to go to only one restaurant while you're in Hilton Head, go to this one.  After your meal take a stroll down the pier, or if you save room there is a small ice cream shop located just outside.

Herb butter salmon w/ green beans and corn pudding

Shrimp gumbo w/ cheddar grits

Crab stuffed  bacon wrapped shrimp, w/ a side of mango salsa and rice

Blackened Cortiva with mashed potatoes

Grilled cortiva, cioppino style

Sea scallops w/ mashed potatoes and green beans
Next up is Truffles.  I call this the J. Alexander of Hilton Head.  Truffles had a very similar menu but with perhaps more seafood, extensive wine selection and artistic presentation of food.  There was something for everyone and they serve soft warm bread with an herb butter.  I had the grilled shrimp and the creamy chili relleno risotto was out of this world!  We visited a new location on Pope Avenue, versus the original location in Sea Pines center.  I hear the service is better at the original location but it was still a lovely dining experience and we took numerous pictures posing with the bronze pig statue outside!
Grilled shrimp with green beans and green chili relleno risotto

New Orleans- penne w/ a spicy cream sauce topped with Cajun chicken

Grilled pimento cheese and tomato dill soup w/ fries

Cajun Chicken with southwestern sauce and shoestring fries
Pork tenderloin w/ apricot glaze, mashed potatoes and green beans
 Last, but certainly not least, two loud snaps for Flamingo's Doughnut Cafe.  They are located just outside the Sea Pines gate and the perfect way to indulge in a guilty pleasure while on vacation.  Flamingo Doughnuts are made to order and served warm with whatever toppings you choose.  The topping selection is so vast I can't get into here, but the pictures should help.  You can choose from their list of specialty doughnuts or create your own.  We scavenged a coupon in the Hilton Head restaurant guide for buy 3 get one free.   If you're not into toppings I still recommend going and getting basic glazed or cinnamon/sugar, the warm sweet dough is addicting!

One last recommendation, if you're driving from Cincy to Hilton Head and you're passing through po-dunk Tennessee with an empty stomach, DO NOT stop at this restaurant :\  Just keep driving until you see a McDonald's.

Quarterdeck on Urbanspoon

Truffles Grill on Urbanspoon

Flamingo House of Doughnuts on Urbanspoon