Sunday, January 26, 2014

Wowed by a restaurant! (And we're not easy to wow....)

Foodies in the metro Cincinnati area, take note. Nuvo at Greenup, a less-than-six-months old venture by chef/owner Mark Bodenstein, might be the best restaurant in town.
We (finally) made it over there -- Covington KY -- last night, and it was a first rate dining adventure.
There's no menu; they just bring you what Mark is cooking, which consists of anywhere from six to ten or more courses. Our servers said it could be six fairly substantial courses or up to ten smaller portions. We hit it when they were doing the ten-spot.
Duck with Carrots @ Nuvo

The restaurant is in a small house on Greenup Street near the Ohio River, which has been a few other restaurants in the past, including an old favorite of mine called Wildflower, which served the healthiest and freshest food within walking distance of my former place of employment.
Nuvo has modernized the interior, and the decor is minimalist but pleasant. There's a lovely garden/patio in back which of course was totally off limits in this dreadful cold and icy winter we're suffering through, but they intend to revive it when the weather improves.
Upon being seated, you choose your beverages -- beer and wine only, no mixed drinks -- and confirm any dietary restrictions (they ask when you make reservations, which are a must as the place is very small and many foodies already are onto it). The price is $45 per person, not including whatever you decide to drink. You also can add wine pairings chosen by the staff for $40.
The wine list was short but interesting, I thought, and while we didn't select the wine pairing, other tables nearby did, and I noted the clever choices served by the beverage manager, a woman named Marie.
I will add some photos of our dishes, but won't go into detail about ingredients in each.....mainly because the dishes change so often that you wouldn't get the same thing even if you dined there next weekend. (They open for dinner only, Wednesday - Saturday.)
The concept, it seems to me, is to take mostly familiar ingredients and combine or prepare them in ways you probably never have had before, or even thought of having.
"Knife and fork onion soup"

For instance, the "knife and fork French onion soup" deconstructed the main ingredients and then came up with a (small) dish of a couple varieties of lightly cooked onions, leeks, seasonings and instead of cheese, a sauce made of "caramelized milk." We thought it a memorable, fascinating course, although we didn't think that the milk could have been an improvement on cheese. (One of the servers said that Mark couldn't find a particular type of cheese that set off the dish in the way he wanted it to taste.)
Toward the end of the meal -- right before dessert -- was a pappardelle with crawfish that was a favorite. Also a mushroom preparation that knocked us out. And they did a fine little take on duck breast with carrots prepared several different ways, including a garnish of fried carrot tops.
All in all, delightful. We look forward to trying it again in different seasons of the year, especially to see what he does when local produce is at its peak.
The mushrooms

ONE DOWNER: I told them that my husband doesn't eat red meat, but they served him pork and pork sausage anyway. Gamely, he ate it without complaint, but next time I call for a reservation I will mention this lapse and ask that they are more careful next time.


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