Food, drink, film and other random thoughts from The Lone Star State.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


Christmas was good this year. We spent it in Cincinnati where my sister moved 2 years ago. Even though my sister lives only 15 minutes from downtown we had not spent much time there in previous years. This year I decided to do 2 days at her house and the rest of the time downtown.

I liked downtown Cincinnati! It has a surprisingly urban feel; polished in some parts, gritty in others and downright south central LA in an area known as Over The Rhine (which I mistakenly walked through at length).

I stayed at The Cincinnatian, a great 5-star in the smack of things. Service is way over-the-top. And I mean that in a good way. My room was over-sized and extraordinarily comfortable. Everything I wanted to see and do was no more than a four block walk. If for some reason you find yourself in downtown Cincinnati, I recommend it!

The Cincinnatian

I had to twist my sister and bro-in-law's arms to get them into downtown to try some new restaurants. Actually I could barely finish the mere suggestion before my parents were assigned to the babysitting task and sister was dressed and ready to go!

Jean Ro's Bistro

413 Vine St.
Cincinnati, OH
(513) 621-1465

Jean Ro's is a casual French. Its owned by the same guy that owns Jean Robert's, which we tried the night following. I asked a couple of people at the hotel the difference between the two. I think the 20-something bellman hit it : "Comparing Jean Ro's Bistro to Jean Robert's is like comparing a Big Mac to a Fillet Mignon"

True, but Jean Ro's is still very good and I'll definitely go back. I tasted everyone's entrees and they were all great. What I liked about JeanRo's, unlike other French bistros, was that they didn't rely on flavor by saturation with sauces. In fact, my pan-fried trout was thankfully devoid of sauce and the plate wasn't pooling with butter either.

Jean Ro's Bistro

Jean Robert's @ Pigalls

127 W. 4th St.
Cincinnati, OH
(513) 721-1345

I was skeptical of claims that Jean Robert's was rated the best restaurant in the country for 2006. IN THE COUNTRY. Considering all the great meals Ive had at home in Dallas as well as NYC and Chicago, I just found it hard to believe. Believe it. This goes down as one of my top 3 meals ever.

The 3-course tasting menu is the way to go. And definitely have the wine guy pick out which wine would be best. He was very knowledgeable and very personable.


  • Indiana goat cheese en croute with french green beans and currants.
  • Scallops in red pepper sauce with mushroom-pumpkin risotto.
  • The cheese plate or the warm chocolate torte with cherry ice cream.

With every course I looked over at my sister and brother in law and they both had their eyes closed and looked like they were going to need a tissue. I usually forget most everything after a week but I still remember this meal vividly.

Jean Robert's @ Pigalls

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Blogger Michael said...

As a Michigan man, I cannot (on principle) admit that Ohio has much to offer, but thanks for opening my eyes.

I doubt that I'll ever get to Cinci, but vicarious living is fun, too.

2:13 PM

Blogger Gavin Elster said...

Oh boy just the description of goat cheese green beans and currents has gotten me hungry!

10:00 PM

Blogger Jim said...

Michael, I was surprised too. Cincinnati is a city of 3 million, so I expected some good things but this was over the top good.

6:23 AM

Blogger Jim said...

Gavin, it was incredible! I am definitely trying to recreate it at home.

6:23 AM

Anonymous midwesttransplant said...

Jim, If you had to live here you would sing a different tune. (Yes, I *have* to live here, for the time being, working on making that as temporary as humanly possible.) I, too, stayed at the Cincinnatian when first came looking for a place to live, and it was nice, enough. The places you mention to eat are ok in that at least the chef tries at times to source pesticide-free, local food. Glad you enjoyed your visit, key word is visit.

7:53 AM

Anonymous Jason said...

Hmmm, I have yet to try these out. I've been focused on visiting the new restaurants. Sounds like I need to make a visit to Jean Roberts!

So...did you do some ice skating on Fountain Square???

7:54 AM

Blogger Jim said...

MWT, yes, its definitely a very different experience as a tourist. I like Cincinnati but the cold alone would prevent my living there. Then I also think Dallas at 7 million is too small for me, so ...

6:54 PM

Blogger Jim said...

Jason, definitely try the tasting menu at Jean Robert's, its extraordinary. Like MWTransplant said, they use quite a few local and organic ingredients, which makes ALL the difference.

6:56 PM


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