Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Cincinnati Restaurant Week: La Poste

I was almost going to skip this spring's Restaurant Week, as I scurry to pack and leave for Knoxville and a jam-packed few days at the Southern Food Writing Conference. But I'm glad I didn't.

Restaurant Week is always a great opportunity to try a new restaurant or return to one you've enjoyed in the past. It's hard to beat $33.13 for three courses (two-for-$33.13 and other deals available at some lower-cost venues within the Greater Cincinnati Independents/Eat Local Cincy consortium). The only thing I don't understand is why these restaurants and the parent organization don't do a better job of publicizing their Restaurant Week offerings.

In any case, La Poste has been on my list for some time, and I took advantage of this opportunity to try it out. Delightful and delicious. Here's a quick look.

Fruit salad amuse with crispy bread

Diver scallop with hot bacon vinaigrette, wilted greens, gorgonzola, 
specks of rye croutons, and a beautifully runny egg

Seared tuna salad with Meyer lemon vinaigrette, wasabi tobiko, and baby radishes

Salmon (cooked to a perfect medium rare) over Israeli couscous 
with brown butter sauce and asparagus

Oh, and that lovely chocolate mousse tart with raspberries and creme anglaise at the top of this post. Here's La Poste's Restaurant Week menu, which I couldn't seem to find anywhere else online. (Apologies for the folds; I'm not above walking out of a restaurant with a specials menu.)

I thoroughly enjoyed myself at La Poste and look forward to going back and checking out more of what Chef Dave Taylor and crew have in store. (I overheard a server describing one of tonight's specials that was, understandably, not on the $33.13 Restaurant Week menu that included foie gras and sounded divine.)

I hope you'll take advantage of Cincinnati Restaurant Week to get out and try something new too. If Restaurant Week doesn't work for you, there are more fabulous food and craft beer events going on in the city this weekend than I can possibly link to. I picked a heck of a weekend to head out of town. I'll just have to content myself with adventures at the conference that include dinner at Blackberry Farm, a field trip to Benton's Bacon, and lunch at the Knoxville location of Asheville fave Tupelo Honey. And I'll be back in time to check out the Asian Food Festival at The Banks on Sunday (it runs 4:00-midnight Sat. and 1:00-9:00 Sun.). For now, I gotta run.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Slow Food Dinner at Jean-Robert's Table May 15

Big news! Slow Food Cincinnati is partnering with Jean-Robert's Table for a very special dinner May 15. The Ark of Taste is a Slow Food program that aims to preserve and promote heirloom vegetables, heritage livestock breeds (such as the Red Wattle pig, raised locally by Dean Family Farm), and other threatened culinary species. Only the best-tasting endangered foods make it onto the Ark! Thanks to the dogged efforts of my fellow board member Jay Erisman over the last two years, Slow Food Cincinnati has succeeded in getting another local foodstuff accepted to this roster: the American paddlefish!

Based just across the river in Bellevue, KY, Renée Koerner raises this relative of the sturgeon at Big Fish Farms on a sustainable model where the paddlefish feeds on naturally occurring plankton and the farm uses no additional food, improves the quality of the water, harms no other fish, and provides excellent meat as well as caviar.

To celebrate the acceptance of American paddlefish onto the Ark of Taste, Jean-Robert de Cavel will create a four-course dinner highlighting the paddlefish produced by his long-time friend Renée Koerner (including caviar and smoked and fresh fish) Wednesday, May 15, at 6:30 pm.: $90 per person including wine pairings, tax, and gratuity. You can find more info on Slow Food Cincinnati's facebook page. But to secure your reservation, you MUST call Marilou Lind at JR's Table, 513-621-4777. The event is open to all.

Renée's paddlefish is prized by other top local chefs as well, and I've been checking them out whenever I've had the opportunity this season. Chef Stephen Williams of Bouquet featured it in the amazing dish at the top of this post, with mushrooms, buerre blanc, and beets that turned the accompanying couscous a rosy pink.

And to kick off the dinner celebrating Orchids' fifth year as Cincinnati Magazine's "Best Restaurant" in the city, Chef Todd Kelly offered up this spectacular "fried" egg with lobster salad and Big Fish Farms caviar cream.

We can't wait to taste what Jean-Robert will do with this very special ingredient. Check out this video for more about Renée's paddlefish caviar adventures, and call to reserve your seat at Table before this event sells out!