Kate and I recently attended our first Cincinnati E.A.T.S. event. This great, inclusive organization hosts events at various independent restaurants around town and provides food-lovers an opportunity to try new food and meet new people. Kate and I enjoyed the overall experience and look forward to other events that they host in the coming months.
December's event was held at The Summit, located at the Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State. Since it's located on a college campus and run by students, they're only open to the public Thursday through Sunday. I've heard such great things and have always wanted to try it. Kate and I have tried getting Restaurant Week reservations there in the past but have never been able to make it work. This Cincinnati E.A.T.S. event seemed like the perfect opportunity.
They sent us great directions, and there was signage all the way up to the entrance, which made it simple and easy to get there. They also offered us complimentary valet parking, which was another great touch. There were friendly students to greet you, take your coats and show you to the event space. We were impressed with the service right off the bat.
We enjoyed a couple glasses of wine and nibbled on cheese and crackers while we waited for the dinner portion of the evening to begin. Once we were seated, there was a short presentation and then the dinner service began. There were a few options to choose from for the first course. I went with the grilled pear salad and Kate chose the crab cake. I have to admit, I made the better choice on this one! The salad was a great way to start the meal. It was dressed with stilton cheese, candied pecans and honey. It had a bit too much dressing for my liking, but overall I really enjoyed it.
Kate's crab cake was sub-par. They used real crab, which was good, but it lacked flavors and seasoning. It was bland and dry. Not impressed.
Next up was the entree. Again, disappointing. Kate and I both ordered the filet, and they both came out over-done. My filet had absolutely no pink in it - none. Kate's had just a little bit of pink. I'd say it was medium well to well. And on top of that, they were both poorly seasoned. Two other people at the table ordered the filets as well, and their's were similarly prepared. They compared it to dry pot roast, which I thought was a perfect comparison. The red wine demi-glace helped, but did not make up for it. Looking around at near-by tables, it appeared that the other attendees were not impressed with the filet either. The sides were roasted fingerling potatoes and fresh green beans. Both were pretty good, but very similar to what I prepare for myself at home.
On a positive note, the other two people at our table ordered the salmon course and were very pleased with it. It was served over a mushroom risotto which they also spoke highly of. I really think there were issues with the filet because almost everyone at the event ordered that. It was just too much for them to handle. Not many people ordered salmon, and they did that really well.
Next up was the dessert course. The presentation was very beautiful. There were three tiny desserts placed neatly on the plate. I started with the polenta red poached pear and did not like it at all. The polenta was very grainy and the red pear was bitter. The combination was not a good one. My next bite was the caramelized banana bread pudding. I'm not a big fan of fruit for dessert or even incorporated in dessert, but this was great! The texture was good - not too mushy which is always my fear with bread pudding. Lastly, I had the chocolate flourless torte. This was great. Very rich, but delicious. I'm glad I ended the night on such a good note.
I realllly wanted to love The Summit and post a rave review on here, but I have to be honest that I was pretty disappointed. I would be willing to give it another chance though. I just don't think they were well equipped to serve such a large crowd all at once. I would guess that they'd be much better on a regular evening when you can order off the regular menu and get it cooked to order instead of mass produced. If we go back, we'll be sure to post another review and let you know if we were right.
Overall experience: 3