The Foodie Report
Ruminations on food, cooking in and eating out in our area.

It's entirely possible to be a vegetarian in Porkopolis. Pop culture reporter Lauren Bishop blogs about products, recipes and restaurants she's tried for others who eat meat-free. E-mail her at lbishop@enquirer.com.

Nicci King is an unabashed foodie and the Lifestyle/Food editor in The Enquirer's features department. She loves to discover new food faves, and she's on a daily quest to answer one burning question: What's for dinner? E-mail her at nking@enquirer.com.

Enquirer Weekend editor Julie Gaw tends to order the same dish every time she eats at a restaurant, but periodically ventures out to discover something new and fabulous. After living in China, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Thailand for more than 8 years, she craves tasty Asian food. E-mail her at jgaw@enquirer.com.

Food/dining writer Polly Campbell loves every quirk and secret of Cincinnati's food personality, and is on a constant lookout for something good to eat. Keep an eye out for her restaurant picks, or see how she's progressing toward becoming famous for her apple pie. E-mail her at pcampbell@enquirer.com.

Communities reporter Rachel Richardson is on a mission to prove vegetarians eat more than lettuce. She shares both her graduate work on American food culture and food-related news.. E-mail her at rrichardson@enquirer.com.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Nada definitely something...

And by "something," I mean fabulous.

I went last night with three friends and had a great time. The service was great and the food was wonderful. We all shared and were passing plates around like mad people...

sopes 8
crispy masa boats + short ribs + chipotle salsa + cotija cheese + pickled onions

Know this: I am not a violent woman. But I felt like hitting someone after I ate these. Doesn't make sense, does it? That I would hit someone because something is delicious, I mean. That's how good they were...

ceviche 14
scallop + shrimp + orange + chipotle

The citrus was pleasant without overpowering the mildness of the seafood. And the presentation made me want to take it home. Gorgeous and tasty.

mahi mahi tacos 10
fried mahi mahibaja style” + guacamole + pico de gallo

I've tried "fish tacos" many times before, and I have always been disappointed by a corn tortilla that overpowered a mild fish, or a fish (clearly not the freshest) that overpowered the other flavors in the dish. Not so at Nada. Every flavor was bright and identifiable but they played together like old friends.

chicken taquitos 7
crispy chicken tacos + asadero cheese and queso fresco + crema + tomatillo salsa

"Crispy." They called that right. I had to keep looking at it, asking, "This is chicken?" It was so juicy and flavorful, I just knew it had to be something else. Mmm...

shrimp and tamal 23
grilled yogurt marinated shrimp + sweet corn tamal + salsa verde

Two of us ordered this and we were glad we did. That way, we had enough of the tamal to go around. The shrimp was wonderful and I adore tomatillos, but that sweet, dense cake of corn was amazing and the star of that plate. I could have eaten a bowl of it...

plantain and potato mash 6

This savory/sweet side dish was tasty. But the powerful flavors that I had already enjoyed made for a tough act to follow. Hence, I enjoyed it and it was a very comforting dish, but it paled in comparison to everything else on our table.

mahi mahi 22
charred corn and fregula + jalapeno pesto + tomato vinaigrette

The fish was cooked to perfection. The exterior, slightly crisp, gave way to the glorious sheen of moist, flaky deliciousness. I wanted more flavor in the corn, but it is January... All things considered, it was still amazing.

For dessert, two of my friends had:

warm chocolate torte 8
torte + madisono’s banana foster gelato

I was sated and didn't want to indulge. But they both agreed that it was very good. Before dinner, I enjoyed a grapefruit margarita, and wanted another. And another. Oh, if I could have stumbled home... Have you been to Nada?
Leave your own review.


at 10:07 AM Anonymous vudutu said...

Great review, we have been wanting to go but we have heard mixed reviews about Nada and that the prices were high but this does not sound bad, I am assuming the number next to dish is the price. Thanks

at 12:25 PM Blogger Nicci King said...

Hey, Vudutu,

Yes, those numbers are the prices. I think they are very reasonable for the quality and the atmosphere... They're much more reasonable than Boca.

at 3:53 PM Anonymous Chad Edward said...

Don't overlook the plantain and potato mash! It's delicious, and a folksy counterpoint to the ritzier flavors.

The rock star is absolutely the sweet corn tamal. Too bad it's only coupled with shrimp. There's only so much you can do with frozen shrimp.

I agree with you on the sopes and taquitos. Both tenderly prepared and well thought out dishes.

The tomatillo salsa added to so many of the dishes is quite refreshing.

The ceviche is entirely adequate this far inland.

I've never ridden in the mahi mahi boat, and neither mahi mahi dish makes me think I'm missing something. The tacos are good...it's fried crisp, of course it's good. The entree was well prepared and I enjoyed the charred corn and fregula. I wouldn't order either again.

The staff seems a little put-out by minor requests.

When seating us, the the host was asked whether we could be seated in the empty both across from the table he was leading us to. His response was, "Well, the table is already set..."

WRONG! The correct answer is, "Absolutely. Give me just a moment to have the booth set for you."

We hadn't mentioned we were paying separately before ordering and asked if we could when presented with the bill.

The waitress made a bigger deal of separating the bill than it should've been. "Did you request that before you ordered?"


"I didn't think so. I would've been better prepared to do it. Let me see here... Yeah, I think I can figure it out."

I don't need the production. Just separate the bill. If you have questions, please ask; but, don't sigh and moan about it at my table.

at 4:03 PM Blogger Nicci King said...

Hey, I said the mash was good! :) I was just a wee spoiled by the big, bold flavors...

And, yes, there were a couple of service issues. I guess I was desensitized since I was cursed out by a homeless guy on my way into the restaurant that night. Ha! And I was nice to him! Oh well...

at 4:20 PM Anonymous Chad Edward said...

Of course, you're right.

But, I don't want readers to skip it because Nicci King at the Enquirer says "it paled in comparison."

It's like the tortilla espagnol at Seny. It's not prepared with a blow torch, but it delivers the comforting flavors you expect.

at 5:27 PM Blogger Nicci King said...

Well, it's the truth. The mash was good. Quite "tasty," as I noted. And homey, comforting and all that... Perhaps on another day, and certainly accompanying other entrees, it would have been great. There are some dining experiences when you welcome a dish such as that. Something simple to transition from one course to another or something to give your palate a break. But with such light, clean flavors that I wanted to savor, not mute or wash away, this just didn't hit the spot for me. I am by no stretch of the imagination panning it. Just telling it like I saw it.

at 6:40 PM Anonymous Lothar, of the Hill People said...

I liked the food at Nada great deal. It's as close to the Fontera Grill as we're likely to see in Cincinnati anytime soon. Once again, the service is lousy. I don't know what it is with the kids in the service industry today, but they act like they are doing you a favour by waiting on you. The local restaurateurs don't help the matter because they let them get away with it, and don't bother to teach their wait staffs anymore.

The service is typical of most restaurants these days, with the notable exceptions of Orchids at Palm Court (first rate service), The Palace (John McClain would NEVER allow the 'slacker' attitude in his restaurant) and Pigall's (world-class service). Sadly, Jean-Robert not only tolerates poor service at his other establishments but he proliferates it every time he opens another yet another one of his food-mills (none of which offer neither first rate food or service).

at 10:40 AM Anonymous vudutu said...

Hit Nada last night, we waited for them to work the kinks out and went on a week night on purpose but out timing was a hair off, a tip check the Arnoff show times and plan to get there after the show starts or go before 5:30, the place was Wicked packed from 6:30 until 8.

I love this building and the setting but refused to go in when The Queen City Restaurant Group had it so I was looking forward to seeing it again. The staircase redo and changes are great. Fab room, love the second floor perch.

The Nata Ritas sucked, the premium at 14$ was too sweet and not much better, we finally got the bartender to custom mix us a real one with their Cazadores Blanco, lime and Quantro, perfect.

let me say our bunch are NOT big sugar and heavy handed salt fans, possibly because we cook and eat from scratch a lot more than we go out, but the American public seems to demand it so a lot of stuff to us seems overly sweet and sometimes salty, McCormick and Schmicks sauces for example. Tough bunch to please here, sorry.

The wine list looked great but we went for the Negro Modelo to go with the variety of small dishes we planned.

LOVED the salsa and chips (a tad greasy but good), just killer.

As reported the Barbacoa Tacos were a hit, everyones fav, the sopes are similar and good, the fish tacos were disappointing, deep fried fish not grilled on a taco? Not a lot of flavor, tastes like fish and chips was one comment, everyone dove for the salsa and that helped spice it up.

The shrimp Tamal was very good but again the tamal was a tad sweet. Looking forward to working our way through the rest of the menu.

Service was good considering the hoops we put them through. We tend to be more tolerant and good tippers as there are a lot of ex food industry folks in our bunch.

Chad and Lothar make good points but I disagree about JRs spinoffs, I for one love the Bistro, Chalk is to soon to tell and yes I think he should pay more attention to his babies as his name is closely tied to them.

at 2:00 PM Blogger Stepf said...

Good points, vudutu!
I loved Nada. Kenny, my server, was phenomenal! We went after broomball (and felt ridiculously underdressed, but this was after we'd walked out of Rock Bottom before ordering because of AWFUL service) and had a great time. I had the mahi-mahi. It was quite flavorful and the perfect amount of food.
As for Chalk, my boyfriend has been swamped with a video project, and most of my friends are hibernating. I intend to go this week, if I can align schedules with a friend. Sigh. I'm hungry!

at 4:27 PM Anonymous Happy Fun Ball said...

Nice review Vudutu.

Good 'ritas are a tough beast to find in this town. I usually end up having to walk a bartender trough a custom recipe too (double ditto with sidecars), always made with fresh squeezed lime juice and Cointreau (never let them use cheap triple sec or that horrid Roses lime syrup-yuck). 3-2-1 ratio (teq/lime/Cointreau). I liked the salsa as well. Beer is the best choice with their cuisine, it's not really wine friendly.

Love the bar at Jeanro (Jeannie is the best!), the food is just so-so though. I think that J-R needs to hire a good chef to run the place, instead of the constantly changing cast of short order cooks who have worked there for the past several years.

at 5:59 AM Anonymous vudutu said...

Thanks Foodies,
Amen happy fun ball, I agree totally NO bar lime or Triple Sec Ohhh Sidecars, love a good classic cocktail, French 75, Whiskey Sour. I don't know why everyone want's to reinvent or throw more sugar in. If you do insist on doing that at least offer a classic first.
I guess I have been lucky, I love the Bistro, worst I can say is I had to send back a plate of mussels once. Must admit I have not been in since the holidays though.

at 12:20 AM Blogger Mark Mascolino said...

Loved Nada...great food and service was great except a sticking point with our large party and splitting checks...took forever but they ended up comping a lot of the meal so that wasn't bad. Subsequent trips back for lunch and the service has been spot.

Never had a bad JeanRo experience and I love the food at Greenup. The service at Greenup has however been hit or miss. Mind you the service is never bad compared to the average restaurant but you expect more at a Jean-Robert restaurant.

at 11:22 PM Anonymous yum said...

Food was great(sopas were tasty, mahi mahi tacos and pork green chili were good), server was knowledgeable.
As far as JR babies, Jeanro is best, yes Jeanie rules. Our experience at Lavomatic was horrendous, 3 of 7 entre items were out, and terrible service.

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