Thursday, August 22, 2013

Restaurant Review: Jean Robert's Table - Lunch Tray (only $14!)

How goes it fellow foodies!  My name is adam and I am going to be helping out Food Hussy with some reviews!  I LOVE going to new restaurants, bars, and the amazing events that take place across this area. 

I am 27 years old and have lived here all my life.  I am so excited to share with you the different places and experiences Cincy has to offer.  And since I am always on a budget, like many of you are, I will also be sharing with you tips & special deals that even the most expensive restaurants offer.

So let’s get things started with JeanRobert’s Table.  For those who don’t know, Jean-Robert de Cavel is one of Cincinnati’s most famous chefs, with his crown jewel being the chef at the legendary 5 star Maisonette.  Jean Robert has opened a few restaurants and Table has just recently celebrated its third year anniversary.  It is located at 713 Vine St in downtown Cincy.

Table is not ridiculously expensive but most dinner meals run $20-30 for an entrée and when you add in drinks, appetizer, dessert then your bill can easily run near $100.  But there is a hidden special that allows you to try this French cuisine for a small price.  It’s called the Lunch Tray.

The Lunch Tray is served Monday thru Friday in the beautiful bar area from 11:30am to 2pm.  No reservations required.  The price is $14 for a four-course meal that is served all at once.  It uses local produce and the menu changes each week.  The menu is posted on their facebook page and website.

I went on a Monday after shopping downtown and arrived around 11:30am.  I was the only one there but that’s not surprising considering they just opened their doors.  The restaurant is very pretty inside, with many dark brown walls and exposed brick combined with large windows.  The staff was very welcoming and the bartender wasted no time in explaining to me the regular menu as well as the lunchtime tray.  I ordered a cocktail (hey it was my day off!) and watched some ESPN as my tray was prepared. 

As you wait they bring you bread like many restaurants do.  However, this bread was fresh, French bread straight out of the oven.  It was sliced at an angle and was absolutely delicious, soft and chewy with a slightly crisp crust. 

Now with the lunch tray they do serve the first three courses together so be warned if you take your time eating, you may find your food slightly cold.  Luckily, I don’t eat slowly!  The first course was a salad of heirloom tomatoes, arugula & basil, topped with feta cheese and balsamic dressing drizzle.  The tomatoes were super fresh & full of flavor.  The feta cheese added just the right amount of creaminess and tang that paired well with the spice of the arugula. 

Next was the soup du jour which was a gazpacho soup made mainly with watermelons and tomatoes and had onions and jalapeños added to spice it up.  To be honest the soup was just alright.  When I was told and saw how much onion & jalapeño I expected this huge burst of flavor and spice.  Now I am a huge fan of big, bold spices and maybe I was expecting too much but the flavor of this soup was just too muted.  All I tasted was watermelon and that was it.  After a few spoonfuls I was done. 
The third course was a pork medallion with a sherry demi sauce with summer ratatouille and roasted potatoes.  This was by far my favorite part of the meal.  The pork was perfectly cooked and spiced perfectly.  The roasted vegetables were soft and when combined with the potato added a nice starch contrast to the pork.  What made this dish though was the sherry sauce.  It added depth to the dish and brought out the flavor in the pork.  I literally could have licked this plate clean and almost did considering how strong my vodka and cranberry was! 

Last but not least was the fourth course, dessert!  It was a French pastry filled with a vanilla cream and coated in a dark chocolate ganache.  The pastry was just the right size.  Big enough to qualify as a real dessert but small enough & light enough that it didn’t over fill you the way many lunches do.  The dark chocolate paired perfectly with the vanilla cream and I finished the dessert in no time!

Now when the bartender saw how little I ate of my soup - she was so nice.  She apologized for the soup not having enough kick and brought me out a cup of the country stew they were making.  Now with the lunch tray substitutions are not allowed so I was very surprised and taken aback by this kind gesture.  The stew had vegetables, andouille sausage and duck confit with beans.  This soup was astounding!  The meat was tender and the soup was spiced to perfection. 

The four-course lunch tray was a great meal to try!  At only $14 this is a steal for how much food you get and for how fresh it is.  The best part?  The menu changes every week!  So each week you can get a whole new meal tailored for that week based on the season and produce available. 

Jean-Robert's Table on Urbanspoon

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