10 West RiverCenter Blvd.
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.
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.
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 shoes...you 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
10 West was completely off my radar and I probably would have remained blissfully unaware if Steve hadn't found an unbeatable deal on Restaurant.com. 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!