Friday, August 12, 2011

If only the U.S. Senate operated as well as Senate in Cincinnati

The Long Bar and DIning Room at Senate
      We hadn’t seen Theresa and Chip in a while and asked them for their recommendation where we could get together.  They’d really liked Senate in the Gateway Quarter (i.e. the part of Over The Rhine that’s undergoing a major transformation – a euphemism for gentrification – and hopefully won’t get destroyed like what happened ten years ago with the riots) and thought we’d want to check it out.  Its hook is that it serves gourmet, extensively accessorized
hotdogs.  What sets it apart is the service and a sophisticated, urban bar setting with classic movies playing.  

Theresa's Selection
from the Extensive Beer List

      There’s an extensive list of beers, many of them from small, independent breweries from around the world and a boutique listing of wines.  The cocktails, however, are unique.  I had one with ginger beer, rum, blackstrap molasses, and a couple of other ingredients I cannot remember and it tasted like more.  Though somewhat sweet, it had a full-bodied texture and a sparkle.  I usually don’t drink, but we had a thirty-minute wait for a table so I sort of felt like why not?  The cocktails change pretty regularly.  The ones listed online are not all the same ones available as of August.  

Miss Piggy Sandwich
      Theresa thought we should order as we went, which made a lot of sense because I didn’t feel like stuffing myself silly as I have lately.  We ordered the Poutine, a French-Canadian dish involving fries, cheese curd, short ribs, and gravy as well as the Miss Piggy pulled pork sandwich that was served with cole slaw.  We didn’t take a menu with us so I’m not completely accurate on some names of dishes.  It seems like they generally serve some type of BBQ or pulled pork sandwich, but the details and name change.  Both of these dishes were excellent.  I especially liked the local cheese used in the poutine.  It had the consistency of buffalo mozzarella, though cut in chunky slices, yet it melted beautifully over the fries.  The gravy was rich, meaty with hints of wine.  

Mussels Charmoula

      Theresa ordered the Mussels Charmoula, while Chip ordered the Bacon Fat Fries and Korean hot dog and we chose the Croque Madame hot dog.  The mussels were good, but not quite as plump as the ones I had for lunch at Montmartre last week in Washington.  The broth was very good, however, rich with tomatoes, saffron, and a complex combination of herbs.  

Bacon Fat Fries
Korean Hot Dog
Croque Madame Hot Dog
The Korean had pork barbecue and kimchi served on top of it while the Croque Madame had ham, béchamel sauce, and poached egg on top.  Chip had recommended the Croque and, to be honest, I liked it more than the Korean because it had a stronger palette of flavors.  This surprised me because I assumed the Korean would be spicier.  In all cases, the breads that accompanied these dishes whether toast, slices, or brioche buns were excellent.  The order of beignets was a delightful way to end the meal.  They’re served with a mascarpone sauce and over crushed pretzels and nuts.  

Warm Pretzel Beignets
      Here’s the caveat: we know a family member of one of the owners so Neil found a chance to reconnect.  This was difficult because Senate is a bustling place and there is a wait if you’re there after about 6 p.m.  However, Neil was able to ascertain that the reason for the name Senate is because it refers to a place where people would feel comfortable discussing weighty questions and issues.  Again, if only the U.S. Senate really felt that way.  On the other hand, Senate pops right up on Google.
Senate on Urbanspoon

It would have been nice to have sniffed all of their food.  I think the Croque Madame would have been my favorite!

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