Monday, October 20, 2014

Huit BBQ:

One of the first things I noticed about Huit was the attention to detail--and I’m not just talking about the food. I’m talking about the space itself. I have a new appreciation for interior design currently, as David and I are neck deep in overhauling our entire place, from furniture to lighting. Not to make excuses, but that’s one of the reasons we’ve been so quiet lately.

In addition, Boca bills, new furniture, and quotes from contractors do not a happy wallet make. Huit’s menu, though, is the right size and reasonably priced. Almost all the items on the lunch menu are under $10.

We’ve been meaning to stop by since they opened, and when Huit debuted Saturday hours, we were able to visit for lunch. The space itself is fairly small, but used well. An interesting, ropy chandelier takes up much of the ceiling, the wall has vibrant floor-to-ceiling pictures of people getting messy with BBQ, and the seating feels cozy but not crowded.

I know what you’re thinking right now. “Enough about the space already, on to the food!”

We started with an order of the pork buns, which were a special that day. I have no idea how they got the savory filling in the buns, but it’s obviously an acquired skill. Braised pork, onion, and spices (not too much) were a great way to start out.

David ordered the lemongrass chicken, which is basically a chicken banh mi, and the kale salad, with quinoa, dried apricots, toasted sesame seeds and tahini dressing.

The banh mi was very good, though Sixteen Bricks (the breadmaker for Huit’s sandwiches) can’t touch the light-as-air, crackly crust baguettes Le’s Pho serves down the street. To be fair, I don’t think anyone actually can.

I chose the eight spiced ribs, as well as the miso butter brown rice and grilled sriracha mayo corn on the cob.

The ribs were very tender, and a good portion size for the price. I was surprised at how much I liked the miso butter brown rice--it was a nice counterpart to the flavors in the pork rub. The roasted corn was also a good choice--though by that time I was getting full.

If you haven’t noticed by now (kale, quinoa, brown rice), Huit has an interesting bent toward the healthy side, which is unexpected for a BBQ restaurant. The guilt of unctuous, sticky ribs is well countered by accoutrements that feel like they came from a Whole Foods shopping trip.

this green stuff is your friend, I promise

Tobias Harris, the owner, was working the whole time we were there, chatting with customers and bringing out orders. According to the website, dinner is coming soon, which will be a much needed addition to that section of Court Street.

I’m looking forward to seeing what’s on the dinner menu. If it’s like the rest of what I’ve seen from Huit, a lot of effort will have gone into it and it will be worth the wait.

Huit Craft BBQ on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 11, 2014

Terry's Turf Club is Still Rocking the Burger Game:

Before the Gateway Quarter took off, before Bakersfield or Kaze or Salazar--if you felt like some food that was worth the wait, you went to Terry’s Turf Club
Hey David, do you want to do something fun? You want to go to Taco Bell Terry's Turf Club?

Remember Terry’s? It’s a hard place to forget, and even harder to miss when driving by. Neon signs galore, a crowd snacking on peanuts outside and throwing the shells wherever, Terry and his faithful staff serving up burgers so massive you need to carve them up with a steak knife.

The sauces! The fancy ingredients served on paper plates! The craft beers in the Bevador refrigerators!

All of those are hard things to beat. David and I are ashamed to say it’s been a while since we visited Terry’s. Recently, I got the urge to go, and I wondered if much had changed at the restaurant since our prior visits. On our end, much had. We had different jobs, a mortgage, and my hair was various shades of purple.

I’m happy to report that Terry’s is just as great as ever, if not better. We sampled some of the menu items that we’d not tried before, like the tomato soup, which extremely rich and full of high quality parmesan. The paté (chicken liver, foie gras, cognac, shallot and creme fraiche), served with boozy apple and crisp ciabatta, was another enjoyable appetizer. And we had to get the halloumi with balsamic and tomato.


One of the things I love about talking to Terry is that I always learn something. He brought out these tiny little root vegetables, called crosnes, which we’d never tried. We also sampled freshly grated wasabi (yeow!), and some 100 year old basalmic vinegar, which was amazing on fries.

Terry and wasabi

As for our burgers? I decided to construct a BLTA burger, with mangalitsa bacon, avocado, tomato and lettuce. It was as good as I had hoped, just rather….large. Too large, even to fit in the takeout box I needed for the leftovers. We had to play MacGyver a bit and rubber band it shut.

Yes, that's a whole half avocado

David, attempting to be more reasonable, choose a mushroom option, with portabella and shitake. He ate the entire sizeable sandwich, and in combination with the various appetizers we had ordered, gave himself a pretty severe case of the itis.

only healthy in theory
The actual size of a regular burger you can get anywhere else compared to a TTC burger

While I was contemplating how exactly I was going to take a bite of my burger and not make a huge mess, the lady next to us at the bar piped up. “Excuse me, can I have an irish coffee?” She asked Terry. “Do you have decaf?”

Terry Scoffed. “Decaf, hell no. I do have the most expensive coffee in the world. Would you like to try it?”

That’s Terry’s Turf Club for you.

Thursday, May 29, 2014


This past Saturday, David and I were in tense negotiations about where to go for lunch. Taste of Cincinnati was in full swing, but we weren't planning to brave the crowds until the following day.

After about 20 minutes of discussion without agreement, David threw up his hands. “I’m going to go take a shower and get ready to go...somewhere. Come up with three options to choose from when I get back and we’ll go from there.”

I glanced at him with irritation. “Did you seriously just RFP me for lunch plans?”

For those who have never encountered the acronym before, “RFP” stands for “Request for Proposal”, and is pretty much despised across the board (especially by ad and PR Agencies).

In fact, the only person that would really be happy about an RFP is the party that is doing the requesting. Which is probably why David looked so smug as he headed down the stairs.

In the end, I came up with several picks, including Mazunte. After perusing the menu and remembering a recommendation from a friend, we decided to check it out. Self serve margaritas? Mazunte, your ideas intrigue me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

Mazunte is on Madison road in the shopping center to the right of the Rainbow Carwash. The setup may be confusing at first, but it’s fairly easy to figure out. Carryout or eat-in, you order at the front counter, take a seat, and wait.

The inside of Mazunte. Photo by Jesse Fox of Citybeat
If you desire a margarita, you tell them, they give you a cup, you head to the bar area and get yourself one. If you want a second one (they’re very good, so you probably will), you tell them and they ring you in another. The bar area also has an assortment of beer bottles in ice (a nice local and Mexican menagerie), as well as self-serve sangrias and horchata.

We tried a variety of dishes, including some of their vegetarian options, and the staff was very thorough in explaining how many dishes could even be made vegan.  There’s a prep kitchen in the back, but the majority of dishes are assembled and plated in front of you behind the bar.

I had some cheese dip that blew the others I’d had elsewhere out of the water -- creamy and spicy. David ordered the chile relleno, as well as the grilled corn, which was the perfect combination of sweet corn, salty cheese, and a little smoky char.

chile relleno

I didn’t want to leave without trying the taco sampler, consisting of your choice of beer battered fish, pork and steak tacos. The sangria marinated skirt steak taco was phenomenal, and David raved about it days later. I also tried the tacos dorados, which were filled with braised chicken. Mazunte uses blue corn for them, which I also liked.

party on a plate

pork taco
housemade chips

At that point we were both full, but there are plenty of other dishes on the menu that we’re looking forward to going back for, like the tamales, tostada, churros, and if David has anything to say about it, more skirt steak tacos.

Mazunte Taqueria Mexicana on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 22, 2014


If you hadn’t noticed, last year we got into a bit of a blogging rut. With the winter we’ve had, you can hardly blame us for hibernating.

That said, the situation was getting pretty sad. We were still going out a lot, visiting some of our favorite, regular spots, but we were neglecting to try any of the new restaurants, and subsequently, write about them.

“We’ll try them later.” We reasoned. “We’ll save that one for a special occasion.” We promised. “It’s too cold to walk up there right now.” The excuses kept coming.

No, we didn't. Honest... we ran out of gas. we... we had a flat tire. We didn't have enough money for cab fare. David's tux didn't come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole our car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts!

It got to a point where it was almost embarrassing. We’re supposed to be foodies, dammit. And yet we hadn’t been to places like Kaze, which had been open for over a year. A few weeks ago, I finally couldn’t take it anymore and decided to do something about it. The walk up was cold. It was rainy.

And holy-hell was it worth it.

David’s a big sushi fan, whereas I’m still holding out on that front. Luckily there are plenty of things that appealed to both of us on Kaze’s menu. We’ve been back twice now, and from what we’ve had, Kaze’s more than secured a regular spot in our rotation.

The pork buns are a thing of beauty. Glazed pork belly, spicy frisee lettuce, crunchy fuji apples and a zingy mustard vinaigrette are amazing together, surrounded by a fluffy steamed bun that has a bit of sweetness to it. I liked them so much I ordered them twice. During the same dinner.

these buns are the bomb

The kobe sliders with cheese pickles and crispy onions were also very tasty, with a strong beefy flavor. Plus, I’m a sucker for “mini” foods of all kinds. I did wish the patties had a little seasoning in them, though. We ended up using some of the soy sauce on the table for our burgers.

Kobe slider with aforementioned second order of pork buns

Other than the pork buns, the skewers are a showstopper. I practically squealed with delight when I saw they were cooked over flames, the way I’d seen them made on shows about traditional Japanese cuisine. We’ve tried the beef, and chicken and the mushroom, and they are all exceptional. The beef and chicken are probably some of the best we’ve had anywhere, and are incredibly tender.

Mushroom Skewer

And of course we have to try the ramen. Made with bok choy, pork belly, and containing a poached egg, the soup was perfect for a chilly day. I especially enjoyed it because we’ve been watching David Chang’s “Mind of a Chef”, which induces what you can only call “ramen envy”.

It’s a known fact that in every episode of "Mind of a Chef" David Chang will mention ramen at least twice and eat it at least once.

David tried a variety of sushi, including a special that day. We sat at the sushi bar, which is fun to do if you want to watch the staff work. Plus, they’re happy to answer any questions about the menu, what they’re working on, or the restaurant.

One of David's pet peeves at sushi places is what we've been calling the "wasabi test". Traditionally, a small bit of wasabi is supposed to be placed under the sashimi. Sadly, many places neglect to do that. When we noticed the staff carefully placing a smidge underneath each piece, I knew we'd arrived at a place that does sushi exceptionally well. 

Special of the day
King Salmon, goldeneye, and uni (sea urchin)

In an attempt to balance out the amount of pork belly we’d consumed, we also ordered the Kaze salad, with avocado, cucumber, radish, shishito, and shiso vinaigrette. The addition of a fried lotus root gave the salad a fun exotic touch.

We have yet to try the happy hour, which is in the bar in the back, but are going to remedy that soon, as sushi is half price and cocktails are $5. Rumor has it that they are working on a tiki themed drink menu for spring, as well, which I can’t wait to try.

Beer selection at Kaze is also pretty stellar. Not only do they have the usual Sapporo, their  draft list includes local brews and rotates often.

The Riki Tea-ki
We’re not huge dessert people, but with how great the rest of our meal was, we were curious. We ordered this chocolate ganache dessert with puffed rice, hazelnuts, malt and raspberries. Despite being full of pork belly and sushi, we polished it off too.

Throughout the entire meal, we were kicking ourselves for not getting to Kaze sooner. If you never try new things, you may be missing something awesome. Following that line of reason, we decided to give Uber, which had just arrived in Cincinnati, a spin for a ride home.

We'll definitely be using Uber again, we had a great and easy ride home. They are running a promotion right now where your first few rides are free, too!

Kaze on Urbanspoon