Cincinnati Mondiale members found a way to place COVID-19 on the back burner to enjoy a safe and comfortable champagne brunch at Butler’s Pantry Café across the Ohio River in Covington, Kentucky, on October 18, 2020.
The event was a culmination of careful planning that included Vice Echanson and Echanson Provincial (Midwest) Mary Horn, Vice Conseiller Gastronomique Chuck Hong, Vice Chargée de Missions Carmen Parks, Cincinnati Bailli and Chambellan Provincial (Midwest) George Elliott, and General Manager Emmy Friedrichs from Butler’s Pantry. The Pantry is the brainchild of Mitch Arens and Steven Williams, who is chef of the highly successful Bouquet restaurant also located in Covington.
Situated on the banks of the Ohio River, the Pantry is a combination gourmet grocery store and restaurant offering daily breakfast and lunch/brunch. Patrons can purchase local fresh produce, specialty coffees, deli items, wine, and beer on draft. The restaurant provides a new outlet for local farmers whose business has been curtailed by the closing of many other restaurants during the pandemic.
Chef Bhumin Desai, who was trained by Cincinnati’s culinary icons Jean-Robert de Cavel and Steven Williams, led the kitchen for the Mondiale festivities. Appropriately masked members were greeted by Emmy Friedrichs (formerly of Mercer OTR) and handed glasses of Champagne Duval Leroy Brut Reserve, Vertus, to enjoy in socially distanced groupings as brunch guests arrived.
Once everyone was seated in the ample restaurant space, closed that day for our sole enjoyment, we continued to enjoy the Duval Leroy champagne with a trio of canapés including Oysters on the Half Shell lightly sauced in Champagne Mignonette, Buckwheat Pancakes topped with Crème fraiche and Caviar, and Whipped Deviled Potatoes accented by Mushroom Duxelle and Truffle Salt.
A scrumptious three-course brunch followed. Echanson Mary Horn gave members a brief insight into the tour of champagne regions and styles with a wit and precision that only she can give.
Glazed Pork Belly was presented with champagne-braised apples, white cheddar fondue, and a delicate quail egg. It was perfectly paired with Laurent-Perrier Blanc de Blanc Brut Nature, Tours-sur-Marne. The next course, Scallops “Benedict” was served on local favorite 16 Bricks sourdough bread and Smoking Goose jowl bacon. Only a rosé would do for this course: J. Lassalle 1er Cru Brut Rosé, Chigny-les-Roses. The final course of Roasted Lamb Loin served with lamb shank hash, wild mushrooms and tart cherry jus. This rich course was paired with an equally rich wine, Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve, Reims.
As the brunch concluded, Chef Desai introduced his staff to rounds of standing applause from members who truly appreciated the well-executed event, from safety precautions to outstanding food and wine. After the brunch concluded, many Mondiale members wandered into the attached market to purchase gourmet items to go. There is no doubt that this will become a favorite hot spot for members to enjoy during daytime culinary adventures in the emerging Ohio River scene.
Graig Smith, Vice Chargé de Presse