My favorite lunch @ Frank's Old Town Cafe

Had a little trip to Covington today cuz my friend Lisa needed to get her oil changed and I had a brilliant thought - Frank's Old Town Cafe!!!!

I used to work in Covington and it was a near daily stop for lunch. The staff is SO friendly - I haven't been in a year or so because I changed jobs. I walked in the door and Frank, Deb and Paula all remembered me! You don't get that at Applebees!

So why do I love it? It's great diner food - great specials and great chili (Tues & Wed)!

Frying Pig - pork tenderloin with grilled onions, cheese and bbq sauce

I really miss the breaded pork tenderloin from back home (Iowa) and Frank's always came through for me. It's thick, juicy and tasty. The toppings are a great addition. Frank's also has great fries - I usually get a side of mayo for them.

Reuben Burger

Lisa decided to try the Reuben Burger! Yeah - a Reuben Burger!!! It's a burger with a reuben on top!!!!! It looked delicious!!!!! Lisa enjoyed every bite.

The service is A+ and I love the food. Their chili is really some of the best in the city - it's not Cincinnati style - just regular style - it's sooooo good!

So head to Old Town and tell Frank I said hi!

Old Town Cafe
9 West Pike Street
Old Town Plaza
Covington, KY. 41011
Phone: 859-291-0664
Fax: 859-291-2026

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Basilico - All Organic and a Deal!

Friends and I have been dying to try Basilico - the new all organic restaurant in Mason on Tylersville Rd. I'm always up for new restaurants and organic sounds fun!

Basilico is on Tylersville across from BW3s - it's got sort of a cafeteria feel on the inside. That is a bit odd...I wasn't really fond of it.

There is a nice outdoor patio and there were even some cute visitors that walked by to say hi! (Click on the photos to enlarge - especially this one!)

Scott got an Oatmeal Stout - organic of course. I ended up sticking with water because Diet Coke apparently is NOT organic.

There are a great deal of dining options and one of them is a you pick 3 for $16.95. You can choose 3 items from their soup, salad, sandwich or pasta menus. That's a lot of food! The only items not up for selection are the pizzas and the entrees. We were a little bummed - the pizzas sounded great!

How was the food?

Basilico Panini: well the ciabatta bread was was dry and stale. The rest of the sandwich was pretty good - huge portion (recurring theme).

Grilled Salmon Salad: well - sort of. It's missing a few ingredients that were mentioned on the menu. Scott did say it was dressed well. The salmon was a bit overcooked for his taste which means it was well done.

Spicy Vodka Ravioli: Scott and Julia both chose this as one of their options in the Pick 3. He thought it wasn't at all spicy and she thought it had a kick (he orders his thai a 9, she a 0). They both got spinach (could also choose beef or cheese). The sauce was good - both were very pleased and said this was their favorite dish.

Spinach & Cheese Manicotti: Julia chose this as her 2nd dish. She wasn't that fond of it...she likes saucier.

Lasagna: Julia chose this as her third option but she let me try a bite! Julia wished it had been saucier - I on the other hand LOVED IT! I would go back just for that!

Involtini of the Day - Brajole with pesto pasta and grilled veges: It wasn't really called brajole but that's what it was. The portion size was ginormous! Brajole is thin slices of meat rolled with something - this was prosciutto and cheese. I wish there had been more cheese - I couldn't really taste it. The pasta was really great as were the grilled vegetables. And kudos to the GV - not just broccoli and carrots but also asparagus! Cooked perfectly! This was easily two meals!

There was also pizza but none of us chose that - this time!

We all had leftovers...and we were all pleasantly full! Julia and I each got a muffin to take home as well. I got banana chocolate chip - it was okay - a little dry.

I would definitely go back and do the pick 3 - you could probably split the pick 3 between 2 people and leave full if you chose 2 pastas and a salad. There was another pasta with mushrooms that I really wanted to try so I'll definitely go back!

If you're in the area and maybe usually go to BWs, Brazenhead or Cafe Bella - give Basilico a try!

Basilico Organic

(513) 492-9519
6176 Tylersville road
Mason, OH 45040

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Virgil's Cafe - bringing something new to Bellevue!

Friday night was a night on the town with Kate, Scott and John. First on tap was the exhibit at the Taft Museum and then we decided on a bite to eat at Virgil's Cafe in Bellevue.

Bellevue, KY has quite a little downtown - with shops and restaurants lining the cutely lit streets!

Virgil's recently opened and has been getting very good reviews. We had the fortune of chatting it up with Chef Matthew Buschle after our meal...he makes every dish from scratch and is very passionate about his restaurant.

But now - the food!

Well - we started out famously - the bread is amazing! It's warm, fresh and just amazingly delicious! And...yes...the butter was soft!

Fresh pasta, wild mushroom, squash, Parmesan, with rich burre blanc.

The pasta was delicious...definitely fresh...I really loved it! The sauce was nice, light and flavorful. The mushrooms - seemed like buttons and not really "wild" - but were fine. I have to say on the squash - I was thinking more like orange squash but it was basically zucchini. A nice light dish and only $8! (You can add chicken or shrimp for more.) The pasta though - A+!

Green cabbage, romaine, bacon, and red onion hot slaw.

John had already eaten dinner so he just had a salad but it looked delicious! He was pleased and only $4!

Thai pepper and nut crusted pork tenderloin, roasted potatoes, vegetable.

This was okay. The pork was dry and for some reason it had marinara poured over the top of it. Not sure how thai and marinara go together. The potatoes and broccoli were fine but nothing too special. $15

Israeli couscous, wild mushrooms,seasonal vegetables, white beans, and cashews.

First problem here - Scott didn't order this. He asked about this but didn't order it. Second - why is there marinara on couscous? Third - I guess I'm used to a tinier couscous - so we were a little surprised - but that's probably just the "Israeli" version. We each tried a bite and it was okay - but nothing too special. $11

Shrimp Creole with cheddar cheese grits,and fried shoestring sweet potato

This is what Scott ordered - he ordered it spicy. It was fairly spicy...the tails were on the shrimp - which is a pet peeve of Scott's. Hard to take them off when they're in the sauce, etc... The grits were good for grits. I didn't try the fried sweet potatoes and Scott didn't eat can't say much there. This was a pretty decent dish. $14

There were a couple of other issues...I had ordered a starter...

Roasted chicken thigh, chorizo, polenta, and garlic cream. $6

Unfortunately - it came after our main dishes! It had great flavors and a nice presentation (of course I forgot to take the picture). My other problem was the chicken thigh - while flavorful had the bone-in. When a dish is covered with cream sauce and on top of polenta - it's not easy to cut the meat off the bone. It's along the same lines as the shrimp tail...pretty but not user-friendly.

So - there were definitely some hiccups in the service - with Scott's wrong dish and my late dish. The staff was excellent and rectified the situations very quickly - so they do get points for that.

The food - I have to say it was good for the price range. Was it Aqua? Was it Nada? had moments...but wasn't quite up to that standard. I guess that's kind of what I was hoping for...

BUT for the price - it's really good. The thing is - this price point is very comparable with "chain-world" (i.e. Fridays, Applebees, etc...) and this food is much better than "chain-world".

So - all in all - if I'm wanting a unique meal for a better than average price - I'd definitely go back to Virgil's. I mean - mine was only $13!!!!

Virgils Cafe

710 Fairfield Ave
Bellevue, KY 41073
(859) 491-3287

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NuVo - NEW AND IMPROVED! Tapas Night!

Wow - this was some night for a foodie. But first - let's say HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOHN!

Here he is to the left in full biking gear! He's such a great guy and he celebrated his 29th birthday (again) today with good friends and great food.

John has decided to bike to work every day and doesn't he look handsome in his biking gear!?! He's a bit reflective with the flash...and the socks...wooo!

Okay okay - enough about John! Let's go to the food!

To celebrate John's birthday, we went to NuVo which recently moved to Newport from Dream Street in Florence.

On Wednesday night's NuVo has a tapas menu for $20! 13 dishes for $20! These are all bite-size dishes - maybe a little more than an amuse buche. Special wines are also $4/glass!

This will be a picture heavy blog - had to be with 13 dishes plus dessert!

Click on the pics and they expand. I just really like this pic of the napkin - I think it's pretty cool.

Birthday boy and my excellent wine - Vino Verde! It's a real light fizzy white wine and came highly recommended by Kate! I loved it! Not as sweet as a riesling but very pleasing for someone like me that isn't a big wine fan.

Red Gazpacho - light and flavorful but not as chunky as traditional gazpacho.

Marinated Olives with rosemary, red chili, orange and paprika - eh it was fine. Olives are olives.

Leek boats with eggplant, goat cheese and carrot - The favorite of Course 1 of two for Judi & Scott. I'm not a fan of eggplant but liked it. The bites with goat cheese were better than the bites without.

Manchego with honey brown butter sauce - Judi & I thought it was a bit dry and there wasn't enough of the brown butter sauce. John thought this was his favorite of Course 1.

Scrambled eggs with asparagus on toast - this was my favorite. It wasn't amazing but it was prepared perfectly and I thought it was a comfort food. The asparagus was great. Now you're saying - what freakin asparagus? I forgot to take the picture and this is 1/2 a piece...oops!

Spinach, chorizo and rioja potato empanadas - None of us were too excited about this. The flavor was okay but it was dry. Potato wasn't the best choice...and it needed cheese or something saucy.

Seasoned meatballs with garlic aioli - the favorite of myself and Judi. A very flavorful meatball...nice light olive oil sauce.

Mushroom, shrimp, ham sticks with cream piquant sauce - not sure this was a cream piquant sauce cuz heck - I don't know what piquant is. (okay - googling) Oooh - it means spicy! (Duh - piquant = picante) This wasn't really creamy or spicy for a sauce. This was John's favorite of Course 2. The rest of us thought the ham chunks were a little big and it was just ok.

Egg mayonnaise stuffed tomatoes - these were good! I mean - it's basically egg salad in a tomato. I think Scott liked this one best...he just wasn't too excited about Course 3.

Kabobs of andalucian salad - I wasn't fond of this really. Not much flavor and I don't like eggplant. It was fine...

Clams in tomato piquant sauce - again - not spicy! But I liked this...the sauce was very mild and tasted like the gazpacho.

Pork filets with pears and butternut squash - fantastic! The squash was delicious, the pear was crisp, the pork had no fat and was cooked perfectly. Even Judi - WHO DOESN'T EAT/LIKE PORK - loved it! It was divine and we THOUGHT it was the best of Course 4...until...

Cajun spiced frog leg tacos - these were everyone's favorite by far! I'm not sure how Cajun they were but I really really enjoyed these and they leaped over the pork for the favorite of the night.

DESSERT (cost extra $3-6)
French Press Costa Rican & Sumatra Reserve Dark - Scott liked it alot.

Vanilla Angel Food Cake, Pineapple & Blueberry Compote, Mascarpone Sorbet - this was what I wanted but Judi picked it and I can't choose the same dish as someone else. This was really tasty. The pineapple was soaked in blueberry I think and it was really good! I didn't like the sorbet...tasted like ricotta.

Chocolate Torchon, Blue Lava Sea Salt, Dr. Pepper Reduction, Peanut Butter & Banana Gelato - as John said this was a "high-class Reese cup". The chocolate was hard like a candy bar...he enjoyed the birthday dessert.

It really was blue salt!

Amaretto cheesecake, white chocolate mousse, cherry coulis - the cheesecake on its own wasn't real sweet but the combination of all the flavors was decadent. I really enjoyed my choice.
Chef Mike Peterson
Chef Mike has recently taken over the chef duties as his partner has left to join the new Twist (formerly Pigalls). He's very young and very good! It's really fun to watch him in this open kitchen environment. We had a great shot to be able to watch him put together the dishes all night! It was like watching an episode of Top Chef! He takes much care with each and every dish!

I have to tell you - overall you'll see we liked some things - we didn't like others. BUT we had 13 dishes for $20. I would much rather be able to try all of these different flavors in one night rather than just have one big entree.

The $20 Tapas menu is available on Wednesday evenings. No reservations, no gift certificates. You can get extra plates of specific dishes for an extra cost as well.

The new location is so much nicer than their former spot in Florence so bravo to them! I was honestly a bit skeptical about the move. But it's a great spot.

They are now getting a revamped 3.5 stars from me and I can't wait to try new tapas or come back for those Frog Leg Tacos!

527 York St.
Newport, KY 41071
Phone: 859-283-2100

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Peruvian Food in Cincinnati! Sabor Peruano

I'm approaching the five year mark for living in Cincinnati! And when I moved here - I knew NOBODY - so I explored a lot. One of the first places I went to was Jungle Jim's. It's expanded quite a bit but tonight - I went back for a quick visit.

It was really fun to check it all out and see all that they have to offer! I'll have to go back when I'm needing groceries.

On the way we saw a place I've wanted to go for a long time! Sabor Peruano! It's Peruvian food in Cincinnati! Of course my friend said, "Oh I've had Peruvian Peru." Oh bite me!

But off we went!

Scott couldn't decide what to get and asked for a recommendation...she reco'd this sort of shrimp fried rice...not the best choice. It was fairly dry and not that flavorful.

Scott's also came with this side of green hot ass sauce...Scott didn't think it was that spicy. I dabbed a bit on a fork and my tongue burned use at your own risk.

I looked through the menu and there were so many choices! It was really hard to decide. It seems as though they specialize in seafood and steak - so I decided to go for the steak.

First I got a side of onion salad.

Now when they say - onion salad - they mean it! It was (as you can see) a plate of friggin onions! They were pretty good. The server said it was simply red onions soaked in water, then mixed with lime juice, cilantro and salt. Surprising - very tasty!

After the onion salad, I ordered this beef, rice and beans dish. I really wish I could remember the name of it! It was braised beef - amazingly tender - on top of rice and cooked white beans. There was also this green sauce with peas and carrots poured over top. It was delicious!

It's sort of a plain dish - there aren't any standout ingredients or crazy preparation - this is just a great comforting, flavorful dish. The beans are warm and prepared perfectly - the steak falls apart and the green sauce was really great!

All in all - I really enjoyed it. I'd like to go back and try some other dishes - wish they had tapas or I had a group of people where we could share stuff.

But - glad that I finally got there after 5 years!

Sabor Peruano

(513) 860-0349
7105 Dixie Hwy
Fairfield, OH 45014

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