CINCINNATI -- We've been hearing about many new restaurants that are scheduled to open in 2016 – and we are raring to try them. Some have names and concepts (and even the beginnings of menus!) while others are merely spaces in progress, but we're excited about Cincinnati's culinary future, particularly these nine new places set to open this year.
1. Please. Ryan Santos' Please dinners have been a hit– whether they were in his dining room or at Streetpops, Cheapside Cafe and other locations around the region. Now he's opening up his own place on Clay Street in Over-the-Rhine. Dinners with Santos are always an experience. They are often themed, whether by ingredient, time of year or simply a whim, and they are always delicious. His Kickstarter campaign funded this venture, and he hopes to open his 25-seat space, serving a prix-fixe menu nightly, in late spring. In the meantime, see the delicious things he’s preparing for the space on his Facebook page.
2. Maplewood. With Bhumin Desai, formerly of Jean-Robert's Table and Bouquet, at the helm, the third restaurant in Downtown’s 84.51 Centre will be a little different than the other Thunderdome Restaurant Group properties (Bakersfield, The Eagle, Krueger's Tavern and Currito). First, it will have breakfast. Second, it will offer counter-ordering with table service, focusing on busy Downtown workers who might need breakfast or lunch quickly. We should be able to have our first taste of Maplewood this winter.
3. French Crust in the Globe Building. French Crust, the tiny cafe co-owned by Jean-Robert de Cavel and Jean-Philippe Solnom, will get bigger digs in the Globe Building. With only a few restaurants in the Findlay Market area, the name and the concept might be just what the area needs to push it over the edge into a dining destination – and not just during Findlay's operating hours. It is set to open in February.
4. Giordano’s. Transplanted Chicagoans will get a taste of home when Giordano’s opens its first locations in Cincinnati. Giordano’s has scouted Downtown, Blue Ash and Kenwood for locations, and we’re awaiting the announcement of the signing of the first lease. In the meantime, we’re craving a pepperoni deep dish and it can't get here soon enough. (Until then, they’ll ship you a pizza to bake in your own oven. It might tide you over.)
5. Senate in Blue Ash. Do you live in the northern suburbs and crave gourmet hot dogs and poutine, but don’t want to brave the drive to Over-the-Rhine (or the crowds)? Good news: Senate is opening a location in Blue Ash, where owner Lana Wright grew up. It will be one of four restaurants in Summit Park on the former Blue Ash Airport property. It will seat 80-100, have an outdoor patio for another 60-70, and offer private dining areas as well.
6. Hen of the Woods. Potato chip pusher Nick Marckwald can be found at any number of shops and restaurants in town peddling his incredible kettle-cooked potato chips. Soon, you will also be able to find his restaurant, Hen of the Woods, on Main Street. He has had the space for a couple of years, and he has teased us with those chips and with events such as a “Last-Minute Shopper Market” just before the holidays. Prior to potato chips, Marckwald created pop-up dinners in various locations around town. We'll get the general store next (stocked with many local treats), and then a restaurant and patio.
7. Tucker’s. After a fire in July, a GoFundMe fundraiser and a lot of press, we’ve been crossing our fingers that Tucker’s, an Over-the-Rhine mainstay, would rebuild. It’s proving complicated. Between permits, codes and insurance not quite covering what is necessary to bring Tucker’s back to life, we’ve been waiting for our corned beef hash, homemade goetta and Big Tucker’s burgers longer than we would like. We are hoping for a 2016 reopening – they are, too – and in the meantime, they’re selling gift certificates at Findlay Market to help fund the reopening of the Vine Street icon.
8. Daniel Souder and Joanna Kirkendall’s Pleasant Street restaurant. Souder and Kirkendall’s passion for wine is undeniable. Visit 1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab on any given day, and you'll see an interesting, unique array of affordable wines in flights and bottles, and a variety of people enjoying them. They’re funneling that love of wine – and food – into a concept just a few blocks away on Pleasant Street. It’s going to be more of a neighborhood place (much like 1215) but with breakfast, lunch and dinner, with seating for 45, bar space for 15 and an outdoor patio. They’re on target for spring, but no name or executive chef has been named yet.
9. Jean-Robert de Cavel’s Great American Building fine-dining restaurant. Since 1993, de Cavel has been the name in fine dining in Cincinnati. At the helm of the Maisonette, he led the restaurant to be the longest-running Mobil 5-star restaurant. After its closure, he reopened Pigall’s on Fourth Street. After Pigall’s closed, de Cavel opened his eponymous Jean-Robert’s Table, which is more middle-of-the-road – not quite the same style he (along with business partner and maitre d' Robert Brown) was so famous for locally (and nationally) in his former roles. He’ll be bringing back his French haute cuisine sometime in the spring in an 86-seat restaurant in the Great American Building that also will host a bar, private dining and a chef’s table. In the meantime, you can try one of his newest creations at Eat at John Bob’s on the club level at Paul Brown Stadium – it's one of the newest additions to the PBS lineup.
What are you looking forward to in 2016? Tell me at @winemedineme on Twitter or on Facebook!