Sunday, June 6, 2010

Mayberry "A Grassroots American Eatery"

I learned about Mayberry through their sister establishment at Findlay Market, World Food Bar, which is an interesting gourmet-to-go spot inside the main market building. Both it and the tiny downtown restaurant, Mayberry, are the brainchildren of Owner/Chef Josh Campbell, a native Cincinnatian who went to culinary school in Florida, cooked down there at some impressive restaurants, and moved back to cook for the hometown crowd.

Within the past week, I had lunch at the restaurant (915 Vine Street, next door to Hamburger Mary's) on Friday afternoon then went back for dinner Saturday night.

The place has just three tables, and about 12-14 additional seats at counters around the edge of the room. There's no liquor license, so it's BYO -- something we always appreciate (not paying restaurant markup prices for wine, that is).

The turkey sandwich at Mayberry on my lunch visit was the best doggone sandwich I've had in eons, and my friend adored her massive and deliciously dressed veggie burger, as well.

Above are some shots of the food at dinner. I thought the best-conceived dish was the bottom photo -- mahi with bok choy and a delicious slice of melon -- a winning combo of flavors. Also shown, top to bottom, are pasta with ramps, garlic and a pheasant egg; endive and caramelized onion tart; sea scallops with carrots and mushrooms; and the aforementioned mahi. We liked the tart and the pasta, and while the scallops were nice, we thought the "bacon date jam" that went with them didn't quite come off. Otherwise though, it was all good. Really good.

The dinner menu Monday-Thursday is the same as the lunch menu, but on Friday and Saturday evenings there's a special tapas menu, and that's what we had. The weekend dinner menu changes every week, and you can look on the website to see what they'll be serving.

No reservations, so go early or take your chances on having to wait. Maybe someday they'll move to a larger location -- this one is amazingly cramped. But the food is high quality and not at all expensive, which makes up for all that.

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