Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Night in Northside: Honey & Slims

Last night, my friend Jen and I decided to explore Northside. We went early and stopped in at NVision and a few of the other little shops. A couple of great finds - but this is about the restaurants...

We were meeting friends for dinner at 7 and had a little time to kill so we stopped into Honey for a drink.

Jen and I had been to Honey for dinner a couple of years ago but hadn't been back since. The atmosphere is nice and it's got a nice variety of price options on their menu.

I was also starving - had eaten lunch at 1130 and didn't think I'd make it for another hour! Luckily - the Honey Fries are only $3 during Happy Hour!

honey fries: Sweet, Yukon, and Idaho with chili lime honey

The fries are tasty although they're so small at times that you can't really even dip them. The sauce is nice and a nice change from plain old ketchup.

Jen and I each got a margarita. They were okay - not very limey tasting - sort of more grapefruit. It was okay but at $9 - a little pricey. There was another special martini that was $13- prices seem high.

Honey on Urbanspoon

Well then it was time for dinner and we were off to Slims...it was a whole 3 doors away!

Slims is an interesting spot and is consistently named in the Top 10 Restaurants in the city by Cincinnati Magazine.

The owner grows much of the produce for the restaurant himself. They appear on the menu as "Ohio Maiden". The produce served is most definitely fresh.

The menu on the weekends is a prix-fixe - meaning fixed price. Currently the price is $42.50. The menu also changes on a regular basis so it's never the same meal twice.

Coming into dinner we knew the meal was going to be slow. That's part of the deal with Slims - the meal is the entertainment for the night.

On this night, there was a wedding reception going on! It had taken over the front room. Unfortunately I didn't get any photos - didn't want to invade their happy occasion.

We started with an amuse bouche that a sort of smoked trout mousse. I'm not sure mousse is the right term but it was fluffy - sort of the texture of hummus. There was a drop of aoili on top and it was served on rye toast. I enjoyed it very much. Our vegetarian passed hers onto my friend Scott. The other diner had a little bit of a texture issue but it grew on her. This is just a little bite to get us started...so we were on our way.

You shouldn't leave hungry for sure! Next up was the bread - always homemade - tonight we had a cornbread and something else - akin to the texture of banana bread - nice and soft. I really don't know what it was - but it was very good. (The waitress was extremely soft spoken - so not sure if she told us but I couldn't hear her most of the night anyway.) The cornbread was really good - would have been nice had it been warm but I liked it. We were given olive oil and butter (not soft).

First up were the starters:

This was the mushroom duo with lardones and a poached egg. Lardones is bacon. This was definitely enjoyable. You have to crack the yolk so it runs all of the mushrooms, bacon and toast. Really delightful. Would have maybe liked something more than button mushrooms but it was really good.
Julia got the halibut ceviche with a plaintain chip sticking out. Ceviche is raw fish that is marinated/cooked in citrus juice. It's not actually cooked but the marinade sort of "cooks it". This was pretty darned good! Julia was a little surprised that it was raw but once she tasted it - she definitely was a fan.

Scott got the watercress soup and let me have a taste - it was cold - I wasn't a fan. Turns out watercress soup is always cold. Scott liked it fine...

Next up: Salads

Mine was argula with artichoke and a light vinagrette. Really couldn't even taste the dressing...it was ok.

The choice for the rest of the table was Ohio Maiden greens with cantaloupe and lemon vinagrette. They all liked it - I thought it was too strong. My friend Lou always says when something is strong of lemon that it tastes like Pledge.

Next we had a small cheese plate - it was fine - it was supposed to come with the salads but came about 20 minutes later.

Next up: Entrees

Julia got the Braised Pork Belly - she really enjoyed it. Although the top was so crispy neither of us could even bite through it.

Jen got the vegetarian entree with an empanada and tamale. The soup was a sort of corn chowder and was nice. She liked it okay but wasn't wowed.

Scott got the paella as recommended by the waitress. Unfortunately he didn't like it at all. Rather than adding lime zest - they basically put the whole lime in. It was very bitter and the rice was gummy. He took about 3 bites and left the rest.

I got the lechon asado which comes from a whole suckling pig. There were also black beans, rice and cole slaw. I didn't like it. Most of the meat was extremely dry. The black beans had this odd orange taste and I hated it. I love black beans but these were unedible. The cole slaw was fine...but nothing special.

We were provided with the small creme brulees (regularly $1 each) as a dessert. This was nice...

So I know this is long - hope you've hung in this far... The service was fairly quick for Slims through the salads but then got very slow...which is to be expected.

I really want to like Slims but I just didn't. When I drop $50 on dinner - I should be wow'd by something and I just wasn't. Much the opposite - I barely ate any of my dinner as did Scott. Slims is unique and fresh but for me...I just don't think I'll be back. There wasn't anything special or to die for.

Slims on Urbanspoon

Between Slims and Honey - we saw the Northside Gallery. There were some interesting art pieces in the window - but then something else caught our eye!

The cutest little kitten ever!!!!!

She was just adorable! Baby and momma were lounging in the window just hanging out watching Northside pass them by. She was very talkative and very interested in us! If only they'd been open so we could have gotten to know her better!
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