At It’s Just Crepes, you’re encouraged to eat with your hands. That’s because every crepe on the menu is folded into what Soapbox Cincinnati calls "a convenient to-go style," eliminating the need for knives, forks, or tiny plate-side catapults. Instead, diners bite straight into the golden-brown bundles, which are stuffed with fillings both savory and sweet. The smoky BLT, for instance, oozes with pepperjack cheese and chipotle mayo, while sweet crepes pack in classic flavors such as Nutella, strawberries, and brown sugar. Utensils can come in handy, however, when attacking one of the eatery’s fresh salads, which meld fresh spinach, chopped romaine, and other greens with diced veggies, cheese, dried fruit, and slices of meats.
Co-owner Keven Paizannoglou founded the first It’s Just Crepes with his wife and partner, Karrah, after realizing how much he missed the crepes he’d enjoyed in his native Greece. Now, more than 20 employees serve up the delectable treats from three trendy dining spots decorated with blue and orange hues and contemporary white furnishings.
Taste of Belgium follows an authentic family recipe to make its waffles out of thick dough and coarse Belgian beet sugar. A specialized cast-iron press then crushes the dough into its distinctive waffle shape and caramelizes the sugar in the process. This gives the waffle a rich vanilla flavor and a delightful sweetness that doesn't require syrup. As such, you can eat waffles on the go without plates, forks, or Catholic guilt.
Justin and Kristin Gilbert spent three years in Italy, visiting gelaterie in more than 20 cities to mine artisanal secrets before opening their own shop. In choreographed musical numbers, the duo handcraft dense, flavor-packed gelato in small batches using local milk and fresh fruit. From a repertoire of more than 100 recipes, Justin and Kristin curate 20 flavors at a time. Past and present flavors include poached-pear zinfandel, orange-ginger dairy-free sorbetto, and chocolate orange?one of Justin's favorites, according to a feature in Louisville Magazine. Delicate cr?pes conceal Nutella or lemon and sugar. The cozy shop also sends forth its mobile cart to cater office snack breaks, weddings with as many as 2000 guests, and Roman legions on the march.
In the middle of July, alfresco diners at Le Deauville might dive headlong into a Bastille Day celebration, watching as servers light red, white, and blue cupcake towers with sparklers or mediate street-side matches of pétanque. Though they bathe their sidewalk bistro in patriotic colors on state holidays, the staffers also immerse visitors in French culture year-round. Chefs populate seasonal menus with traditional French dishes such as steamed mussels in tomato and herbs, roasted rack of lamb with bordelaise mint sauce, and sea scallops with wild-mushroom risotto. They sometimes augment these dishes with globe-hopping guests including Caribbean lobster and Spanish mackerel, introducing new flavors to French preparations without having to pass sushi off as really, really strange-looking ratatouille.
In warm weather, servers ferry these dishes to sidewalk tables draped in white tablecloths next to the restaurant's French-door-covered façade, which is illuminated each night by strings of colored light bulbs. Gray tiled floors inlaid with intricate designs spread out inside, running between dark-wood-paneled and exposed-brick walls. Here, patrons gather at café tables or sidle up to an old wooden bar, where servers pour from a full stock of beer, wine, and spirits.
Craig and Laura Decker seem to have a difficult time making up their minds. They also seem to have a knack for turning this indecisiveness into an advantage at every turn. When it came to opening their new business, for example, they briefly wondered whether it should feature a wine shop, a wine bar, or a gourmet bistro. Their solution? All three.
This spirit of inclusivity pervades The Wine Guy Bistro, where the Deckers pair seasonal wine varietals with globally inspired cuisine. Rather than choose between European elegance and New-American pizzazz, they settled on a compromise they describe as “Old World chic.” This label suits a menu that features small plates of housemade meatballs and bruschetta alongside assorted cheeses from around the world. The focus on small plates is in keeping with the Deckers’ have-it-all mentality and gives diners the option to sample several dishes without having to barter with adjacent tables.
La Petite France's proprietor, Daniele Crandall, grew up in France, where she spent her youth working in family restaurants before emigrating to the United States in 1964. She stayed in touch with her roots by teaching French to students before eventually deciding that it was time to return to the kitchen with her family members.
Today, they bustle among pots of steaming port with sun-dried tomatoes—which will become a demi-glace for duck—and crackling skillets of salmon, endives, shallots, and white wine. They plate filet mignon and pâté that the Cincinnati Enquirer said “has a nice rustic texture, more like a fine meatloaf than a liver pâaté, with a hint of clove or allspice. Little sour cornichon pickles accompany it, just as they do in thousands of bistros and restaurants all over France.” Beneath glittering chandeliers, the glow of fireplaces dances across tables clad in white tablecloths, like a maitre d’ who forgot his uniform. A stained-glass mural depicts the idyllic charm of Peillon in Provence, France, as diners sup on three-course dinners, enjoy tastings of California wines, or sip cocktails and listen to live music during catered banquets.