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Cincinnati SnowIt was my long-awaited trip home; my city of Cincinnati.
Prior to this trip I’ve kept busy doing my research. Looking up new restaurants, cafes, and just trying to get in the loop with the word around town. A new park was constructed in OTR, which means more feet walking around the trendiest streets downtown. Washington Park, an old park across from Cincinnati Music Hall that has been reconstructed to fit with the cities uprising development. It drives in the words “urban city” which means a handful of things: more people, more interests, more restaurants, boutiques and a rejuvenating “want” to be living in Cincy.

My adventures through my hometown began as soon as my early standby flight landed. I get a call from my brother, “we’re eating at The Metropole tonight, be ready!” I was definitely prepared. The Metropole was probably one of the most anticipated restaurants for myself to eat at on this trip. I was happy to be going there my first night.
A table for seven, my family all around. The server approaches, I order a bottle of Barbera D’ Alba for the table, and sparkling water for my brother and I.

The meal has already started even though there is no food in my mouth. Why you may ask? Because I can taste those delightful flavors bouncing through the room; coming from plates carried across the dining room, and food being cooked over an all wood-burning fireplace.
My brother and I ordered about seven dishes to share (something from every section except entrees). The rest of the table ordered whatever sounded satisfying to them.
Right off the bat, I have to say the menu was fantastic. Very seasonally inspired with ingredients coming from local farms and kitchens. This is why I was anticipating to eat here so badly; Cincinnati finally has a restaurant serving food that’s seasonal! Local too! Wow, what a blessing to see. It’s about time someone from my hometown catches up to reality.
Back to the meal, our first courses were coming out. My brother and I shared the porcini and walnut pâté, and upland cress salad with pear and pistachios.
No pictures everyone, I’m sorry! I left my camera at home on this trip. Plus, I was trying to enjoy time with my family, so I didn’t want it to be in the way.
Second course: roasted cauliflower with pomegranate, and the brussel salad.
Very delectable, I could taste the natural flavor through each ingredient. Matching through those flavors was the essence of the smoke from the flames of which it was all cooked. Mmm, that was special for me.
Third course was squid bodies with smoked grapefruit and chickpeas. Much meatier than what I’m use to in the Bay Area. I was very happy. We also had the foie gras with sweet and sour onions (since California banned the lovely stuff).
Overall, the restaurant has some kinks with both food and service. I am definitely not complaining though, I’m glad I went and I will definitely be going a lot more when I’m in town.

Cincy City GuideJuggling through pages of the recent release of Cincinnati’s City Guide, I saw tons of restaurants that have made their way to “top eats” for the city. Through my days of my trip I visited a bunch of these restaurants; all places that I’ve been to before. They’re newly additions of Cincinnati, and fairly new favorites of mine: A Tavola, Senate, Abigail Street, and more.

Crispy Pigtails at Senate Pub

Crispy Pigtails at Senate Pub

On this trip, there were even more additions that I went to: Quan Hapa, Kaze, Dutch’s Larder, M, and the long-awaited restaurant I’ve been wanting to try, Bouquet. All served some great meals, but out of the many I ate at I have to give my favorite to Bouquet. A home-dining experience, great food cooked with a lot of soul. Plus, the ingredients were  coming from farms in the area. Chef Stephen made me one happy guest that night, I’m glad I was able to get a reservation. Afterwards, and in between my time spent in my city, my dad and I were able to make some stops at a few bars. “They’ve all been brought back to life,” my brother told me before he went back to SF; “you have to try them man, you’ll really enjoy them.”

I was able to check out the new Igby’s, the classic Neons off of Main street, and Japp’s directly on Main street.
How do I get in to places like these, I bet everyone is wondering. Let’s just say friends of the family; it’s always about who you know in this day of age. But, besides that, the re-introduced dive bars were amazing. So much life to them. The people inside were polished, young professionals, just out on the town looking for a nice casual gathering spot. I found my dad and I making frequent stops at such various places, enjoying the winter evenings and my time in town.

White Russian sweating over the bar at Japp's

White Russian sweating over the bar at Japp’s

Another long-awaited spot to check out was the new cafe by the name Collective Espresso. The two owners have been friends for quite a long time, and now they brought a good product to a city that is just crying out for it. Serving up some of the finest coffee and espresso based drinks, Collective was my permanent “go to spot” when I was in need for a fine Cortado. Collective EspressoThe place is very simple, nice slabs of wood encountered around the seating areas, an espresso machine breathing at the front of the bar, all within an old OTR building that has been brought back to life. Thanks to Collective Espresso, Cincinnati can now appreciate what really great coffee tastes like. Thanks guys’!

My trip ended with my last night spent at home. In celebration for my birthday, my family came over for dinner. My dad and I prepared homemade pasta with Italian sausage, and my mom made my favorite cheesecake I think I’ve ever eaten. IMG_0086IMG_0094We talked, reminisced on life, and our futures. I gave my family my thoughts on the upcoming Cincinnati, my life and where I am headed these days. It was a great night to be around all of the Ferrari’s, one I’ll never forget. My trip left me full of good food, and a good time. Cincy is always missed from this home body, but only in small portions. Maybe one day I’ll make it my home again, but until then, San Francisco awaits for my return!

Cheers to the Nati!