CINCINNATI -- Do Downtown Restaurant Week, scheduled Aug. 7-13, is your chance to dine at Downtown restaurants, ranging from local favorites to high-end chains, for $45 per person or less. (Some are as low as $15.)
There is no better time to try a new place that might normally be out of your price range. Here are nine places we'll be eating during Do Downtown Restaurant Week.
And remember: Restaurant Week attracts a lot of diners, so be sure to make reservations as soon as possible.
Orchids at Palm Court: This is your last chance to enjoy chef Todd Kelly's food before he heads to Atlanta. Kelly, who brought five-star and AAA Five-Diamond awards back to Cincinnati, will mark his last day Aug. 4 but developed the menu before his departure. The menu is a fond farewell featuring house-cured and aged ham with melon, uni, an Asian-style veal cheek preparation and pastry chef Megan Ketover's desserts, including a chocolate pave with strawberries, pink peppercorns and pistachio. It's a great opportunity to say goodbye to a Cincinnati culinary legend. 35 W. Fifth St., Downtown.
Bauer European Farm Kitchen: Bauer has transformed the former Jimmy G's and Wah Mee space on Elm Street into the only real German restaurant in town. Sure, many places have sausages and there's lots of German beer, but nowhere else will you find zweibelsuppe, an Alsatian take on French onion soup, with raclette; jaegerschnitzel with some of the best spaetzle anywhere; or beinenstich, a not-too-sweet German cake that is perfect with the tiny coffee that accompanies it. At $45 per person, it's a great way to try something new. 435 Elm St., Downtown.
Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse: Restaurant Week is the perfect time to try Ruby's without feeling like you need a special occasion. This year, start with the classic Caesar or local classic Freddie salad, then choose a New York strip, salmon or free-range chicken and finish with chocolate chip peanut butter pie. At $45, you'll have room in your budget for a glass of wine and some potatoes Anna on the side. 700 Walnut St., Downtown.
Nicola's: For high-end Italian, Nicola's has been a Cincinnati stalwart for years. While its Monday neighborhood bolo special is always a great value, its Restaurant Week special pulls out all of the stops. Go seasonal with watermelon salad with feta and charred onions, then tuck into a classic pork saltimbocca with polenta. Dessert? Le Passione combines chocolate, coconut and amaretto for a sweet finish to your meal. 1420 Sycamore St., Over-the-Rhine.
Scotti's Italian Restaurant: Speaking of stalwarts, Scotti's is celebrating its 105th birthday. This is the kind of Italian you used to find in Little Italy in New York or on the South Side of Philadelphia: red sauce, meatballs, lasagna and veal. For Restaurant Week, two people can dine for $45, including soup, a salad and choice of several entrees, ranging from gnocchi to lasagna to veal scallopini. Save room for a cannoli -- it’s not included, but it’s a perfect ending to your meal at Scotti's. 919 Vine St., Downtown.
The President's Room: For $45 (an additional $10 adds wine pairings), enjoy German- and Italian-influenced food in sumptuous surroundings. Start with a seasonal corn bisque or tomato salad, and follow up with a beef cheek bolognese pappardelle, smoked salmon with dashi and trout roe, or ribeye with summer squash and truffle (there’s a $9 supplement). Don't forget dessert: chocolate torte with mango sorbet or stone fruit with coconut almond crumble and peach ice cream. 812 Race St., Downtown.
Arnold's Bar & Grill: The oldest bar and restaurant in Cincinnati is serving some favorites for Restaurant Week. For $15, get your choice of salad, popular entrees such as Greek spaghetti and blueberry chicken, and dessert, all in the historic ambiance of Arnold's. Enjoy live music in the courtyard as well -- an added bonus! 210 E. Eighth St., Downtown.
Kaze: Stop into swanky Kaze for a great Restaurant Week menu. For $25, begin with the tuna poke or short rib soup dumplings. Then try one of Kaze’s bowls, including the outstanding Katsu bowl of panko fried chicken, Brussels sprouts and yuzu aioli over rice. Finish the meal with Kaze’s not-too-sweet banana gyoza, a dumpling filled with toasted banana and nutella. 1400 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine.
Zula: Zula is a particularly great value this restaurant week. First, choose a starter of mussels for two off from Zula’s mussel bar (or lamb ragout or tomato salad). Then, decide on your main course -- duck breast, shawarma spiced shrimp or beef loin ($5 supplement) -- and choose a dessert off of the menu for $35. 1400 Race St., Over-the-Rhine.