Sunday, May 13, 2012

Dining on Vine (Gateway Quarter) -- the best in town!

No contest: the winner, hands down, for a vibrant and varied dining/bar scene in the Cincinnati metro area is the strip of restaurants on Vine Street off Central Parkway, known as the Gateway Quarter. Widen the geography just a little bit to extend a couple of blocks down to Main Street (where you can eat at Mayberry and drink Molly Wellman's great cocktails at Japp's), and your choices get even better.
On Vine Street itself, there's Abigail Street (our favorite as of now), A Tavola, Senate, Lavomatic, Taste of Belgium and Bakersfield. Plenty of young and not-so-young revelers have discovered this scene, and very few of the restaurants take reservations, so you either have to get there early, get lucky, or plan to wait. But the good news about waiting is that virtually all of the establishments have well-stocked bars, and there are a couple of other drinking spots right next door (a wine bar and a beer-oriented place).
Gnocchi at Abigail Street
Most recently, we have chowed down a couple of times at Bakersfield -- where the price/quality ratio is very high -- Lavomatic, and Abigail Street.
Abigail Street wowed us with every dish we tried, from a perfectly springlike flatbread topped with ricotta cheese and fresh peas to a lick-your-plate gnocchi and just-as-good sauteed cod. Everything is small plates here, so you get to try a few things rather than stick to one big entree. There are enough healthy choices to pass our healthy-foodie test. This is the one we long to return to, and will soon.
Bakersfield is one of the very few Mexican restaurants around here that makes their own corn tortillas, and their little tacos are delicious, filling, and cheap. The bar puts out some super craft cocktails, as well.
Tacos at Bakersfield

A Tavola packs people in for the artisan pizzas, and I'm also impressed by some of their cocktail offerings.

Most recently, we tried Lavomatic, where the healthy-foodie choices were pretty good. I had a vegetarian entree that was generous and filling: a delicious cup of gazpacho (my favorite thing of the meal) along with a vegetable terrine atop a bed of couscous salad. It was more than I could eat. For starters, we tried the warm goat cheese salad, and liked it.
Here are a few more photos from our dining adventures on Vine:
Crostini at Abigail -- half eaten!

Abigail Street Cod
Gazpacho & Terrine from Lavomatic


  1. This blog is very informative , I am really pleased to post my comment on this blog .

  2. have you tried 1215 wine bar yet? none of the cincy bloggers seem to be hip to it yet. i am still anxious to try it.

    1. Yes, it's a nice ambiance but i thought their wine choices were relatively uninteresting. I have the same complaint about Wine Guy Bistro in Hyde Park. For adventurous, think-outside-the-box wine options (including by the glass and even the half glass), La Poste in Clifton can't be beat. At least in the city -- I think 20 Brix outside my orbit in Mason or some burb also has interesting wines to try.