Saturday, May 29, 2010

a lazy sunday afternoon

last sunday was proof summer has come to cincinnati - clear, sunny, sweltering (merely a trifle of what's to come, i'm sure). a couple girlfriends and i met up for a leisurely lunch at cabana on the river. the cabana provides an idyllic setting for such a lunch, nestled along the banks of the languid ohio river.

we seated ourselves (as the sign indicated we should) and waited for a server to approach the table. after 10 minutes, we grabbed some menus from a nearby stack. and waited. then waited some more. it wasn't that servers weren't obvious, rushing around between the tables, doling out coronas and hamburgers. they were just not coming to our table. it had not even been completely cleared from the previous occupants. finally, after a half hour of progressively increasing thirst, elisa approached the bar and asked for some waters. instead of giving her the waters, the bartender indicated she would send a server over. she regarded our table and asked where we got the menus. elisa replied we had seen a stack and decided to look one over as we waited for our server. the bartender offered this as the explanation for why we had not been served - apparently all the servers would think someone else was helping us because we already had menus.

cabana lesson #1: don't proactively snag a menu to peruse while you wait for a server. you will be waiting for a long time.

we finally ordered, and more importantly received the illusive cups of water, then sat back to chat and watch the river meander past.

first to arrive at the table was jessie's black and bleu salad. the amount of bacon, steak, and bleu cheese effectively cancels out any nutrition from the lettuce, but jessie did say the beef was delicious and well cooked. all salads are served in plastic to-go boxes.

next up is elisa's portabella sandwich. she pronounced that the mushroom was tender and had an agreeable flavor.finally, my chicken salad sandwich. i am generally very apprehensive about ordering either tuna or chicken salad, because i am uber-picky about "picnic foods". i never know what i am going to get, and it may be disgusting. i was orginally going to order the turkey burger, but we sat there for so long waiting for the server that i began to wish for something cool and refreshing. i should have stuck to my original inclination and ordered the turkey burger. the mountain of chicken salad dolloped on the bun could have used more chicken and less relish and mayonnaise. the flavor fell flat. also, until this sandwich appeared on the lunch table, i had no idea kraft made swiss cheese singles. the overall effect was unpleasant, but i was starving by this point and gobbled everything up.

cabana lesson #2: go with your first instinct when ordering.

and, cabana lesson #3: don't pay the extra $1 to top anything with their swiss cheese.

i don't know if i've been extra crabby lately or what, but it seems like every restaurant door i've darkened lately has led me astray. hopefully this trend will end soon, cause i'm hungry.
Cabana on the River on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

shameless plug: queen city underground tour

this weekend, whether or not you opt to venture to the taste of cincinnati, take some time to check out the queen city underground tour just a few blocks up. brought to you by the same guys who established the newport gangster tour, this new tour includes an expedition deep under the streets of OTR.

cost is $15, with all proceeds benefitting global service learning. tours meet at mica.

Monday, May 17, 2010


being way behind the times, i finally made it to lavomatic for a late lunch/early dinner with some girlfriends. the patio was relaxing and lovely for a leisurely meal.

it took me some time to decide what to order as everything sounded appealing. i finally settled on the double decker with turkey, guyere cheese, and aioli.the bread was fantastic. it was crusty without being difficult to bite or chew and had a slight honey flavor. the greens were fairly fresh. the rest of the sandwich, however, was a disappointment. the turkey was nothing special (said on the menu it was smoked, but i wasn't tasting it) and the aioli was more like mediocre mayonnaise. and the cheese - cheese should make everything taste better, but the edges of my guyere were translucent and hard, like it had been left out of the fridge too long. it was kind of sweaty, too. overall, i guess it was fine, although i don't know if i would have been more discriminating if i wasn't starving.

dessert was better. several options caught my eye (i'm totally a sugar whore), but the pineapple upside down cake won the sweet tooth battle. great balance of sweetness and crispy edged cake. it can't be seen in the photo, but paired with the cake and ice cream was an apple compote-like sidecar, which i didn't understand and didn't feel added anything to the dish.

for a restaurant offering such a cool, hip image, the experience was merely ordinary. what was particularly telling for me was the lack of attention to detail. not only was my cheese questionable and sandwich sloppily made, the lime wedge in my water seemed to be left from the previous night's bar stock and could not be coaxed to release juice. is it so much to ask for a fresh lime?
Lavomatic on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 16, 2010


st. catharine reinvented their annual parish festival this year, morphing it into cincitalia. as you may imagine, the festival now carries an italian theme and features "taste of italy" food purveyors, italian dancers, a wine bar, and a healthy dose of dean martin tunes crooning in the background.

yesterday afternoon the crowd was still light when we paid our $1 admission and began walking through harvest home park. brian, of course, went straight for the beer booth (always a huge moneymaker at a catholic festival), and i wandered through the staple festival diversions; split the pot, honey-baked ham chances, etc. the taste of italy alley included noce's (mmm...), pompilio's, gabby's cafe, dolce vita gelato, and larosa's. promised on the schedule were cooking demonstrations by these restaurants, including buddy larosa, but we weren't able to find where the demonstrations were taking place (ok, we didn't look that hard). we grabbed some food and settled ourselves in the tent to enjoy the music, which covered everything from standards by the pete wagner band to opera.

taste of italy booths

the wine bar and la societa fuscaldese femminile selling delicious baked goodies

bruschetta prepared from a recipe in the san antonio church cookbook (which i did not buy but wish i had). satisfying, not overtly garlicky.

red, green, and white cupcakes made by some old italian lady who clearly rocks

we very much relished the efforts of our parish to distinguish itself in the multitude of cookie-cutter parish festivals. hopefully the venture is successful and only continues to expand in coming years.