Friday, March 27, 2015

Sunday Brunch at The Littlefield

Currently our favorite Cincinnati Brunch scene

The Littlefield in Northside
      It's rare that you meet the perfect storm at a restaurant these days, or ever.  One where the waitstaff is energetic and knowledgeable, an atmosphere that feels like you're visiting a longtime friend's house, patrons that actually want to interact with you, and food that is so creative and delicious one can't stop thinking about it. We've had a few of those ah-ha dining experiences, but we weren't expecting it from The Littlefield Bourbon Bar and Kitchen.  In fact, on our drive over we were lamenting on how bad of an experience it might be.  It's just something we do when our moods aren't in sync and we start—well, whining a bit.

The Littlefield Coctails

      It appeared at Sunday's brunch that The Littlefield already has somewhat of a following.  We arrived shortly after they opened and it progressively filled in from there.  Our server immediately asked if we had joined them previously and announced his favorite cocktails to start. Although that usually isn't a path we go down, his enthusiasm sparked us to go for the Peach Bellini.  He was right.  It was the perfect size and mix, which sparked a comment from our neighboring diners.  

Goetta Eggs Benedict
      The brunch menu is limited, but not limiting.  We decided to share the Frangiapane French Toast from the menu and a special Goetta Eggs Benedict.  Both were pieces of art and layered with multiple flavor explosions.  The benedict celebrated early spring with its  two perfectly prepared poached eggs perched atop two English muffins divided by a cantilevered slice of goetta.  All were positioned in a puddle of light lemon sauce and surrounded with a pesto vinaigrette.  It was dense and light at the same time, although I'm not sure how that happened. 
Frangiapane French Toast
The French toast was equally impressive stacking three thick slices of almond battered bread properly baked to the crunch of a meringue and served with a house made bacon brown butter that was like ice cream.  Then there were the bourbon poached pears and maple syrup to top it all.  This was, without a doubt, up there with the best of the best!  

The Downstairs Dining Room
The Bourbon Bar
      When everything comes together like this did on a first visit, one always has concerns that it was a fluke.  I don't get that sense from The Littlefield.  It appears to be a well thought out business.  We're looking forward to returning at night for their pot pies and bourbon influenced dishes and cocktails.

The Littlefield on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 23, 2015

Revolution Rotisserie & Bar in OTR

It may not be revolution-ary, 
but it is worth crowing about

Revolution Rotisserie & Bar on Race Street in OTR
      Findlay Market seems to be a jumping off point for some of Cincinnati's recent restaurants.  Revolution Rotisserie & Bar in OTR is the latest installment.  

Half Bird with House Made Sides
Starting with simple rotisserie chicken (hence the name from the revolutions on the rotisserie), the menu builds from there.  We experienced the Half  Bird that comes with a choice of dipping sauces.  We chose the house made BBQ and Honey Sriracha to accompany ours.  I found them both a notch above the norm, but Eric preferred the BBQ sauce.  (Others are the Chipotle Ranch and Tzatziki.)  The chicken was tender with a flavorful singed skin that pulled rather easily from the bones.  It was adequate for the two of us to share along with two sides of house made Asian Slaw and Honey Glazed Carrots.  The slaw was very fresh and had a peanut dressing.  Eric enjoyed it, but it's not one of my favorites.  I was hoping they would knock the carrots out of the can, but instead they were a little overcooked.  Sorry, but no one serves them like Cracker Barrel!  There's several other sides including Tater Tots, which Katy and Denny (our companion diners) favored on an earlier 
MLK Salad with Chicken
visit.  For them, their fare that evening was the MLK Salad with added chicken to the field greens, parmesan cheese, cherry tomatoes and croutons with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing.  They found it to be outstanding!

      Other future visits will include their Signature Pita Sandwiches.  All are named after famous humanitarians and can be made vegetarian or gluten-friendly.  There's also a nice selection of house created punch cocktails, beers and other libations.  It's an atmosphere that fits well into the OTR scene with its neighborhood appeal.

Revolution Rotisserie & Bar on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Total Look at the Cincinnati Art Museum

Recalling a wondrous moment 
in American wearable art

The Entrance
     The Cincinnati Art Museum leaps back to the ‘60s with The Total Look.  It focuses on the troika collaboration between clothing designer Rudy Gernreich, photographer William Caxton, and model Peggy Moffitt.  With great prescience, Moffitt kept the legal rights to the clothes she famously wore for Gernreich and they are the foundation for this exhibit.  Another featured colleague is Vidal Sassoon, whose hairstyles may be the most remembered element from that era, but are actually the least important.  

The Total Look
     Gernreich’s designs were about two to four years ahead of the international fashion cycle, but other designers (some American as well as Europeans Yves St. Laurent and Mary Quant) received greater acclaim for his original ideas.  
The Monokini
However, the monokini stands as his alone.  It’s also known as the topless bikini.  Gernreich’s philosophy was to remove the sense of gender and de-sexualize the body.  His clothes were either form fitting – all of the Mod midi-skirts and evening dresses – or loose – the caftans and some of the pantsuits.  

The Reversible Coat Dress and Belt (far right)
Barbra Streisand
The Reversible
Coat Dress and Belt
for Show magazine—1964
     The materials he used varied from natural materials to nylons and plastics.  This allowed him to further realize his revelation of the human form through cut outs, which have made a resurgence lately, and the not so timeless see-through layers.  What still astonishes is his color sense both in solids and patterns.  Caxton’s sharp lines and high contrast in the short film “Basic Black” and his fashion photography places the clothes in a direct line from classical Greek.  Moffitt’s make-up looked both like Kabuki and also like Pierrette from the commedia dell’arte.  

Marlene Dietrich Suit
     The exhibition has the same high definition in its lines and white on white surroundings as the photo shoot backgrounds from that era.  There is a warning for parents of small children because of the monokini photo, I guess.  This seems disingenuous to me when the first two works one sees when entering the museum on the first floor are the naked Roman guy sculpture and the ‘provocative’ (or just plain sexist) Ted Wesselman painting that’s also discreetly placed in an alcove.  

    Masterpieces of Japanese Art is the other major exhibition on display currently.  Somehow, that gallery has visually been reduced in size.  Covering hundreds of years of a culture in a few artworks was simultaneously more ambitious and reductive than I expected.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Detroit ’67 at Ensemble Theatre

A moderate production 
of a lackluster script

     Ensemble has provided so many wonderful nights in the theatre that it makes me appreciate them even more after a lukewarm one like the current production of Detroit ’67 by Dominique Morisseau.  There’s a fascinating subject about working-class African-Americans running a business in a shadow or underground economy because they don’t have

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Redeployment/The Handmaid’s Tale

Across continents and in our backyard 
lie the terrors of dystopia

     Phil Klay somewhat unexpectedly won the National Book Award in November for Redeployment, a collection of short stories detailing the experiences of various soldiers during and after tours of duty in the Iraq War.  I hoped Klay would win because it was about the war, which both American pop and lit culture have

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Nature Inspired Artist

Something good comes 
out of our harsh February

"Carts with Dirty Snow" by Anonymous
      While running some errands this weekend, we couldn't help but notice several artist installations throughout the city.  This one popped up at Hyde Park Plaza and is titled "Carts with Dirty Snow".  As with all special exhibits, this one (and the many others) may already be gone.  If so, look for them next winter.  There's bound to be more!

Detail of "Carts with Dirty Snow", 2015

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Dutch’s Larder

We finally said, “Uncle,” and were delighted

Dutch's Larder
     We read about Dutch’s Larder when Donna Covrett (we still miss her writing and her desserts) reviewed it a couple of years ago.  We weren’t very sure about going because it sounded like take-out or a delicatessen.  Cincinnati magazine

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Cameron Mitchell’s Culinary Empire

Each theme works, while the service shines

High Street in the Short North
     Columbus is a chain of suburbs in search of a downtown.  Its restaurant scene follows this same model.  Though there has been a proliferation of independent foodie styled establishments in the Short North and the Arena District in the past twenty years, chains are the way to eat in Ohio’s capital.  Wendy’s started there, Piada – Italian food in a cafeteria setting that mirrors Chipotle – is the most recent addition, and

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Slap

Yes, I miss Edward Zwick 
and Marshall Herskovitz too

     The Slap started a couple of weeks ago on NBC and I keep hoping it will be better each episode than it turns out to be.  Focusing on eight characters connected through family or friendship ties, it examines the aftermath of an aggressive rich man slapping the incredibly ill behaved five-year-old son of people he doesn’t know well.  From a birthday backyard

Friday, February 27, 2015

Khaled Hosseini and Marjane Satrapi

Natives of enemy lands 
show the truth beyond geopolitical 

     Khaled Hosseini’s And the Mountains Echoed (2013) moves from Afghanistan to California to Paris to Afghanistan and from the 1940s to the 2000s to the 1970s to the 2010s.  It’s epic yet feels intimate and it takes off from E.M. Forster’s mantra ‘Only Connect’ from Howard’s End (1910).  That work was a parable for the state of England.  Hosseini’s third novel is a parable of East-West relations during peace and war.  It’s a novel that feels European in structure – almost like Schnitzler’s La Ronde (1897) or the “Wandering Rocks” episode of Joyce’s Ulysses (1922) – because the inciting incident that involves six