Cincinnati has one chef who has earned the culinary love of the city above all others, and Jean-Robert de Cavel has similarly shown his love of our town through continuing charity work and support for young chefs while creating fabulous food. When Jean-Robert at Pigall’s closed in February 2009 there were many disheartened souls, but slowly, rumors circulated of a new venue while he worked as Chef-in-Residence at Midwest Culinary Institute. After unfortunate legal wrangling postponed opening dates, Jean-Robert’s Table finally launched in August 2010 and quickly became a favored venue. As dining preferences have skewed casual, this is more of a bistro than four-star formal of his past. Our bailliage made a much anticipated visit on February 20, 2011 and filled the space for a night of great camaraderie and exquisite dining pleasure.
We arrived to a flurry of appetizers: garlic escargot stuffed new potato, papaya ceviche on spoons, ham-gruyere-chicken confit grilled mini-sandwiches, quail egg and smoked salmon crostinis, and chorizo stuffed figs. Flutes were presented of Delamotte Champagne, from the uber-producer of Salon in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, which was rich and almost buttery to a decadent degree. Our first course of Maine lobster salad with pomegranate, grapefruit, red cabbage, and snow pea slaw was a fantastic combination with a savory tart note from aioli, matched with a well balanced Régis Minet Pouilly-Fumé Vieilles Vignes.
Next up was duck confit and foie gras with apple, blue cheese, and quinoa all wrapped in phyllo for a savory, complex construction that paired nicely with a floral, palate cleansing Schloss Vollrads Spätlese. Controversy came next in the form of Boston sole with truffle sauce served with Vieux Télégraphe La Crau Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Some thought this was a “bridge too far” while others found it their favorite for the night!
Conversely, the entrée of venison with potatoes gratin, mushroom, fondue of cabbage, goat cheese flan, chestnut puree, and cranberry chutney met universal acclaim with so many wonderful sensations that one had to keep sampling to discover more flavors, textures, and aromas. This was served with a hearty Australian Grenache from Clarendon Hills, sourced from 86 year old vines. Licorice, eucalyptus, and hints at Côte Rôtie with a wild character made this the high point of the evening. A finale of assorted sweets from pastry chef Karen Crawford gave a filling conclusion and we gave accolades to find a seat at the welcome table for some culinary salvation!
J.T. Mayer, Chargé de Presse Provincial Midwest