Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Will the Buzz Vibrate Into Business for Buz?

     Mary Swortwood is a Cincinnati institution as a restaurateur, but she’s played in a quieter, minor key in comparison to Jeff Ruby, Jean-Robert de Cavel and David Falk.  With different collaborators over the past decade, she’s opened Brown Dog Café in Blue Ash (and sold it), Tinks in Clifton (late and still lamented for many of us who felt it was like a little bit of Greenwich Village or Soho in the ‘80s right here in town; it’s irreplaceable), and most recently Green Dog Café (I visited last summer for brunch and liked the Eggs Benedict, but thought they were surprisingly lukewarm and slightly overpriced) and Buz (Green Dog’s next door sister) in Columbia-Tusculum.

Dexter Checks Out What All the "Buz" is About
     Lisa, Neil, and I visited Buz on Friday evening and were able to get in right away, which was surprising because it’s new, talked about by local reviewers, and has a pedigree.  The staff was friendly, efficient, and well trained.  We were intrigued by the menu, reminiscent of other new restaurants such as Enoteca Emilia and Abigail Street, because it’s a mix
of small plates, salads, sandwiches, and entrées.  Buz is not linked to any specific national or regional tradition; instead, it’s basically New American with some Asian and Mediterranean touches.  I’m naming this trend “Progressive Suburban” ©—tah dah!  

     We decided on a number of dishes to share and our server who, at first, seemed hesitant to recommend specifics maybe because she hasn’t been asked much in the past, was right on with all of her choices.  She also was terrific about replacing napkins inadvertently dropped and ignored, re-filling beverages, assuring us of the time on our courses (the kitchen must have been running behind a little that night), and providing a gracious relationship.  David and Liz Cook, if you’re reading this, start visiting some of the restaurants in this region and making offers to some lovely servers if you’re going to reopen.  The restaurant also details the split amount for diners on the check – a nice touch.

Cheese Doughnuts
     The Cheese Doughnuts had the texture between a beignet and a hush puppy.  I really liked them, but Neil thought they could have had a stronger taste of cheese and crab.  
Buz Fries

The Buz Fries were excellent and the smaller size was enough for the three of us.  The sauces – homemade ketchup that remembered tomato is a fruit, chive mayo with a hint of ginger, and the honey lime glaze mixed with the curry remoulade – were uniformly excellent.  Lisa ordered the Beef Short Ribs, which is braised with red wine and cola, and served with roasted root vegetables and mashed potatoes.  Short ribs are such an au courant dish that they’re almost a cliché. The meat was tender and it was a homey, pretty dish, but I couldn’t taste the wine or the cola in the bite I had because it was salty.  The BEST short ribs, i.e. Pot Roast is served at Hollywood Casino’s buffet, but they’ve limited it to a few days a week (why, I don’t know because we’ve actually driven there for that dish alone).  Neil didn’t notice the salt much, but Lisa didn’t like it and I think it turned her off Buz.  

Beef Short Ribs
Neil and I ordered the Pork Belly Flatbread, i.e. bacon lard pizza and it was great because of the tension between the crunchy, sweet onions and the bland, slightly salty bacon.  Our server warned us we’d take some home and she was right.  This is up there with Betta’s and Enoteca’s pizzas.  The Brussel Sprouts side is the best we've had in town and should become a signature.  It's simply braised sprouts, nicely browned in the oven.

Pork Belly Flatbread and Brussel Sprouts
     Prices might seem a little high until you see the portion sizes.  We got out for about $25 each, though we didn’t drink.  The wine list is impressive and I think they’re hoping for the excitement of the Gateway Quarter’s current portfolio.  However, the space could be an issue.  The artwork is lovely and the bar area, lighting fixtures, and accessories are elegant.  It’s a long narrow space that is difficult to light.  Neil had a tough time finding a good angle and light for the pictures he took.  They’re offering late night options and I hope it takes off, but I’m uncertain.  Columbia-Tusculum is a beautiful district; it’s reminiscent of Alamo Park in San Francisco, but it’s not a place to really hang out.  The Precinct has been a destination restaurant for three decades and Allyn’s Café has been a bubbling neighborhood hotspot, but can this area cater to the range of fickle patrons that a place like Buz will need to survive?  We hope so!

Buz on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

supposedly liz and david will be relocating to west chester. we'll see if it really happens. if they do, i really don't see it lasting very long out there, but who knows.

Anonymous said...

Isn't "progressive suburban" an oxymoron?

Who is Dexter? said...

Of course it is...meeeeow!!