|Soft-shell crabs at Jean-Robert's Table|
Thanks to an unusual set of opportunities, during just over a week I dined at four notable restaurants, at least 2-3 of which would be on most people's lists of the best in Cincinnati. Based on those four dinners and considering all factors but most especially the quality of the food (always my top rating criterion), here's how they ranked. Note that #4 is a brand-new wine bar/light-bites enoteca and doesn't have the same aspirations as the others. This was my one and only visit to Enoteca Emilia, while I've dined many times at Local, La Poste and Jean-Robert's.
1. Local 127
2. La Poste
3. Jean-Robert's Table
4. Enoteca Emilia
You might be surprised that the Table ranked as #3, but my dining companions pretty much agreed that the food was fine, but didn't knock us out. On the other hand, the same bunch had dined on separate, recent occasions at Local 127 and raved -- if not dreamed -- about at least one thing they ate there.
For me, what disappointed at Jean-Robert's was my entree, a seasonal special of soft shell crabs. I love those little devils when they are cooked properly -- flash fried and as crispy as popcorn -- but so many restaurants just don't deliver. I decided to trust Chef de Cavel, and alas, he (or whoever on his staff actually prepared them) failed. The crabs looked crispy when the waiter set them before me, but then he poured a sauce over them that did what I dreaded: made them soggy.
At La Poste just the night before, I had a light meal of melon/tomatillo gazpacho and a bowl of delicious mussels and clams. Clearly not as ambitious as what de Cavel does, but every bite was perfection.
I've written (below) about my terrific dinner at Local 127 a week earlier, where my friend and I oohed and ahhed our way through entrees and a cheese plate, accompanied by cocktails and wine.
I also blogged about Enoteca Emilia, so if you care, scroll on down to read about that.
On other criteria in addition to the food quality, here's how I rate my experiences:
Table service: Local 127 -- excellent; La Poste -- excellent; JR's -- very good; Enoteca -- very good.
Wine/cocktail service: Local -- very good; La Poste -- very good; JR's -- excellent; Enoteca -- excellent
Wine/cocktail selection: Local -- excellent; La Poste -- excellent (especially wine); JR's -- very good; Enoteca -- good.
Ambience/Friendliness of Staff: All excellent