Living just north of Kentucky, people sometimes think my meow has a southern drawl. I don't think so, but I do notice Neil and Eric picking up certain sayings like "y'all" (although it's more like "yu'all") and one that's particular to this area, which is saying "please" rather than "excuse me" when they didn't hear what you were saying. I really like living here as we have the influence of both the North and the South.
|Virgil's Café at 710 Fairfield Avenue in Bellevue, KY|
The moderately priced jewel of northern Kentucky restaurants right now is Virgil’s Café in Bellevue, KY. It’s five minutes from downtown Cincinnati and the only difficult thing is getting over to the right in order to take the first exit off of 471. The other difficult thing is to get a table at Virgil’s. Not only is it a charming place, but it was also featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives a year or so ago. It’s none of the D words; it’s truly a Café. We dropped by on a Sunday evening around 6 p.m. and we were seated without a reservation, but the place was still more than half full.
The food is Southern American and everything I’ve had there – whether for lunch, Sunday Brunch, or dinner – has been good. We decided to focus on sharing some appetizers, one entrée, and a dessert.
|Frogs' Legs and Hush Puppies|
The Frogs’ Legs are fried in corn meal and served with a Pinot Grigio aioli that is smooth and rich. Jalapeno cheddar hush puppies also accompany the dish, but we went ahead and ordered them as a side as well. Though fried, they are remarkably light.
|Hot Slaw with Bleu Cheese|
|Shrimp Creole with Cheddar Cheese Grits|
We also ordered the Hot Slaw with Bleu Cheese. This is a great combo – sweet, sour, and with the bitterness of the cheese. Shrimp Creole with cheddar cheese grits and fried shoestring sweet potatoes is an elegant dish (and a very nice portion) that is redolent of one of the Brennan family’s restaurants in New Orleans (definitely not a dive or a drive-in).
|Coconut Cream Pie|
There were two desserts to choose from that night (carrot cake and coconut cream pie). The Coconut Cream Pie in this version is a thick custard textured with coconut topped by whipped cream and served in a reliable, but not especially flaky, crust. This is another good portion and the taste is clear, but not overpowering.
Service is always friendly and they never stop moving. Courses keep coming right on out of the tiny kitchen with alacrity. Diners might feel a little rushed, especially when they can see further customers waiting at the hostess’ station. However, this is a minor quibble considering that this is a small restaurant that is very popular because it is upbeat with a variety of original versions of classic dishes.