Sunday, May 1, 2011

Bouquet is a Short Lister for Foodies

Eric’s Mom came to visit for the week and she was very friendly, but her allergies started.  She said it wasn’t me, but I decided to go hunting in the twilight.  I’ve seen some of those bushy-tailed rats running up and down the trees and they’d better watch out.

The Townhouse Dining Room

      Katy told us that she and Dennis had really enjoyed Bouquet a few weeks ago.  When Mom said she wanted to go to one of the fancy restaurants she’d read about from Dexter, we thought about a number of restaurant we hadn’t visited and thought why not Bouquet?  It’s located in Covington’s historic Mainstrasse district in an Italianate townhouse.  It’s a beautiful building with a long dining room and an atmosphere that seems like a Parisian Bistro or a restaurant in the Ontario wine country.  The wood floors, while attractive, intensify the volume.  I wish there were some soundboards to dull the noise.

The Featured Soup—Carrot with Maple 
Bibb Salad with Pineapple and Cornbread Croutons
      The Carrot with Maple Soup sounded lovely and the taste lived up to expectations because the dollop of cilantro cream added a lemony tang to the sweetness of the maple and the earthiness of the vegetable.  It was a purée of medium consistency with a liquid, rather than cream, base.  It was a great entrance into the meal.  Neil had the Bibb Salad, which intrigued him because of the tiny chunks of fresh pineapple in it and Yuzu (a Japanese orange) and Cardamon Vinaigrette.  The sweetness and the acid complemented each other very well in this dish with the other ingredients – carrots and cornbread croutons (a little soft).

Sea Scallops as a Small Plate

Pork Loin with Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts
Lamb Shank with Root Vegetables
      Mom didn’t want to stuff herself so she ordered a small plate – in this case, the scallops.  Two large, seared scallops were served atop butternut squash purée with snap peas and small jicama sticks.  The scallops were meaty and tender and the sear crust really added a smoky note.  Neil had the Bone in Pork Loin.  It was cooked medium, which my Mom momentarily questioned, but the juiciness of the meat justified it.  Like it or not, though most of us have been trained to cook and eat pork well done, chefs have been treating pork with greater variety in cooking temperatures and styles for over a decade.  The sweet potatoes and, especially, the Brussels sprouts, were excellent.  Neil enjoyed it, but Mom thought it was a little dry and I would have liked a more definite sauce with it.  The root vegetables – turnips, carrots, and redskin potatoes – were the highlight of the Lamb Shank that I ordered.  Yes, the meat fell off the bone and, yes, it was delicious.  It was a large portion that we could easily share and this was true of the pork.  The cinnamon thyme pan jus sounded more complex than it tasted.  The foccacia tips were an original bread choice and good for mopping up the jus.

Carrot Cake with Homemade Ice Creams
      There was a choice of three desserts and/or the homemade ice creams.  We shared the carrot cake with the white chocolate and cashew ice cream.  The cake was extremely moist, almost like muffin tops, served in slices as a sandwich with the cream cheese frosting as a filling.  This was an original and witty touch to a dessert that can be a cliché. We also shared a banana ice cream.  Both ice creams felt like ones we might have made at home in small batches in terms of consistency, but the added touches really made them special and, as Mom said, “the banana tastes natural, rather than with added flavoring.”

      The food, the portion size, and the pricing are the reasons for Bouquet’s reputation and all are recommended.  PLEASE NOTE: The menu continually changes so what we have featured may no longer be available.  There was a nice wine list, though we did not partake and don’t feel we have the expertise to judge it.  We did not love the noise level and our server was a trifle cocky, also a little flirty with the all-female parties, though he did respond to our requests.  Bouquet is very consistent and is a must for foodies and Cincinnati visitors who are willing to drive five minutes south of downtown to Covington.


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