Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pirate's Cove - guest review

Pirate's Cove
4609 Kellogg Ave.
East End
(513) 871-1820

I found Pirate's Cove unworthy of a review, but my husband felt otherwise. This is his review.
Pirate's Cove bills itself as a "tropical paradise." Located on a floating barge in a cove off the Ohio River and attached to the Four Seasons Marina and Restaurant, the restaurant's outdoor, tiki-bar setting and live music could, if you closed your eyes, let you pretend you were nestled amongst the Florida Keys. I suspect, however, that visitors to the Keys would be expecting FAR better quality food than is served up here.

The Four Seasons

Tiki-bar decor

We visited on the recommendation of a friend and were armed with a discount Groupon coupon that was burning a hole in our pocket. While Pirate's Cove might be fine as a local watering hole (although most of the beer is of the canned variety) there's no way the food is worth the drive to East End - discount or not.

I always get disappointed when my wife's vegetarian choice is limited to nachos or fried fare from an appetizer menu, but that's exactly what she had to order here. Or should I say "suffered," as the nachos she ordered were topped with Velveeta cheese and canned tomatoes (truly an unforgivable offence when fresh tomatoes are in season), and looked to me like they had been eaten once already. She said they were "OK", but I could see in her eyes that she was just trying to be nice, the thought of having spent ten bucks on them quietly gnawing at her psyche.

Basket of nachos

Her chosen 'accompaniment,' four cheese-filled bread sticks ($6.50), were devoid of flavor and left virtually untouched.

Could bread sticks look any more unappealing?

There was nothing amongst the two dozen entrees she could have eaten. Not one single item was vegetarian-friendly, which means Pirate's Cove fails to cater to not just vegetarians but potential customers who may want to eat something a little healthier than the usual fried or fat-ridden 'bar food' choices. Whether it's ignorance or an oversight is for others to decide.

For my own sins - and I must have sinned a LOT - I was drawn to their daily special, the Chicken Fajita Wrap ($6 when we visited, $10 at other times) which completely shivered me timbers. A soggy tortilla encapsulating the merest quantity of chicken breast, peppers, salsa and insipidly bland cheese, accompanied by pre-cut, frozen french fries. One bite was enough for me to realize this was a poor choice and it was all I could do to eat half the fries and pick out the tiny bits of chicken, wastefully leaving the rest behind in the plastic basket.

Chicken fajita wrap with fries

With a certain theme in mind, what should have been "Arrrr" turned out to be "Arrrggh!" and Pirates Cove should be made to walk its own gangplank, as it gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "Thar She Blows."

Not worth the drive

Pirate's Cove Tropical Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

10 West

10 West
10 West RiverCenter Blvd.
Covington, KY
tel: 859-261-0900

I find most hotel restaurants to be more miss than hit, but the swanky-looking 10 West, located inside the Marriott RiverCenter, is a welcome surprise. First time visitors may find the hotel a little disorienting because the lobby is not on the ground floor with the main entrance. This is because the hotel is located in a flood plain, so precautionary measures have been taken to ensure hotel guests and employees remain safe despite the unpredictability of the Ohio River. From the ground floor take the elevator to the lobby, then veer to the left for 10 West.

10 West

The wall of windows along the north side of the restaurant give diners a stunning panoramic view of downtown Cincinnati. For an even closer look, request a table on the patio.

Stunning skyline views

The restaurant itself is tastefully decorated in soothing shades of green, and the ambient house music they play is slightly hypnotic. Not as hypnotic, I hasten to add, as the stuff piped in at Discount Shoe Warehouse, which I suspect has subliminal messages buried beneath the pulsing, trippy beats encouraging us to "buy more need more shoes..." That HAS to be the reason I can't leave without a pair. At least that's what I tell my husband.

Tastefully decorated

10 West's house-made potato chips are a complimentary first course while perusing the menu, and because I had already mentioned to our server that I am vegetarian, she warned me against the accompanying French onion dip because it has a beef base. The kitchen kindly sent out both ranch and barbeque dipping sauces for me to try instead. Both went really well with the thick-cut, crunchy chips.

Housemade chips and dipping sauces

While there isn't a dedicated vegetarian option on the menu, our server informed us that the chef would happily whip up a made-to-order vegetarian pasta. Perhaps I'll try that when the weather cools, but with temperatures still teetering into the 80's, I opted instead for lighter fare: edamame hummus ($8) as a starter, and the 10 West Salad ($8) as my main. The tart basil-orange balsamic vinaigrette balanced the sweetness of the candied walnuts, dried cranberries, and bleu cheese that accompanied the spring green salad, but the talking point of the dish has to be the "bowl" in which it is served. Created by long, thin, overlapping slices of English cucumber, the salad bowl was as pretty as it was tasty, and it held together surprisingly well.

Edamame hummus, grilled flatbread and crudité

Salad in an edible cucumber bowl

Steve opted for a bowl of cheddar ale soup ($4) as his starter (which unfortunately has a chicken broth base, so off-limits to vegetarians) and chose one of their signature dishes - Woodford Reserve BBQ ribs ($19) - as his main.

Cheddar Ale soup

Kentucky Bourbon BBQ ribs

We decided to splash out a little and order dessert, and although the mint julep flourless bourbon caramel cake was beckoning me, we opted instead for The Fountain Square ($5), a deconstructed banana split with a side of rootbeer float. The dessert is basically "build your own" out of items they provide: thick hot fudge, super sweet strawberry glaze, candied walnuts, caramelized bananas and a dish of vanilla bean ice cream.

The Fountain Square

10 West was completely off my radar and I probably would have remained blissfully unaware if Steve hadn't found an unbeatable deal on Now through September 13 you can get extra savings by using the discount code "TOUCHDOWN." To give readers an idea of the savings, our $25 gift voucher for 10 West cost us a mere $2.00. What a great incentive to try something new!
10 West on Urbanspoon