Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Review: Marty's Hops & Vines

The first thing I have to say about Marty's Hops & Vines is I LOVED it!!  This is really one of my new favorite places to go! So, to tell you all about it, my husband actually came across this place while reading the blog Hoperatives.  We decided to go for a drink on a Tuesday night to check it out.

Marty's is located in College Hill which was very easy to get to.  It's on Hamilton Ave. and there is plenty of parking located in back of Marty's.  When you walk in, you notice that this is a retail shop selling beers and wine as well as a little bar.  There were many different selections of craft beers and wine from all over.  We were warmly greeted and explained a bit of the situation at Marty's.  The bartender said we were welcome to purchase a bottle and sit in the shop to drink, or we could order off the menu.  The inside of Marty's was very warm and inviting.  There are about 10 tables or so with a small little bar as well. 

After Ross and I looked around a bit, we decided to sit at the bar for a glass of wine.  The first reason I loved Marty's was Tuesday nights are Ladies night, so all drinks are half off! What a deal.  Especially because all their wine is very reasonably priced: $5-$12 a glass.  I started off with a glass of Zinfandel which was very good and Ross went with a flight of wine for $10.  This was his choice of 4 of ANY of the wines, another great deal! 
This is a picture of the flight, so well worth $10!

We were enjoying the ambiance very much and the bartender was very friendly and talkative.  He discussed some facts about Marty's and offered some of his favorite wines and beers.  When we asked about a very small local winery of wines that they carry, he wasn't 100% sure about the answer, but Marty was nearby so he stopped over and chatted with us for awhile about the place and the local winery.  He also informed us of some of the other specials going on at Marty's, including a wine tasting every Friday, beer tastings on Wednesdays, and live music on the weekends. He also mentioned that Marty's was voted in Cincinnati Magazine as one of the top 10 places for a date :) 

For my second glass of wine, I went with the local winery's wine, Purple Trillium.  This wine was awesome!!  I absolutely loved it.  Marty informed us that it had won a Gold Medal at an international tasting in Cincinnati in 2010, and I can see why, it was fantastic.  The rest of the crowd seemed to be having a great time as well, there were people alone, small groups of mid-twenties, thirties, and forties.

After talking it up with some of the locals at the bar with our glasses of wine, we decided to head out, being a Tuesday night and all.  BUT, I can't wait to go back to this place.  It was such a great find, with warm staff that wasn't intimidating, a wonderful decor, and great wine and beer.  I should also note that they carry a variety of small plates including crostinis, cheese plates, olives, and bruschetta to name a few, that were all reasonably priced.  This will definitely be my go-to for a night out with my husband, a few girlfriends, or another couple.

Wine/Beer: 5
Service: 4.5
Overall Experience: 5

Marty's Hops & Vines on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 25, 2011

Review: Bistro at Nordstrom

I actually have never really shopped at Nordstrom apart from the occassional walk-through, so I had no clue that there was a Bistro in the top floor of the department store.  Awhile back, I had read a couple reviews and thought that this was a place I definitely wanted to try, I had only read good reviews!  It's been awhile since I went with my friend Kenzie, so I'm going to do the best to remember everything for you here:

First of all, the Bistro is located on the top floor near the juniors department.  A lady greeted me right when I walked up and nicely gave me a menu and told me that you order at the counter and then someone will seat you.  The Bistro has many salads, some flatbreads, and some sandwiches as well.  Honestly, everything sounded delicious.  When I walked in, I noticed that it smelled so good, there was a nice smoky flavor in the air.  The girl at the counter told me that it was the soup, so I wanted to try that for sure.  I got a cup of the soup and decided on a salad.  I can't remember the name of the salad, but it had artichokes, spinach, goat cheese, roasted red peppers, chicken, and croutons. 

After we ordered, we were sat in a nice booth along the wall.  This restaurant was surprisingly bigger than I had imagined.  It was very warm inside and had the decor of a nicer/upscale restaurant.  There was seating at a bar area as well.  Very chic but inviting inside.

Our waiter came over and greeted us after we sat down.  He was a friendly guy, but honestsly, a bit strange.  He just made very odd comments that forced our friend and I to awkwardly laugh, even though he wasn't in the least bit funny....

My soup was served immediately with a toasted crostini on top.  I wish I could remember the name of this soup, but I am sorry, I dont....all I know was that it was amazing! Such great flavors.  I remember it being a very hearty dish with some smoky and peppery flavors.  I loved this!! So good.

Next came our salads.  This picture doesn't even do it justice.  I absolutely loved this salad!  Everything was so fresh and just the right amount of all ingredients.  Plenty of goat cheese, chicken, and the dresing was light and refreshing.  By far one of the best salads I have ever had.

Kenzie got a shrimp salad that looked just as good as mine.  She loved hers as well.  She had actually been here before and said it was just as fantastic her previous visit as well. 

Now, we were already to get going; however, I had read another blog post about this place and the writer said how much they loved the berry shortcake.  Soooo, I talked Kenzie into sharing it with me :) 

This came out and we were so excited.  It looked amazing...and it tasted just as good as it looked.  The shortcake was homemade and more of a biscuit, which from my understanding is the more traditional way a shortcake is made.  There were tons of strawberries, a few blackberries, and sprinkled with powdered sugar.  The whipped cream was obviously homemade and was also delicious.  This was definitely one of the best desserts I have had in a long time and I love how everything was homemade.  

If you can't tell, I thought this place was fantastic.  As for prices, it wasn't cheap but wasn't terribly expensive either.  I would have easily been satisfied with just a salad, especially for lunch.  Now, the only thing we were a bit confused by was the pay/tipping situation.  We paid for our meals at the counter, so if you don't have cash, you don't really have the opportunity to tip the waiter.  Since we got dessert, he was able to run our card and we could tip on that, but otherwise, I'm not sure what you're supposed to do!

If you are in the Kenwood area, it's worth dealing with the parking lot to try this place!

Food: 4.5
Service: 3
Overall Experience: 4.5

Cafe Bistro at Nordstrom on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 22, 2011

Guest Blog: Mexican Stuffed Peppers

Thank you so much to my dear friend, Lauren for a great guest blog today!! Sounds delicious and can't wait to try it!

As someone who lives alone, I do a LOT of cooking for one. And while it’s sometimes fun to put together a big, complicated meal, most days I’m lucky just to avoid the drive-thru on my way home from work.

Which is why I love recipes like the following for Mexican Stuffed Peppers. These peppers are easy to make, super tasty and have enough “everyday” ingredients to whip up at the last minute. Plus, the recipe makes more than enough for a single meal… in other words, the next day’s dinner is already taken care of!

Mexican Rice and Bean Stuffed Peppers (serves two)

Approximately 1 Tbl oil (I use vegetable oil)

½ an onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

2 bell peppers, any color (I like red or yellow – the colors just pop!)

Pinch of ground cumin and oregano

1 cup cooked rice

One-half of a can of kidney beans, drained

1 cup (4 oz.) grated Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack cheese

One small can of diced green chilies

Salsa, any kind (I used Frontera brand double-roasted tomato salsa)
In a skillet, heat oil and sauté onion and garlic until soft and onions are slightly translucent, about 5 minutes. Slide stem ends from peppers and remove seeds. Chop tops and add to skillet and sauté another 3-5 minutes.

Stir in cumin, oregano, rice, beans and chilies.

Let cool for about five minutes while preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Stuff peppers with rice mixture.

Place side by side in a shallow casserole dish. Top liberally with salsa and bake for 35-40 minutes.

NOTE: This recipe always makes PLENTY of stuffing, so just put the remainder in a Pyrex dish, top it with salsa and cook it along side the peppers. You can also parboil the peppers for five minutes prior to stuffing, which makes the peppers a little softer, but be sure to drain and cool before stuffing so you don’t burn your fingertips!

VARIATIONS: Kick up the spice factor by adding a dash or two of chili powder (or even a dash of pepper sauce, like Tobasco) with the rest of the spices. You can also make this a meat-lovers recipe by adding chorizo sausage (one link, casing removed and meat crumbled into the pan) or ground/chicken/turkey with the onion and garlic… just give it a few extra minutes to cook thoroughly and to drain the fat before adding the rest of the ingredients. If you add meat, just remember there will be a lot more stuffing and you may need an extra pepper or two.
Serve with clips and salsa, the rest of the kidney beans and chilies (heated through in the microwave and topped with a spritz of lime juice).

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Recipe: Cherry Tomato Couscous

Until recently I had never made couscous. I'm not sure why, but I've always been intimidated by it, which seems incredibly ridiculous now that I've made it. It really is so simple. I'll probably use it in place of rice or pasta for a lot of dishes in the future.

For my first couscous cooking experience, I found a recipe on 101 Cookbooks for Cherry Tomato Couscous. I thought it sounded unique, not too difficult, and I had all the ingredients on hand. It turned out great!

3 cups cooked couscous ( I used pearl Isreali couscous, which is a little bigger than the regular)
1/2 basket of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 medium cucumber, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 lemon, cut in half
1 lime, cut in half
about 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt & Pepper
1/3 cup basil or cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Once you've cooked your couscous (follow package instructions - similar to cooking rice), you'll combine it with your chickpeas, cucumbers and tomatoes. I had regular tomatoes on hand that I chopped up instead of using cherry tomatoes that the recipe calls for. I think either of them would work in this dish. Also, I used whole wheat couscous to make it a little healthier.

Next, squeeze the lemon and lime juice directly into the bowl; then add the olive oil and salt and pepper. I confess that I didn't have lime juice, so I used only lemon juice. I think it was completely fine without the lime juice; however it may have been better with it - I really can't say. Maybe I'll try it with both next time. Now, all you have to do is toss it all together and top it with the feta cheese and fresh basil, which I picked from my garden.

This is a great recipe and makes for a unique but delicious side dish - perfect for a dinner party or cookout. It also makes for great leftovers. I had it for lunch a few days throughout the week.



Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Review: Asiatique

Awhile back I bought a Groupon, (yes again) for Asiatique located in West Chester.  I didn't really know anything about the restaurant so I thought I'd give it a try.  My husband and I were in the West Chester area for a work party, so we thought it'd be a good time to try it out. 

Asiatique is located on the same street as Stone Creek and the Wise Owl, so I kind of knew where I was going, but if you don't know, it could be easy to miss.  The building is a big white buliding and the name is hard to see.  The restaurant was very modern on the inside and very open.  There was a band playing when we arrived which seemed kind of loud to me, especially because the acoustics inside made the music echo throughout the main room.  It wasn't very crowded, so we were seated right away.  As we were taken to our seats, I realized how big it was inside.  The restaurant just seemed to keep going and going with many rooms.  I didn't love the feel of the restaurant.  It was somewhat "industrial" like and being in the other room we couldn't hear any of the music at all. It was almost too big....especially since each room had about one or two tables sat at the time.

The menu is about 6 pages long with about 4 of the pages devoted to drinks.  There are many specialty martinis, mixed drinks, wine and beer.  I started with a martini and my husband ordered a glass of red wine.  Both our drinks were very good, most drinks are $8 or more.  Our waitress proceeded to tell us about some of the specials for the night and also mentioned that there was a deal this month in which 3 courses, any soup/salad/appetizer, any entree and a dessert for $25.  Our waitress was very nice; however, a bit awkward.  She seemed too worried about memorizing the specials, was very formal, and never smiled.

We decided to do the 3 course special.  I started with crabmeat and goat cheese spring rolls that were served with a spiced miso aioli.  These were pretty good!  A nice twist on the traditional spring roll.  I definitey was able to taste both the crab and the goat cheese without either ingredient being too strong.  The sauce was a bit spicy withought being overpowering as well.

Ross went with the shrimp and pork dumplings served with a ginger/soy dipping sauce.  These were also very good.  We both liked these as well.  They were a good portion and the sauce was very tasty.

For my entree, I ordered the grilled pork tenderloin chop served with fresh strawberry garlic sauce and string beans.  This was very delicious.  I loved the strawberry sauce and the beans had a nice sichuan sauce on them that were a great side dish with the pork.  Our entrees were served with a side of brown or white rice as well.

(This picture doesn't show the whole serving, I had forgotten to take a pic before I dished it out, there were two pieces of pork and many more beans).

Ross had never had ahi tuna before, so he decided to try something new.  This was a seared triple crusted tuna served with wasabi sauce.  I had never had ahi tuna either, but we both thought this was very good.  The wasabi sauce was a bit too strong for me, I would have liked a different type of sauce for the tuna, but Ross liked it.  This came with a vegetable medley and rice. 

As for the desserts, we were served a plate of petite portions.  There was a chocolate cake, creme brulee, cheesecake and a "sherbert" type dessert.  All of these were just okay. I thought the chocolate was way too chocolatey and I didn't care for the sherbert. 

Now, for the disappointing part of the night for me.  Before our waitress brought our bill I gave her my Groupon, which she proceeded to tell me could not be used with the 3 course special.  She said that we were supposed to have shown her when we arrived, (which I believe it says on the coupon) but I just hadn't thought about sitting down and immediately presenting her with the coupon, it wasn't on my mind when I first sat down!  Our waitress was apologetic, but I still was irritated because we would have never ordered two appetizers and those desserts.  Therefore, we had to pay for each item indvidually then take off our Groupon.  So, it wasn't as good a deal as we had anticipated at all.  This really made me very sour, even though I know many places don't include specials for Groupons, but I really hadn't thought about it when ordering.

So, all in all, I didn't love Asiatique.  I thought the food was good, but I don't know if I would ever go back.  I didn't care for the ambiance or service of the place at all.  Like I said, our waitress was polite and prompt, but just made us feel uncomfortable. She seemed new, very nervous and almost scared. There weren't very many people here either, which says a lot about a restaurant in my opinion. 

Food: 3.5
Service: 2
Overall Experience: 2

Asiatique Bistro and Lounge on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 18, 2011

Review: European Cafe

Located in downtown Montgomery - just a few doors from Montgomery Inn - European Cafe is a great little place for brunch or lunch. They are known for their gyros; however that's not what I order. I absolutely loooove their hummus with pitas. They make their hummus fresh right in the restaurant, and it is delicious. Very authentic - nothing like the store bought kind. If you ask them, you can get a container of it to-go. You should ask at the beginning of your meal because they make it fresh and need time to prepare it. 

Needless to say, when I was there recently with my brother and sister-in-law, I had to get an order for the table to share. They really liked it too. The pita bread is served warm and toasted. Yum!

For my entree, I went with the greek salad with grilled chicken. As you can see in the photo, they give you quite a lot of chicken, which has a great flavor to it. The lettuce and veggies were fresh and crisp. There's greek salad dressing on the table and they also give you a cucumber-yogurt dressing on the side. I chose to use the greek salad dressing, which has a great peppery, lemon, olive oil and oregano flavor. I really enjoyed it and will definitely be back for this salad again.

My brother chose to get the burger...which was not at all surprising. He loves burgers and always orders them when we go out to eat. He seemed to really enjoy it. We were all having a debate on whether or not it was a fresh, handmade burger or a frozen patty. My brother thought it was fresh - so he must have really liked it. We finally asked our server, and she said that they are actually frozen. They had my brother fooled though - so that's pretty good! I did steal a few of his fries and they were great. Hot, salty and crispy! :)

My sister-in-law went with the traditional gyro. I was glad someone got it! And she really liked it! They forgot to bring her taziki sauce, so she used my cucumber yogurt sauce which I think is needed so it's not as dry. This is definitely a large portion size, so it may even be something you could split.

All in all, European Cafe is a nice little brunch/lunch spot. Our server was friendly and nice - not anything outstanding, but definitely good enough. We didn't try anything on the brunch menu, but they did have breakfast options available. You can sit inside or outside - which is my favorite because you can watch the people walking, jogging or driving by on Montgomery Road. If you're in the area sometime, I'd definitely give it a try!


Food: 4
Service: 3.5
Overall: 4

European Cafe on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 15, 2011

Guest Blog: Gorgonzola Stuffed Chicken Breasts

For today's guest blog, my sister offered to share a great recipe that she recently made at home.  I love gorgonzola and it is always nice to have a variety of recipes for chicken.  This sounds really tasty and surprisingly easy!  Thanks Kel for sharing again today!

I wanted to make a special meal for my friend Andrea, so I of course went to for an idea.  She’s very health conscious, so when it comes to food she tends to stick to fish, chicken, and salads.  So when I came across the recipe for Gorgonzola Stuffed Chicken Breasts, I knew it would be perfect.  I made some substitutions, which I note below, but I think that the recipe would be just as good if used as written.       

2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves      
¼ cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (I used goat cheese instead because Andrea doesn’t like Gorgonzola and it’s less fattening)     
2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley (I used dried parsley because I had it on my spice rack) 
2 tablespoons minced shallot (I used red onion instead because I already had it on hand)      
1 clove minced garlic (I’m a huge garlic fan, so I used two cloves)      
4 thick slices of applewood smoked bacon (I used turkey bacon instead to cut down on the fat and calories)      
Salt and pepper to taste

To start, I preheated the oven to 375 and sprayed a glass baking dish with cooking spray.  Then I chopped the onions and sweated them out on the stove with a bit of butter.  I like onions, but for this recipe I thought it sounded best to cook them off for a bit before adding them to the cheese mixture.  Once the onions were finished, I added them to the goat cheese, parsley, and garlic mix.  Next, I sliced the chicken breasts across the middle and stuffed each breast with the cheese mixture, salted and peppered the meat, and then wrapped each breast with the turkey bacon.  

The chicken breasts were set to bake for about 35 minutes, so in the meantime I heated some asparagus on the stove.  I sprinkled a little olive oil, salt and pepper on the asparagus, and once finished, topped with some Molly McButter.  If you’ve never used Molly McButter, you should give it a try.  It has a nice, salty butter flavor and has no calories…what’s better than that!  You can find it in the spices aisle.

The chicken came out perfectly.  The bacon helped to keep the chicken breasts juicy, and it didn’t get over cooked or come out chewy.  It had the perfect crispiness.  The cheese mix paired well with the chicken and bacon and had a nice creamy texture.  I think that I made a good choice with the onions because they may have been a bit overwhelming if not cooked first.  Andrea raved about it…she said she didn’t like it, she loved it.  So if you’re looking to please your picky healthy eater, give this recipe a try!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Review: Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt

Nothing tastes better on a hot, muggy Cincinnati day than a refreshing, ice cold frozen yogurt (well, maybe an ice cold beer). Orange Leaf, a frozen yogurt chain, recently opened up in Kenwood, and on this 97 degree day I knew it was the perfect time to try it out. It's located in the strip mall across from the Kenwood Towne Center, between M. Hopple and Dewey's. I'm a die hard fan of frozen yogurt and soft serve ice cream, so I went in with high expectations. And I was not disappointed.

When you enter the store, you first notice all the modern white and orange furniture and the huge, shiny orange-tiled wall of frozen yogurt flavors. It's fun and exciting, and definitely gets you pumped up to see what it's all about.

Photo courtesy of Orange Leaf website
It didn't take me long to realize that this was like my version of heaven. There are about 16 different flavors to choose from, which rotate daily, although some of them are there all the time. A few of the options available when I was there included peanut butter, chocolate, mango, banana, strawberry, coffee, cookies & cream, wedding cake, red velvet, vanilla, white chocolate, cheesecake, and more. And they are all non-fat or low-fat, which takes some of the guilt out of the experience. You'll notice in the photo below that there are 3 for peanut butter on the left, one for chocolate on the right, and one to mix the two flavors in the center. So, they put two flavors next to each other that they think pair nicely together (like peanut butter and chocolate - duh!).

Lucky for me, there was an employee standing over by the yogurt wall giving out free samples of any of the flavors you'd like to try. I went a little bonkers, but it was all for the sake of the blog, I swear! I tried the wedding cake (amazing), red velvet (okay, but not as amazing as I expected), cheesecake (great), cookies and cream (excellent), coffee (delicious if you like coffee) and peanut butter (UNREAL). Needless to say, I'm sure the sample lady was really annoyed with me!

I decided immediately (after my 6 samples, of course) to go with the peanut butter. Not surprising since peanut butter is one of my top 5 favorite foods. I also got a tiny dollop of the cookies and cream on the side.

After you choose your yogurt flavor, you make your way to the enormous bar of toppings. They have a large selection of fruit, cookies, candy, nuts, cereal, etc. I decided to stick with the peanut butter/chocolate theme and went with chocolate sprinkles and reese piecese. Great choice! This was delicious!

The one downfall of this place is that it can get a little expensive. The price is based on the weight of your dish (49 cents per ounce), so it really depends on how much you get. There are two size containers - large and extra-large - so they make it hard to only get a little because the containers are so enormous. My friend joked that the extra-large container is like a small popcorn bucket. If you filled that all the way up, it could definitely get pricey. Mine was only $2.89, which I didn't think was too bad for what I got.

If you're in the area, I'd definitely give it a try before the summer's over (although I'm sure I'll still go in the winter)!!


Food: 4.5
Service: 4.5
Overall: 4.5

Orange Leaf on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Review: The Wine Guy Bistro

I had been into the Wine Guy Bistro over the summer when it initially opened to buy a bottle of wine but had not been in to eat.  There was a Groupon not too long ago for Wine Guy, and my cousin said it was one of her favorite restaurants, so I decided I'd buy the Groupon to give it a try!  Ross and I went on a Thursday night.  I hate the parking lot where Wine Guy is located, it is in Rookwood right by the Rusty Bucket.  There is never any parking and you typically have to park over by Don Pablo's or somewhere in that area.....well, the restaurant wasn't too crowded on this night and we were offered to sit inside or outside.  I thought the outdoor area looked really nice and cozy, but it was pretty hot out when we went.  The inside of Wine Guy is very open with wooden tables, a wine bar in the center, and a wine shop on one side of the restaurant.  I liked the decor and the tables but the acoustics made it pretty noisy. 

Ross and I took awhile to look over the menu.  Our waitress greeted us and explained the wine portion of the menu.  She said that there are various wine flights available for $14.99, glasses of wine, or you can purchase wine bottles from the store and pay for the $10 corking fee.  Most glasses of wine ranged between $8-$15.  We thought the better deal was to get one of our favorite Tempranillos at $10 a bottle and pay for the corking fee. 

As we sipped on our wine, our waitress brought a complimentary appetizer of pita wedges with a creamy cheese-type spread.  This reminded me a bit of hummus at first by the looks of it, but it wasn't.  It was cheesy and had a really nice flavor.  I liked this and thought it was a great little appetizer with the wine. 

We looked over the menu and realized many of the items are served in small plates and some are offered in large plates as well.  We asked our waitress what some of her favorite items were, she said the bruschetta, margherita pizza, and spicy shrimp pasta.  Well, we decided to try all three! 

The tomato and basil bruschetta came out first.  The bread was crispy on the crust and soft in the middle.  The tomatoes were very fresh and it was drizzled with balsamic.  I liked that the basil was shredded and there was just the right amount.  I would have liked a little more balsalmic, but this dish was overall very good. 

Next came our margherita pizza.  This was definitely bigger portion than we had anticipated.  After we looked at it, we realized it was very similar to the bruschetta! But that was okay with us.  I liked the tomatoes on this pizza even more than the bruschetta.  They were roasted nicely with just enough sweetness.  We could have easily just eaten these two items, but we wanted to try the shrimp pasta as well.  We had the rest of the pizza boxed up and waited for our pasta.

We had ordered the small plate of the shrimp pasta which was good since we had other items, but I wouldn't say this was enough to share by itself.  This was a great dish! It was definitely spicy though, if you don't like spicy food don't order this.  Luckily we love spicy food and thought it was great!  The shrimp was cooked very nicely and paired well with the linguini.  This was served with a tomato based sauce (yes, more tomatoes) and topped with scallions.  This dish was very light and yummy.  I would get this again for sure. 

Our service at Wine Guy was great!  We wished it was a bit less noisy overall in the restaurant, but it wasn't overly distracting.  We were glad we had our Groupon though because all those dishes with the bottle of wine added up.  This would be a great place to go for a bite to eat with some wine, there are many different cheese plates available, to go and share some dishes with friends, or to just have a glass or two of wine.  I think I will definitely go back!  But don't forget your leftovers! We left ours on the table :(

Food: 4
Service: 3.5
Overall Experience: 4

The Wine Guy Bistro Wine Bar & Wine Shop on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Review: Keystone Bar & Grill

Keystone Bar & Grill is located in Covington, KY right by Molly Malone's and across from the new bar and restaurant, Blinkers Tavern.  This is one of my favorite places to go eat and grab a drink.  It also has great patio seating on the corner of Greenup. There is plenty of parking located at meters nearby, I think the street is Park Pl., but someone please correct me if I'm wrong on that one! 

I went a couple weeks ago with my husband and our friends Anne and Ryan.  We snagged a great table outside just in time because they quickly filled up.  We all ordered a drink and hung out for awhile as we looked over the menu.  Keystone has a pretty nice beer selection, they also have a nice happy hour too which includes half priced bottles of wine M-F.  Keystone has a couple items they are "known" for:  mac n' cheese, a great brunch, and many different quesadillas.  I have had their mac n' cheese before and it is AWESOME. They have many unique types and are all named after famous bands: a Nirvana (chicken and roasted red peppers), Pink Floyd (bacon and carmelized onions) and Fleetwood Mac (fresh mozzarella, pesto, and tomatoes).  These are all half-price on Mondays too.  I definitely recommend going and trying these out, they are sooo delicious.  HOWEVER, I decided to try something different this night.

Keystone also offers a wide range of quesadillas.  I hadn't tried these before, so I thought this might be a good time to try it.  They also have 1/2 price quesadillas on Tuesdays!  (such great deals here).  I opted for the Veggie'dilla which had tons of veggies, mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, marinated onions, roasted red peppers, and cheese.  This was served with sour cream and pico de gallo. This was REALLY good! I loved it.  All the veggies had been sauteed and all put together with the cheese for a great combination of a quesadilla.  It was toasted nicely and not soggy, which some quesadillas can be. 

My friends Anne & Ryan both decided to get the buffalo chicken wrap.  They had had this before, and they both got it again, so it must be good!  These are served with a side of Keystone chips, which are kettle type chips that are pretty good. 

Ross ordered his usual for Keystone, the Keystone burger.  This is just a traditional burger with cheese, lettuce, and tomato.  He really likes this burger, but I have not tried it.  It looks good and he keeps ordering it, so once again, must be good!  He ordered the sweet potato fries instead of the chips and these were excellent; I ended up eating about half of them myself.  They were a bit crunchy on the outside and soft on the insde.

My friend Christina made a late appearance and got the mac n' cheese! I was excited because I really wanted a bite!  She decided to try the mac n' cheese with bbq sauce and chicken.  This was great, of course.

This was such a nice night out, and some people brought their dogs for the outdoor patio as well:

Check out their website for more information on all their specials.  I have heard really great things about their brunch menu and bloody marys as well; I just haven't had the chance to get there yet, but I plan to soon! 

Service was pretty good here this night as well.  Our server was prompt, very friendly, and not over-bearing at all.  One thing though, when my friend asked what they have on tap, her response was, "what do you like?"  Which is not a response I typically like, I like to hear what they have, but she said that was what they are told to say!  I can deal with that, but I sometimes just randomly pick a beer when I hear what they have....just a note! 

All in all, I like Keystone a lot.  It's a great casual place to go for any meal of the day, and they have so many specials, there is no reason not to try it out for yourself.


Food: 4
Service: 4
Overall Experience: 4

Keystone Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Review: Indigo Casual Gourmet Cafe

I have been to Indigo restaurant many times before.  I went a couple weeks ago with my husband on a Thursday evening because I had a Yo Deal coupon.  It started to rain, so we sat inside, but they have a great courtyard-like outdoor seating area looking onto Hyde Park Square on Erie Ave.  Indigo also offers half off bottles of wine on Wednesdays, which I have taken advantage of in the past.  I must say that Indigo has been one of those restaurants that has been hit or miss for me.  This visit was pretty good though!

The inside of Indigo is casual but nice.  There are booths along a mirrored wall and tables in another section of the restaurant.  We sat along the mirrored wall which was somewhat distracting for Ross. Our waiter greeted us and was very friendly.  He also pointed out that appetizers were half off.  Ross started with a beer and I opted for a glass of the house cabernet.   I did not like this house cabernet, I can't remember what kind it was, but I didn't like it at all really. 

Since appetizers were half off, we decided to share the bruschetta bread.  This was more like a garlic bread with cheese and topped with chopped tomatoes.  This was good, but very filling.  It was toasted just enough with a crunchy crust but soft in the center. 

Although this was pretty filling, Ross and I decided to share a salad and a pasta bake.  Indigo is mostly Italian food with a variety of pastas, bakes, calzones, pizzas, and sandwiches.  I have had the Spinach bake many times and love it, but Ross wanted to try the sausage bake.  This was baked with a red sauce, penne pasta, sausage, onions, and cheese.  There may have been more things but I can't remember.  This was very good!  We both loved this.  It was plenty to share as well.

We also had ordered a spinach salad topped with bacon, feta, chicken, and red onion and served with a balsamic dressing.  This too was a very good salad; however, I thought there was too much bacon.  I would have liked the bacon to have been chopped up more.  The spinach was fresh and there was just enough feta and red onion.  I also liked the dressing. It tasted house made and was very good. 

I ended up ordering a different glass of wine, the Zinfandel, which was much better.  Our service here was great. Our server was attentive without being overly zealous. 
This visit to Indigo was a great one!  I recommend sharing some things because many of the dishes are very filling.  The prices range from $8-$15 or so for entrees.  Like I said before, this has been a very hit or miss place for me, but I would give it a try. This visit was excellent for a casual Italian restaurant and the patio is really nice. 


Food: 3.5
Service: 4
Overall Experience: 3.5

Indigo Casual Gourmet Cafe on Urbanspoon