Cincinnati Art Museum
953 Eden Park Drive
With a menu created by popular chef David Cook of Daveed’s in Mount Adams and executed by staff from The Bistro Group, the Terrace Café inside the Cincinnati Art Museum offers visitors an affordable and unique dining experience. The sleek dining room is a bright, airy, modernist space of blonde floors, black tablecloths and a wall of windows overlooking a pleasant courtyard which is open for dining during the summer months.
The restaurant packs a surprisingly efficient kitchen into a small space with stylish Danish Modern cupboards surrounding the prep area. The gleaming workspace is not hidden away as in most restaurants; instead it is a logical extension of the dining room, like a residential open plan kitchen. The minimalist design is lacking in sound-absorbing soft furnishings, however, so there is a serious noise issue when the restaurant fills up at lunch.
Usually I am under whelmed by the ubiquitous veggie burger, but the one at Terrace Café is a cut above. Topped with boursin spread, melted cheese and roasted red peppers, this vegetable burger packs an appealing mix of flavor. The menu changes seasonally and unfortunately it’s not on the current summer menu, but will probably reappear when the temperature and leaves begin to drop.
Menu selections are under $10 and there is a small but adequate wine list for those inclined to enjoy a glass during the workday. As for current vegetarian choices on the summer menu, there are a couple of salads, a vegetable wrap with potato chips and pickles, and vegetable soup. I opted for the wrap, which filled a gap but wasn’t anything special, and a cup of the vegetable soup.
Their tomato soup has a chicken stock base and should be avoided, but the vegetable soup is 100% vegetarian and tastes gloriously of the summer’s harvest. Generous chunks of potato, carrot, celery and cabbage mingle seductively with bulbous, juicy mounds of stewed tomato, producing a rich tang on the tongue with each tender bite. It is yummy.
The Terrace Café is open Tues-Sun from 11a.m.-4:30 p.m. with extended hours on Wednesday, and museum members receive a 10% discount (does not include alcohol). Each time I have visited during lunch the café has been busy, filled mostly with ladies who lunch and retirees enjoying a day out, but there’s also a healthy smattering of office workers liberating their senses. On a recent visit we made an all-too-brief detour across the corridor to check out the Gregory Crewdson photography exhibit, which runs through September. Lunch at the art museum is an enjoyable excursion away from the norm. As their slogan goes, “Come as you are…leave as you aren’t.”