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Friday, June 28, 2013

The Palace: Fancy dining in Cincinnati

I'm not sure if you've noticed (if you've been here before) but I have solidly been in the #1 spot on the Urbanspoon Leaderboard for a few months now! (There's a little #1 banner on the top right of my blog  - woohoo!) It's a big accomplishment after 5 years of blogging about restaurants, recipes and road trips in Cincinnati.

That said - with being number 1- you get some cool perks! One of which is random emails from amazing Chefs asking you to come and eat their food for free! Now I know this isn't something I can get all of you in on - but at least I can give you ideas of where to go for a fancy dinner! And if you're a FOFH (Friend of Food Hussy) - you might even get invited to go with me!


Chef Matt Beaudin from The Palace sent me a message on Facebook asking if I'd like to come in and try some of his specialties and um - duh - I said yes!
Now you know when you're eating at someplace called "The Palace" - it's going to be nice - but the silver flower holders and fresh beautifully opened rose definitely make it even nicer.

The seating is fairly formal and if you're by the window - you've got a great view for people watching. It would be a great spot for a fancy pre-Aronoff dinner or a business lunch if you're trying to impress. 

I had to prep my bestie that came with me for the onslaught of food we were about to have - it can be overwhelming! 

First up was the Wild Mushroom appetizer with mushrooms from Thailand, Italy and the US - but they were all grown in NKY - pretty interesting that they branch out like that. They were served with herbs and on top of an herbed mascarpone with red onion marmalade and then sprinkled with cashew dust. This was AMAZING!!! ($14) We liked the Thailand mushrooms the best - but once you added that mascarpone/marmalade - they were all delicious! 

Next up was the Hudson Valley Foie Gras ($22). It was a duck confit topped with a pear, pine syrup and foie gras. I am not a fan of the foie - based on the controversy over the way it's created. I'm assuming by the name that this Foie is from Hudson Valley which promotes theirs as humane.

All of that said - the duck and pear were great - but I didn't really like the Foie. I just don't like liver and the texture of it funks me out. This was probably the best tasting that I've had though.

Another First Course item was Steak & Eggs ($20). We had pan seared prime strip loin, hazelnut french toast and a sunny side up quail egg.

This was a mixed taste for us - the steak was fine but nothing special. When combined with the quail egg it was really good and the egg was prepared to perfection. The hazelnut french toast was also AMAZING!! I mean - Lauren and I were kind of fighting over that french toast - we both agreed - that on a Sunday morning served by our husbands would be perfection!! (Maybe Chef Beaudin can teach the boys!)

A main dish we had was the Head On Gulf Shrimp ($29) it was served with cheese grits, onion straws and New Orleans style BBQ. 

It's funny because another coworker was complaining I don't take her to things - but she's also not very adventurous when it comes to food - so we sent her a pic of this dish and she said "um no thanks!". While the two of us LOVED IT!

Neither of us really like grits - but these were cheesy, creamy and delicious!! Not your Waffle House grits for sure! (haha) The shrimp were a little difficult to eat because of the bbq sauce and the head being on - but they were perfection. The sauce added a little sweetness but the seasoning gave it a kick. Then combo that with those cheesy delicious grits - wow.

Then we tried a couple of seafood dishes - Georges Banks Scallops ($32) - served with cauliflower, bacon brussel sprouts and fingerling potatoes in a citrus beurre blanc. The scallops were coked perfectly with a little crispness on one side and the brussel sprouts were great. The sauce had a LOT of butter (I'm guessing) - it was very rich.

Lastly, Chef Matt served us Ocean Trout ($30) with lentils, spring vegetables and a fennel beurre blanc. The trout was delicious - crispy and sweet deliciousness! The back-to-back beurre blancs were a little too much. I wish we'd ended with some sort of beef dish - the sauces were so similar and full of butter that they were a bit much. But the seafood in both was cooked to perfection.

After all great dishes - we still had a little room left for dessert and Chef Beaudin did not disappoint! He brought out the Kentucky Chocolate ($11) - a chocolate flourless cake topped with bourbon ice cream, orange brioche, mint foam and dressed with local honey.

This was the perfect end - we actually both thought we might not have room for dessert - two minutes after this was brought out - the plate was empty. The cake was dense but not too heavy and everything was perfect! I'm not a big fan of foam but it didn't detract and did add a little crisp minty flavor to the dish. This is a must-have!

Why Should You Go? For folks at my income level - The Palace is definitely a special occasion spot - but on that note - it definitely delivers. Everything was thought out and there were definitely highlights. I know if I was going back - my selections would be the mushrooms, shrimp & grits and the Kentucky chocolate. Those grits are still on my mind!! And if you don't quite have the budget for a splurging dinner - try them for lunch! Just as fancy and much more affordable.

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