The Cincinnati Bailliage had its sixth dine-around event at the Phoenician Taverna Restaurant in mid-October 2023. Unlike the stormy events that unfolded in the Middle East the week prior to the dinner, this restaurant was an oasis of comfort and fine dining for our Chaine members. There are three reasons that this small, unassuming eatery in an inconspicuous strip mall north of Cincinnati has remained on the bailliage’s “favorite restaurant” list: impeccable service, outstanding cuisine, and incredible attention to detail.
The credit for this restaurant’s success falls squarely on the shoulders of its owner, Wassim Matar. Since 2012, Mr. Matar has dedicated his life to making every dining experience unique and meaningful for all of his patrons. His restaurant is now a regular in the coveted Cincinnati Magazine’s “Ten Best Restaurants in Cincinnati,” coming in at sixth place this year. The menu represents Mr. Matar’s Lebanese heritage, enhanced by his personal touch as he circulates around the room to answer questions posed by those who may not have dined at Phoenician Tavera previously and thus are not familiar with Lebanese food. The cuisine entertains, comforts, and puts a smile on diners’ faces throughout the culinary experience.
For this event, like other Cincinnati dine-arounds, members each brought a bottle of fine wine to enjoy throughout the evening. Passed appetizers included Lamb Pies, Zatar Pies, and Walnut Purée on a Cucumber Slices, especially good with a wide array of sparkling and still white wines. During the seated second course, we enjoyed many traditional dips and salads served with house-made pita bread. The highlight of the evening was an expansive main course of Lamb Loin Chops, Filet Kabobs, and Chicken Kabobs, which members wisely paired with an array of American Pinot Noir and Burgundy. Pistachio and Walnut Baklava was a sweet close to the meal.
At the end of the evening, Bailli George Elliott introduced Mr. Matar and his staff to a hearty round of applause in thanks for another fine event. Bialli Elliott also thanked Vice Chargé de Missions Honoraire Jon Powell who orchestrated the dinner with Mr. Matar.
As a somber note, it was especially meaningful to be able to gather and give thanks in peace, and to share a wonderful meal, as incredible turmoil mounted in the Middle East.
Graig Smith, Vice Chargé de Presse