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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Thursday, February 28, 2008


At the last minute, I went to CityBeat's party at Twist last night, and Fred agreed to come along. We ran into a few friends, including our favorite blogger at BuyCincy.com. One vanilla heat martini for me and a Sam Adams for Fred made work become a distant memory. I'm such a lightweight that martinis are dangerous, especially on an empty stomach! The place was packed, and the crowd was pretty diverse. Lots of good people watching to be had! And when you could get it, there was free food, too.
Our friend and his girlfriend were heading to Lavomatic, so Fred and I tagged along.
At 8 p.m., most of the tables downstairs were filled. (Not sure whether they were seating upstairs.)
We had a
  • pot of roasted cauliflower soup ($8, but it served four!)
  • butter lettuce salad with shaved fennel and citrus pickled red onion ($6.50)
  • vegetarian ravioli, with rhubarb, root vegetables, bitter greens and brie, and rhubarb cream sauce ($14)
  • roasted salmon with preserved lemon, Israeli couscous and star anise beurre blanc ($18)
  • crème brûlée with lemon madeleine with candied rhubarb ($7)
We loved the entrées, really liked the soup and salad, and liked the dessert.
We loved our dessert until we tasted theirs -- chocolate compote with cherries and bay laurel cream, and baba au rhum with hazelnuts and hazelnut gelato.
The compote was fabulous in an "I-dare-you-to-finish-me" way, but the baba au rhum -- wow! It was "I'm-so-confident-in-my-fabulousness-that-I-don't-need-to-flaunt-it" good. The crème brûlée was a little too demure after those two.
The folks at Lavo, which is what all the cool kids are already calling it, rightly said two entrees and two glasses of wine would run about $50. Have you been there yet?

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at 1:44 PM Anonymous vudutu said...

I am going tonight, I can hit it with a rock from my office, OK, not quite, I would have to throw it go pick it up and toss it once more time. I'll be there quite a bit, here is the lunch menu...

Roasted cauliflower soup
Bowl $6 cup $4

OTR Chili
Bowl $7.50 cup $5

Butter Lettuce salad
L $9.50 S $6.50

Burger de la Semaine

Curried Chicken Salad

The Midnight
Sandwich of Serrano, caramelized red onion, membrillo, & blue cheese

Turkey salami, tomato, tapenade, basil and chevre


Grilled Cheese dujour

Veggie trio
three veg salads

Three cheese plate

at 3:02 PM Blogger Sean F. said...

Heck yeah my Baba au Rhum was awesome, although the Creme Brulee wasn't anything to sneeze at.

Looking at the lunch menu, I might have to just swing by again.

at 5:11 PM Blogger Stepf said...

Oh, yeah. Me, too. Creme brulee was good just not as good as baba au rhum. See you at Grammer's tonight?

at 10:50 AM Anonymous vudutu said...

Went to the Grammers opening last night, It was PACKED, I forgot how beautiful that front entry glass and the back bar are, BIG kudos to Mr. Tarbell for keeping the place so intact. Looks like the Coach and four folks are running it. High tailed it to photographer Gregory Crewdson's lecture at the Art Museum then finally back to Lavomatic. I bring all this up because it was so nice to see this level of activity north of 8th.

The good news is everything we had was delicious, the chacutrie board is a treat, a feast for the eyes as well as taste, the in house pickled vegs were wonderful. The roasted cauliflower soup good, it hit the spot. The butter Lettuce salad was a nice departure from the usual mixed greens and boring dressing. My better half pointed out that the dressing needed a little citrus to balance but all in all she was knocked out, that is tough to do and always a good sign.

I think I am going to be very happy with having Lavo in the neighborhood, wait staff seems to be very into the place and the food and passionate about it, another good sign.

One thing was annoying, the lighting is horrendously bad. The bare caged utility bulb in the kitchen has to be about 500 watts, like looking into the sun. The bare bulb fixtures are just plain ugly. A number of people commented about how odd the Chalk concept was, well this one is even more odd. aside from an old washer at the front and a couple of Laundromat signs it is just sort of a a half hearted attempt to tie to a concept that was a stretch to begin with. I can't even begin to understand the thought behind the display boxes on the walls with broken glassware in them. Not sure where they are going with these concepts but as long as the food stays this good I'm there.

at 12:24 PM Blogger Stepf said...

vudutu: Your review of Lavo is spot on. Decor is so-so, but the food surpasses that. I noticed the bright lights in the kitchen. They're harsh to say the least, but I can't imagine cooking in mood lighting!
I was at the Grammer's opening, too. Sadly, I forgot my camera. It was a great crowd: Older folks early on -- people who were regulars back in the day. Everyone looked so happy to be there, right at home! By 9:30, when I left, it was mostly young OTR condo dwellers and other pro-Cincinnati folks. My boyfriend and I are hooked. We're going back tonight. Old school board games in the rathskellar are calling to us!

at 12:56 PM Anonymous vudutu said...

Hi Stepf,
Since it is so close I imagin I'll be there a lot. The kitchen looked great BTW as far as I could see, agree about cooking in mood lighting, there needs to be a soffit in front of the light or put a shade on it. The hanging bare bulb thingies are odd too. Got to be some disconnect/distraction going on with JR, something is rotten in Denmark as they say.

Grammers was fun, we used to hide out in the rathskellar way back when. It was still under construction last night so I did not get to look.

at 1:32 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I took an out-of-town friend to Lavomatic for the first time on Saturday for brunch. I thought the atmosphere was calming and great for a quiet brunch or lunch. However, the food was lacking and the service was so-so. While they did make a special scramble request for my friend, the portions were small and uninspired and repeated attempts to get a glass of water went unfulfilled.

I will probably go back for lunch or dinner to see if it's any better, but brunch was certainly very disappointing, especially considering the many superior brunch options available in the city and surrounding areas.

at 3:23 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just had brunch with 3 others at Lavo. I was apprehensive because of two comments on this and another website about brunch there. We each had a different item and all were excellent. Not just good, but original, full of flavor, delicious. That would be the lemon-ricotta pancakes, the eggs benedict with blueberry chutney, the omelette of the day, and grits with shrimp. The service was good. A great brunch place in our opinion.

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