Sunday, March 24, 2013

New Hot-Spot (very hot) in OTR

Zula Restaurant and Wine Bar is the latest addition to the restaurant and bar scene in the part of downtown Cincinnati known either as the Gateway Quarter or, more broadly, by its traditional moniker "Over-the-Rhine" (OTR for short). Having opened toward the end of February, Zula has been discovered by hordes of young urbanistas who have made it hard to find a table at the area's other watering holes and foodie destinations (A Tavola, Abigail Street, Senate, Bakersfield, to name a few). Unlike most of their neighbors, however, at least Zula does take reservations.
One of the bartenders at Zula

We arrived early-ish on Saturday night without reservations but were lucky enough to find a couple of seats at the bar, where we started with cocktails and moved on to sample menu items from Chef Tsvika Silberberg, who goes by "Vic."  He has spent the past 12 years cooking at the Celestial in Mt. Adams before getting this chance to open his own place.

Menu specialties include an array of interesting preparations of mussels; we tried a simple tomato-and-garlic sauce and appreciated the plump, fresh shellfish in a tasty broth.
Otherwise, we split a nice salad that included hearts of palm and haricots verts, then each had a "hot plate" -- lamb moussaka for me (a surprisingly light version of what often is a heavy dish) and sliced, cured salmon for him (which he "yum-yum"-ed through every bite).
We also split a pleasantly light dessert, an olive-oil based pound cake topped with citrus salad, no cream or ice cream to weigh it down.
For those who crave something heartier, though, there were richer desserts.
Haricots Verts Salad

All in all, we had a great time and were impressed with just about everything -- the drinks, scene, food, etc.

Salad station @ Zula

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