Saturday, June 21, 2008

Eddy's Belgian Bistro

Eddy’s Belgian Bistro
700 W. Pete Rose Way
Queensgate
513-421-0200

In the summer of 1985 I broadened my little world by backpacking around Europe by myself. Not that I remained alone for very long because I met a kindred spirit in Jenny, a wild child from Flagstaff who worked as a Grand Canyon tour guide. She and I hit off immediately and over many pints of bitter in some London pub it was decided that we should travel together. The pair of us managed to find a lot of trouble to get into along the way – from being hung over and retching in the bushes of Buckingham Palace to falling out of a gondola into the murky, stinking waters of Venice, to dancing with members of the Swiss National Guard on an apartment rooftop in the Alps, we had a very memorable summer.

Neither of us had much cash so rather than spend our beer money on Eurorail tickets and hotels, we opted to travel by bus, sleep in austere Youth Hostels and eat as cheaply as possible. This meant lots of fruit, crepes and French fries – and the best fries I’ve ever had were in Brussels and Amsterdam. Called “vlaamse frites,” these were much hardier than the typical American fry and came with a creamy mayonnaise dipping sauce. We couldn’t get enough of them.


When I heard about Eddy’s Belgian Bistro from a friend at WOXY, I made the trek over to historic Longworth Hall to see for myself whether or not their “frites” lived up to the name. The restaurant is owned by a biking enthusiast and is named after famous Belgian cyclist Eddy Merckx. It is quick-serve and their 8 a.m.-3 p.m. hours reflect the office crowd ensconced inside the former Baltimore & Ohio freight terminal. To find Eddy's, head for the long banners flapping in the breeze about a third of the way down the building, signposting the building's entrance. Eddy's is just to the left - look for the stone tables out front.


My first visit didn’t bode well – they’d already sold out of the frites when I arrived, but on the other hand it must mean they are good, right? Perusing the chalkboard menu, I noticed that they didn’t have anything vegetarian listed on the menu, but I was told that they could make a wrap filled with veggies if I wanted one. The wrap was good but extremely messy because the sandwich maker went a bit nuts with the ranch dressing – I’m willing to wager that the wrap had a least a half cup of dressing dumped on it, and it oozed out everywhere.

I finally got around to revisiting Eddy’s last week and was pleased to find that they now list a veggie wrap on their menu, but word of warning - they are still heavy-handed with the dressing. If you don’t want to wear it, request that they go easy with it, or omit it entirely.

The main attraction, however, is the frites, and although they aren't true vlaamse frites, they aren't bad. Cut long and thick, the frites look very much like their Belgian brethren, and the creamy chipotle mayonnaise is an excellent accompaniment. Unfortunately I found them to be a little too greasy to be proper vlaamse frites, which is probably because the fry cook tried to fry too many at a time. The secret to good vlaamse frites is to cut them to one centimeter thick and fry only a few at a time. Eddy’s are also served in a basket rather than in the traditional paper cone, so the grease doesn’t drain away like it should. I didn't find the frites to be very different from those served at Penn Station, but the addition of the chipotle mayo does lend a nice Belgian touch.

The area around Longworth Hall isn't the most attractive - it's situated in the industrial Queensgate area - but it's easily walkable from downtown and once you've passed the multitude of parking lots under the tangle of highway overpasses at Central Avenue you are greeted with an interesting array of artwork (see below) on the grounds of the massive red brick building, which at over a quarter mile long is still one of the longest buildings in the country and is on the National Register of Historic Places.






Eddy's Belgian Bistro on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 13, 2008

Mythos Grecian Grill

Mythos Grecian Grill
100 E. 4th St.
Downtown
513-381-3042
http://www.mythosrestaurants.com/

Vegetarians rejoice.

Mythos Grecian Grill on 4th Street has a huge selection of vegetarian options served up fast. Go early or endure long lines at lunchtime – queues move quickly but you may be hard pressed to find a table in this popular eatery if you arrive after noon.

A gripe I’ve had with the smaller Mythos outposts around town is that they rely on foil wrappers and Styrofoam plates – possibly because they don’t have a large enough space for dishwashing – but at the 4th St. location the lunch selections come on nice melamine platters, and at dinner it’s classic white china. Yay!

Evenings are less rushed and a little more posh with white linens on the tables and tableside service instead of ordering at the lunch counter. You'll also find an expanded menu in the evening with Greek specialties like Saganaki, which is a block of cassari or kefalatore cheese flambéed with Cognac and a squeeze of lemon juice. It’s crispy on the edges but gooey in the middle; a salty-sour bit of heaven.

I’ve been steadily working my way through their vast menu – although it’s difficult to deviate from the perfection that is the veggie pita – and I have yet to be disappointed in my selections.

Veggie Pita with fries - sweet perfection!

On the appetizer menu there are zucchini croquettes (kolokithokeftedes), cheese puffs (tiropita), spinach cheese puffs (spanakopita), grape leaves with rice (dolmathakia), and several cheese, olive and dip platters to choose from.

Their lunch portion of Mousaka (fresh potatoes, eggplant, zucchini tomato sauce and parmesan topped with a creamy béchamel sauce) is a meal in itself at $8.45, yet you also get a huge Greek salad to round out the dish. At dinner time it costs a few dollars more but comes with both the massive salad AND a side of Greek lemon fries. The dish is quite hearty and I found it to be way too much food, especially since I had already gorged myself on saganaki…and shared a feta & olive platter with my girlfriend, as well as a dip sampler that included hummus, fire feta and tzatziki with pita bread and veggies. In our defense, it was all too delectable to turn down and besides, a Greek meal isn't complete unless every inch of table space is taken up with delicious goodies.

Other vegetarian dishes at Mythos include a stuffed eggplant dish, stuffed peppers, a meal-sized version of the dolmathakia and a veggie combo platter that includes nearly every vegetarian appetizer on the menu.

At lunch I’m partial to the fresh veggie pita wrap. The fluffy pita comes slathered with tzatziki sauce and topped with a Greek Salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, pepperoncini, lettuce, onion, feta and Greek dressing. It’s a simple and satisfying dish and comes with your choice of hand-cut, crispy French fries, flavored rice or a side salad. Vegans are also catered to with the hummus pita wrap, which is similar to the veggie pita but hummus is substituted for the tzatziki. For those wanting a hot sandwich Mythos carries the ever-present veggie burger.

The restaurant has what might be considered odd hours for downtown: they are open for lunch from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. They do not have a liquor license, so plan accordingly.

Mythos on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 9, 2008

Homearama Cooks for a Cause

Got this in my inbox today:
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Please help us support this worthwhile event with your attendance!
HOMEARAMA® Hosts Fourth Annual Cooks for a Cause
WHAT: HOMEARAMA Cooks for a Cause HOMEARAMA attendees will sample dishes prepared by some of the area's top chefs as they do cooking demonstrations inside each of the ten homes featured in HOMEARAMA. The Fourth Annual HOMEARAMA Cooks for a Cause event is part of 7 Days for SIDS, a fundraising effort that benefits the Sudden Infant Death Network of Ohio.
WHERE: Long Cove, Deerfield Township, Ohio Take 1-71 to Mason Montgomery/Fields Ertel Road. Exit to north on Mason Montgomery Road.
Turn left on Irwin Simpson Road. Follow the signs to HOMEARAMA parking.

WHEN: Wednesday, June 11, 2008 from 6 - 9 p.m.
COST: Included in HOMEARAMA entrance fee, which is $12 at the door; discounted tickets available at area Kroger locations. Raffle prizes available at SIDS raffle booth.
WHY: Sample dishes prepared by some of the area's top chefs while helping to support 7 Days for SIDS, an organization that raises money for the Sudden Infant Death Network of Ohio (www.7daysforsids.com). The participating chefs are from Andy's Mediterranean Grill, Brown Dog Café, Chalk Food and Wine, Daveed's at 934, HUGO Restaurant and Lounge, Jags Steak and Seafood, Jean-Robert at Pigall's, Mesh, Polo Grille and Red Restaurant. All chefs are part of the Greater Cincinnati Independents group and are donating their time and product for the event (www.gcindependents.com).
IN ADDITION: 3 of the homes will have wines provided by E.J. Gallo for guests to sample throughout the evening wand purchase at the SIDS raffle booth. Don't miss our first ever VIP Meet & Mingle reception at the Long Cove Clubhouse from 9 - 10 PM. Meet the chefs up close and personal while sampling light fare and complimentary refreshments.
Tickets are $20.00 at the SIDS raffle booth with all money being donated to SID Network of Ohio. First 100 through the door to receive gift bag!

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