Traditional recipes

Garlicky Panko Toasties

Garlicky Panko Toasties

Little, light, and fluffy, these crumbs are the perfect topper for delicate salads that can't handle big honkin' croutons.

Ingredients

  • 4 garlic cloves, lightly smashed
  • 1½ cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

Recipe Preparation

  • Cook butter and garlic in a medium skillet over medium-low heat, swirling pan often, until foaming subsides and garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add panko and stir to coat evenly. Cook, stirring often, until panko is golden brown, about 4 minutes; season with salt.

  • Transfer to a plate and let cool. Discard garlic.

  • Do Ahead: Panko can be made 5 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

Reviews Section

When a pile of leaves and vegetables just won’t satisfy, turn to your oven, grill, or vinegar collection. Cooked or brined components not only make your salad more dynamic (velvety roasted veg! spicy pickles!) but also more substantial. Here are some ideas:

Roast: Bulk up greens with a mix of raw and roasted vegetables. Try blasting carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, turnips, radishes, and even dates at high heat for maximum caramelization and natural sweetness.

Grill: Sturdy greens like kale, romaine, and Treviso radicchio can withstand the high heat of a grill or broiler. Char halved heads or big leaves, mix with crunchy raw veg for contrast, and then toss everything with a creamy dressing.

Pickle: Pickled chiles, cucumbers, red onions, rhubarb, mushrooms, or raisins provide bright punch. A tip we picked up from Henrietta Red in Nashville: Pickle the stems from Swiss chard or kale, then use the brine in the vinaigrette.

Get the recipe: Pickled Hot Chiles


PREP TIME: 15 minutes

COOK TIME: 30 minutes

  • 2 large kumara, peeled and diced
  • 1 x 360g can freshwater tuna, drained
  • 3 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 1 egg
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 cup panko or breadcrumbs or desiccated coconut, to coat (optional)
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil

METHOD

1 Place the kumara in a large saucepan of water. Bring to a boil and simmer until tender, about 8–10 minutes. This brings out the natural sweetness of the kumara.

2 Drain the water from the saucepan and mash the kumara. Add the tuna, spring onion and egg. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and mix gently to combine.

3 Form the mixture into 10–12 palm-sized patties. If you want an extra crunch, sprinkle over some panko crumbs, breadcrumbs or desiccated coconut.

4 In a large frying pan placed over a medium heat, pan-fry the patties in the oil until the outsides are golden and the insides are heated through, about 4 minutes each side.

5 Serve the patties with a green salad or steamed veggies.


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Chocolate-Chestnut Tart with Chestnut-Vanilla Syrup - Tuesdays with Dorie

This month at TWD, we c an bake and post the two December recipes from Baking Chez Moi in the order we want. Next up for me will be the Stained Glass Cookies on December 22. V isit here to see which recipe the other members chose to make this week .


140 of the Best Places to Eat in Greater Cincinnati

Social OTR Photo: Hailey Bollinger Hello. Are you hungry? You probably will be at some point today or in the near future (unless you’re a robot). And when you’re ready to eat, you may need a restaurant recommendation. That’s where we come in.

This year, CityBeat’s handy annual Dining Guide is a collection of some of the best places to eat in Cincinnati — as decided on by readers in our annual Best Of Cincinnati issue — plus assorted other listings from this past year’s dining reviews and features. In 2019, more than half a million votes were tallied to determine our reader picks in a slew of categories. But as this is the Dining Guide, we’re focusing on winners in the Eats section — aka places where you can eat.

Note: This is obviously not a list of every restaurant in Cincinnati*. But it is certainly an excellent starting point in any conversation that begins with “Where should we eat?” that would otherwise end in a) tears b) loud arguments c) starvation. So close your eyes, point your finger at a random dining destination and get ready to bon voyage to bon appetit (unless you’re a robot).

* Listings for the Dining Guide are compiled from CityBeat features and reviews and edited for space.

New and Newish Dining Destinations

Recent restaurant additions plus the top 10 Best New Restaurant reader picks from the 2019 Best Of Cincinnati issue

/>The Baker's Table Photo: Hailey Bollinger

The Baker’s Table — This cozy brunch spot on Monmouth Street has been serving local, seasonal cuisine to the masses since December 2018. Chef and co-owner David Willocks aims to make everything in-house, including the bread, and calls it the canvas upon which the food appears. As such, the menu reads like a love letter to biscuits and brioche and sourdough sandwiches. This hip destination often has a line out the door for patrons waiting to try main courses or ever-popular options like biscuits and gravy with Eckerlin pork sausage, eggs-in-a-hole and a fried chicken sandwich. Willocks runs The Baker’s Table with his wife, Wendy Braun, a designer who created the look of the open-floor-plan restaurant to blend craftsmanship and vintage tradition. Enjoy an Amaro Spritz or a cup of coffee with friends at the namesake 25-year-old baker’s table in the back of the space. Food and culture website Eater named The Baker’s Table one of 2019’s best new restaurants in America. The restaurant just launched dinner service. Must try: The ricotta donuts are little balls of fluffy joy with a thinly fried exterior and a generous sugar dusting. They come with strawberry lemon curd and are a perfect appetizer before your eggs or pancakes. 1004 Monmouth St., Newport, bakerstablenewport.com.

Boomtown Biscuits & Whiskey — This Pendleton restaurant is inspired by the trappings of the American frontier and California’s 19th-century gold rush. Order a cocktail when you sit down so you have time for another before dinner is over — and then another for “dessert.” At Boomtown, the true delight comes plated. The signature biscuit isn’t a run-of-the-mill thousand-layer flaked baked good it’s a buttery, soft disc with a close crumb and a browned, lightly bubbled top that no breakfast chain can compete with. Choose from sandwiches, plates, bowls, sides and dessert. Must try: The Yukon sandwich, with fried chicken, gravy, smoked cheddar and thick-cut bacon. The option to add an egg is, theoretically, optional (and an upcharge), but better thought of as an intrinsic part of the dish. 1201 Broadway St., Pendleton, boomtownbiscuitsandwhiskey.com.

/>Branch Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Branch/Night Drop — The Littlefield Restaurant Group rehabbed a historic Art Deco Bank in East Walnut Hills to create the aptly named restaurant, Branch, and adjacent downstairs bar Night Drop. Their original eatery, Northside’s Littlefield, offers bourbon cocktails and innovative, inexpensive comfort food with an inimitable Northside vibe. Branch is a much more ambitious venture both in food, service and ambiance, although we can thank chef Shoshannah Anderson for creating the delicious menus in both places. Dinner choices are presented in two columns, “Shares” and “Stocks,” a play on the building’s history. The kitchen has Asian and Mediterranean influences, serving up dishes like black garlic ribs with sesame and fennel-apple slaw, chili-smoked wings with chimichurri and a peanut lemongrass smoked tofu on sesame noodles with a baby bok choy salad. In addition to dinner, Branch serves a weekend brunch menu that is fantastic. Must try: Pork belly and vegetable dumplings — a few tender but chewy crescent-shaped pasta pillows covered lightly in an umami-rich miso broth. 1535 Madison Road, East Walnut Hills, eatatbranch.com.

BrewRiver Creole Kitchen — Hearing a Boogie-Woogie tune on the piano while sipping a craft cocktail on a brightly furnished patio with a magnolia tree in view — you wouldn’t even have to squint to think you were in New Orleans. The atmosphere and cuisine at BrewRiver Creole Kitchen brings the spirit of the Crescent City to Cincinnati in a stately 150-year-old building on Eastern Avenue. From 2011 until 2018, owner Joby Bowman and chef Michael Shields ran BrewRiver GastroPub on nearby Riverside Drive before deciding to branch out to a 200-seat restaurant with a 35-seat patio. Shields, who earned his chops under Emeril Lagasse, has added new items to the menu — broiled oysters, fried green tomatoes with a pecan cornmeal crust and bread pudding for dessert — but kept his focus on Creole cuisine. Must try: Pasta Monica. Pasta Monica is inspired by the wildly popular Crawfish Monica from New Orleans Jazz Fest. The plump shrimp are generously coated in a Creole cream sauce, which manages to pack a major flavor punch without burning one’s tongue off. 4632 Eastern Ave., East End, brewrivercreolekitchen.com.

CHX — CHX is owned and operated by Hickory Wald — the team behind 3 Points Urban Brewery, Nation Kitchen and Bar and Rhinehaus. Their signature menu item is Bantys — which are lump-sized chicken pieces named after a wild and soulful breed of Indonesian chickens called Bantam — in two different brined and golden-fried finishing options: original or hot. In addition to Bantys, the chicken joint also offers salads, sandwiches and sharable sides like CHX nachos, fried cheese curds, wavy fries and more. Get it at CHX or from inside 3 Points Urban Brewery. Must try: A chicken sandwich. CHX takes some fried bantys (fried chicken strips larger than nuggets, smaller than tenders) and puts them between Texas toast from Sixteen Bricks, topped with lettuce, pickles, American cheese and mayo. You can get it spicy or original either way it’s going to be better than anything from drive-thru. 1211 Broadway St., Pendleton, chxcincy.com.

Condado Tacos — Condado commits to the build-your-own tacos concept down to the type of tortillas. For protein, customers have several options (even multiple ones for vegetarians!) — like housemade chorizo, Thai chili tofu, BBQ pulled jackfruit, ghost pepper marinated steak and more. They’ve got the toppings, too cilantro and onions, jicama and cabbage slaws, queso fresco and more. Must try: Rise and shine with a wake-n-bake, aka a soft tortilla, corn, chorizo gravy and biscuit crumble. Yes, Condado does brunch. 195 E. Freedom Way, Downtown, condadotacos.com.

Crown Republic Gastropub — This casual from-scratch kitchen offers up a range of inventive entrees and shareables for lunch, dinner and dessert. The menu draws on a Mediterranean influence, with clean and light flavors in dishes like duck fat hummus, Yemeni mussels and farro salad. Try the chicken gobbets. The name is weird, but the meat isn’t. Gobbets are basically adult chicken nuggets that are soaked in the malt brine the crew makes their pickles in, then fried and served with honey hot sauce on the side. Must try: Crown Republic incorporates squid ink into a housemade pasta for their take on tagliatelle, which includes mounds of crab atop black pasta with lemon, chili oil, breadcrumbs and tomato. It’s creamy with a spicier profile than you might initially infer — definitely one of the more unique pasta options in town. 720 Sycamore St., Downtown, crgcincy.com.

Delwood — Nestled at the intersection of Delta and Linwood avenues in Mount Lookout Square, Delwood is a family-friendly Peruvian-inspired gastropub from owner Trevor Snowden. Snowden comes by his Latin American inspiration honestly his mother is Peruvian and that country’s recipes and ingredients infuse the menu with an uncommon flair. Delwood’s kitchen is small, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in flavor. The petite food menu offers six different sharable items like tostones and shishito peppers and eight meal options like their popular Delwood Burger or the kale Caesar salad. The bar menu offers a variety of cocktails including a paloma, Caipirinha and the Rum & Rye Old Fashioned in addition to beer, wine and boilermakers. Must try: The Delwood Burger comes topped with salsa criolla (a sort of vinegary red onion and pepper mixture), avocado and Peruvian huancaina sauce made from aji Amarillo chile peppers and cream. It’s slightly spicy and served on a standard bun. Instead of french fries, try the yuca fries or tostones (twice fried plantains). 3204 Linwood Ave., Mount Lookout, delwoodcincy.com.

/>Fairfield Market Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Fairfield Market — Appealing to residents on either side of the Ohio River, Fairfield Market brings coffee, cocktails, locally sourced snacks on pretty plates and a sun-dappled workspace to Bellevue’s main drag. The decor blends Midcentury Modern with a Palm Desert vibe, mixing original terrazzo with contemporary furniture and plenty of outlets for charging electronics. Fairfield operates around a fast-casual concept, offering bites, which are ordered at the bar, alongside drinks, starting with coffee service in the morning and lunch, followed by beer, wine, cocktails and snacks in the evening. There’s also Sunday brunch. Must try: A cocktail. The streamlined menu is fiercely seasonal and offers fresh twists on classics. Grab an old fashioned if you’re feeling traditional or a bright and peppery creation while you snack on a build-your-own charcuterie board. 700 Fairfield Ave., Bellevue, thefairfieldbellevue.com.

Fausto — Fausto, a new restaurant in the lobby of the Contemporary Arts Center, is the latest offering from the Ferrari brothers — Tony and Austin — and their expanding local food service empire. The menu is contemporary and upbeat and feels like the culinary equivalent of the light that streams into Fausto’s seating area through the CAC’s massive panes of glass. A heightened brunch, lunch or dinner experience, for sure — not many places are serving trout roe on potatoes — but one that safely resists pretension. Tony describes the food as “California cuisine” with splashes of citrus and extra-virgin olive oil, not full of fat or butter. Breakfast features several egg and toast options, a chia seed pudding and that aforementioned trout roe. The lunch menu has plenty of light and crisp salads and sandwiches. But dinner offerings feel more involved. There is a three-course selection for $39, or several individual entrees (called “attractions” on their menu), appetizers (“beginnings”), pasta and dessert (“endings”). Must try: The chicken salad sandwich is perhaps the best of the salads and sandwiches because it marries the two in one great offering. The tarragon elevates the dish, which is served on Allez bread with butter lettuce. 44 E. Sixth St., Downtown, faustoatthecac.com.

Fiery Hen — From the team behind Court Street Lobster Bar comes this Southern-style hot chicken eatery featuring Nashville hot chicken sandwiches, catfish, burgers, fried green tomatoes, brisket and more, including a moonshine menu and taps with local beer. Guests can choose a level of heat, with sauces ranging from mild to the cleverly coined “Bless Your Heart” sauce. Must try: Fiery Hen challenges your spice tolerance with their Nashville hot chicken options. If you can take the heat, you deserve a medal. The hot chicken sandwich is served with slaw, pickles and pimento cheese. There’s also the Basic Chick sandwich, with Yella Belly fried chicken, pickles and chipotle ranch. Cool down with some banana pudding it’ll probably help. 26 W. Court St., Downtown, fieryhencincy.com.

/>Forty Thieves falafel over hummus Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Forty Thieves — Helmed by Dan Wright and his wife Lana (of Senate, Abigail Street and Pontiac), Holiday Spirits and its in-house eatery Forty Thieves evoke the vibe of a dive bar and serve a menu of Middle Eastern street food. You can order your falafel or shawarma either from a walk-up window facing Liberty Street or inside Holiday Spirits itself. Must try: Go for the falafel over hummus, which is worthy of an entire article dedicated to its deliciousness. The falafel — crisp with a pillowy center — is served with charred tomato and shishito peppers, red onion and pickled radish. Pair it with the tomato soup. This fast-casual restaurant is really hitting all the right notes in its opening number. 1538 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/fortythievesgang.

Gaslight Bar & Grill — Located in the space formerly occupied by the Clifton Branch of the public library, the menu at the Gaslight Bar & Grill still makes for some good reading. There are plenty of domestic and local craft brews, a solid wine list and a literary-inspired cocktail menu featuring nods to Hemingway, Bradbury, Poe and more. The restaurant is also home to Ludlow’s first rooftop patio. Must try: The Greek spaghetti with tomato, onion, spinach, tapenade (an umami-rich paste made from olives, capers and anchovies) and feta, with the choice to include bacon. 351 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, gaslightbarandgrillclifton.com.

Goose & Elder — Located across from historic Findlay Market, Goose & Elder is local chef and restaurateur Jose Salazar’s comfort food eatery. He describes the restaurant as “midcentury grandma,” sourcing colors and patterns that evoke a sense of the 1970s and ’80s. The restaurant offers a menu of American comfort food ranging from traditional dishes to new takes on classics. Both approachable and affordable, no menu item exceeds $20. Dishes include a grain bowl, chicken schnitzel, roasted bone marrow and baked mac and cheese. Must try: The fried bologna sandwich, topped with spicy slaw and marinated cucumbers. Add an over-easy egg for an upcharge. 1800 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, gooseandelder.com.

HighGrain Brewing Co. — Located in the former Silverton Memorial Municipal Building, HighGrain Brewing features “old-world styles with a modern twist,” like their Switch oatmeal stout with chocolate, coffee and nuts, and the Monarch IPA, with Citra and Idaho Gem hops. The food menu from their in-house chef includes options for vegetarians, meat-eaters and kids. With a focus on sustainability, the brewery is also 100-percent powered by wind, and at least one beer is carbon neutral. Must try: The food menu at HighGrain ranges from tofu tenders with maple mustard and watermelon panzanella to barramundi with plantain salsa, a bologna sandwich with fried egg and biscuits made with spent grain from the brewery. 6860 Plainfield Road, Silverton, highgrainbrewing.com.

Karrikin Spirits Co. — Karrikin combines a distillery, brewery, bar and restaurant in a gigantic former warehouse located in what feels slightly like a no-man’s land of industrial buildings between Mariemont and Mount Lookout. But this distillery/brewery/restaurant operates out of a renovated warehouse, which makes for a roomy and exciting destination. The executive chef, Jared Bennett, served for six years as sous chef and then chef de cuisine at Metropole. Even inside a warehouse, you can safely expect delicious food to come out of Bennett’s kitchen. The three-page beverage menu starts with a description of the spirits made in-house, below that are house cocktails and a few mocktails featuring housemade non-alcoholic sodas and shrubs. The food options range from wood-fired steaks and pasta to seafood and more. Must try: The roasted cauliflower: creamy, roasted cauliflower with crunchy wild rice in a savory quince vinaigrette sauce. 3717 Jonlen Drive, Fairfax, karrikinspirits.com.

Kiki — Kiki College Hill has opened its doors after two years of planning, fundraising, pop-ups and patience. Owners Hideki and Yuko Harada have created their dream restaurant in an old corner bank at 5932 Hamilton Ave. Kiki offers two ramen choices: shio ramen, a chicken broth with pork belly, negi, a tea-marinated egg and rayu and kimchi ramen, featuring housemade kimchi and tofu. To warm up your pre-ramen palate, try the shishito peppers crowned with fluffy shreds of parmesan cheese, or the edamame, tossed in sea salt or tare. And you could never go wrong with the gyoza, either pork or mushroom, or the curry pan, a sort of fried bread or dumpling Hideki has described as a “curry donut,” stuffed with potato, onion and carrot. Must try: If you’re looking for punchier flavors, go with the karaage — fried chicken with an option to add bright oroshi ponzu or mellow Jordy mayo (named after sous chef Jordan Ellerhorst). 5932 Hamilton Ave., College Hill, kikicincinnati.com.

Libby’s Southern Comfort — There’s no denying that the folks behind Libby’s Southern Comfort have impressive bona fides in the poultry arts. The owners of this entry into Covington’s flourishing restaurant scene claim not just a family history of chicken expertise but a professional one to boot, with a lineage going back decades. Butch Wainscott owns the Greyhound Tavern in Fort Mitchell, which has maintained a reputation for exceptional chicken dinners throughout the 30-plus years that he’s been at the helm. This year, his son, Brad, fired up the fat in Covington and opened Libby’s, which pays tribute Southern classics with a Charleston slant. Appetizers include fried green tomatoes and goetta hush puppies and mains range from an oyster po’ boy and a pork belly BLT to a plate of fried oysters, a decadent open-faced sandwich called Charlie Brown, meatloaf and shrimp and grits. Look for a full menu of bourbon drinks and desserts like oatmeal cream pies. Must try: Chicken dinners keep tradition alive here. You must try the fried chicken. 35 W. Eighth St., Covington, libbyssoutherncomfort.com.

/>Lonely Pine Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Lonely Pine Steakhouse — The casual dining destination takes a simple concept — quality food at an affordable price — and elevates it with Southwestern flair and retro decor. From Gorilla Cinema Presents, Lonely Pine is the first foray into food service for the company and is less focused on blatantly paying homage to a film, though there are clues for those on the hunt for Easter eggs. There are nods to Back to the Future hidden throughout. Steaks are dry-aged with shareable sides like au gratin potatoes. For those with a sweet tooth, there’s chess pie with chocolate, blueberries and whipped cream a citrus creme brulee and locally made ice cream with seasonal flavors. Must try: The New York strip, dry-aged in house for 30 days. An aggressive sear yields a perfectly cooked medium-rare center. You can order a pad of garlic butter on the side, but the seasoning on the beef is so well applied that it’s unnecessary. 6085 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge, lonelypinesteakhouse.com.

LouVino Restaurant & Wine Bar — Take your taste buds on a journey from the marigold-lined pathways of Chateau Guiraud in France to the Alps-framed Castelfeder winery in northern Italy — all while dining at LouVino in Over-the-Rhine. The concept restaurant on Main Street offers 60 wines by the glass as well as small plates inspired by Southern cuisine. Ingredients are sourced as locally as possible and standout dishes include a Brussels sprouts salad, beef sliders and loaded potato tots. Brunchers: Louvino serves cheap mimosas on Saturdays and Sundays plus foodie items like pancake tacos, stuffed French toast and chicken biscuit sliders. A portion of the menu changes once per quarter, so guests can expect something new. Must try: It would be a grave mistake to pass up the potato tots. You get eight fried balls that are crunchy on the outside and the consistency of cheesy mashed potatoes on the inside. 1142 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, louvino.com.

Lucius Q — While the name of this barbecue joint may look like “luscious” — which isn’t a bad association — the restaurant is actually called Lucius Q (loo-shus q), a moniker taken from a Roman general with special ties to Cincinnati. The restaurant logo is a Centurion riding a pig, but the Italian influence stops there. The menu is all about meat. The restaurant draws influence from regional barbecue specialties and the business partners’ own backgrounds: there’s Texas brisket, Carolina pulled pork, St. Louis-style ribs and Avril-Bleh sausage from Cincinnati. Everything is smoked out back. Must try: The brisket, available in a sandwich, chili and by the pound. 1131 Broadway St., Pendleton, luciusq.com.

Maize — Maize specializes in a unique fusion menu that honors traditional recipes from across Latin America, with an emphasis on Venezuelan cuisine. The restaurant takes its name from maize, a corn flour dating back some 10,000 years and first utilized by indigenous Mexicans. The flour serves as the basis for the arepas, cachapas and empanadas served at Maize and acts as an access point for the rich world of Latin American cuisine. The bright blue accents of the restaurant lend to the tropical vibe, as do the multitude of rum options on the drink menu — there are more than 30 in house. Must try: The ceviche is perfect: plump and plentiful mahi, snapper and shrimp with diced mango, serrano pepper and lime. 1438 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, maizeotr.com.

/>Mazunte Centro Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Mazunte Centro — Inspired by the vibrancy of Mexico City, Centro still serves the classics — tacos and tostadas, tequila and Topo Chico. But a handful of dishes exclusive to this location were added to the menu, namely tortas and tlayudas (imagine a love child between a Mexican pizza and a giant loaded nacho). Out-the-door-tacos for those on their lunch break and lingering evenings sipping tequila are both served with the same warm hospitality. Although folks in Mexico indulge in a leisurely meal and siesta midday and grab street tacos at night, Americans are more accustomed to working through lunch and partying after dark. Mazunte serves Mexico City food on a Cincinnati schedule. Must try: The impressive chicharron de queso. Literally translated to “cheese cracklings,” it’s a disc of shredded cheese wrapped around a wine bottle and fried. Don’t be alarmed when a foot-tall cheese tube arrives at your table be amazed. It’s an excellent two-for-one deal — snap some off and dip it in salsa roja or salsa verde (both if you’re bold) or crumble it over the tlayuda for an added crunch factor. 611 Main St., Downtown, centro.mazuntetacos.com.

Mikey’s Late Night Slice — Mikey’s is known for its giant, foldable pizza slices and drunk-friendly menu items like the Pizza Dog — a hot dog stuffed with pepperoni and cheese, which is then wrapped in a slice of pizza — and the Cheezus Crust and Baby Cheezus, which is American cheese melted on top of two slices of pizza and pressed together into a sandwich. This pizza joint also shares a space with Oddfellows Liquor Bar. Must try: A Spicy-Ass piece of pepperoni pizza with Sriracha, banana peppers and red pepper flakes. 2014 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, latenightslice.com.

Mom ‘n ‘em — Located in a former 1890s home, Mom ‘n ‘em acts as a third place, with a diverse offering of wines and coffee, tinned fish varieties, cheeses, cured meats, pastries from North South Baking, the “Dirty Nati” Egg Samich and more, including toasties. Mom ‘n ‘em also has a full liquor license with cocktails like a classic negroni and Manhattan, and a smart selection of beer in their cooler. Friday night wine flights are $5, and family-style Bistro Night dinners are on the horizon as well. Must try: The anchovy toastie comes on thick slices of local Allez country loaf, generously swiped with homemade salsa verde, atop which rest silver strips of previously-tinned anchovies, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and doused with a sprinkling of aleppo (a zingy Italian chili.) 3128 Colerain Ave., Camp Washington, momnemcoffee.com.

Money Chicken — Money Chicken has taken the classic fried chicken sandwich and refined the spice blend to make one of the city’s more unique spicy sandwiches. While the basic ingredients are not unusual — fried buttermilk-brined chicken breast with spicy honey, pickles and mayo on a potato bun — it’s their Money Chicken Spice Blend that elevates everything thanks to the inclusion of Sichuan peppercorn. Spicy and slightly numbing, it’s a unique sensation more Westerners should embrace at the table. They also offer a tasty tempeh version for vegetarians or the chicken-averse. Must try: A chicken sandwich, obviously. 300 E. Seventh St., Downtown, moneychicken.co.

/>Oakley Wines' tomato pie Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Oakley Wines — Oakley Wines started as a boutique bottle shop just off the main drag. And then it became more than a neighborhood hang when upward of 100 people started stopping in for Friday-night wine tastings. Recently taken over by the owners of The Rhined cheese shop, the bar has been featuring a new food menu overseen by chef Lydia Jackman. Jackman focuses on “creating a multi-cultural experience where you can eat French, Italian and German-inspired dishes” paired with Oakley’s glass or bottle list. Must try: The tomato pie, with water buffalo cheese and caper aioli. Look for additional hearty dishes this winter. 4011 Allston St., Oakley, facebook.com/oakleywines.

Ripple Wine Bar — Ripple Wine Bar is one of those sweet little spots that hits all the right notes: good wine, lots of it, paired with good food. The bar offers 40 varietals by the glass or half glass, bottle or half bottle and also does a half-bottle happy hour for gun-shy consumers or folks dining solo. The menu’s overall vibe is laid-back — a true “California kitchen,” with wine-friendly food that is seasonally inspired. Look for items like choose-your-own charcuterie with Urban Stead cheese, a butternut squash salad and beef wellington popovers. Must try: The beef wellington popovers. The juicy little pastry packets are stuffed with beef and surrounded by a mushroom duxelle, with a pert tarragon aioli to balance the meatiness. Chef Will Smith goes through about 25 pounds of short rib a week to create the popovers, braising “the crap out of it” in red wine, garlic and shallots until it’s fork tender. 4 W. Pike St., Covington, ripplewinebar.com.

Sacred Beast — “Simple food. Taken seriously” is the motto of this modern diner, which feels like one of the largest restaurants in OTR. Clearly, this kitchen knows how to get the very best out of the humble egg. The “Diner Breakfast” is a truly great plate of food: Soft scrambled eggs, a short stack of ricotta pancakes topped with two strips of maple-glazed pork belly and a small grilled tomato make up this scrumptious meal. There’s also the equally delicious omelet filled with a simple combo of goat cheese and sweet peppers. The deviled eggs with pork rinds and chilies are excellent, as well. In addition to excellent eggs, the menu features options like a double cheeseburger with Dijonnaise, American cheese and a pickle on a Blue Oven bun chicken schnitzel and steak tartare frites plus strong cocktails, mocktails, shots with a back and a wine by the glass. Must try: That omelet. 1437 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, sacredbeastdiner.com.

/>Social OTR pappardelle Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Social OTR — A nonprofit venture owned by the Corporation for Findlay Market, Social OTR not only nails its ambitious New American menu but also aims to fill a multitude of societal and business needs in our community. Social OTR “teaches people looking for employment the necessary skills to get restaurant jobs” in partnership with CityLink, a faith-based nonprofit organization that works on multiple fronts to combat poverty. The restaurant actually is a two-in-one, with a front eatery and back bar featuring different decor and service styles but the same menu: about eight “Snacks,” 10 to 11 “Small Plates” and just two “Large Plates.” And libations shine brightly. Whether you prefer tequila, rye, gin or any other spirit, the house cocktail list has you covered. Must try: A piping-hot and generous portion of pappardelle pasta. Its mushroom herb sauce is extra delicious with butter-poached wild mushrooms and ramps, goat cheese, English peas and crispy kale. 1819 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, socialotr.com.

Station Family & BBQ — This new barbecue joint opened its doors to a hungry line of customers who, after their first bite of Station’s Cincinnati sausage and smoked chicken wings, were sure to be loyal repeat customers. There’s a separate dining area with table service and an indoor walk-up window that’s a bit more casual, so the kids can run around while you eat. Get a few entrees per diner since their protein options like pork butt and brisket are a bit conservatively portioned, but damn tasty. Must try: Proteins are smoked on-site and range from Cincinnati sausage to brisket, pulled pork and salmon available naked (by the quarter pound) or as a platter, served with two sides. Try the namesake Cincinnati sausage with your choice of sauce — classic barbecue, Alabama white or South or North Carolina. 400 Wyoming Ave, Wyoming, cincystation.com.

Tortilleria Garcia — Omar Garcia grew up on a family farm in Michoacan, Mexico and learned how to make corn tortillas the old-fashioned way from his mother and grandmother. Garcia has committed to honoring his family’s culinary history and his restaurants uncompromisingly follow the family recipe for fresh tortillas — never using flour or preservatives. Garcia’s menu consists of straightforward Mexican classics like tamales, burritos, housemade salsas and rotisserie chicken, in addition to tacos, plus his classic tortilla shells are available in two-pound packs so you can make your own inspired creations at home. Must try: Tamales. Made with the same masa as the tortillas and wrapped in corn husks, tamales are extremely portable and make an excellent take-out option. The spicy carnitas tamales with hot salsa are a perfect marriage of flavor and texture (just make sure your body is ready for some serious heat), while the pollo tamales with verde salsa are ideal for picky eaters — simple, straightforward. 5917 Hamilton Ave., College Hill 11774 Springfield Pike, Springdale, tortilleriagarcia.us.

The View at Shires’ Garden — Located on the 10th floor of downtown’s City Club Apartments, this 6,000 square-foot rooftop spot features an indoor dining room, an outdoor patio, two full bars, outdoor small and group dining and cocktail tables with impeccable views. The food menu features Saturday and Sunday brunch and dinner options like mussels, whipped bone marrow over beef tenderloin tartare and entree greens. Must try: The Nicoise with seared tuna loin with marinated tuna crudo, olive tapenade, fingerling potatoes, French green beans, deviled egg salad and green goddess pesto. 309 Vine St., 10th Floor, Downtown, theviewatshiresgarden.com.

Wodka Bar — Owner Sarah Dworak pays tribute to her Ukrainian heritage not only with the decor but also through her drink and food menus. Vodka — the “w” is simply an Eastern European spelling and is pronounced like an English “v” — represents the iconic spirit of that part of the world, and Dworak wants to enlighten people who don’t appreciate its complexities. Before opening Wodka Bar, Dworak had already developed a following for her pierogies — palm-sized steamed potato-based turnovers with various fillings — at Babushka Pierogies. You can try them — along with a several other items on the bar’s food menu — while sipping spirits and cocktails. The drink menu includes a rotating selection of infused vodkas as well as a couple of vodka flights with either an infusion theme or four different types of “plain” vodkas. Bar snacks are mandatory, of course, but forget about french fries and beer cheese. Instead, you can chase your shots with caviar in puff pastry, a kielbasa bowl or smoked trout in cream sauce. Must try: One of the current charcuterie-style platters featuring options like smoked ham, kielbasa, farmers cheese, house pickles, dill butter and rye bread from nearby Allez bakery. 1200 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, wodkabarotr.com.

/>Yonder Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Yonder — Inspired by owners Chris and Tess Burns’ love of Kentucky State Parks, this bar concept by the folks behind Covington’s Commonwealth Bistro features a chic treehouse-esque rooftop bar with a small rotating menu and craft cocktails. The bar menu features a variety of both alcoholic and spirit-free cocktails. Yonder’s culinary menu rotates on a weekly basis. Like Commonwealth, Yonder’s chefs and bartenders use direct-from-the-farm ingredients, but the bar’s more flexible approach lets them use unique items that come in small quantities, which are perfect for an appetizer that only sticks around for a week but couldn’t be worked into the main restaurant’s menu. Past dishes have ranged from Oysters Rockabilly to wagyu beef jerky made in house. The breezy, plant-filled bar holds approximately 30 guests and features cozy, communal bench seating, hanging rattan chairs and five seats along the bar. Must try: One of the mocktails, such as the High Lonesome — locally roasted Deeper Roots cold brew coffee, chicory syrup, sarsaparilla, almond milk and mint. 621 Main St., Second Floor, Covington, commonwealthbistro.com/yonder.

Zundo Ramen & Donburi — You’ve probably been eating ramen the wrong way as long as you’ve been eating it. But before you panic, it’s OK. Ramen is fast food in Japan and embodying the concept of swift satisfaction is something at which Zundo excels. Zundo, which means “big pot” in Japanese, has a small but fierce menu comprising four ramens with different broths, 10 donburis, a thoughtful smattering of appetizers and a few desserts. Zundo’s traditional tonkatsu broth takes 14 hours they also offer miso pork broth and a vegetarian version. Before slurping, you want the doily-like slices of lotus root to mingle with the strips of pork belly, the rim of red miso paste and the jammy-centered soft-boiled egg and the sprinkling of chopped green onions to take a bath in the bottom of the broth. Slurp. Repeat until done. You have two to three minutes to complete your mission. Must try: The piece de resistance of the ramen menu is the insider’s version: order the vegetarian miso ramen, request it spicy and add an egg and pork belly. It’s a Frankenstein’s monster of all the other ramens, dragging in each of the best bits of the others and leaving your stomach in a state of near-bliss. 220 W. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine, zundootr.com.

Coming Soon

Fillo Bake Shop — Evan Papanikolaou is slated to open his 2,300-square-foot day-to-night bakery concept on the ground floor of the Rennen & Beecher Flats project. The family-owned cafe will be open seven days a week and transform from a bakery during the day to a small-plates cafe at night with Greek dishes, cheese plates, cocktails, wine and beer, according to Papanikolaou. The shop is slated to open in mid-November. 1505 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/fillogreekbakeshop.

Losanti — This boutique steakhouse has taken over the former Anchor-OTR space and is slated to open this week. A non-traditional take on the typical white-tablecloth concept, it features casual seating, a bar and a patio that overlooks Washington Park. Helmed by the owners of Crown Republic Gastropub, Losanti offers steakhouse favorites like prime filet mignon in addition to non-steak entrees like pan-roasted salmon and double pork chops, plus sharable sides like CRG’s popular charred broccoli. 1401 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, losantiotr.com.

Mesa Loca — The former Cock & Bull pub location on Hyde Park Square is getting reimagined as a modern Mexican destination called Mesa Loca. The restaurant is slated to open in "late fall" and will start with dinner service, adding brunch and lunch after the grand opening. Mesa will feature locally sourced ingredients transformed into shared plates, antojitos and tacos, with tequila pairings. The bar menu will also offer wine and mezcal, plus cocktails, sangria pitchers, Mexican beer on tap and "interactive seasonally changing beverages." 2645 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, mesalocahydepark.com.

Nomad — This new evening gathering place will serve craft cocktails, coffee, wine, beer and donuts out of a renovated vintage 1976 Bristol double-decker bus and a dreamy outdoor courtyard. The space is across the street from Darkness Brewing and was the forme the home of Mama C's Buttercream & Sprinkles bakery. They will host soft openings throughout the fall ahead of their grand opening in spring 2020. 225 Fairfield Ave., Bellevue, facebook.com/codacompany.

Pepp & Dolores — Thunderdome Restaurant Group — the team behind The Eagle, Bakersfield, Maplewood Kitchen and Bar, etc. — is opening an Italian/pasta-heavy concept this December. The pasta will be broken into two categories: traditional and non-traditional. In addition to homemade pasta, the menu will offer cicchetti (aka shareable appetizers) plus a main bar and a basement bar. 1501 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, searchable on Facebook.

Sugar n’ Spice OTR — Sugar n’ Spice, the classic Cincinnati breakfast restaurant known for its wispy-thin pancakes, is slated to open a second location in the former Joe’s Diner in Over-the-Rhine by winter. It will have the same menu as its Reading Road space in Paddock Hills. 1203 Sycamore St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/eatsugarnspice.

Best Restaurants

The top 10 reader picks for Best Overall and Best Northern Kentucky restaurant from CityBeat's 2019 Best Of Cincinnati issue

OVERALL

/>Sotto Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Sotto — Located under Boca restaurant, the Tuscan-inspired Sotto offers a more approachable atmosphere and price point than its upstairs neighbor. With multiple dining rooms, the kitchen is open to view, including the custom-made woodfire grill in front and a fresh-pasta room in the back hallway. Menu items include handmade pasta, house-cured salami and big-ticket items like Bistecca Fiorentina, a grilled creekstone porterhouse steak with daily sides. Must try: Sotto is the premier special occasion dining spot in Cincy. From its sexy, low-light ambiance to its menu of fresh pastas and other rustic Italian cuisine (with accompanying price tag), this underground eatery is perfect for holidays, anniversaries, birthdays and more it was even recently named one of OpenTable’s top 100 best restaurants in America. So when Sotto has a special on the menu, you know it’s gonna be out of this world. And generally, when the restaurant gets its hands on some truffles, the chefs create an ultimate indulgence. Truffles frequently come with a hefty price tag, but if you hear about a truffle special at Sotto, jump on it. 118 E. Sixth St., Downtown, sottocincinnati.com.

Jeff Ruby’s The Precinct — You can always rely on a Jeff Ruby restaurant for a big, rare steak and platters of seafood. The Precinct, housed in a historical Romanesque-style former police precinct, was the first in a long line of Ruby steakhouses. You can’t go wrong with a sirloin or porterhouse, named after current and past Cincinnati sports greats. But there are other options, like blackened diver scallops or something from the tableside service menu like seafood fettuccine alfredo for two. Must try: Anything from the raw bar. Options like Alaskan king crab and a daily selection of oysters are served over glowing, neon ice — they drop a light into the bowl before adding the sea creatures. It’s cool. 311 Delta Ave., Columbia Tusculum, jeffruby.com.

The Eagle OTR — The Eagle is nested inside a retired post office and has a relatively small menu, comprised of fried chicken, sandwiches, snacks and several side dishes. Booze-wise, they serve 100 kinds of beer and have about 15 different brews on tap. The fried chicken is free-range, all natural and sourced from Ohio farms. Opt for a whole, half chicken (white and dark meat) or a quarter of a chicken (select white or dark). The spicy honey served with chicken is a must — try it on everything. Must try: While it is hard to look past all the ways in which you can indulge in some deep-fried bird here, do so because you’ll land upon the grilled cheese. Forgoing poultry perfection in order to just have a sandwich featuring three cheeses, apricot preserves and granny smith apples may sound crazy, but it isn’t. 1342 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, eaglerestaurant.com.

/>Taste of Belgium's pumpkin waffle Photo: Provided by Taste of Belgium

Taste of Belgium — Hot, fresh Belgian waffles are made from a thick dough and coarse Belgian beet sugar, which caramelizes on the cast iron press. Find the heavenly breakfast food topped with strawberries and cream or ricotta, or as the bread in a McWaffle sandwich (egg, gruyere and maple syrup). The crepe station prepares sweet and savory crepes, like the Nati Crepe with goetta, made fresh to order. At dinner, the sophistication goes up a notch with mussels, steak frites and Belgian specialties. Offers an exclusive selection of Belgian beers. At The Banks location, you can find all four of Chimay’s Trappist ales on drafts — only the second location in the world outside of the brewery in Belgium to offer them all. Must try: The Belgian bistro has brought back its fan favorite Pumpkin Spiced Waffle for a limited time (through Nov. 30). The waffle features pumpkin puree and “seasonal spices” in TOB’s hearty dough, which is then pressed with a Belgian waffle iron and topped with fresh whipped cream, toasted pecans and freshly ground mace. Multiple locations including 16 W. Freedom Way, The Banks 1135 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine 2845 Vine St., Corryville 3825 Edwards Road, Norwood, authenticwaffle.com.

Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse — Modeled after a 1940s New York Art Deco steakhouse. If you love steak you have about a zero-percent chance of being let down with one of Ruby’s — they dry-age their own. There are several non-steak options on the menu, including good seafood dishes, but the cow is king at Ruby’s. Must try: A steak, duh. Opt to go all-out with a Japanese A5 (the highest grade) wagyu tenderloin, cut to order and market priced. 700 Walnut St., Downtown, jeffruby.com.

Boca — A trip to chef David Falk’s Italian/French gemstone is an experience to be savored as much as the food itself. Take your time, invest a few hours and allow him and his attentive, knowledgeable staff to unfold an epic tale of two or three courses, plus dessert. Most entrees are available in full or tasting portions. Must try: The Pommes Soufflees “1942” — puffy french fries — are a call back to the restaurant’s former iteration as the Maisonette. 114 E. Sixth St., Downtown, bocacincinnati.com.

Incline Public House — With a 1,400-square-foot deck for soaking in vistas and cocktails, IPH’s name is derived from the actual Cincinnati Incline that existed there from the late 1800s to the 1940s. Their upscale twist on pub food features sandwiches, salads, epicurean appetizers and a slew of craft cocktails and draft beers. Must try: Their pizzas are surprisingly delicious for a non-pizza-parlor. Build your own with toppings ranging from pepperoni and prosciutto to fried egg and oven-roasted tomato. Or order a house option like the Garbage pie with basically everything ranging from bacon, pepperoni and sausage to arugula, fried egg and cheese. 2601 W. Eighth St., Price Hill, inclinepublichouse.com.

Taft’s Ale House — Housed in a renovated multi-story 1850s-era church, Taft’s is named after William Howard Taft, the 27th president of the United States and native Cincinnatian. The working brewery and restaurant features meat platters, salads and sandwiches that focus on tri-tip beef — similar to prime rib — and a special kids’ menu. The creative beer selection boasts brews made with local goods, everything from locally roasted coffee to artisan chocolate. Must try: The restaurant ages its tri-tip beef, rubs it, chars it, smokes it over hickory-wood chips and then finishes it in the oven — so anything with that. 1429 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, taftsalehouse.com.

Mazunte — Taco fillings range from shredded pork to crispy braised chicken, and specialties include memelitas (open-faced tortillas), corn husk tamales and corn empanadas with queso Oaxaca. It’s a refreshing and authentic culinary surprise, considering the restaurant’s location in a Madisonville strip mall. Must try: Warm, vibrant and, honestly, just full of really good food, don’t sleep on their Sunday brunch menu. The huevos divorciados features crispy fried eggs atop corn tortillas and a collision of salsa verde and salsa guajillo. 5207 Madison Road, Madisonville, mazuntetacos.com.

Dewey’s Pizza — A hip neighborhood pizza chain with craft beers, seasonal salads, specialty toppings and a window where kids (and adults) can watch the pizzas being hand-tossed. Must try: Whatever the pizza of the moment is. Seasonal salads and pies rotate based on, well, the seasons and feature fresh and fun toppings. Right now, there’s a Cuban pizza with a mustard base, mozzarella cheese, Canadian bacon, pulled pork, Mojo sauce, dill pickles and Swiss cheese. Multiple locations including 3014 Madison Road, Oakley 7767 Kenwood Road, Kenwood Newport on the Levee, Newport, deweyspizza.com.

NORTHERN KENTUCKY

/>AmerAsia Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Pompilio’s — This restaurant, where the toothpick scene in Rain Man was filmed, has been offering classic family Italian since 1933. Play a game of bocce ball on the back court or grab a beer-and-burger special in the attached Colonel Pomp’s Tavern. You also can’t go wrong with any pasta dish. Must try: Order a pasta sampler with spaghetti marina, fettuccine alfredo, penne robusto (a hearty marinara) and rigatoni with meat sauce. 600 Washington Ave., Newport, pompilios.com.

Hofbräuhaus — The first authentic German Hofbrauhaus in America and modeled after the legendary Munich location. Traditionally decorated rooms, beer brewed on-site (in line with the German Purity Law “Reinheitsgebot,” using only hops, malt and water), a huge biergarten and German dishes make this a fun dining option. Servers bring you your schnitzel and wurst in traditional German garb and there’s live music almost every night. Must try: A giant glass boot-stein of whatever beer has been recently tapped and something German. The Bavarian sampler platter for two, or Schmankerlplatte, has schweinebraten (pork roast with bier sauce), schnitzel wiener art (breaded pork cutlet) and three types of wurst with fried cabbage, mashed potatoes and sauerkraut. 200 E. Third St., Newport, hofbrauhausnewport.com.

Walt’s Hitching Post — Walt’s Hitching Post is a kick-back, casual place where everybody knows your name. Open in some iteration since the 1950s, classic menu items include Walt’s Legendary Fried Chicken, Steak Diane and fried green tomatoes with chicken livers. All steaks are dusted with a unique seasoning blend and charred to perfection. Must try: On Fridays, Kosher-salt encrusted prime rib is on special — while it lasts. 3300 Madison Pike, Fort Wright, waltshitchingpost.com.

KungFood Chu’s AmerAsia — Quaint and comfortable with a huge beer list, AmerAsia offers all the usual Chinese dishes and chef specialties, but the food is anything but the usual. Chef Chu makes it all from scratch. His motto: “Do not take short cuts and do everything with passion and love.” Enjoy it all while taking in the eclectic decor of Kung Fu movie posters and paper lanterns. Must try: Favorite dishes include the inferno-hot Dragon Breath wontons and General Chu’s orange and sesame street chicken. 521 Madison Ave., Covington, facebook.com/kungfoodchu.

Bouquet Restaurant & Wine Bar — Working closely with local sources, Bouquet’s farm-to-table approach means a fresh, frequently rotating menu packed with seasonal ingredients. Elegant small plates, entrees and thoughtful wine pairings set the stage for an intimate dining experience. Must try: The Motherboard charcuterie board is ever popular, featuring two cured meats, two house meats, five cheeses and a multitude of accoutrements. 519 Main St., Covington, bouquetrestaurant.com.

Otto’s — Otto’s does lunch and dinner, but it’s definitely a happening brunch spot. For brunch, Benedict Otto’s substitutes fried grit cake for the English muffin of a traditional eggs Benedict. It’s delicious, a bit rich and a true indulgence. There are a half-dozen mimosa options, from Violette Royale to citrus vanilla spice, and bloody marys made with house-infused cucumber or jalapeno-garlic vodka. Must try: Otto’s is known for its panko-crusted fried green tomatoes, so if you go during brunch, order the B.L.F.G.T. aka the bacon, lettuce, fried green tomato, egg and cheese sandwich on a croissant. If you’re there for dinner, order the appetizer portion of tomatoes with dipping sauce. 521 Main St., Covington, ottosonmain.com.

/>Frida tacos Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Frida — The restaurant, named after the legendary painter Frida Kahlo, has Kahlo’s portrait and famous unibrow emblazoned all over the place. The cocktail list is divided into margaritas and house cocktails made with either tequila or mezcal, and they offer both alcohols in a flight, served in copitas (small clay cups). The menu is categorized into antojitos of chips and salsas, salads, nachos and several kinds of tacos. Must try: The vegetarian Brussels sprout tacos are the best, served with a smoked peanut salsa. Also a must: the queso dip. 602 Main St., Covington, fridaonmain.com.

Greyhound Tavern — Famous for its double-deckers, the Greyhound Tavern has been a Fort Mitchell institution since the 1930s. You won’t want to miss the divine fried chicken, the ginormous onion rings, the Hot Brown or the bread pudding. It’s family-style fried chicken night on Mondays and Tuesdays, with generous portions of bird — rolled in secret-recipe herbed flour and fried — mashed potatoes, green beans, coleslaw and biscuits. Must try: A classic Kentucky Hot Brown. Get country ham or oven-roasted turkey on toast points, topped with cheesy mornay sauce, cheddar cheese, bacon and tomato. 2500 Dixie Highway, Fort Mitchell, greyhoundtavern.com.

Agave & Rye — Agave & Rye is a taqueria and tequila and bourbon hall that serves self-proclaimed “epic tacos.” Geared toward a hip audience, tacos have names like the Swipe Right and fillings like kangaroo meat, duck confit, butter-poached lobster and veggie options like fried green tomatoes. Sides range from mac and cheese and bourbon-bacon refried beans to “guac fries” and elote. Must try: The “Sensei,” made with soy and ginger kangaroo tenderloin topped with crispy rice noodles and veggies before it’s finished off with spicy peanut chili oil. 635 Madison Ave., Covington, agaveandrye.com.

Coppin’s Restaurant & Bar — There’s a strong local identity to the location and the menu, with nods to history and the new South, the bourbon and the banter that starts at the Roebling Bridge. Chef Mitch Arens has also placed a specific and intentional focus on reducing waste. By building relationships with local farms and producers to source everything from lamb, beef and chicken to produce, cheese and ice cream, the goal — specifically with the proteins and plants — is to use the entirety of the items that pass through his kitchen, nose to tail and root to stem. The menu is full of upscale but still Southern-inspired dishes. Must try: For a romantic date night, try one of the dishes from under the “for two” heading, like a Sakura Farms ribeye. 638 Madison Ave., Covington, hotelcovington.com.

Best of the Rest

Here are some other top 10 and top 3 picks from a variety of Best Of Cincinnati dining categories

Best Barbecue

/>Eli's BBQ Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Eli’s BBQ — Eli’s specialty, the pulled-pork sandwich, is a good intro to his amazing barbecue sauce, and you can move on from there to hickory-smoked ribs, smoked turkey or sides like mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, baked beans and jalapeno corn bread. Must try: You haven’t done Eli’s right until you’ve had the 2 All-Beef Dogs. You’ll still get a barbecue fix because the two smoked franks come in a bun with Eli’s famous sauce, however the flash fry preparation and pork crispins and coleslaw toppings will make you forget that Eli’s is known for anything else. 3313 Riverside Drive, East End Findlay Market, 133 W. Elder St., Over-the Rhine, elisbarbeque.com.

  • City Barbecue, multiple locations including 2760 Alexandria Pike, Highland Heights, citybbq.com.
  • Montgomery Inn9440 Montgomery Road, Montgomery 925 Riverside Drive, East End, montgomeryinn.com.
  • Lucius Q1131 Broadway St., Pendleton, luciusq.com.
  • Pickles & Bones Barbecue,1149 OH-131, Milford, picklesandbones.com.
  • Pontiac,1403 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, pontiacbbq.com.
  • Sweets & Meats,BBQ2249 Beechmont Ave., Mount Washington, sweetsandmeatsbbq.com.
  • Just Q’in,975 E. McMillan St., Walnut Hills, justqin.com.
  • Midwest Best BBQ and Creamery,669 Justice Court, Loveland, midwestbestbbq.com.
  • Big Art’s BBQ Grille,2796 Struble Road, Colerain, bigartsq.com.

Best Breakfast

/>Sleepy Bee Cafe Photo: Khoi Nguyen

Sleepy Bee Cafe — A family-friendly breakfast and lunch spot, much of Sleepy Bee’s food is sourced locally from farms with bee-friendly practices. Expect a healthy wait on weekends for healthy and hearty brunch fare. Must try: Bee Cakes. These gluten-free beauties marry almond milk, buckwheat and quinoa to make a tasty and healthy pancake on which to layer your favorite toppings. They’re packed with protein, so you won’t immediately be hungry again. 3098 Madison Road, Oakley 9514 Kenwood Road, Blue Ash 8 E. Fourth St., Downtown, sleepybeecafe.com.

  • First Watch,multiple locations including 104 E. Seventh St., Downtown, firstwatch.com.
  • Taste of Belgium,16 W. Freedom Way, The Banks 1135 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine 2845 Vine St., Corryville 3825 Edwards Road, Norwood, authenticwaffle.com.
  • Maplewood Kitchen and Bar,525 Race St., Downtown, 5065 Deerfield Blvd., Mason, maplewoodkitchenandbar.com.
  • Sugar n’ Spice Restaurant,4381 Reading Road, Paddock Hills, eatsugarnspice.com.
  • Hang Over Easy,13 W. Charlton St., Corryville, facebook.com/hangovereasycincy.
  • The Echo Restaurant, 3510 Edwards Road, Hyde Park, echo-hydepark.com.
  • The Main Cup,18 Main St., Milford, maincupmilford.com.
  • The Original Pancake House,8355 Beechmont Ave., Withamsville 9977 Montgomery Road, Montgomery, originalpancakehouse.com.
  • Wild Eggs,multiple locations including 301 E. Fourth St., Downtown, wildeggs.com.

Best Burgers

/>Zip's Cafe Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Zip’s Cafe — Open since 1926, Zip's Cafe is an East Side institution. And the cafe’s claim to fame — besides the little toy train that runs along the ceiling — is having some of the best burgers in town: fresh, flame-broiled Avril-Bleh beef patties (sourced locally every day), served on a honey-egg bun. Must try: The fan-favorite Girth burger — named by former Bengal punter Pat McInally — features a classic Zip burger topped with a split, grilled Avril-Bleh mettwurst. If that isn’t enough, opt for the Train Wreck, a step up from the Girth with the addition of shaved ham and three types of cheese. 1036 Delta Ave., Mount Lookout, zipscafe.com.

  • Arthur’s,3516 Edwards Road, Hyde Park 8221 Beechmont Ave., Anderson, arthurscincinnati.com.
  • Krueger’s Tavern,1211 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, kruegerstavern.com.
  • Nation Kitchen and Bar,1200 Broadway, Pendleton, nationkitchenandbar.com.
  • Tickle Pickle,4176 Hamilton Ave., Northside, ordertickle.com.
  • Flipdaddy’s Burgers & Beers,165 Pavilion Parkway, Newport 7453 Wooster Pike, Mariemont 12071 Mason Montgomery Road, Symmes Township 8863 US Route 42, Union, flipdaddys.com.
  • Roney’s,314 Chamber Drive, Milford, facebook.com/roneysrestaurant.
  • Bard’s Burgers & Chili,3620 Decoursey Ave., Covington, bardsburgersandchili.com.
  • Quatman Cafe,224 W. Main St., Mason 2434 Quatman Ave., Norwood, quatmancafe.com.
  • Gas Light Cafe,6104 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge, gaslightcincy.com.

Best Burritos

Gomez Salsa — On Weekends, Gomez in OTR is open till 2:30 a.m., making it the perfect drunk Saturday pit stop before piling into your Uber. But this Mexican eatery — which serves up tacos, burritos and turtles — is also a prime spot to pick up grub before lounging in Washington Park, during your lunch break or literally whenever you feel on-the-go. Must try: The Turtle — a burrito tortilla stuffed with rice, beans and the ingredients of your choice, plus a crunchy tortilla right in the center and a layer of crispy melted cheese on top. It’s cut into halves, and you eat it sort of like a sandwich. or a Cruchwrap Supreme. 107 E. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine 2437 Gilbert Ave., Walnut Hills, gomezsalsa.com.

  • Chipotle,multiple locations, chipotle.com
  • Mazunte,5207 Madison Road, Madisonville, taqueria.mazuntetacos.com.

Best Chili (Non-Chain)

/>Camp Washington Chili Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Camp Washington Chili — A great place for breakfast, lunch or dinner, Camp Washington Chili features greasy-spoon breakfast offerings, double-decker sandwiches, Cincinnati-style chili, coneys and even a few salads. A James Beard Award winner, Camp Washington Chili opened its doors in 1940, and current owner Johnny Johnson has been working at the parlor since 1951. Open 24/6 — they’re closed on Sundays. Must try: The "513-Way," three slabs of Queen City Sausage goetta covered in Cincinnati-style chili, beans, onion and cheese. 3005 Colerain Ave., Camp Washington, campwashingtonchili.com.

  • Blue Ash Chili, 9565 Kenwood Road, Blue Ash 4200 Aero Drive, Mason 11711 Princeton Pike, Tri-County, blueashchili.com.
  • Pleasant Ridge Chili, 6032 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge, pleasantridgechili.com.

Best Mediterranean

/>Aladdin's Eatery + Lounge Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Aladdin’s Eatery + Lounge — Although the Aladdin’s Eatery chain has been around since 1994, their location in OTR marks something novel for the Lebanese-American franchise: a full bar. Now, you can not only grab a freshly squeezed juice, smoothie or mint tea, you can also opt for a drink from a clever selection of cocktails. Find food favorites like rolled pita sandwiches, shish kabob plates, kibbie, beef kafta and other Mediterranean flavors. Must try: A pita “pitza,” topped with anything from baba ganouj and veggies to hummus, ground beef, diced tomatoes and pine nuts. 1203 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/aladdinseateryotr.

  • Phoenician Taverna,7944 Mason Montgomery Road, Mason, facebook.com/phoeniciantaverna.
  • Sebastian’s Gyros,5209 Glenway Ave., Western Hills, sebastiansgyros.com.

Best Seafood

/>Court Street Lobster Bar Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Court Street Lobster Bar — Nary a bright-red shell is in sight at Court Street Lobster Bar. Instead, there are several ways to enjoy tender, buttery lobster meat — in a creamy bisque or as an ingredient in poutine as part of the decadent lobster mac and cheese or in one of two styles of lobster rolls. Must try: A “Maine Style” or “Connecticut Style” roll. The Maine roll is a chilled lobster salad with mayonnaise while the Connecticut roll has warm lobster meat drizzled with hot butter. 28 W. Court St., Downtown, courtstreetlobsterbar.com.

  • PappadeauxSeafoodKitchen, 11975 Northwest Blvd., Springdale, pappadeaux.com.
  • Bonefish Grill, multiple locations including 2737 Madison Road, Hyde Park, bonefish.com.
  • McCormick & Schmick’s, 21 E. Fifth St., Downtown, mccormickandschmicks.com.
  • Pelican’s Reef, 7261 Beechmont Ave., Anderson, thepelicansreef.com.
  • S.W. Clyborne Co., 5948 Snider Road, Mason, clybornes.com.
  • Mitchell’s Fish Market, 9456 Water Front Drive, Mason, mitchellsfishmarket.com.
  • Washington Platform Saloon & Restaurant, 1000 Elm St., Downtown, washingtonplatform.com.
  • Chart House, 405 Riverboat Row, Newport, chart-house.com.

Best Sushi

Green Papaya — If you’re a Thai food fan, this mainstay — locally owned by Bangkok-born husband and wife — focuses on unique sushi rolls, curries and noodle dishes. Must try: The namesake Green Papaya roll with shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, mango and cream cheese, topped with spicy mayo, crab stick and tempura flakes. 2942 Wasson Road, Hyde Park 4002 Plainville Road, Mariemont, greenpapayacincinnati.com.

  • Cloud 9 Sushi,1018 Delta Ave., Mount Lookout, facebook.com/cloud9sushi.
  • IchibanJapaneseCuisine, 1020 Delta Ave., Mount Lookout, ichibancinci.com.
  • Mr. Sushi, 580 Walnut St., Downtown 138 W. McMillan St. Clifton, mrsushicinci.com.
  • WabiSabi, 508 Madison Ave., Covington, wabisabicovington.com.
  • Kaze, 1400 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, kazeotr.com.
  • Fusian, 600 Vine St., Downtown 8060 Montgomery Road, Kenwood 3780 Paxton Ave., Hyde Park, fusian.com.
  • Wild Ginger, 3655 Edwards Road, Hyde Park, wildgingercincy.com.
  • Izen’s Drunken Bento, 212 W. McMillan St., Clifton, searchable on Facebook.
  • E+O Kitchen, 3520 Edwards Road, Hyde Park, eokitchen.com.

Best Veggie Burger

/>Krueger's Tavern veggie burger Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Krueger’s Tavern — Krueger’s Tavern is part of the rapidly expanding Thunderdome empire, which also owns Maplewood, Bakersfield, Currito and The Eagle. Must try: The veggie burger.The housemade patty is a blend of beets, breadcrumbs and other binding ingredients, all mushed together into a sort of disc, then dropped in a fryer. The burger is crispy on the outside and super flavorful on the inside, with a nice reddish hue. It is topped with melty provolone cheese, pesto mayo, mixed greens and housemade pickles on a challah bun. 1211 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, kruegerstavern.com.

  • Tickle Pickle,4176 Hamilton Ave., Northside, ordertickle.com.
  • S.W. Clyborne Co.,5948 Snider Road, Mason, clybornes.com.
  • Arthur’s, 3516 Edwards Road, Hyde Park 8221 Beechmont Ave., Anderson, arthurscincinnati.com.
  • Sleepy Bee Cafe3098 Madison Road, Oakley 8 E. Fourth St., Downtown 9514 Kenwood Road, Blue Ash, sleepybeecafe.com.
  • Flipdaddy’s Burgers & Beers,7453 Wooster Pike, Mariemont 12071 Mason Montgomery Road, Symmes Township 8863 US Route 42, Union 165 Parkway Pavilion, Newport, flipdaddys.com.
  • Maplewood Kitchen and Bar,525 Race St., Downtown 5065 Deerfield Blvd., Mason, maplewoodkitchenandbar.com.
  • Arnold’s Bar & Grill,210 E. Eighth St., Downtown, arnoldsbarandgrill.com.
  • Harvest Pizzeria,1739 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, harvestpizzeria.com.
  • Bones’ Burgers,9721 Montgomery Road, Montgomery 3235 Madison road, Oakley, bones-burgers.com.

Best Vietnamese

/>Pho Lang Thang's new exterior Photo: Pho Lang Thang Facebook


Shoreditch foodie guide: where to eat and drink

Looking for Shoreditch restaurants? Here are some of our favourite restaurants in east London’s buzzing borough around Old Street and Shoreditch High Street stations. Check out our ideas for eating and drinking in Shoreditch, from Brick Lane to Redchurch Street and beyond…

Padella, Phipp Street – for pasta

From the brains behind Borough Market’s buzzing, booking-free pasta spot comes Padella 2.0, an industrial-style space that makes up for its cool interiors with a showstopping selection of antipasti and, you guessed it, pasta. Like the original, you can’t make a booking, instead, turn up when it opens (12pm for lunch and 5pm for dinner) to pop your name on a virtual queue. A spacious open kitchen accommodates bar stools, or there are red wooden tables further away from the action. Wherever you sit, the larger space feels like you can linger over your linguine for longer.

Start with a bitter, dark-berry blackcurrant americano (Campari, Hereford blackcurrant liqueur, fig leaf and soda) or sip a punchy gorgonzola-stuffed olive martini. Food-wise, if it’s not made in-house, it’s been carefully sourced from local and Italian producers, from the Islington-based Cobble Lane Cured ‘nduja to the vivid Sicilian Marinda tomatoes.

Every plate impresses, from sourdough with a crunch to the crust and satisfying chew to wobbly burrata in a pool of fruity Fiorano olive oil. You’d be missing a trick if you didn’t order at least half the pasta menu (there’s eight that change on the regular). Dexter beef shin ragu cooks for eight hours, clinging to the slippery sheets of pappardelle before being covered in frilly parmesan, while a Westcombe ricotta ravioli zings with lemon, sage and butter.

Come for the pasta, stay for the puds. A sliver of seasonal tart (be it lemon, rhubarb and almond or salted caramel) will end things nicely – a buttery, short crust, light filling and dollop of cooling crème fraiche.

Daffodil Mulligan, Old Street – for Irish food

If you think you know chef Richard Corrigan’s shtick – posh British fare in Mayfair institutions – think again. His latest outpost, in partnership with fellow Irishmen John Nugent and Tony Gibney, and minutes from Old Street tube station, is an unapologetic tribute to Irish craic. The industrial Shoreditch space is modestly decorated with moody portraits of Irish legends – Sinéad O’Connor guides you down the stairs to the basement drinking den and unisex loos while upstairs is where you’ll find the main restaurant, open kitchen, complete with a wood oven and grill, and oyster bar.

Let chef be your guide with six sharing courses and a Gibney’s stout for £45 pp, or work your way around the snacks, small plates, oysters and grill. Whatever direction you go in, you’re in for a surprise – this is, after all, a wilder, east London take on Corrigan’s version of refined cooking. Brown crab arrives as a whisper of foam – think savoury Angel Delight – topped with the season’s best purple sprouting broccoli and dark, toasted rye breadcrumbs. Beef tartare is a generous, fiery mouthful served in an oyster shell with saline sophistication from accompanying oyster cream.

With every plate – they come when they’re ready – the flavour continues to dial up. “Vongole, chicken and tarragon” needs to be served with a straw, so addictive is the briny, Marmite-y, silky lagoon in which the sweet clams bathe in. Save a slice of soda bread and sea salt butter for mopping up every last drop. More shellfish: lobster and kimchi are unexpected, sweet and funky partners.

More traditional Irish dishes stand up, too. Crubeens – boiled pig’s feet, breadcrumbed and fried – are sticky, gelatinous and served on a bed of crushed swede with a whole pot of english mustard. Cured collar of bacon is served with the creamiest mash and soubise (a sweet and mellow caramelised onion white sauce) and lifted with sharp and fresh pickled shallot rings. Many ingredients are even sourced from Richard’s own estate in Ireland, Virginia Park Lodge – including smoky, wood-roasted carrots that punch way above their weight.

Biscuity champagne and a light, very gluggable muscadet are winners on the wine list – but drinks nerds should explore the cocktails with infused spirits, from jalapeño-infused tequila in a blood orange margarita to chilli Aperol with mezcal, chocolate and orange bitters.

Gloria, Great Eastern Street – for a group dinner

A Paris export bringing top-quality Italian food to the streets of east London in its own quirky, seriously OTT way. All produce is sourced from Italy and it shows. Order smoked stracciatella (if you can resist burrata from Puglia), accurately described on the playful menu as “bloody godsent”.

If Instagrammable dishes are your bag then look no further than the La Gran Carbonara, for two to share, served in a giant wheel of pecorino, and the “incomparable” lemon pie with a promised 5.9-inch meringue layer.

Two Lights, Kingsland Road – for date night

This neighbourhood restaurant in a corner of London that’s best known for its Vietnamese cuisine is starkly decorated with whitewashed brick walls, clothless tables and not a soft furnishing in sight. S taff seem to be genuinely happy to see you. They care – whether that’s ensuring your glass of (great) wine is served at the perfect temperature, or guiding you through their menu highlights.

Our favourite dishes were a sardine katsu sandwich – perhaps the least Instagram-friendly dish this side of Old Street station – and crab atop beef-fat ‘chips’. The former, a panko-battered fish (tail and all, poking out from one end) sandwiched between cheap, crustless, white slices, is brilliant. The chips, millefeuille-like, are super crisp fingers topped with delicately sweet picked and dressed white crab meat, with a welcome sharpness from tiny pickled elderflower buds, all served on millennial-pleasing blush-pink plates. Don’t skip the sides – carrots roasted, dusted with fennel pollen and draped in disappearing, melting lardo was simply ace.

Casa do Frango, King John Court – for Portuguese food

This two-floor Shoreditch spot is the second Portuguese chicken joint from Casa do Frango. Start in Bar da Casa on the ground floor, where cocktails have pleasing Portuguese twists – such as a dash of tawny port in a punchy old fashioned, or tropical Licor Beirão to lace the caipirinha-like Caipirão. Continue upstairs in the candlelit dining room where long wooden tables, dusty pink banquettes and plenty of plants fit neatly round curved walls with floor-to-ceiling windows.

Friendly Portuguese staff are keen to share wine knowledge and recommend dishes like their grandmas used to make. Try a selection of petiscos (small plates) served in terracotta dishes – shell-on prawns slathered in a garlicky white wine piri piri sauce and deep-fried salgadinhos (empanadas stuffed with caramelised onion, kale and mushrooms). The main event is succulent chicken with crispy, sticky piri-piri skin and extra-hot piri-piri sauce on the side. Accompany with a refreshing chopped salad of tomatoes, cucumber, onions and green peppers or African rice studded with tiny peas, plantain pieces and chorizo, with crisp chicken skin on top to add crunch. Leave room for a delicate, cinnamon-laced custard tart, fresh and warm from the oven.

St Leonards, Leonard Street – for bold flavours

St Leonard’s is a vast and underdressed space in the grungy end of Shoreditch. Living trees add a bit of colour to the sparse, concrete-chic decor – wooden tables adorned only with cutlery, crudely pressed linen napkins, and tortoiseshell tealight holders. Funky, industrial chain lights cast pretty shadows.

Expect flavours and combinations here that you won’t have tried before and a lot of love for pork. There’s a dramatic, large, log-fuelled open fire which produces small plates of flame-scorched margarita onions, with a tuna bone (yes, you read right) caramel (sweet, umami, sticky) and specials such as Swaledale lamb leg, slow roasted and rosy, with Vesuvio tomatoes and anchovies.

There’s also a raw ice bar where oysters come natural, dressed or, with help from the hearth, flamed. Ours come warm from the fire with a lardo crumb – every bit as mind blowing as you might imagine – but still not as good as the single cherrystone clam. Smoked eel and foie gras custard with pork rind is like the punk sister to an elegant and restrained chawanmushi (a Japanese savoury egg custard). Sides, too, shouldn’t be shunned. Hispi cabbage – uncontested king brassica – is crowned with more pork fat and an XO crumb. Sprouting broccoli is slathered in delicious, dainty scraps of ham knuckle and aggressive smoked chilli. Desserts are no less ballsy, so don’t skip, even if you don’t think you have a sweet tooth: the salted caramel and East India sherry tart with cardamom ice cream is the best thing on the menu. And, trust us, it’s got a lot of competition.

Bitter is the theme when it comes to apertifs – Cynar and Kamm & Sons spritzes, and Suze, get star billing, alongside sherry and vermouth. The wine list is well annotated with full tasting notes, which make navigating the lesser-known bottles a dream.

BRAT, Redchurch Street – for sharing plates

Brat, slang for turbot – the much ordered and much Instagrammed star dish on the menu at this former Shoreditch strip bar – is grilled over an open wood fire grill to much dramatic effect, along with more prime ingredients.

Order the Cornish moorland beef chop – slices of ruby red meat with a darkly charred bark, come lined up like dominos, their border of gamey yellow fat almost better than the meat itself. Italian tomatoes, on the side, are simply quartered, seasoned and drenched in an olive oil so peppery it catches in your throat.

The rest of the menu follows the trend for sharing plates – small snacks up to giant platters. Chopped egg salad with bottarga, and bouncy, blistered, pillow-soft grilled flatbread, topped with curls of salty anchovy fillets.

Sweet langoustines with earthy spikes of roasted rosemary are barely licked by the flames – still daringly see through. Spider crab, cabbage and fennel salad is refreshingly different – a careful dance between the sweet shellfish, brassica pepperiness and aniseed hit, lemon zest and chervil. For dessert try a Tomos Parry classic, brown bread ice cream marbled with marmalade.

The wine list lives up to its promise, too – curated with the help of the cool gang at Noble Rot – there’s plenty for the chipper team to recommend, from supremely sippable sherries, to the grown-up Koehler-Ruprecht riesling trocken.

Leroy, Phipp Street – for a relaxed dinner

Those followers of Michelin will recognise the team behind Shoreditch’s latest bistro from the now (sadly) closed Ellory in Hackney – with sommeliers Ed Thaw and Jack Lewens, and chef Sam Kamienko at the helm. Leroy (a pet name for their former gaff) is decidedly more relaxed, more affordable, and the sort of place we want to hang out in every damn day. Olive-green tables are gold trimmed, school chairs have red-leather cushions, there’s dark, marble-topped counters and an open kitchen, which looks like a scene out of the Bon Appétit test kitchen. It feels like Brooklyn – but better.

Its new home used to be a wine bar – and the drinks are definitely still a draw, from deliciously puckering rhubarb house soda and aromatic vermouth spritzes to a long list of low-intervention, natural wines (although only a few by the glass). When it comes to the food, simplicity and flavour are key – so everything on the menu appeals. One to two plates per person, with a couple of snacks to share for good measure, should do it. Quail skewers are so tender, still pink inside, with a sticky and hot honey sauce. Caramelised and moreish, the tingly heat that gently lingers is a reminder of just how good they were. Ricotta dumplings, under a cloud of parmesan, are like edible pillows sent from heaven, crashing down to earth in their bed of early summer peas and courgette. Don’t miss Muscat crème caramel for dessert – explicit in its wobble, unapologetic with its boozy flirting.

Som Saa, Commercial Street – for Thai food

The interior of this popular Thai restaurant wears that trendy East London warehouse look well – it’s a former fabric warehouse – with a mix of exposed brick, thick, battered wooden tabletops, steel girders and tanks of beer from Camden Town Brewery. The staff are really good – friendly, passionate, knowledgeable, efficient. Many have been with the chefs (Andy Oliver and Mark Dobbie who both previously worked at Nahm with chef-patron and Thai food guru David Thompson) from the beginning.

But, of course, it’s the food that draws these sorts of crowds: uncompromising, regional Thai . We’re recommended to order four to five dishes between two after sampling a cocktail each. Bangkok-style Som tam Thai screeched with flavour – salt, sour, and chilli fire. Sticky rice was addictively good and the ideal carrier for a mellow, sticky Burmese-style curry (gaeng hung lay) of pork belly and shoulder, topped with pickled garlic and ginger. Nahm dtok pla thort (whole deep-fried sea bass) looked terrifying, but hacking into the crisp, roasted rice-coated skin, gave way to the most tender flesh, and was perked up with sprightly dressed Isaan herbs.

There are only three desserts on the menu – Jackfruit poached in coconut cream, which they make in-house (authenticity is everything here), and palm sugar ice cream with grilled banana are worth a try.

The Napoleon hotel and bars, Christopher Street – for a one-building bar crawl

The team at The Napoleon describe it as London’s smallest grand hotel, which is fitting. Building (literally) on the success of whisky bar Black Rock, The Napoleon has launched with three unique concepts under one roof. You’ll still find Black Rock in the basement, but the ground floor is now home to Sack, a fun and authentic sherry and tapas bar. Upstairs again is The Devil’s Darling, a quirky hotel bar that wouldn’t be out of place in a Wes Anderson film, and one decadent bedroom suite above, which features bottled cocktails from the Aske Stephenson range.

Voodoo Ray’s, Kingsland High Street – for pizza slices

For the best slice of pizza in London, head to Voodoo Ray’s for a New York style slice. With four locations across London, this joint bakes 22-inch pizzas topped with everything from wild mushroom, squash and red onion salt beef, sauerkraut and emmental and a vegan option, piled high with artichoke hearts and green olives. If you fancy a pizza pie for brunch, Voodoo Ray’s serve 10” pizzas on the weekend topped with classic eggs and bacon or a veggie spinach and ricotta version.

With a selection of craft beers (think Beavertown, Red Hook and Kona) and frozen margaritas on offer, Voodoo Ray’s is the place to go for a late-night munch.

Crispin, Spitalfields – for brunch

This all-day and night café can be found on a quiet corner just off Spitalfields and Liverpool Street Station. In a quirky, purpose-built zinc and glass pavilion, designed to look like an origami-folded bird, light pours into the back onto the cool polished concrete bars, and terrazzo-topped ash bar. There’s Assembly coffee from Brixton during the day, and at night Fernando Berry of Otros Vinos has helped curate a rotating wine list focussing on natural and low-intervention wines.

Breakfast starts at 7.30am and covers the classics, alongside trendy new contenders. There’s an organic bacon sandwich with house ketchup bright-yolked, boiled Burford Brown eggs with Dusty Knuckle Bakery soldiers and Secret Smokehouse (made in London Fields) on sourdough ( check out our guide to sourdough here ) with soft cheese, lemon and dill. There’s avo on toast , too, plus scrambled eggs with chives and parmesan, and overnight oats with kefir, toasted seeds and compote. Order the super-crunchy, smoked ham toastie – oozing with melted cheddar, topped with a crispy fried egg and showered in finely grated, nutty Berkswell cheese.

Old Spitalfields Market, Spitalfields – for street food

Spitalfields Market has a selection of street-food traders right at its heart. Berber & Q, Dumpling Shack and Monty’s Deli are a few familiar faces, but there are new names, too, including seasonal fresh pasta from Sood Family and traditional Taiwanese dishes from JiaBa.

Don’t miss out on nose-to tail hearty dishes from Flank (by Brighton chef Tom Griffiths), including bone-marrow crumpets with tender beef cheeks and Marmite sauce. For dessert, head along to Happy Endings for indulgent ice-cream sandwiches and next-level hot chocolates.

Smokestak, Sclater Street – for barbecue

Founder David Carter launched his US-style smoked and barbecued meat stall onto the capital’s street food scene in 2013. Since then Barbadian David, who previously worked front of house at Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s, The Savoy Grill and Roka, has grown a reputation in London and beyond (praise the lord for the UK food festival circuit) for his USDA brisket, pork and beef ribs.

Ribs – beef and pork – collapses from the bone with only the merest nudge. Pigtails, cut into bitesize chunks are fiddly with the bones still intact, but this isn’t a place for airs and graces, or cutlery. It’s a place to gnaw, and spit out bones. Pastrami with sour cabbage and pickles is moreish – rudely blushing pink – amongst the dark, sticky plates that continue to stack up.

Boundary Hotel, Boundary Street – for rooftop vibes

In fast-changing Shoreditch, Boundary is virtually prehistoric. Which is a compliment. Opened in 2009, the fact that this hotel – part of the Prescott & Conran empire – is still buzzing means it got its recipe for classy but unpretentious food, wine and bedrooms right from the off.

In the basement is a small bar serving classic cocktails, and the main Boundary Restaurant, an elegant, boudoir-ish, space that wallows in the gloom, with theatrical lighting bouncing off red velvet chairs, the glass walls of its kitchen and polished cutlery. The menu here also has a strong French influence, with dishes such as roast and confit duck with a cherry sauce and salardaise potatoes and herb-crusted rack of lamb, and a good-value menu du jour (there’s also a wine club, for tastings and events, should the all-French wine list not sate your thirst).

In summer the Boundary Rooftop is the ideal spot to rise above the streetside hustle and sip cocktails as the sun sets over a slightly hushed, 360-degree view of London. It’s by no means out of bounds in winter, though, with its heaters, blankets and covered pergola shelter under a string of fairy lights with a seasonal cocktail and a sharing plate of octopus and chorizo skewers, or fish or meat dishes cooked on a Robata grill. Or just head up after dinner and sit by the outdoor fireplace nursing a digestive glass of vielle prune.

The real hub of the hotel, however, is Albion, an all-day café, shop and bakery on the ground floor, plus various other outlets around the city. For overnight guests, this is also where breakfast is served. There’s a grown-up vibe but an on-trend menu, stretching to a range of cold-pressed juices, marmite scrolls from the bakery and a ‘healthy’ range of cooked breakfasts.

Red Rooster, Curtain Road – for Southern soul food

Beneath a taqueria upstairs, Red Rooster is moody, industrial and buzzy, crammed with art on the walls and creative types at the tables – just as you would expect this far east. There’s an open-hatch kitchen so you can see the action pretty much from wherever you sit, but perch at the central bar for a relaxed dinner.

The food here is all about Southern soul – but tastes of anywhere from Ethiopia (in the form of warming berbere spices) to Sweden (think meatballs with gnocchi, an unusual but delicious pickled gravy and lingonberries) are apparent on the menu. It shouldn’t all work together, but it does. Cornbread (damp slabs, made better yet with whipped honey butter and sticky-sweet tomato jam) is good, but so too (surprisingly) is black kale salad – the leaves, a mixture of curly, red Russian kale and bubble-wrap-like cavolo nero, are massaged with a creamy almond caesar dressing. If there’s a group of you, order whole fried chicken with waffles, biscuits, mac and greens, pickles, hot sauce and (yes, really) sparklers.

Dishoom, Boundary Street – for Indian food

Inspired by the all-day Irani cafés that were an integral part of Bombay life, there are now five branches of Dishoom in London (and another in Edinburgh and Manchester), each serving Bombay breakfast, lunch, afternoon chai and dinner.

Breakfasts at Dishoom have won a cult following. Not least for the bacon naan rolls – crisp bacon wrapped in tandoor-charred naan with a dollop of chilli tomato jam and cream cheese. Pair with a breakfast lassi or house chai.

Luigi’s Bar, Shoreditch High Street – for cocktails

Evening sees all-day eatery and café Spelzini turn into Luigi’s Bar, serving Italian snacks and punchy cocktails in a sleek setting – think earthy, natural tones, low-slung leather sofas and communal wooden tables.

Drinks are designed by founder Jim Fisher (who named the bar after his Ligurian great grandfather) and mixologist pal Fin Spiteri (Rochelle Canteen), and are characterised by creative DIY ingredients and a playful approach to tweaking classic Italian apertivi drinks. Luigi’s – Victory gin, cherry shrub and Campari – is described as a riff on a negroni – but is less aggressively bitter and herbal, with a silky, fruity, subtly tangy character. Jim’s Favourite is a clever pairing of smoky mezcal with tangy, tropical passion fruit, with a fun garnish of Campari candy floss. Vermouths also get top billing on the menu – we tried a coffee-tinged one infused with cascara berries – and there’s also a pithy list of Italian wines and beers, plus homemade kombucha, on offer. Bar plates range from the likes of rosemary salted nuts and pickled chicory to hearty toasties (ask for gooey gorgonzola) and pretty plates of ruby-red charcuterie, including coppa, bresaola and fennel salami.

Shoryu Ramen, Great Eastern Street – for ramen

Ramen has taken London by storm over the past few years. This hearty pork-based noodle broth is usually reserved for a quick fix in Japan, where ramen joints are full of businessmen slurping noodles alongside young people after a stint in their local izakaya (Japanese bar).

Though London’s ramen bars tend to be more upmarket and come with a higher price point (in Japan you rarely pay more than a few pounds), the authenticity generally remains in the best of them, particularly at Japan Centre-owned Shoryu.

Blanchette East, Brick Lane – for French favourites

Duck in to narrow-fronted Blanchette East off chaotic Brick Lane for French favourites and North African flavours. Starters include an anchovy and black olive pissaladiere along with other French classics of frogs legs and a wooden board piled with florets of super thinly sliced Rosette de Lyon (cured sausage), gherkins and a celeriac remoulade was ideal to nibble on before our next round of dishes arrived.

North African-inspired small plates include pork loin with pickled girolles and cauliflower florets, monkfish on chermoula courgettes and a spiced lamb tagine with rose harissa and saffron rice. For dessert there’s refreshing basil sorbet with pieces of fresh mango or chocolate and hazelnut dacquoise with crème fraîche ice cream.

Bull in a China shop, Shoreditch High Street – for whisky cocktails

Bull in a China Shop specialises in rotisserie chicken and whisky. The chicken is brined for four hours before being left to marinate for a further 24 hours in a mix of Asian spices and yogurt. It’s then finished with a deliciously-dark, sticky whisky glaze. The result is such incredibly succulent, richly flavoured meat that you’ll have to exercise a great amount of willpower not to finish a whole one by yourself. Pair this with some cauliflower cheese fritters and spicy mayo (we’re obsessed), guacamole salad, and house slaw with mooli.

As for drinks, it’s all about whisky. Take a seat at the gleaming copper bar and watch the staff hand-carve the ice for your chosen dram from a 30-strong selection of Japanese and Scotch whiskies.

Passione Vino, Leonard Street – for wine

Wine importers Luca Dusi and Federico Bruschetta have run this Shoreditch shop since 2013, supplying Italian wines from 75 different producers to top restaurants including Hélène Darroze at The Connaught and The River Café. Behind the shop itself is a ‘secret bar’ which also spills downstairs to the basement with small tables which can be booked. There’s no wine list or menu as customers are encouraged to discuss their tastes so the team can recommend something just a little out of their comfort zone.


How many calories are in this KFC Zinger Burger Fakeaway?

There are 211 calories in this slimming friendly Fakeaway recipe, that means it fits into our Everyday Light recipe category.

We haven’t included any accompaniments or a roll in our recipe so it’s up to you what you serve it with, just be mindful to count the extra calories.

This KFC Zinger Burger Fakeaway is perfect if you’re following a calorie controlled diet, and the recipe fits well with any one of the major diet plans such as Weight Watchers.

As a guide, an average man needs around 2,500kcal (10,500kJ) a day to maintain a healthy body weight. For an average woman, that figure is around 2,000kcal (8,400kJ) a day. Obviously, if your goal is to lose weight then you might want to adjust these slightly! You can read more about these recommendations on the NHS website.

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 160°C and spray a baking tray with low calorie cooking spray. Place the Doritos and spices into a food bag and smash until they are nearly all in a fine crumb, but some larger pieces remain

Step 2

Ensure the chicken breasts are dry. Dust lightly with the cornflour. Break the egg into a dish and dip each chicken breast into it

Step 3

Put the chicken breasts onto the baking tray and sprinkle over the spice and Doritos mix, ensuring both sides of the chicken is coated thoroughly. Spray liberally with Low Calorie Cooking Spray and bake in the oven for 25 minutes

Step 4

After 25 minutes, turn the chicken and spray with low calorie cooking spray again. Bake for a further 15 minutes until the chicken is completely cooked through and golden

Step 5

Serve with your choice of garnish!


Garlicky Panko Toasties - Recipes

Created by Ina Garten, from the July, 2003 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
Makes 8 servings (1 1/2 cups dip)

INGREDIENTS
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 lemons)
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breasts, halved (8 breasts)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
2/3 cup diced red onion (1 small onion)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh gingerroot
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice

In a large bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme. Add chicken breasts and turn to coat. Cover and marinate, turning occasionally, in refrigerator 6 hours or overnight.

In a 10-inch skillet over medium heat, cook olive oil, sesame oil, red onion, garlic, gingerroot and red pepper flakes 10 minutes, or until onion is softened. Whisk in vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, peanut butter, ketchup, sherry and lime juice, and cook 1 minute longer. Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature.

Heat a charcoal grill and cook chicken 10 minutes on each side, or until just cooked through. Cool slightly and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Put each slice on a 7-inch bamboo skewer.

Place the bowl of dip in the center of a platter, and arrange chicken around the bowl, or transfer dip to individual plastic cups with 1 skewer dipped in each.

Recipe courtesy of Memories of a Cuban Kitchen

1/2 cup pure Spanish olive oil
4-6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2-1/2 to 3 pounds prawns or extra-large shrimp, shells and heads left on (we de-shelled)
juice of 2 limes
salt to taste
pinch of dried oregano
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
dash of Tabasco sauce, optional (we added more)

In a large skillet over low heat, heat the oil until it is fragrant, then cook the garlic, stirring, 1 to 2 minutes. Raise the heat to medium, add the shrimp, and cook, stirring, until they turn pink, 5 minutes. (If you prefer extra oil, add it along with the shrimp.) Add the lime juice, salt, oregano and parsley, and stir well. Adjust seasonings to taste and add Tabasco. Transfer to a heated serving platter and serve immediately, accompanied by crunchy bread to soak up the garlic-flavored oil.

Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2003

8 ounces Monterey jack cheese, coarsely grated
8 ounces Muenster, coarsely grated
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup dry white wine
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon kirsch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Optional Dipping Items on Skewers:
Boiled baby new potatoes in their skins, or quartered if large
Lightly steamed broccoli florets
Lightly steamed cauliflower florets
Lightly steamed asparagus
Button mushrooms, wiped clean and stems removed
Cubed smoked ham
Cooked sliced hot sausage
Long thick pretzel sticks
Lightly toasted cubes French bread

In a bowl or large plastic bag, combine the cheeses and toss with the cornstarch to coat. Set aside until ready to use. In a fondue pot or large heavy saucepan, bring the wine and garlic to a simmer over medium-low heat. Add the cheese a bit at a time, stirring well to prevent from clumping, and cook until melted. Add the kirsch, salt, pepper, and nutmeg, stir well, and cook stirring until the mixture is smooth, 3 to 5 minutes. Adjust the seasoning, to taste. Set the pot over a candle or canned heat and serve hot with assorted dipping items.

Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart's Great Food Fast

1 Cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
1/4 Cup plain dried breadcrumbs
1/4 Cup grated Parmesan cheese
Grated zest of 1 lemon, (about 1 tablespoon)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
4 bone-in chicken breast halves, (about 3 pounds)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a small bowl, mix parsley, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and zest. Season with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Divide parsley mixture into four mounds. Carefully loosen chicken skin with fingers tuck parsley mixture under skin (left). Season chicken with salt and pepper. Place in a 9-by-13-inch roasting pan. Bake until skin is crispy, chicken is cooked through, and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat registers 165 degrees about 30 minutes.

Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart's Great Food Fast

6 ears corn, husks and silk removed (I used three small cans)
3 scallions, thinly sliced crosswise (1/2 cup)
2 Tablespoons white-wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper

Remove kernels: Cut off tip of each cob stand in a wide shallow bowl. With a sharp knife, slice downward to remove kernels. To bowl, add scallions, vinegar, and oil. Season generously with salt and pepper toss to combine. Serve, or cover and refrigerate up to 1 day.

Recipe courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens
Prep: 15 minutes
Roast: 2-1/4 hours

1 8- to 10-lb. fully-cooked boneless ham
1 recipe glaze

Place ham on rack in roasting pan. Insert an oven-going meat thermometer into center. Bake in 325 degrees F oven 2-1/4 to 2-3/4 hours or until thermometer registers 140 degrees F. Brush ham with desired glaze during last 20 to 30 minutes. Makes 10 to 12 (3-ounce servings) plus leftovers.

Stout Glaze: In a saucepan combine 1/2 cup Irish stout or apple cider and 1/4 cup each honey and butter. Bring to boiling reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes. Makes 3/4 cup glaze.

From Every Day with Rachael Ray, February 2007

MAKES NINE BARS (that's crazy! we got way more)
Prep Time: 15 min
Bake Time: 40 min

1 pound semi-sweet chocolate
2 sticks (8 ounces) plus 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
5 large eggs
1 cup flour
2 half-pints fresh raspberries

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Butter and flour a 9-inch square baking pan. In a microwave oven or double boiler, melt half of the chocolate and the 2 sticks butter stir to combine. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, using a whisk, beat the sugar with the eggs until bubbly, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the melted chocolate, then the flour. Using a spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs, about 35 minutes. Let cool on a rack.

3. In a microwave oven or double boiler, melt the remaining chocolate and 1 1/2 tablespoons butter stir to combine. Pour the glaze onto the cooled truffle cake and tilt the pan to coat the top. Refrigerate to partially set the glaze, about 30 minutes. While the chocolate is still tacky, scatter the raspberries in a single layer on top, then refrigerate for a few more minutes to set the glaze completely. Cut the cake into 3-inch squares.

Recipe courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens, April 2007

Prep: 20 minutes Cook: 5 minutes
8 1/2-inch slices country French white bread
4 tsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. honey mustard
4 oz. thinly sliced Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup thinly sliced cucumber
1/2 cup fresh spinach leaves
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

1. Brush one side of each bread slice with oil brush other side with mustard. Top mustard side of four slices with cheese, cucumber, spinach, and onion. Top with remaining bread slices, mustard side down.

2. Preheat indoor electric grill. Place sandwiches on grill. If using covered grill, close lid. Grill sandwiches until bread is golden. For covered grill, allow 3 to 5 minutes. For uncovered grill, allow 6 to 8 minutes, turning once halfway through grilling. Serve.

Taste of Home Celebrations Cookbook Copyright 2005 via The Cookbook Junkie

25 medium fresh jalapeño peppers
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
3 cups (12 ounces) finely shredded cheddar cheese
1 ½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
4 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled

Cut jalapeños in half lengthwise remove seeds and membranes. In a large saucepan, boil peppers in water for 5-10 minutes (the longer you boil the peppers, the milder they become.) Drain and rinse in cold water set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, cheddar cheese and Worcestershire sauce. Spoon 2 teaspoonfuls in to each jalapeño half sprinkle with bacon. Place on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve warm.

Recipe courtesy of Every Day with Rachael Ray, May 2007

MAKES FOUR SERVINGS
Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 30 min

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup frozen peas, thawed

1. In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until browned, about 10 minutes. Add the garam masala and turmeric and stir to combine. Stir in 3 cups water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the rice and salt and return to a boil, stirring briefly to break up any clumps. Lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer, without disturbing, until all the water is absorbed and the rice is cooked through, about 18 minutes.

2. Uncover the pan and mix in the peas while fluffing the rice with a fork cover and set aside for 5 minutes, until the peas are heated through.

Recipe courtesy of Grand Floridian Cafe, Disneyworld

(Full recipe below I halved recipe it makes a ton)

2 lbs cream cheese
1/2 quart heavy cream
6 oz parmesan cheese
1/8 oz garlic powder
3 lbs frozen spinach
2 lbs artichoke hearts

In a food processor, process the cream cheese, heavy cream, parmesan cheese, and garlic powder until smooth and creamy. Add the spinach and process until thoroughly mixed. Add the artichokes and process until coarsely chopped. Place 10 ounces of mix in large ramekin and bake in oven for 20 minutes at 350. Cool.

Recipe courtesy of 'Ohana Restaurant
Yield: 1 quart or 6-8 servings

1/3 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sugar
3 cloves garlic
1 finger garlic
1/4 cup Spanish onion, diced
1 tablespoon chopped peanuts

Peel garlic and ginger. Add all ingredients together in a blender and pulse until smooth.

Recipe courtesy of Jamie's Italy
Yield: 4 servings

6 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
10 medium shrimp, shelled and deveined, half roughly chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, salt, and pepper. Add cheese, parsley, lemon zest, and lemon juice add whole and chopped shrimp to egg mixture. In a small, heavy non-stick ovenproof skillet, heat butter and oil over medium-high heat add egg mixture. Stir eggs slowly for 1 minute, then place pan in oven and cook 9-10 minutes, until frittata is slightly set in the middle. Remove pan from oven sprinkle with red pepper flakes.

Recipe courtesy of Woman's World magazine
Yield: 4 servings

Cut 2 (4") waffles into 1" pieces. Whisk 1/2 cup Italian vinaigrette, 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan and 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard toss 1/4 cup with waffles. Bake in 400F oven until golden. To leftover dressing, add 4 cups spinach, 3 slices cooked chopped bacon, 1 cup cherry tomatoes (halved), 3/4 cup sliced mushrooms and 1/4 cup sliced onion (I used red) and croutons.

Recipe courtesy of Executive Chef Allan Daly, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line

12 oz penne pasta
2 oz sliced zucchini
2 oz prosciutto, cut into strips
2 oz gorgonzola cheese
3 oz white wine
6 oz bechamel sauce
1 oz onion, finely diced (I used one small)
1 oz chopped garlic
1 oz chopped basil
3 oz cream
2 oz olive oil
salt, pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in pan and slowly cook onions and garlic without color. Add prosciutto, zucchini and cook until prosciutto is crispy. Add gorgonzola, mix well. Add wine, stir until gorgonzola is dissolved. Add cream and white sauce, bring to a boil and cook until creamy in consistency. Mix in pasta until hot, add basil and season as required.

P.S. If you want to skip the bechamel step (I did), just add in heavy cream and about a half-teaspoon of flour to thicken it a bit. Worked like a charm.

Recipe courtesy of Rachael Ray

Sweetnicks' Notes: Instead of doing the potatoes separately, I added them to the roasting pan. Because of that change, I added more wine.

2 turnips, cut into large wedges
4 parsnips, peeled and cut on a long bias (skipped)
3 carrots, peeled and cut on a long bias (added 4-5)
3 shallots, peeled and quartered
1 fennel bulb, cored and cut into wedges (chop and save fennel fronds for herb rub)
1 cup dry white wine (used 1-1/2 cup)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup tarragon, roughly chopped
1/4 cup parsley, roughly chopped
6 cloves garlic, grated
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) (I used softened butter instead), plus 2 tablespoons and additional for drizzling
4 large bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
4 thigh/leg pieces, left whole and not disjointed
2 pounds small white potatoes, quartered
1 bunch thin asparagus
4 leeks, cleaned well and thinly sliced, white parts only
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 425°F. Place turnips, parsnips, carrots, shallots, fennel wedges and wine into a roasting pan. Drizzle with EVOO and season with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, combine the chopped fennel fronds, tarragon, parsley, grated garlic, lemon zest, 1/2 cup of EVOO, salt and pepper. (Instead of the EVOO, I used 1/2 cup of softened butter to make it more of a paste)

Rub mixture all over the chicken, place the pieces on top of the vegetables in the roasting pan and season with salt and pepper.

Bake for 60-90 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender. Remove from oven, cover loosely with foil and let rest 10-15 minutes.

Once the chicken has been in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, place the potatoes in a medium sauce pot and cover with cold, salted water. Place on high heat and bring up to a boil. Cook 12-15 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through. Drain potatoes and set aside.

Once the chicken is out of the oven, add one inch of water to a high-sided skillet and place over high heat. Bring to a simmer and add asparagus. Cover and cook for 5-8 minutes or until asparagus is tender.

As the asparagus is steaming, place a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons EVOO. Sauté sliced leeks and season with salt and pepper. Add the cooked potatoes to the leeks, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Sauté for 2-3 minutes until slightly browned.

Drain the asparagus and return to them skillet. Place over medium heat and add the Dijon and butter. Toss until the butter has melted.

To serve, place a portion of chicken on a dinner plate, add a scoop of the roasted veggies and spoon some of the pan juices over the top. Serve the Dijon asparagus and the potato-leek mixture alongside.

Dijon Asparagus
Recipe courtesy of Rachael Ray

1 bunch thin asparagus
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon butter

Add one inch of water to a high-sided skillet and place over high heat. Bring to a simmer and add asparagus. Cover and cook for 5-8 minutes or until asparagus is tender.

Drain the asparagus and return to them skillet. Place over medium heat and add the Dijon and butter. Serve.


The best restaurants in Cape Town: Where to eat in 2020

From hot new chefs and go-to favourites to hip tapas spots and pizza joints, the range of restaurants in Cape Town seems to grow year on year. To make it a little easier, here’s our guide of the best restaurants in the Mother City serving up every food type.

This selection comprises all the Cape Town restaurants that made the cut for the 2020 Eat Out 500, the list of best restaurants in the country as rated and reviewed by our panel of critics for the 2020 edition of Eat Out magazine (on sale now). But we know the city is crammed with loads more gems and mainstays that didn’t crack the nod. Please tell us about your favourites in the comments section at the end!


Asparagus Bruschetta – or better a homage to Uma Casanatura and Salone del Gusto. Last year, right at the beginning of our studies we went to Salone del Gusto Terra Madre in Turin, one of the biggest events organised by Slow Food. It was an event were all kind of food manufacturers and food interested people from all over the world meet and come together. From tastings, political discussions, workshops, dinner dates, conferences and of course uncountable good conversation, you could find everything there. It was incredible to get in touch with so many interesting new faces and to see the people behind the products.

All over, it was a really inspirational experience and i think it really shaped our approaches all through the path of our studies. Here is what the Director of Slow Food commented on the event:

«The challenge of Terra Madre Salone del Gusto 2016
for Slow Food was political, cultural and social:
to assert that good, clean and fair food is a human right,
something we must all feel part of, and that means loving the earth!

We can proudly say that we’ve succeeded in this challenge.”

Gaetano Pascale, President of Slow Food Italia

And it is completly true what he said. Today we really had to think about this experience as we used the last drops of our Uma Extra Virgin Olive Oil that we had purchased there. The elderly man who was producing the oil told us everything from how he started, about his fields and the tradition that comes with producing olive oil.

We both bought a bottle from him and used it very occasionally to drizzle it over some specialities. Every time we got reminded of this men and it is beautiful how much it enriches a product just because you know the person and his/her story behind it. It is what makes a product authentic and the event and messages of Slow Food so important.

We had some left-over ciabatta bread, asparagus, and really ripe tomatoes- so the last drops of the oil went on this beautiful Bruschetta.

Asparagus Bruschetta – Truefoodsblog