The old downtown Cheapside Cafe space has been given new life thanks to the local Crown Restaurant Group (Crown Republic Gastropub, Losanti, Rosie’s Cocktails & Pies). It is now home to La Cantina, a restaurant offering a self-proclaimed blend of “authentic, contemporary Mexican cuisine and cocktails.”
Chef Johnny Curiel, recently executive chef of Nada, brings his years of experience and his “modern and authentic” Mexican style to the new restaurant.
La Cantina started as a pop-up at the Crown Republic Gastropub in July last year, with Curiel and chef/owner Anthony Sitek at the helm. The menu included dishes such as elote, Baja fish tacos, and chicken mole, and the full restaurant offers similar inspiration.
La Cantina currently lists dishes that include tacos with toppings ranging from pastor or lamb barbacoa to smoked beef brisket or sweet potato. Starters range from cold-smoked tuna crudo with mesquite and grilled oysters with queso fundido. Main courses include carne asada, chicken mole, and enchilada verdes.
The cocktail program emphasizes mezcal and tequila, with more than 50 agave-based spirits. La Cantina also offers Mexican coca, Topo Chico and horchata. 326 E. Eighth St., Downtown, crowncantina.com.
MadTree Brewing has opened a multi-level Over-the-Rhine bar, restaurant and event space called Alcove.
MadTree describes Alcove’s main bar and restaurant as containing “a large bar, bright lounges, dining areas and an intimate private dining room for small groups”. On the website, they also mention a greenhouse bar and “lush outdoor patio space for lounging and dining.”
The menu focuses on farm-to-table dishes created by Chef Stephen Williams of Bouquet Restaurant and Spoon: Kitchen and Market. The drinks menu features house-made cocktails — using herbs grown in that aforementioned greenhouse — and MadTree’s own beers will be available at the three bars located throughout.
Design-wise, Alcove is filled with living Urban Blooms greenery in every corner, creating a secret garden feel with living walls. In the event loft on the third floor, there is even a massive chandelier made of ferns. 1400-1410 Vine St. in Over-the-Rhine, madtreebrewing.com/alcove.
The team behind Agave & Rye seem to have conquered the quirky world of tacos and have now set their sights on steakhouses. The company’s new Son of a Butcher — colloquially referred to as SOB — opened on March 1 at Shindig Park, an event space in the Liberty Center also run by the Agave & Rye team.
Yavonne Sarber, founder of SOB and Agave & Rye, tells CityBeat via email that the new restaurant “evolves the stuffy steakhouse into something magical.”
“SOB offers everything customers expect from a high-quality steakhouse, without the white tablecloths, pretentious service and boring atmosphere,” she says.
Sarber says SOB’s look plays on the same ethos as the Alice-in-Wonderland-meets-baroque design of the Agave & Rye locations.
“We call it a ‘Southern Rock Tattoo style,'” she says. “Beautiful custom chandeliers. Same artists (like Agave & Rye), different flare. Same culture and core values.
Sarber says the menu has “something for everyone,” highlighting USDA Prime cuts, wagyu, caviar, shaved truffles and “gold leaf options.” There’s a mild and spicy bacon and blue cheese burger, a New York-style Italian sandwich on a baguette, and a chopped filet mignon salad. For vegetarians, look for the cauliflower steaks and black truffle gnocchi.
SOB is launching with a dinner service, but there are also plans to expand into brunch offerings. 7630 Gibson St., Liberty Township, www.sobsteakhouse.com.
Woodburn Brewing Kitchen
Woodburn Brewing added a few bites to go with their beer. The East Walnut Hills Dining Hall and Brewery now houses a new kitchen, led by Chef Andrew Han. Han – who has had stints at notable local restaurants including Senate, Pepp & Dolores and O Pie O – drew inspiration from his Korean heritage for the menu.
“I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to open the Woodburn Kitchen,” Han said in a statement. “I had a lot of fun developing the menu with my team and incorporating my favorite childhood flavors into easily recognizable dishes.”
The menu features fusion-style dishes like a steak bowl with jasmine rice, golden curry, pickled eggs, pickled carrots and red onion, and a “mushroom sandwich”, with marinated mushrooms in soy and ginger, topped with mayonnaise and gochujang salad. There are also wings, nachos, pork rinds (with Grippo’s seasoning), salads, burgers and more.
A statement says Woodburn Brewing will eventually add a weekly brunch menu as well as a “late night menu to satisfy those midnight cravings.” 2800 Woodburn Ave., East Walnuts Hills, woodburnbrewing.com.
High Life BBQ
Oakley Kitchen Food Hall hosted a new barbecue, BBQ High Life, on March 1. Previously based in Goshen, High Life offered catering and delivery services. His new menu at Oakley Kitchen consists of six signature sandwiches and four classic barbecue options.
The restaurant serves everything from the classic pulled pork sandwich to the “Big Red Smokey,” which is made with split andouille sausage and topped with pulled pork and coleslaw. 3715 Madison Road, Oakley, oakley-kitchen.com.
Findlay’s market favourite, The Arepa Place, opened a storefront in suburban Wyoming, with its grand opening on February 24.
Arepa Place began as a pop-up specializing in arepas at Findlay Market in Over-the-Rhine in 2016, before developing into a full storefront there. The new location takes over the space formerly occupied by the CWC, the Restaurant.
Drawing on her Colombian heritage, owner Isis Arrieta-Dennis says Arepa Place in Wyoming offers the same fast-casual dining experience as Findlay Market. 1517 Springfield Pike, Wyoming, arepaplace.com.
A national coffee-bakery chain is opening its first Ohio location in Cincinnati.
Paris Baguette has more than 90 storefronts across the country, and its newest is set to open as part of 3CDC’s recent 4th & Race development.
Cincinnati restaurateur Ai Lin of Sichuan Chili and Gyu-Kaku BBQ will own and operate the new location, according to a 3CDC press release.
According to 3CDC, Lin ran into Paris Baguette while visiting her mother in Flushing, Queens, where she is from. There are just three locations in this neighborhood, so she was inspired to bring Paris Baguette to Cincinnati.
“If I believe in the concept, I want to open one,” Lin said in the statement. “I saw the potential here.”
Paris Baguette is based in South Korea, and the company’s vision, according to its website, is to “restore the neighborhood bakery cafe as the heart of community across the globe.”
Looking at the store locator, most US locations are on the east and west coasts, with a few in Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, and Dallas.
Cincinnatians will be able to shop for sweet and savory items at Paris Baguette, including breads, seasonal desserts, cakes, salads and sandwiches.
An official opening date has not been announced. 124 W. Fourth St., Downtown, parisbaguette.com.
Germany’s source for Chinese-style homemade steamed buns, Boombox Buns, has closed. Owner Nathan Friday announced in a social media post that the store will close on February 19.
“It’s hard to express the emotions of letting go of something that has been such a dominant force in your life,” her post read.
Friday says he and his fiancée, Katie, have worked together on Boombox Buns for four and a half years. “The process of taking an idea from something on paper to a pop-up, from a pop-up to signing a lease and hiring employees, to navigating a pandemic has been a frantic race” , he wrote.
Friday got his start as a restaurateur when he opened weekend-only Boombox Buns, a storefront business on Woodward Street in an empty space behind The Takeaway Deli and Grocery in the fall of 2018. And in 2020, he opened brick-and-mortar on Republic Street.
“Finally, I would like to thank all of our past and present customers and staff for supporting us every step of the way,” the post continues.
Loveland-based Italian restaurant Enoteca Emilia has closed – but it looks like new plans are afoot.
In a Facebook post, owner Margaret Ranalli said the pandemic had forced the restaurant to restrict its opening hours to ensure the same standards and hospitality that Enoteca Emilia was known for, noting that she is “grateful to the beyond measure” for staff and guests.
“As spring approaches, we are gearing up for a rebirth with an entirely new concept and menu,” its post continues. “As we set our path forward with the same commitment to flavor and hospitality, we must also respect a post-COVID industrial landscape. Look for a concept reveal in mid-March and a relaunch in late spring.
Originally located in O’Bryonville, Enoteca Emilia closed in 2016 and then reopened in Loveland in 2019. 110 S. Second St., Loveland, facebook.com/enotecaemilia.
The Mercer OTR
According to a note hanging on the restaurant’s window in early February, the Mercer OTR quietly closed. The sign announcing the restaurant’s closure reads: “It was a pleasure serving you, OTR. Cheers.”
The owners made no announcement or provided a reason for the closure and shut down the restaurant’s Facebook page and website.
The restaurant, which was on the ground floor of the Mercer Commons apartment complex, had been in operation since 2014.
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