Thursday, August 26, 2010

Café DeVine

Café DeVine
309 Vine St.
tel: 513-241-4448
M-F 7 a.m.-3 p.m.

Located in an art deco outpost next to PNC Tower, this pleasant diner has been serving up breakfast and lunch to downtown office workers for over 60 years. There's a reason for their staying power; wallet-friendly good food served fast by amiable staff. It really ought to be the business plan for every restaurant.

A nondescript entrance

Side entrance via Ogden Alley

Café DeVine isn't the easiest restaurant to find, although they do place a couple of weatherworn plaquards on the sidewalk along Vine as a visual reminder that they're there. The restaurant itself is located in the lobby of the 309 Vine Building, which, while not as lavishly glamorous as the Omni Netherland, still echoes with the distinctively festive "Beaux Arts" character that defined the Roaring Twenties.

The lobby is a hidden gem

Vegetarians usually don't have a lot of luck at greasy-spoon eateries, but Café DeVine offers a couple of meat-free options that satisfy. Of course there are salads, but a more substantial option is the Vegetarian Sandwich ($6.99), which manages to be both healthy and unhealthy at the same time.

Vegetarian sandwich and a side of fries

The sandwich is chock-full of grilled mushrooms, bell peppers, onions and a generous helping of spinach, but the addition of gooey, stringy Provolone cheese and thick, buttery, toasted white bread negates the healthiness of the veggies. Not that I'm complaining - it's delicious, and totally my fault that I didn't opt for a healthier side instead of fries - but hey, they smelled so good that I had to have them.

The restaurant might be no-frills, but it's clean and tidy

Café DeVine also boasts a triple-decker grilled cheese ($5.99) on their sandwich menu, and offers spaghetti with vegetarian-friendly marinara sauce as an entree. Both are tasty, filling and inexpensive. It's a winning combination.

Cafe Devine on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Lunch on the Land fundraiser at Turner Farm

More than a Dozen Cincinnati Chefs Participate in Second Annual Lunch on the Land

Findlay Market Corporation Hosts Fundraiser on Turner Farm

(Cincinnati, Ohio) August 19, 2010 – Jean-Robert de Cavel will lead more than a dozen Cincinnati chefs in preparing a five-course gourmet meal on Turner Farm in Indian Hill at the second annual Lunch on the Land to benefit Findlay Market. This year’s event is being held on September 19th and starts with a tour of Turner Farm, an organically certified farm in Indian Hill that will provide some of the ingredients for the meal.

Guests will be seated at one long table under a tent in a scenic field on the farm and each course will be paired with wine courtesy of The Party Source. Each guest will receive a specially designed, limited edition Rookwood Pottery plate to commemorate the 2010 Lunch on the Land.

The Chefs participating in the event include:
Jean-Robert de Cavel, Jean-Robert’s Table
Joanne Drilling, Murphin Ridge Inn
Julie Francis, Nectar
Summer Genetti, The Palace
Meg Galvin, Midwest Culinary Institute
Owen Maass, Cumin
De Stewart, Herbs & Spice
Debbie Spangler, Yummy~issimmo
Matt Madison, Madisono’s Gelato
Lisa Kagan, Melt
Renee Schuler, Eat Well
Jean Philippe Solnom, Chocolatier
Victor Brown
Rita Heikenfeld…and more

“Last year’s event was such a success, we’re excited to build on it in 2010 with so many well known local chefs,” said Karen Kahle, Resource Development Director at the Corporation for Findlay Market. “This is the Market’s largest fundraiser and we’re thrilled that all the chefs are participating to support locally grown and sourced products available at Findlay Market.”

The menu and chefs will be led by Jean-Robert de Cavel. He says, “I’m a big fan of Findlay Market. When I came to Cincinnati, it was one of the first places I visited.”

The event is limited to 130 guests and costs $175 per person. Tickets can be purchased by calling 513.665.4839 or online at by clicking Donate > Payment Reason > Lunch on the Land. Proceeds from the event benefit the Findlay Market Fund.

The idea of eating local food has caught on so much that there’s even a word for it: “locavore” – someone who tries to eat only food grown locally. And the evidence in our community is everywhere. From the growing number of farmers markets to community gardens to food blogs to local restaurant menus, there is a surge of interest in food grown and processed locally.

All the details for the event are available at Event sponsors are: The Party Source, Cincinnati Magazine, Rookwood Pottery, EQ, McHale’s Hospitality Group, Worldwide Graphics, Greenacres, Blue Frog Promotions, Edible Ohio Valley and Ohio Proud.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Veggie Option's Baked Tofu

I know there are plenty of folks who claim they don't like tofu because of it's consistancy or blandness (or both), but the beauty of tofu is that it will take on any flavor you wish - you just need to create a tasty marinade for it. Here's one that I have adapted from a chicken marinade recipe. The longer the tofu is left to marinate, the better the flavor. I usually leave mine to marinate for a couple of days. Even my non-veggie friends love this one.

Veggie Option's Baked Tofu

1 package firm or extra firm tofu
cooking spray

6 Tbs Braggs Liquid Aminos or tamari
1 tsp Spike or (1/8 tsp celery salt, 1/8 tsp thyme, 1/8 tsp sage and 1/8 tsp marjoram)
1 tsp ground coriander
1 Tbs dried onion flakes (or substitute 1 tsp onion powder)
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp liquid smoke (optional)
Nutritional yeast flakes for dusting

Coating mix:
1/4 Cup flour
1/4 Cup cornmeal
1/4 Cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Ingredients for Baked Tofu

1. Cut tofu into 1/2" strips and place in a wide, shallow dish.

2. Mix together marinade ingredients...

...and pour over tofu. Dust with nutritional yeast and chill, turning occasionally.

NOTE: Tofu should be marinated at least two hours, but can be left up to 48 hours.

3. Combine coating mix ingredients.
4. Preheat oven to 400F. Mist a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

5. Dredge each piece of tofu in the coating mix...

...and place on the baking sheet.

6. Bake for 15 minutes; turn, and bake another 15 minutes. Enjoy!

Note: Once baked, tofu can be stored in refrigerator and reheated in the oven. For a crispier coating the tofu can be fried in a little oil instead of baked, but that adds a lot of unnecessary fat.

Click for printable recipe.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Mokka and the Sunset Bar & Grill

Mokka and the Sunset Bar & Grill
500 Monmouth Street
Newport, KY
Tel: 859-581-3700

I'll admit to being wary about revisiting Mokka after the poor service experienced there in the past, but hey, it's been long enough that the restaurant should have worked out the kinks and gotten rid of the dead weight, so I decided to give them another shot.


I'm glad I did. We arrived around 9:30 a.m. on a weekend morning and were promptly greeted and seated - already things were looking better. The restaurant was bustling and the staff rose to the challenge; taking orders in a timely fashion, pacing the meal accordingly and being there when needed - no hovering nor disappearing for extended periods. Our server earned extra points for recommending their housemade breakfast juice - the pineapple-orange-cantaloup juice was refreshing and tasty.

Pineapple orange cantaloup juice drink

Another bonus: there is a vegan wrap on their breakfast menu! Chock full of roasted red peppers, sauteed onions, mushrooms, and generous chunks of tofu, it's a healthy and delicious alternative to the cholesterol-laden items normally found around town. It comes with a choice of side items - I'd just finished a five-mile walk and was craving carbs, so I opted for potatoes. Other choices include fruit, salad, and onion rings. Yep, you read that correctly.

Vegan wrap with potatoes

It was a coin-toss for Steve between the frittata and the chicken grinder. The grinder won. The menu also boasts waffles, pancakes, French toast, several vegetarian grinders, salads and and oatmeal.

Chicken grinder

While Mokka appears to have worked out its growing pains, there's still an undercurrent of schizophrenia in that the restaurant seems to be trying a little too hard to cater to all tastes. I have yet to visit the restaurant in the evening, when Mokka morphs into the Sunset Bar & Grill. The restaurant is non-smoking during the Mokka hours (9 a.m.-3 p.m.), but the smoking ban is lifted in the evenings when the menu changes to bar food (think wings and potato skins) and burgers. It's a weird concept, but more power to them if they can make it work.

Mokka and the Sunset Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon