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 W.G. Kitchen & Bar, a Wine Guy company, 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.
Maribelle’s Tavern provides by-the-glass wine, drinks, and hearty tavern food that’s also fresh, sustainably sourced, and friendly to vegetarians and omnivores alike. Pull up to a menu and consider a starter such as the lamb sliders, topped with goat cheese, roma tomato, romaine, and house pickles on brioche ($11). Try out a sustainably produced dish to alleviate the environmental burdens of a growling appetite with a hormone-free and antibiotic-free beef burger, crowned with lettuce, tomato, and onion ($11), or have a vegetarian dish of brie polenta with roasted seasonal vegetables ($15) and avoid the debate entirely. A glass of Spanish grenache ($7) goes admirably well with Maple Leaf duck, served with shiitake cornbread, eggplant, blackberry and orange demi, and a side such as the cheddar-jalapeño grits with cream ($25), or eat light with a Scottish salmon salad, which is hooked together with a tartan pattern of romaine, tomato, red onion, egg, fried caper, and creamy parmesan (half $11, full $14).
A member of the Cincinnati Enquirer's Burger Hall of Fame, Arthur's quells cravings with a menu that concentrates on comfortable classics. Keep idle lips from humming 19th-century military marches by ordering up an appetizer of chilled spinach and artichoke dip served with homemade spinach nachos ($6.50) or start off with beer-battered fried cheese ($7.50), the most popular of all fried dairy products. Buffalo chicken salad contrasts the zing of spicy chicken with the pragmatic sobriety of lettuce ($9.50), and the cod sandwich ($9.50) is a winner of Cincinnati Magazine's Best Late-Night Bite designation. Burgers—whether beef, turkey, or black bean—come in an array of arrangements, from a Boursin cheese burger ($9) to a gourmet burger with goat cheese, roasted red peppers, and pesto mayo ($10.50). Creative carnivores can also come by Sunday through Tuesday for Arthur's Burger Madness special, which, like the popular Sirloin Susie dolls of the 1950s, allows customers to accessorize their beef with 13 different options, from banana peppers to chili, for a flat $7 rate.
Known for its collection of more than 300 cookie jars, Riley’s Restaurant presents a menu brimming with hearty American fare. Breakfasters can greet a spinach-and-cheese frittata, a fluffy egg dish that bears spinach, portobello mushrooms, and melted swiss cheese on its soft yet substantial shoulders, accompanied by fruit and a fresh-baked muffin ($7.99).
The culinary wizards at Koto Japanese Steakhouse start with quality ingredients and transfigure them into authentic dishes, many of which can be prepared teppanyaki-style on an iron plate directly at the dining table. Wrap chopsticks around one of the restaurant's signature sushi rolls, such as the Koto spider roll, deep-fried soft shell crab cuddling with cucumber and cream cheese and topped with avocado and masago ($9). Seafood Udon prepared with shrimp, scallop, fish cake, and vegetables displays its shape-shifting prowess by being served as a soup, a stir fry, or a briny toupee ($13); entrees such as the chicken and shrimp tempura ($15) silence boisterous stomachs before they holler out insults at nearby dignitaries. Diners can also quench wasabi-fueled thirsts by accepting a fire-extinguishing offer from the full service bar, which overflows with cocktails, martinis, and sake drinks.