CINCINNATI -- Fall has such amazing flavors. The weather is changing, and we're starting to crave foods that make us warm, such as stews, soups, chili and spicy dishes.
Chefs in Cincinnati are starting to roll out fall menus with ingredients such as squash, duck, peppers and heavy pastas replacing summer treats like tomatoes and melon.
Here are a few items that look particularly delicious and hit the spot for our fall cravings.
Virgil's (Bellevue): Virgil's new menu rolls out next week, and it will focus on the flavors of fall. Check out chef Matt Buschle's favorite dish on the menu: squash tortellini with roasted brown butter, ricotta and a touch of honey.
Please (Downtown): There are a few seats left for Ryan Santos' Please dinner in October. If you're not familiar, Please is a pop-up dinner that often focuses on an ingredient, a season or concept. Santos will be opening a restaurant next year, but for now, his dinners are held at Cheapside Cafe. This month, look for squash, pumpkin, chestnuts, figs and sunflowers on the menu. $65 per person. For reservations email email@example.com.
Salazar (Over-the-Rhine): Everyone pokes fun at the pumpkin spice latte, the now-ubiquitous fall drink. Jose Salazar takes it in a new direction: pumpkin soup, coffee gastrique, pumpkin seeds and spiced whipped cream. Yep, it's a chef's take on that drink we all love to hate. We can't guarantee this dish will be available when you go, since Salazar focuses on local, seasonal ingredients, but you will find plenty of fall dishes on the menu.
Bakersfield (Over-the-Rhine): Sure, Bakersfield has tacos and killer guacamole, but every October (and until the weather gets warm again), you'll also find one of the best chilis in the city on its menu. The chili is rich and spicy, with a nice chipotle kick, and it's paired with tortilla chips. It's the perfect thing to warm up with on a cool fall day (with or without tequila, of course).
Vitor's Bistro (Westwood): Slow-simmered food just screams fall. Vitor Abreu of Vitor's Bistro has released his fall menu, and it features chicken adobo, a dish that Abreu grew up eating. Chicken adobo is chicken braised with vinegar, soy sauce and garlic. It's hearty, savory and not often found on Cincinnati menus, so give it a try this fall.
Bouquet (Covington): Pastry chef Martha Tiffany (formerly of Jeff Ruby's) just joined the Bouquet team and is debuting with a bang. Her fall-focused dessert menu features an apple crumble cheesecake -- and the crust is actually apple cobbler.
Metropole (Downtown): Metropole, where chef Jared Bennett cooks over an open fire, is the perfect place for fall eats. The menu is changing to feature some hearty fall dishes. If you're looking for something familiar, try the ash-roasted acorn squash with quinoa, ricotta salata, Swiss chard and a sprinkling of pepitas. For something a little less familiar, plancha chicken hearts with paw paw vinaigrette focuses on two local ingredients that are available in fall. (The tropical-tasting paw paw grows natively in Ohio and the hearts are from Marksbury Farm.)
The President's Room (Downtown): The President's Room is serving a fall menu through November that features a duck cavatelli with mushrooms, duck broth, pickled ginger and apple breadcrumbs. The regular menu is hearty and fall-like, too, with heavy German influences. You can't go wrong.
Golden Lamb (Lebanon): The Golden Lamb is known for having a fairly traditional menu, but chef Josh House recently has been innovating at the oldest restaurant in Ohio. This fall, the Golden Lamb is featuring a fall prix fixe menu. The dish I'm most looking forward to trying is the Indiana duck breast, served with sweet potato spaetzle, duck leg confit, sage duck butter and pumpkin seeds. The entire three-course meal is only $39.95.
What are you eating this fall? Let us know -- and tell us how you like these dishes!