November 27, 2011

Three Tiers- Contemporary Cakes and Cupcakes

I was enjoying a lazy day off work last Friday and decided to head out on a bike ride.  Part of the allure of biking, for me at least, is riding to a destination where I can indulge in some type of delectable food and only feel 1/2 the amount of guilt.  It's not easy finding a nice physical activity to indulgent food ration.  So I googled bakeries in my area and found Three Tiers in Bellevue, KY.  Serendipitous for 2 reasons:
1.)Bellevue, KY is one of my favorite neighborhoods and totally bikeable.
2.) Friday was Three Tiers second to last day of operations.   

I rode out the Bellevue/Dayton flood wall and back and then up to Fairfield Avenue to Three Tiers. 

I chose a nice assortment including: cookies  n' cream, chocolate with chocolate ganache, red velvet with raspberry buttercream and white with caramel buttercream.  Didn't want to gorge myself so I decided one healthy bite of each cupcake was the way to go.  Each time I took a bite I proclaimed that particular cupcake to be my favorite. 

The cookies n' cream tasted like an Oreo cookie.  The white cupcake had bits of crushed Oreo cookies throughout and it was topped with a buttercream that mimicked the cream of an Oreo almost exactly.  I liked that this one had some additional texture with the pieces of cookie.  It was topped with a few cookie crumbles as well.
I was so pleasantly surprised by the red velvet with raspberry buttercream.  I don't generally love red velvet cake but the addition of a fruity topping intrigued me.  If I  had to pick a favorite of the bunch it was this one.  One of the best flavor combinations, mostly because raspberry buttercream is a beautiful thing.

Chocolate on chocolate, can't go wrong here.  Three Tiers uses imported Belgian chocolate and I think it really shined through in the quality of this chocolate cupcake topped with chocolate ganache and the tiniest dollop of buttercream.
Last but not least was the white cupcake with caramel buttercream.  Tasted surprisingly like a pancake with syrup.  Not overdone with caramel in the least and the cupcake itself wasn't overpoweringly sweet. 

Best of luck to Three Tiers and their new business venture in Austin, TX.  Now I'm on the hunt for another place to get my cupcake fix.

  Three Tiers on Urbanspoon

Wine Guy Bistro

My Groupon for Wine Guy Bistro was burning a hold in my pocket for almost 2 months.  The space is very different than I expected but different in a good way.  Wine store and tasting area (including bar) on the right and dining area on the left.  It is open and spacious with a couple of cozy window spots for dining and drinking with a bit more privacy.

We started with a flight of reds and a flight of chardonnay. 
How adorable are these little wine flight holders?  I've never seen something like this and although they took up quite a bit of space on the table it was really handy for keeping track of which wine was which.  Each slot was numbered according to how it was listed on the menu which made it very simple to compare and contrast.  So clever!

We enjoyed the complementary whole wheat pita slices with a garlic/sun-dried tomato herb cream cheese.  It paired nicely with the wine. 

I chose a full order of the spicy shrimp pasta.  It was full of juicy shrimp and had all kinds of texture going on.  Large, chunky tomatoes, creamy garlicky sauce and it was topped with julienned scallions which added a nice crunch to the whole thing.  Plus 2 slices of grilled and buttered bread.
I enjoy spicy dishes, not crazy "I'm harming myself" spicy, but I like a nice kick every once in a while.  This spicy shrimp pasta fit that description so well that it made my face sweat the whole time I was eating it; yet it was so flavorful I couldn't put my fork down.  This is similar to the effect that spicy Thai curries have on me.  Can't stop myself.  The portion was huge and easily enough for 2 people, they offered this dish (as they do many of their other dishes) as a tapas portion.  The full portion was only a few dollars more so I figured I'd go with the full.  I ate half of it and then decided to save the rest for lunch the next day; you know, to give the flavors even more time to develop.  As it sometimes goes, I got home and couldn't bring myself to put away the pasta so I sat in bed and shamelessly devoured the rest of it.   

The bacon-wrapped prawns got rave reviews, they were served over fried squash and a tomato-based vinaigrette. 
Wine Guy offers flights starting at $14.99, wine by the glass and also has a selection of 4,000 bottles to choose from.  $10 corking fee if you go with a bottle.  I had a nice experience and will be back to taste more of the menu items in this unique space that adds much-needed variety to the Rookwood Commons restaurant scene.

 The Wine Guy Bistro Wine Bar & Wine Shop on Urbanspoon

November 12, 2011

Tour de Vine

Or should I say tour divine? 

What started out as a trip to try Abigail Street evolved into a Vine Street restaurant crawl. Abigail Street had a ½ hour wait so we headed down to The Lackman to grab a drink. It was insanely hot inside and smelled of stale beer, but the bartender fixed my friends up with some fru fru island cocktails and I enjoyed a pint of the Left Handed milk stout. 

Let me begin my description of Abigail Street by saying that any restaurant that has wine on tap is obviously the coolest thing ever. The selection included a nice variety of both red and white and prices range from about $8-$11. I had the Cabernet Sauvignon and it was lovely. The wine is mostly sourced from wineries in California and the Pacific Northwest. The server described the menu as Mediterranean tapas-style but also mentioned something about family style. When I think of family style I think of huge portions that can satisfy at least 3 people. The portion size at Abigail Street is bigger than tapas but smaller than family-style and at least 2 menu choices per person are required if you want to make a meal out of it.

I dined with 2 friends and we each chose one item to start: Cheese tray, Gnocci and Scallops.  Our server recommended our cheese selections and the tray was garnished with small portions of toasted cinnamon raisin bread, grapes and nuts.  It was a crowd-pleaser at our table.

The two scallops were served over a bed of savory bacon and carmelized onion cous cous and topped with a lobster cream sauce. So decadent.  The picture below does nothing for the presentation, it was taken after one of the scallops was eaten.  The flavor of the cous cous was perfect and the lobster cream /scallop/bacon combination was excellent.

The gnocchi was in a very light saffron sauce with large pieces of crab meat and cherry tomatoes. I quite liked it but I am not a gnocchi aficionado so I don't have anything to compare it to. I believe gnocci is usually served with a heavy cream sauce which would certainly overwhelm me. I thought the lighter broth complemented the doughy creamy texture of the gnocchi quite well.  (Again, the picture below was taken after several bites.)

I look forward to going back to Abigail Street for another tapas and wine tasting. The bouillabaisse was calling my name.

After splitting 3 dishes between the 3 of us we had room for more and decided it would be fun to do a restaurant hop. (Side note: after publishing this post I logged on to Urbanspoon to read A Tavola reviews.  Apparently I'm not the only one who appreciates the dining options of Vine Street in OTR.  Great minds, I tell you.)

During our dinner conversation it surfaced that one of my friends, who loves Sentate, has never tried their poutine!?! Duck fat fries, short ribs and cheese followed our tapas perfectly. We had another drink including a special mixture concocted by Mike, the oh so friendly bar tender. I had some sort of Gin/Grapefuit mixed drink that was extremely refreshing- not too much gin, not too sweet. After having a drink and splitting one order of poutine between the 3 of us we decided we would round out our evening with A Tavola.

I dined at Tavola earlier in the week and had been thinking about their beef meatballs with goat cheese since that visit. Four beef meatballs drowned in delicious red sauce and topped with a smooth pesto-like puree, goat cheese and adorned with 3 nice slices of Blue Oven bread. To die for. I mean, I would seriously die for these meatballs. And to really bring this home- I went to A Tavola on a Wednesday and had meatballs, then went back this past Saturday and I'm headed back again tonight...for meatballs.  Don't get me wrong, the wood-fired pizza is awesome, but the meatballs have my heart.
Hopping from restaurant to restaurant and sharing dishes is the way food should be experienced and I love that Vine street in OTR enables this.

  Abigail Street on Urbanspoon