Restaurant Review: Strong's Brick Oven Pizza

I can't tell you how many times people come to me and say, "Oh my God - you HAVE to try XYZ!" I do love when it happens - it's how I have found some of my favorite spots in the city. So last week - my coworker Maria came to me with, "Oh my God - you have to try Strong's Pizza in Newport!" 

So two days later - here we are. It's next to Mad Mike's - which used to be Graeters and is on Monmouth just up from Brio at Newport on the Levee. It's in an old house and has a vintage feel with signs hung on exposed brick walls throughout.

But there's a lot of pizza to discuss - we jumped in with Mindy's Mediterranean pizza (Mozzarella, spinach, artichokes, sun dried tomatoes, feta and pesto cream sauce). I really liked the brick oven crust - I think it was light and airy. The toppings on the Med were good - there was a lot of the toppings but not much sauce - I think a little more sauce might have been welcome - but I liked it.

Okay - now prepare yourself for an Awkward Coworker Photo - I have no idea why - but this photo makes me smile so much.

This is one of the staff and our very own Jonesy. The way the employee is standing, the look on Jones' much awkward! #loveit Anybody wanna caption it?

There was a BIG table of us - some of the other girls went for the Margherita Pizza (mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, olive oil). Unfortunately none of them liked this pizza - they said it was just a lot of bland and they didn't even care for the crust that much.

Another group went for a half-and-half with the Mediterranean and Hot & Spicy Pizza (mozzarella, buffalo cream sauce, jalapenos, bacon). The girls liked this one and finished it off - I was a bit wary to try because of the heat factor. Nobody was racing for water but they did say it had some heat to it as well.

Strong's also has DESSERT pizza ($6.99)! What I loved about this was that it wasn't just the normal cinnamon streusel kind that you find most places. This was a brick oven pizza with white chocolate chips, powdered sugar and raspberry sauce! 

This was DELICIOUS and very unique. I really liked this - though I only had one piece. So I would definitely recommend it - but with friends - because it is rich and sweet. 

Why Should You Go? I like brick oven and I have to say - I don't know that I even have a "favorite" pizza place. The crust holds up a little better than Dewey's but might benefit from a dipping sauce. The table had mixed reactions and overall said the pizza was good but they weren't sure they felt the need to go back. That said - Maria loves it and will definitely be back! So - I think it's one you might have to try for yourself to make the final decision. 

Strongs Brick Oven Pizza on Urbanspoon

Road Trip: Queen City Underground Tour Review

I guess we could say 2013 has been the year of the alcohol tour. We've done bourbon tours at Buffalo Trace, Town Branch and Makers Mark. Brewery tours at Rivertown and Mt. Carmel. Cincinnati Underground tours with the Brewery District and now American Legacy Tours

And here's a Cincinnati fact of the day: of the 16 mile subway route that was planned - only 2.2 miles was completed and lies slumbering under Central Parkway.

American Legacy Tours are based out of a bricks and mortar shop at 1218 Vine. They have a few things for sale in the shop like art, books and post cards as well as tickets for their other tours. The crowd meets there for the tour and then off we go!

The Underground Tour was going to take us on a tour of brewery spots, hidden crypts and more!

We heard a lot of fun facts on the tour - like the fact that this used to be the spot of a theater where Buffalo Bill performed! There's a longer story behind it - but I don't want to give all the secrets away.

And somehow they got all of us to do the Chicken Dance on the corner of Vine. Trickery abounds!

We also got to tour a tenement building that was used by the German immigrants that worked in the numerous breweries of OTR. It was very sad to think of multiple families living in these tight quarters without air conditioning or showers!!! The building is extremely dilapidated now but has been purchased so it will be on the list for rehab very soon.

Next up we visited the St. Francis Seraph Ministry on Vine. They have a church, food pantry, garden and even a school.

They also have a crypt underneath the church - and these tombstones are gorgeous. It's creepy and beautiful all at the same time.

The tombstones were used to pave the floor so we could not walk on them - but were able to catch a glimpse of some of the names and messages on them. So beautiful.

Next up was climbing down a VERY narrow staircase to get down to the Underground portion of the tour. FYI - if you have mobility issues - this portion would be difficult for sure.

Once in the tunnel - we explored and were educated about these brewery tunnels. I knew quite a bit about them from the previous tours that I've been on. These were used to store beer before refrigeration. It would have been pretty awful to work in these conditions. All makes me glad I went to college ;-)

Amazingly enough - we popped up out of the tunnel and ended up in the Moerlein Tap Room. The tap room is very nice and spacious! If you're looking for a Tap Room Tour - this would definitely be one to add to the list!

Why Should You Go? After going to two "underground" tours on back-to-back weekends - it really depends on what you're looking for. Both tours (Brewery District and American Legacy Tours) provide a lot of facts and info but I think the Brewery District tour goes a little more in depth. The tickets are $20 each for either tour - so it might just come down to which has the times that work better for you! Both involve a lot of walking and a lot of listening - so if you have ADD - you might get a little fidgety. Either way - you won't be sorry!

Restaurant Review: Currito Burritos

I can confidently say that I am a Chipotle-loyalist. As a marketing person (by day) - I know that their lime & salt sprinkled chips and their juicy shredded pork have worked their way into my brain. My brain has a chemical reaction when I hear the word Chipotle to tell the mouth - start drooling! I also have an expectation of flavor...but here I am...getting ready to buck the loyalty and TRY ANOTHER BURRITO! 

I decided to meet up with a couple of other bloggers (It's Free At Last and Wanna Bite) and try someplace new - so my burrito loyalty was going to be tested at the downtown Currito

There's a big line but it moves quickly and actually breaks into two lines once you get up to the registers so that's nice. The menu is big - they don't have the simplicity of Chipotle. They put together more unusual combos such as Bangkok (asian slaw, thai peanut sauce, cucumbers), Buffalo (romaine, buffalo sauce, celery), Mediterranean (hummus, cucumber, feta, pico de gallo, balsamic) and Tikka (chickpeas, masala, raita). 

I went for the Classic - to give it the true burrito to burrito comparison. The burritos were huge - I was a little frightened by the size as she was wrapping it. I found out AFTER I sat down that I could have gotten a "small". Who knew? 

So here is the behemoth burrito. 

Why Should You Go?  I'm skipping ahead to this section to describe the eats here. The inside of a burrito isn't very exciting or appetizing - so no photos of that. I only ate about half of the burrito - it just wasn't Chipotle. It's sort of like the barrage of "fancy hot dogs" out there - my palate likes ketchup & mustard on a hot dog. And apparently - my palate likes Chipotle in a tortilla. The rice was dry and the pork wasn't as juicy. I just didn't like the flavor. I tried some chips too - they were thicker and just weren't the same. So Currito isn't for me. My belly only has room for Chipotle.

Currito Burritos Without Borders on Urbanspoon

Food Hussy Recipe: Stubbs Steak and Oven Roasted Potatoes

I wanted to share a quick and easy dinner meal that I made recently! There were some key ingredients and you can adlib as you like!

* Steak - we went for two ribeye from Stehlin's Meat Market
* Stubbs Steak Rub - been waiting to try this!

* Yukon Gold Potatoes
* Olive Oil
* Seasonings you love

* Easy bake loaf from Kroger
* Butter
* Garlic Salt

The rest was so easy!

Potatoes (this is the time consuming part)
* Preheat oven to 425
* Dice potatoes to even sizes and spread on a rimmed cookie sheet
* Season with salt, garlic and any other seasonings you like (ranch seasoning, oregano, rosemary)
* Drizzle olive oil over the whole pan
* Bake for 30-40 minutes depending on the size of your dice - poke with a fork for doneness
* Turn and stir potatoes half way - they tend to stick - so mix them up to get them all over browned

* Lay out foil
* Slice the bread into 1.5" thick slices
* Butter both sides with soft butter
* Sprinkle garlic salt all over the heck out of it
* Bake for the last 15 minutes of the potatoes

* Heat the grill
* Season the steak (I start getting the steak ready to go on the grill when I put the bread in)
* 3-4 minutes on each side (see the pink - boom!)

And there you have it - dinner from fridge to table in less than an hour!


Food Hussy Restaurant Review: Red Roost Tavern at the Hyatt Regency

A few weeks ago - the newest fine dining establishment in downtown Cincinnati had a blogger tasting. I was invited and so excited! 

Then I got the flu. 


Yeah - so I couldn't go. :-( I was sooooo bummed. 

But they were nice enough to invite me back! So Larry and I planned a date night and headed downtown. 

The Hyatt Regency Cincinnati has completely remodeled and it is AMAZING! The entire hotel is beautiful and so modern! We were dining at their new restaurant - Red Roost Tavern - and if you ever ate at Champs - you will be SHOCKED! In a really really good way! 

The restaurant is a bit dimly lit and I'm using my iPhone - so sorry my pics aren't DSLR quality! There are a lot of little nooks in Red Roost - so if you're there with a big group or just one other person - you an find a nook for you!

This wall is amazing - right?!

It's an open kitchen and fairly formal dining area. Obviously not very busy - I have to say - it won't be like this for long! (hint of things to come)

The menu is farm to table and they pride themselves on letting you know where everything comes from - good stuff.

They also have a nice selection of local beers - Larry was giddy to find another place with his beloved Bourbon Barrel Ale on tap. If you like bourbon - you gotta try this beer - and it's a lot better on tap!

I started with crab cakes ($14) - poor Larry had to just watch and wait - but he said it was okay!

These were delicious! The crab was light and sweet and the cakes themselves were full of crab and very little "filler"; the honey chile mayo was sweet with a little kick; and the surprise was the slaw - it was crunchy and sweet and spicy and a perfect combination. The crab cake is so warm, the sauce so creamy and then the slaw is this biting crunch! Loved it!

I decided (after much debate) on the Fish & Chips ($23) - which was baked code and elephant garlic chips with a malt vinegar reduction. You also choose two sides from a list of 8 options - I chose the peppered pappardelle and roasted mushrooms. What I loved was that they didn't just plop the pasta next to the fish. They layered it all like it was meant to be together from the beginning. It was like I created my own dish!

And I did a damn good job - cuz this was awesome! The cod - delicious: flaky, thick, rich, light, heavenly. The pappardelle was definitely al dente (I would have liked it cooked a TINY bit more) and definitely fresh pasta (yum). The mushrooms were great too - and soaked up that malt vinegar reduction like butta! The combo went together beautifully. The only thing I didn't love were the elephant garlic chips - they were chips made of garlic. They just weren't tasty - I did crumble a couple and sprinkle on the dish and liked that.

We debated on one of us getting beef - but we were both in the mood for fish - so Larry went for the Cedar plank wild caught salmon ($26) with mustard glaze and grapefruit butter sauce. He got grilled asparagus and sour cream & chive mashed potatoes.

His salmon was delicious! It had that full flavor that good salmon should have - so good. The mashed potatoes were creamy and thick! The asparagus was fine - a little woody on the ends. Good choice!

Lastly - I had to get dessert! I chose the Lemon Brulee with blueberries ($6). I absolutely LOVE brulee and this was exceptional! I had brulee recently somewhere and it was awful! This was a great rebound! The lemon - which can get overpowering - was delightful! Loved it!

Chef Bernard came out and chatted with us - he's been with Hyatt for quite a long time and opened restaurants all over the country. He's been in Vegas, Hawaii and now - Cincinnati! (eek - poor guy - JK) He's also started The Market which has sandwiches, coffee, snacks and more. It's in the lobby area of the Hyatt.

And then there's this open seating area - very modern and minimal - I think it's really unique for Cincinnati. We have plush and palatial - this is filling a void. Love it!

Why Should You Go? Our dinners were both really great! This was a wonderful date night for us - it was soooo surprising! I had been to Champs, then I knew this was called "Tavern" - so my expectations were low and were BLOWN AWAY. The service was excellent, the staff was uber-friendly (they did know I was a blogger though) and the food was great!

We both agreed we would go back in a hot minute!

Red Roost Tavern on Urbanspoon

* Our meal was comped but I'm being totally honest in my delight over the food. I wouldn't steer you wrong for pricier food - I promise! 

Food Hussy Restaurant Review: Jason's Deli in Rookwood

A couple of weeks ago - we were in the Rookwood area when we saw a small sign that said "Jason's Deli." Suddenly a squeal came from the driver of our vehicle - "JASON'S DELI!!!" Who knew a deli could get someone that excited? 

Turns out the driver's husband used to work for Jason's Deli in Columbus and we HAD to go. So the trip was planned!

It's a pretty typical "fast-casual" restaurant with menus as you walk in along with a giant menu board. Walk up - order & pay - and take a number to your table - and the staff brings you your food.

There's no way you can say they don't have a good variety to choose from! Besides the large salad bar the menu features salads, sandwiches, pasta, potatoes and a lot more.

The salad bar gets RAVE reviews - at $7.69 - it's a good value. The salad bar is meatless but you can add grilled chicken or other meat options for $1.79. You can also add a cup of soup for 99 cents.

And yeah - they have FREE ICE CREAM. Okay - free ice cream. Yeah - I'm in. 

Sandwiches come with a side of chips - my coworker got a Reuben and a cup of chicken pot pie soup. More on that momentarily - I just can't help but show pics of as much food as possible. It took every bit of will power to not photograph everybody's food at the table!

Also something to note - on a lot of their menu items they have a full and a lighter portion size - which is nice for those that aren't big eaters or are trying to keep things in moderation.

I had heard wonderful things about the Chicken Pot Pie soup so I had to get it. I got a combo that gave me 1/4 of a muffaletta, chips and a cup of soup for $6.99 - which I thought was a great deal!

So the soup - well the flavor was really good. The puff pastry was a nice touch - though a bit tough to cut with a spoon. The biggest problem with the soup was that it was barely warm - BARELY. I could tell that if hot, this would be delightful. I didn't return it because we had 8 people - I didn't want to slow up our meal for returned soup. It was definitely disappointing that it wasn't hot though. :-(

Here's my muffaletta - it's a New Orleans sandwich with grilled, crusty bread spread to the edges with family-recipe olive mix and provolone melted over ham & salami (or turkey). Unfortunately I didn't care for it at all. I've had a muffaletta before but it was pressed so it was easier to eat. This was extremely thick with the bread making up more than half of the sandwich. The bottom piece of bread was completely soggy. The inside was fine - but with the bread huge, hard and wet - it wasn't appetizing. I ended up abandoning the bread and just eating the inside - which was fine.

That said - I'm not giving up on Jason's - I could definitely tell this is a place that you find something you love and you'll never turn back. I just, unfortunately, had two not-so-good options that I chose.

So - what did I do? Well turn lemons into lemonade of course! In other words - I got some free ice cream! 

Why Should You Go? While I didn't love my selections - I think Jason's Deli definitely has merit and will be back. Have you been - what do you like? What should I get next time?

Jason's Deli on Urbanspoon

Food Hussy Recipe: Fried Fish (Cod)

I founds some Cod on sale at Kroger and decided to cook it up - but then just couldn't figure out how to cook it! I've made cod before - it's a fairly thick fish and I have baked it before - but it just doesn't get done enough! So - I headed to Pinterest for some ideas on how to make cod.  

I ended up on frying the fish - there were a lot of fried fish recipes but most had eggs so I had to improvise. I went with a fish seasoning that I got in the Virgin Islands and some bread crumbs.

I started with peanut oil and got it really hot - you can see it get glossy and shimmery. I dipped the fish in milk and then coated in a mixture of the breadcrumb & seasoning mix. I used milk since my husband is allergic to eggs. I let the phones cook 4-5 minutes on this side before flipping...

After flipping - the brown crispy side looked great! Then I let it cook another 5 minutes or so to get it cooked all the way through.

With a couple of husband-friendly side dishes - dinner was served. I grabbed my Frisch's Tartar sauce and went to town!

This fish was perfect - a great way to cook a thick piece of fish like cod. My husband was really surprised by my cooking on this one! He liked it a lot! (ye of little faith)

Quick & Easy Fried Fish 

* 2-3 filets of a thick white fish (I used cod)
* 1/4 cup milk
* 1/3 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
* 2 tablespoons fish seasoning
* 1/4 cup peanut oil


1. Heat oil in a non-stick skillet
2. While oil is heating, pour milk into a small plate
3. Mix breadcrumbs & seasoning in another small plate
4. Dip fish filet into milk - then into breadcrumbs
5. When the oil is glossy/shimmery - lay the fish into the pan very delicately. If it doesn't sizzle right away - don't put it all the way in and let the oil heat a little more.
6. Let the fish fry for 4-6 minutes - fight the urge to mess with it - let it get a nice crispy crust
7. Use tongs to loosen and flip the fish - cook another 4-6 minutes (depending on the thickness of your fish)
8. Serve!