On a beautiful Monday evening in April, the Cincinnati Bailliage ushered in spring at the Brown Dog Café in northwest suburb of Blue Ash, Ohio. This gem of a restaurant is hidden away and completely out of sight from the highways that surround it. In fact, this restaurant’s web site boasts that “only the most astute diners can find us.” If this establishment has virtually no “curb appeal”, what has allowed it to not just survive but thrive for almost 10 years? The locals will tell you that it boils down to the innovative, contemporary cuisine and impeccable service.
Pulling into an unassuming strip mall, guests made their way through front door and immediately had their noses treated to truffle sauce wafting from the kitchen in preparation for one of the future courses. The large bar already contained numerous bottles of wine, as this was a dine-around where each member shares a “special” wine from their cellar to compliment the dinner. Servers were seen making their way among the crowd with plates of kumquat peppercorn compote crostinis, ceviche tacos, and my favorite – rabbit ravioli. A number of our sparkling wines were a hit with these savory starters.
After a bit of socializing and sharing of appetizers, we were ushered to our seats where we were treated to a roasted beet salad with pumpkin seed crusted goat cheese. I experimented with a few of the white wine selections and found a Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc that really hit the spot with this course. Next, Executive Chef and Owner Shawn McCoy treated us to the main event consisting of venison with mushroom duxelles wrapped in a pastry and served with wild black rice, truffle grilled asparagus, and black raspberry demi-glace. This offering paired nicely with a wide array of the red wines that were generously shared that evening. Chef McCoy’s finale was a luscious baked Alaska prepared with caramel and raspberry sauces.
Toward the end of our evening, Chevalier Dr. Robert Dahlhausen introduced his guest Jim Malcolm, a Scottish folksinger and songwriter. He was in town for a concert in Northern Kentucky and to our delight, performed an a cappella Scottish tune that had us all clapping with gratitude at the end. What a way to wind down a perfect spring evening! We all thanked Professionnel du Vin Carmen Parks for finding this hidden treasure and sharing it with the bailliage. Just when it seems that the dine-arounds she orchestrates can’t get any better, Carmen wows us with still another miraculous evening. Bon appétit!
Graig Smith, MD, Vice Chargé de Presse