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.
The year was 1854, and Bracker's Tavern had just opened its doors. Back then, the classic saloon served mostly booze, but before long, the tavern also offered complete meals. Over the next 150 years, it changed names and social status—the building became Ohio's first National Landmark in 1976. Today, the restaurant is known as the Rail House. And though its long history remains an integral part of its story, a fresh set of owners have updated the restaurant to keep with the times.
Upstairs, the Bourbon Lounge has live entertainment and high-definition TVs for watching sports games. Downstairs, the dining room still promises full meals, just like the saloon from which Rail House originated. The menu spans a wide range of cuisine, from casual burgers and sandwiches to fancier eats such as bourbon-glazed Scottish salmon and sirloin steaks.
The idea that you can only get good Cajun food in Louisiana has been challenged. The chefs at J. Gumbo's craft classic creole and Cajun dishes, balancing heat and spice with skill. Homestyle gumbo begins with a deep brown roux and, like viewing The Big Easy both forward and backward, takes about four hours to complete. Crawfish ?touff?e teems with the plump shellfish while jambalaya is made creole style with shredded chicken and sausage. Chefs pile these into bowls atop a bed of rice, and diners who can't decide can opt for two or even three options in one bowl.
The eatery itself is intimate and casual. On the walls hang New Orleans?inspired art, such as a crawfish wearing a chef hat and Mardi Gras masks and beads. Diners are also welcome to scrawl their names in between the art, and they often write messages commemorating their visit or love letters to the chef written in French.
Plates of food travel beneath the ironwork of original bank-teller windows and around an authentic bank vault at Teller's of Hyde Park, located inside the historic Hyde Park Savings and Loan building. Bright skylights give the spacious interior a contemporary feel. Diners can enjoy a seasonal menu of modern American cuisine, including dishes such as creole chicken or filet mignon with bordelaise sauce. Chefs also try their hands at regionally and internationally inspired dishes such as Cajun pasta and seared ahi tuna doused in dynamite sauce, which confused bank robbers often use in attempts to rob the restaurant's vault.
Teller's keeps more than 30 beers on tap and more than 120 bottles of wine ready to uncork at a moment's notice. Along with the dining room and vault, Teller’s of Hyde Park seats guests on an upper-level mezzanine and, weather permitting, a second-story patio.
A Vespa Ape might be a common sight on the streets of Cinque Terre, but less so on the streets of Cincinnati. So when you spot the bright blue utility vehicle, it?s a safe guess you?ve discovered Lucia, the Vespa Ape-turned-mobile espresso bar also known as Urbana Cafe. Daniel Noguera, Urban Cafe's owner, takes Lucia for a spin around the city and parks at Findlay Market most weekends, sharing his hand-roasted coffees with the Cincinnati masses. The coffees, which are all imported from Italy, are also available by the pound, and gelato?not to mention lattes with gelato in them?can also be expected in the future.
One other thing that makes Lucia so special? The phrase ?coffee with a purpose? is written across the vehicles trailer, hinting at Urbana Cafe?s commitment to sustainability, as well as its mission to aid the efforts of local dog-rescue organizations.
Don't worry: there's no actual swamp water to be found inside Swampwater Grill. The restaurant's name instead alludes to the fact that it serves mostly seafood-centric Cajun cuisine, including everything from oyster po' boys to fried gator bites.
Cincinnati Magazine describes both of the above as "casual classics done right," but that's not to say Swampwater's culinary team doesn't ever get inventive. Their spicy Swamp Pasta, to name only one example of their creativity, brings together crab, crawfish, shrimp, roasted red peppers, mushrooms, and penne pasta. And they aren't afraid to look toward the land for inspiration, smoking pulled pork and ribs over premium hardwoods. Swampwater's dining room is a perfect setting for these Southern meals, thanks to its rustic vibe, decorative crab cages, and tables reserved for brooding sailors.