Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Classic Cuisine of Daveed's at 934

Dexter Waiting at the Entrance
      We've been fans of Daveed's at 934 since its opening.  It was one of the first new American menus to surface on the Cincinnati restaurant scene in late 1999.  That, along with the charismatic husband and wife team of David and Liz Cook (he's the chef and she runs the front of the house) and the eclectic interior, received a lot of attention.  

The Lively Interior
      Out to celebrate Lisa's birthday, she chose it as our destination.  Nothing much had changed visually since our last visit…the same arched mirrored faux windows, some colorful artwork, and a broken up layout that only an older building could conjure up.  We had a 6:30 p.m. reservation and it appeared that the serving crew was still warming up for
the evening.  When our server finally stopped by to address the menu, he seemed to be reciting a familiar scenario of taking us through the highlights (most of which we already knew).  Upon asking specific questions, he responded with some statements that left us wondering if he might need some additional polished training.  

Seared Digby Sea Scallops
      Over the years, there have been some classic dishes that have established permanent residence on the menu.  Under the "Let's Begin" category, the Seared Digby Sea Scallops reminded Eric of just how much he liked them on past visits.  Still as fresh as they get in our area, they're piled with Belgium endive circled with a blood orange and pistachio vinaigrette.  

Roasted Lavender Pear Salad
Lisa and I focused on the "Greens" and a newer Roasted Lavender Pear and Spinach Salad.  The pears were lightly scented in lavender and roasted with the skin on.  Sliced and surrounding the spinach, it was dressed with a banyuls vinaigrette with grated parmesan and diced red onions.  The leafy texture, along with the density of the pears, had some added crunch from a baked parmesan frico.  

Braised Short Ribs
Sautéed Atlantic Jumbo Fluke
Pan Seared Duck Breast
We decided on different entrées so that we could sample all three. Lisa was torn, but finally went with the Braised Short Ribs.  Cooked for 36 hours, the result was an off the bone "Mom's pot roast" on top of truffled mashed potatoes, haricot vert, and a rich red wine sauce.  Eric was all in for the only fish dish listed under "Entrées" - Sautéed Atlantic Jumbo Fluke - perfectly cooked on a bed of couscous with a mediterranean spiced broth.  I decided on the classic Pan Seared Duck Breast, an original dish perfected through the years.  It's now presented with handmade garganelli tossed in a Vermont white cheddar sauce with truffle and wild mushrooms.  It has always been a specialty at this establishment in my opinion.  

Strawberry Shortcake
      Desserts are created by Chef Jared Bennett.  The birthday girl chose the Strawberry Shortcake, featuring a dense and mealy cake that may have gotten its texture from an alternative, perhaps almond, flour.  Sliced and spread with a thin layer of lemon curd, it was finished with slivered strawberries and whipped cream spilling from the center.  The combination was light and perfect as a seasonal selection.  

Chocolate Pot de Créme

I selected one of my favorites…Chocolate Pot de Créme, a creamy milk chocolate solid pudding  accompanied with a chocolate and almond biscotti and raspberry sauce. Usually made with dark chocolate, this variety was lighter and highly satisfying.  Eric was attracted to the gelato offerings and settled on the Rhubarb and Raspberry.  He was immediately disappointed when he saw our presentations, and the flavors just didn't quite work together tasting somewhat like…pumpkin.  

      The food is still the star at Daveed's.  It may not be as adventurous as some other local restaurants, but everything we had (and have had in the past) were all very solid offerings.  Service is the inconsistent factor.  A couple of years ago, the waitstaff was dressed in jeans leading us to think that they were going more casual and seemed to apply that attitude to their serving.  We thought that worked for them.  This time around things appeared more formal, although the serving approach did not live up to a top notch restaurant (i.e. plate presentation was mixed up, plates were cleared before we were finished, and the check was presented before we had finished our desserts).  There was no one waiting for a table, but we felt rushed.  There also appeared to be an abundance of staff members bustling around much more than seemed necessary.  It was either awkward pacing or they didn't have clear direction on what their duties were.  The restaurant is much too small for a poorly orchestrated staff and flow.

      Once the food and service starts complementing one another, and the restaurant as a whole starts measuring up with some other top spots in the city, everything should fall into place for Daveed's at 934 to establish itself as  "new" once again.

Daveed's at 934 on Urbanspoon

Has anyone else experienced Daveed's classic cuisine?


O-Town HD said...


O my, this place looks fantastic.
... looks pricey too.

Who is Dexter? said...

Well, that's why I stayed outside looking for free food to pass by...hee, hee! Actually Neil and Eric said it was comparable to other fine restaurants in the area. Their 3 course meals were all under $45 without drinks, tax, and gratuity.