There are a few downsides to being a Food Blogger...some restaurant owners hate me, the realization of how much money I've spent on the meals, etc... But there are some perks too!
City Beat sent me an email informing of their Best of Cincinnati card. It's a discount dining card - you can buy one on their site and you get 40% off at a list of local restaurants. Right now there are about 25 places - you can find the list here.
You buy the card for $25 and then when you put money on the card - you get 40% more than you put on. So if you want $100 worth of dining money - you only pay $60. Then take the card to one of the restaurants and use it as you would a gift or credit card. The money on the card covers everything but the tip. You can reload the card anytime via the website.
City Beat is wanting to get the word out about the card - so they sent a few local food bloggers a $50 card! Woohoo! Free dinner for me and Larry!
We decided to use the card for York St. Cafe in Newport - I've always wanted to go but usually think about it on Mondays - when they're closed. It's a bit expensive for my usual dinner fare so this seemed like a good way to try it out.
Inside it's uber-cozy. It feels like you're having an intimate dinner in someones living room. The furniture is cozy - the lights are warm and it's even decorated for the holidays. I also have a bit of ADD so it's great because there are so many things to look at!
We ordered drinks and the coke comes in the little glass bottles and you even have a little old-school Coca-Cola glass to drink it out of. While this is very cute - it's a small bottle and I get thirsty - so no free refills here :-(
Speaking of the fun things to look at - this is our fish. Not really "ours" but our table was next to his tank so I claimed ownership for the night. He's a very odd fish - our server told us he has a lot of anxiety - so he hides behind the plate. And he sleeps upside-down - but no worries - he's not dead. Any sudden movement from you and he wakes up instantly.
I started with the Autumn Apple Salad ($7 side) - dried apple chips, red onions, pumpkin seeds, bacon, goat cheese and a cider vinaigrette. Loved this salad! Well - okay - I didn't like the dried apple chips - really kept thinking I was eating potpourri. But loved the rest of the salad. It was delicious and unique!
Larry got the York St Fresh Catch (Halibut - $27). This is their catch of the day encrusted in spinach & artichoke then topped with a Marsala beurre blanc. It was AMAZING. I can still remember the taste and am still drooling a bit. I'm not sure if it was cream cheese or goat cheese with the spinach & artichoke but it was DELICIOUS!!! Seriously I would get that again in a heart beat - $27 price tag and all. Larry had never had halibut and he also really enjoyed it - but he was nice enough to keep letting me have bites! Awwwww.
Because we had $50 on the card I was trying to stay in that range - I went with the Baked Manicotti ($18). It was stuffed with the same stuff that the fish was encrusted with - lots of creamy cheese, artichokes and spinach. Then baked in a smoky tomato sauce and topped with provolone. It really was smoky too - I smelled it - and said exactly that.
I also like to try vegetarian dishes - since I have some friends that are - most places have crappy options - this was again AMAZING! It was filling (3 manicotti!!) and just delicious bite after bite. Normally manicotti is just so-so and always leaves me craving the stuff my mom made as a kid - but this was really great and almost made me forget my mom's!
Out the front door is a cool stained glass piece - must be from the original store-front. Very neat!
York St also has desserts - guessing from the BonBonerie because I saw Opera Cream Cake. We were far too stuffed to try one and I knew we'd spent our $50 card...so we called it a night.
So this review is two-fold:
1. The Best of Cincinnati card - it's a little confusing at first - of how much I'm putting on and the discount. But once you figure it out - it's a great deal. At least IF you like the restaurants on the list. More places have recently signed up so it's getting better. Plus there are some pricey places on the list (Red) so it could be a VERY big savings! I'd make sure you put money on the card a few days in advance of when you're going - just to be sure it's on there - at least until you get the hang of it. Nice gift to give also - we all need to eat! I'm definitely keeping mine and replenishing it so I can try Rookwood!
2. York St. Cafe - I loved it! Love love love!!!! It's also been voted best place for a first date and best place for outdoor dining. It wasn't our first date - but it was a date - and I have to agree - it was great! They have a nice outdoor area so we'll definitely head back once the winter has passed. It's most definitely a "special occasion" place for me based on budget but it also was worth the price. That fish...man...I'm still thinking about it!!!!!