Hubby and I had the opportunity to take a weekend trip to Cincinnati with some friends and found some great little brunch spots while we were there.
Our first choice was Taste of Belgium, but since we were quoted an hour and a half wait we decided to wander around the cute shops on Vine for a while until the restuarant texted us our table would be ready. We found all sorts of lovely, unique pieces showing off Cinci’s artisan side. As we strolled in the sunny yet temperate fall day, we even stumbled across a nice little place to have a drink while we waited.
1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab
I was beckoned by a chalkboard sign listing drinks and subsequently walked into this little bar, full of dark wood and cute little tables with bud vases. The staff was friendly and patiently answered our questions as we debated between options like a Pale Horse Bourbon Latte (White Chocolcate Latte with Bulliet Bourbon), Mexican Hot Chocolate, Rye Chai and a Bloody Mary Bar.
One of our friends got the Mexican Hot Chocolate which was pleasantly spiced, with a touch of heat at the back and not too sweet. I was still having a hard time deciding so I silently debated my options in my head. Now I have been on a little bit of a search for a great Bloody Mary. Along the way I have found, tasted and sampled many good Bloody Mary’s, but a great one eluded me. So I gave 1215’s Bloody Mary Bar a try.
The server gave me the option of Clamato or V8 base to start, so I chose the Clamato (since I have a bit of a nostalgia for it from my college days). The bartender recommended I taste it before adding anything to it, and when I did I have to say it was on point on it’s own. I almost didn’t add anything to it, but the bar was calling to me with it’s many hot sauces and garnishes, so I added a touch extra of a jalapeño hot sauce then skewered some marinated olives, roasted red pepper pieces and lastly a celery stick.
All of these little things made for a fantastic Bloody Mary that I could have gone back for seconds of. I loved that their Clamato base was tomatoe-y and spicy, had a nice consistency with customization available to make each drink perfectly suited to the maker.
Taste of Belgium (OTR)
When our table was ready and we returned, Taste of Belgium was still bustling with busy Sunday brunch-goers. Although the chatter was a bit loud, the high bar table we were seated at was basked in the glow of warm light filtering through large windows. Cute decor touches like a gnome swinging from the ceiling above us and some art prints with local cues kept the conversation flowing between perusing the menu and ordering drinks then later brunch items.
Although we had already stopped for drinks at 1215, we were on vacation so we indulged in a few more. My Linderman’s Cuvée René wa light and dry, subtly fruity in a cider sort of way. Although I’ve had a bunch of Linderman’s Lambics, I’ve never tried this and was so glad to have the opportunity to experience its unique character. Our friends enjoyed the Hoe-J (an orange juice and Hoegaarden cocktail) and the Monk’s Café Flemish Sour Ale, both of which were also light and refreshing. The Hoe-J did not feel like a true beermosa but starts with just a little bit of orange juice that is topped with Hoegaarden; the result of which ends up being an upgraded version of the Blue Moon and orange slice combo in the best way possible. The Monk’s Café Flemish Sour Ale was almost like the tenebrism in baroque paintings, dark and bright at the same time. It’s sour character was singularly delightful and well-enjoyed.
Although our wait was moderate (but not excessive), it was definitely eased by our drinks. We mused over the highlights of our adventures to the Newport Aquarium (with it’s Shark Rays and Giant Sea Turtles) and the infamous Jungle Jim’s (a massive grocery story stocked with an insane amount of international, unique and fresh delicacies) while sipping on complex and pleasurable potations. Eventually our brunch dishes arrived, and as per usual it was an impressively spread table, full of waffles and frites.
I was a big fan of this Brunch Burger, it was even my first choice on the menu. So when hubby also wanted it I have to admit I was a little disappointed I wouldn’t have this all to myself. The waffle was a solid fluffy, golden base with a burger whose quality beef shone through with each bite. The great fried egg, creamy oozing havarti and crunchy bacon nicely rounded out the savory flavors of this offering and making it a must try item in my book. The frites and fry sauce were also a stellar combo. I’m a big fan of fries in genreal but these in particular were perfectly crisp and delectable with the creamy and tangy fry sauce serving as a strong partner. I gobbled them down (even finishing off the remainder of our friends’ order) and wish so very much that there were a Taste of Belgium located somewhere closer (like driving distance or delivery service closer).
Next up the Apple Cinnamon Waffle was also a splendid dish. The pool of delicious caramel this buttery waffle was placed upon is what shined most brightly, but all its individual elements worked together to make heavenly bite after heavenly bite. Each morsel was adequately sweet, but also nicely spiced and a touch salty wrapped in velvety carmel and lushcious whipped cream. All in all, perfectly decadent and definitely highly recommended.
The Traditional Savory Crêpe was also a perfectly satisfactory offering. It starts with a soft buckwheat crêpe generously filled with salty ham goodness that was decorated prettily with some zesty honey mustard. I can’t say that the eggs or cheese really made much of an impression, but they didn’t hurt either.
Our friends’ meals were also super tasty. The bite I had of this Waffogato is kind of a grown-up version of the waffle concotions I made as a child. It is a splendid combination of the two things I enjoy greatly: waffles and affogatos (an espresso and gelato beverage). They also got the standard Burger and Frites on waffle instead of bread, a fine and bold choice in my opinion. The burger comes topped with goat cheese, caramelized apple & shallots, bacon and seemed another sufficient offering in an all-together great meal.
This was a fantastic meal to top off a great weekend full of adventures and I regretted none of my choices, but was instead wonderfully sated at the end of this meal. If you’re visiting the Over the Rhine neighborhood of south Cincinnati, you can’t pass it up.
Thank you for joining me for this post. Sorry it got to you a little late, but I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.
Until next time keep eating and drink well, having adventures and enjoying good company.
Today’s featured brunches: Taste of Belgium (OTR location), 1135 Vine St, Cincinnati, OH 45202
1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab, 1215 Vine Street Over The Rhine Cincinnati, Ohio 45202