Piada – Hyde Park

Woohoo! The Book Club girls and I headed to our normal Hyde Park meeting spot BUT decided to try something new – Piada. It’s been dubbed the Chipotle of Italian food – we’ll see.

Kind of a cool concept – you start off with either a piada (flatbread), pasta or a salad base. Pick your proteins, sauce and veggies – and you’re off and running!

I hate angel hair pasta (the only pasta available) and I already had a salad that day – piada it was!

They already had one, conceptualized, that I decided on – the Calamari Piada!

Piada Calamari up close

It was okay – I wish that the piada was more like a flatbread than a tortilla. The Calamari tasted like chicken. I thought that diavolo would have some kick to it, but it didn’t. I liked the red peppers.

My friend got the Tuscan Chicken Salad with a cup of Lobster Bisque.

Piada Tuscan Chicken Salad

Just to show you what a salad looks like – pasta is the same set up.

I, also, got a Pepperoni Piada Stick

Piada Pepperoni stick

Piada inside pepperoni stick

If I could go back in time, I’d just get this – really good! I got a side of creamy Parmesan…not very good. It was bland – mine is 1000X better. And, I’m not even Italian.

I do like the restaurant concept because they’re trying something new but it just didn’t do it for me. I found it to be average.

Piada Italian Street Food on Urbanspoon

 

Noodles & Company

You know us westsiders get excited when ANY new restaurant comes here. Granted, I thought Noodles & Company was an odd choice, given our society’s hatred of all things carb and gluten.

I got the boy – yes, the PICKY ASS boy! – to go with me for lunch, last week. I’ll admit, their menu isn’t that exciting. But, I needed a lunch date and he’s the only person in my house without a job. ;)

It was VERY crowded at noon – of course, summer’s here and kids are everywhere so…There was a nice lady describing Noodles & Company to everyone coming through the door. Being as I can read, I went to the line.

There’s noodles – a couple sandwiches and salads. Eh – I should probably say that as much as I love my carbs (and gluten!!!), I just don’t normally eat pasta. It’s fine – but, there needs to be something REALLY special on it for me to love it.

The boy didn’t get the mac’n’cheese like I thought – he came out of the picky gate with the Spicy Chicken Caesar Wrap (no sauce)

Noodles Spicy Chicken Caesar Wrap

Quoting the boy, “Isn’t there supposed to be chicken on the chicken wrap? It’s all salad.” (to us humans that would be LETTUCE)

It, also, came with a salad…interrupting myself here! I asked for ranch dressing  - they didn’t have it. I get it. You’re trying to get people to eat different asian inspired dressings BUT if your only side (minus soup) is a salad, you should probably have just one dressing that is pleasing to the masses. Me? I can eat any dressing and it doesn’t bother me. But, most people are dedicated to their dressing type.

Plus, when your side salad looks like this…you should probably give people more salad dressing choices.

Noodles side salad

Mmmm…what a fun salad.

I got the Japanese Pan Noodles with shrimp

Noodles Pan Noodles

 

Where do I start? Not enough sauce. Not enough shrimp. The broccoli and carrots weren’t even cooked. SUPER crunchy – like, breaking teeth crunchy.  The noodles were pretty much tasteless.  There was not a single thing on that plate (minus the shrimp) that was good. And, please explain the purpose of frickin’ sesame seeds to me??!! They serve NO purpose – please quit putting them on stuff!

The ONE redeeming factor of this whole trip? The Rice Krispie Treat

Noodles Rice Krispie Treat

It’s a wonder he still loves me.

My advice for Noodles & Company? Skip it.

Noodles & Company on Urbanspoon

Marion’s Piazza – Mason

Talking with some mom friends, we were chatting it up about our favorite pizza. Of course, opinions ranged. (I’m, typically, on an island of my own with my hatred of Larosa’s) I have some favorites and I’m really not in the camp of ANY pizza is good pizza. I’m picky. By the time the discussion was over, we decided to have a GNO (that would be Girls Night Out) at Marion’s Piazza.

It’s a Dayton thing. And, judging by the reviews I was reading, the Daytonites were VERY adamant about their love of Marion’s. I get it. I’m a Cincinnati girl – I battle it out about Skyline all the time. (the whole “real” chili thing – ugh) Bottom line is…I still need for the pizza to taste good, not just for nostalgia reasons.

I will agree that the whole line system is one giant clusterpluck. It works for a college town but for the land of rainbows and unicorns (that would be Mason), is it really necessary?

You order your pizza in one line. Drink in another. (paying separately for both). No refills. You can get fountain, canned, 2 liters or pitchers. Damn, make up your soda pop mind, Marion’s! It would make MORE sense (call me crazy) to pay for your drink in the same line as the pizza and maybe get a ticket for your drink?

One good thing is that there is a ton of seating – which served our GNO well. We could, easily fit, away from everyone else and chat away.

After looking over the menu for, oh, a few days, I decided to get the Marion’s Super Cheese. (Pepperoni, Sausage, Mushrooms, Onions and Green Peppers topped with a mound of cheese)

Marion's Super Cheese

It looked promising.

Marion's closer

I took a lot of pictures because when I was menu and review stalking, there weren’t ANY good pictures. None. I blame the cell phone for the decline of picture quality.

The crust was thin and crispy -which I love. Everything else…was bland. Nothing, not the sauce, the toppings, the cheese, tasted like anything. And, the veggies were canned. Come on. How hard is it to cut up some fresh mushrooms?

Marion's super close

It wasn’t horrible. It wasn’t the worst pizza that I’ve ever had. It was fine – it didn’t stop me from eating half of it. (hey, it was a small and they cut it up into baby pieces) But, will I drive 35 minutes to get it again? Um, no.

However, my GNO chics made the whole drive worth more than while. ;)

Marion's Piazza on Urbanspoon

 

 

Harrison Family Restaurant

I’ll admit – there was no way that I was going to Harrison Family Restaurant (where the old Perkins used to be) when there wasn’t a dedicated sign. Sorry, I don’t go to restaurants with cardboard handwritten signs in the window.

Snobbery over.

We went for a Sunday lunch (sorry, no website) – it’s set up just like Perkins used to be. Lots of space.

The menu was typical diner fare – sandwiches, breakfast, some “traditional” dinners (meatloaf, pasta, etc). Nothing crazy or fun – basic.

The husband has been on a diet so he asked if he could get egg whites or egg beaters substituted in the omelettes. Our server said no because it would be too difficult for the kitchen. Uh…okay.

So, he ordered the Chicken Delight (odd name choice, btw). He asked to replace the corn with extra grilled onions and peppers. This is what he got.

Harrison Chicken Delight

You can see how well that worked out for him. I guess the kitchen comes from a place of HELL no. He also ordered a salad that never came out (he was giving it to our daughter). We reminded our server and it came out with our main food.

Harrison side salad

It did have homemade croutons. With a crapton of iceburg lettuce and some nasty cucumbers (I hate cucumbers).

The rest of our meals all came with a complimentary cup of soup (it was chicken and rice that day). My kids refused it. I got it.

Harrison soup

I’m going with canned.

The boy got a cheeseburger (surprised?)

Harrison Cheeseburger

 

He liked it.

The girl got a Chicken Ranch Wrap

Harrison Wrap

She ordered the chicken crispy but it came out grilled. She said it was good (but not as good as my wraps…)

I ordered the BLT double decker.

Harrison BLT double decker

 

It was fine – way too much lettuce. The fries were really frickin’ good (that we ALL agreed on). They were coated seasoned fries (like rally’s).

It was what you could expect from a diner. It still depresses me the lack of good restaurant choices that Harrison has. If I had the money (and the energy – I’m 39, people!), I’d totally open a restaurant there!

 

 

Bakersfield – OTR

No, it really IS official – I’m the last Cincinnati blogger to eat here. ;) But, hey, some of us have to see how they’re doing 2 years later, right?

I gauge all Mexican restaurants to my favorite, Nada.  In my eyes, Bakersfield had some pretty big tortillas to fill.

The husband and I wanted to eat a smidgen early to beat the crowds – we got there around 4:30 and didn’t have to wait. Nailed it. I will have to say though, if you’re a twenty something girl – please wear something different than the rest of your peers. The husband and I were laughing at the predictability of the long floral dress.

For an OTR restaurant space, it was well laid out. The bar made sense and even there aren’t a ton of tables, you aren’t banging into everyone (Hello, Senate!) I need a few inches of personal space.

We ended up sitting at a picnic table with 3 other people on the other end. It doesn’t bother us – the husband and I are chatty people. We kind of (okay, REALLY) enjoy it. Plus, we got to scope out what they were eating.

I LOVE (love and love!) that the menu is simple. I, firmly, believe that if you have an awesome food concept, menu and ingredients, you don’t have to have a menu that’s a book. Simple is my friend.

Hmm…first thing to do at a Mexican restaurant? Order a margarita!

Bakers margarita

Love that it’s in a mason jar. Love the tartness and freshness. And, love that it was only $6.

Guacamole – I am a picky bitch when it comes to guac. The husband doesn’t eat guacamole so I guess it was up to me try it alone.

Bakers chips and guac better

It was damn near perfect. It had lots of lime (which I love). My 2 complaints – needed a smidgen more of finely chopped red onions and needed to be a little less chunky. I like chunky guac but you have to be able to fit the chunk on a chip. Made for bad dunking.

The chips were fine – not up to Nada’s deliciousness. They reminded me of Chipotle’s chips.

We also got some Queso (with jalapenos)

Bakers queso

My husband adored it and thought it was the best queso we’ve ever had. I did like it – but, it needed to be whisked out a little more. The cheese was a wee bit lumpy. I loved the skillet presentation.

Okay – what the husband ate…

Short Rib Torta

Bakers short rib torta

He loved it! I took a bite (after one of my tacos) and it was damn good.

He also got a Chicken Tostada

Bakers chicken tostada

If there was a loser of the night, this was it. I didn’t take a bite. I’m not nearly as obsessed with tostadas as my husband is. He said that if it weren’t for the black beans, it would have been awful and boring.

What did I get?

Well, you know that I got a fish taco!

Bakers fish taco

I wouldn’t turn this fish taco down…ever. The fish was perfect – lightly breaded and super crispy. My complaint? Way too much cabbage. Although very good, it wasn’t as good as Nada’s fish tacos.

My other taco – the Conchinita Pibil (say that 5 times fast)

Bakers Conchinita

That, my friends, is a damn perfect taco. Seriously – off the charts. It was tender, fantastic flavor and good heat – and I love the addition of pickled onions (strangely enough, that’s why my husband didn’t like it – the freak).

I loved Bakersfield. I kind of feel like I’m having an affair on Nada because I, now, put them both in my favorite Mexican category. Based on price point alone, I would choose Bakersfield. Holy crap, I can’t believe I just said that.

Bakersfield OTR on Urbanspoon

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dancing Wasabi – Hyde Park

Chances are, I’m getting cranky in my older age. So, take my next sentence with that in mind. I think I’m over sushi. It was fun while it lasted. But, if I’m really honest with myself, I really just am in love with wasabi. Sushi is just the carrier for it.

Enter Dancing Wasabi.

Another reason why I’m getting old – the desire to flick, little tiny baby women, who are teetering on higher than high heels, right onto the street because they can’t say “excuse me”.

I digress.

Dancing Wasabi Chopsticks

Dancing Wasabi wasn’t crowded about 6:30 on a Saturday night. According to my almost adult daughter, it doesn’t get busy until much later. I guess that’s when the cool folks eat? ;)

First glance, you have the hosts and servers with the “too cool to serve you” look about them – the almost bored glances, like they have some place more important, and way more hip, to be.

The restaurant is trendy – acoustically, a nightmare. (reason #3 I’m too old – the music was cranked way too high – dinner is for CONVO!)

We were handed menus – the dinner menu and sushi menu. For being the “best sushi in Cincinnati”, their sushi menu was certainly sad and very much, limited. The sushi menu, online, is vastly different than what was handed to us. We were told that they took a lot of sushi off of their menu. I mean, that makes sense at a SUSHI restaurant and all.

Our server was hit or miss. When she had some spare time, she stopped at our table.

Food!

The 2 teen people (daughter and her friend) ordered some Edamame to start with. Might not be very classy or trendy of me but you can keep those hairy little beasts all to yourself. Pop away, teen people.

Dancing Wasabi Edamame

I’m in love with dumplings so got the Wasabi Shumai as part of my meal

Dancing Wasabi shumai

The husband and I both loved them. But, I’m a sucker for all things dumpling.

Mike got Shrimp Fried Rice as a meal

Dancing Wasabi Shrimp Fried Rice

He ordered the second highest heat possible (maybe a 4 out of 5) – neither one of us thought it was spicy. And, believe me, I don’t try to be a hero when it comes to the heat levels. But, it was some pretty darn good fried rice. The shrimp weren’t overcooked either.

It came with a cup of Miso soup

Dancing Wasabi Soup

I took one bite. That’s all I needed. It got shoved to the end.

Our sushi!

Dancing Wasabi Sushi better

Let’s see if I get this right – from left to right – Red Double Roll, Crunch Munch Roll and can’t remember the last (sorry…comes with the old age thing – that and the fact that it’s not listed on the online menu)

Volcano “Roll”

Dancing Wasabi volcano sushi

My favorite was the Red Double Roll (the one I picked – yah!). But, again, it kind of all tastes the same.

Dancing Wasabi was an average restaurant. This might be it for me and the whole sushi thing. I’m just as content getting some from the kiosk at Kroger (and, at least, they’re nice to me there).

Dancing Wasabi on Urbanspoon

 

 

 

 

 

The Eagle Food and Beer Hall – OTR

I’ve always been a smidgen odd. I was the girl, kicking daisies in the outfield, instead of catching the fly balls.–> Is that what they’re called? My nose was always in a book, even when it should have been in a TEXT book. My imagination is forever in extreme overload. So, I tend to buck the trendy. A lot of the foodies have flocked to The Eagle Food and Beer Hall in OTR (There is no website. Sorry. I know, I hate it, too) and have already reported back. I, however, wanted to hate it. But, I’ll have to admit the food sucked me in.

I took some pics of the menu for you. Go ahead. Thank me.

The Eagle menu 2

The Eagle menu 1

Do you see that? 2 columns. I can let go and breathe a sigh of relief. Simplicity at its finest. However, like I’ve said before…if your menu’s limited, you better bring it. (They had a crapton of craft beer – a couple of pages)

We got there at 5:30 on a Saturday. Yes, we knew it was going to be crazy crowded. I told the husband to hurry his ass up, in the shower, but he wouldn’t listen.

Our wait, for 3 people (we had the teen girl with us, too – she loves fried chicken) was 1 hour 45 minutes. Keep in mind, there’s maybe 10 tables in the restaurant so…not that “bad”. The girl and I strolled down the street to see what else was going on. The husband was scared of big, bad OTR and stayed where he was. There wasn’t any room for us in the “beer corral” either.

We chatted. People watched. My girl had a root beer and I had one of the craft beers (ace berry? Is that a choice?)

Beer

And, Maddie enjoying the root beer and scenery.

Maddie at the eagle

It was nice having our girl all to ourselves for a night!

And, I had another beer – the blueberry honey wheat, this time.

Beer 2 the eagle

I refrained from a 3rd because I wanted to be coherent when I ate.

About 5 minutes earlier than the quoted time, we got a table. It’s like the lottery. Even though there aren’t a ton of tables, the restaurant is gorgeous. I loved the brick decor and the wood tables.

We got sat at a 6 top so we shared a table with a trio of college boys. Since I’m not afraid to speak to strangers, I had zero issue with this. I don’t give a crap about sharing my feeding space with other eaters. ;) Plus, they were fun and chatty and ate around town…a lot.

After having ample menu time, we were ready! Ready for the food overload?

Maddie and Mike split a 1/2 chicken 

I didn’t take a pic because I took a picture of MY 1/4 chicken (dark meat, baby!)

Fried Chicken

Please take note that the well seasoned fried chicken comes with a side of spicy hot honey.

One word – amazing.

The breading was perfect. Nice and crunchy and flavorful but yet, the meat was still tender. And, the hot honey? Holy crap, I could have funneled it. Who needed that baby spoon? I was dunking my chicken right into it! It’s sticky goodness was a little slice of heaven.

Mike was pulled into the French Dip –>he saw someone at the bar eating and changed his eating plan.

French Dip

The roast beef was nice and medium rare. There was a touch of horseradish (love!). I only had one bite, but it was good. Maddie and Mike demolished it. Seriously, the whole eating experience was like a feeding frenzy.

Our sides – we got the Mac’n’Cheese

Mac'n'Cheese

Spoonbread

Spoonbread

Fries

Fries

The mac’n’cheese was super cheesy – creamy and had a hint of something (or a cheese) that I couldn’t quite get a grasp on. It was right there though, on my culinary tongue. Grrrr.

The spoonbread = fantastic. There wasn’t a single CRUMB left in that skillet. Mike started to take the last bite and Maddie and I looked at him with our blue puppy eyes and he handed it over. True love.

The fries – plain, they would have been average. But, with the herbs and the aioli, they became sublime perfection.

There wasn’t a bad thing there. In fact, it was all damn delicious. And, the bonus? Our food bill was only $43!

Our service, all night, was great, too. ;)

We left talking about how awesome our meal was – waddling to the car, discussing how much we loved the hot honey! Happy with our hands being just a little bit sticky.  I didn’t want to like the trendy but I ended up LOVING it. I can see why everyone is running there.

The Eagle Food and Beer Hall on Urbanspoon