Sunday, March 2, 2003

Blue Ash eats 'upscale but casual'

Campbell's scoop

By Polly Campbell
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Where to eat in Blue Ash:

Dining in the growing suburb just northeast of Cincinnati is often very good, but it's almost never formal. Most of Blue Ash's better restaurants are aspiring to be "upscale but casual."

Here are some of Blue Ash's best:

• Baxter's Eatery and Saloon is a busy restaurant with lots of traffic in the bar and a menu of fun martinis. But it has a serious food menu, too, with dishes like potato-wrapped salmon and homemade biscuits. 4858 Cooper Road; 791-2223.

• Blue Ash Chili specializes in ultra-sized double-decker sandwiches: a couple inches of ham and beef and three pieces of bread. Chili, too, of course. 9565 Kenwood Road.; 984-6107.

• The Brown Dog CafÈ is among Greater Cincinnati's best restaurants, with an ever-inventive chef and owner, Mary Swortwood, whose menu includes fanciful dishes, such as a lobster "cappuccino" bisque; ethnically inspired dishes, including an African lamb with lentils, and classics, such as lobster risotto. 5893 Pfeiffer Road, 794-1610.

• Foster's Lake Forest Restaurant is open only for breakfast and lunch, and it's a cut above the usual office-building lunch spot with homemade food: Greek pasta salad, sandwiches on occasion and croissants, lasagna, baked fish, or turkey and dressing. 4445 Lake Forest Drive, 769-9108.

• You can't order meat at Marx Hot Bagels; it's a dairy kosher restaurant. But you can order freshly made bagels piled high with tuna salad or hummus. Bagels (and cream cheese) come in a huge variety of flavors. 9701 Kenwood Road, 891-5542.

• The first thing you'll see at Maya's, in the same shopping strip as Marx, is a case of gorgeous European pastries. There's also a full breakfast menu, sandwiches and salads and a dinner menu that includes some South American dishes, a reflection of the owner's parents, who came here from Germany via Bolivia. 9749 Kenwood Road, 791-5005.

• Parker's Blue Ash Grill is a chophouse with a menu of steaks, planked salmon, roast chicken and big salads, a theme of horse racing and a choice of dining rooms, most of which have a fireplace. 4200 Cooper Road, 891-8300.

• Indian food is top-notch at Sitar. The dinner menu has an interesting variety of dishes, and at lunch there's a buffet. The weekend buffet is special: Each week it features a cuisine from one of the many areas of India. 4270 Hunt Road, 793-7487.

• Through the Garden is hidden in the light-industrial upper reaches of Blue Ash. In the summer, the herbs and vegetables featured in dinner specials surround the building. There are also steaks, grilled fish, pasta dishes and a popular Louisiana barbecue at dinner. 10738 Kenwood Road, 791-2199.

• They still make beer on-site at Watson Bros. Bistro and Brewery, Cincinnati's best suburban survivor of the '90s microbrewery craze. There's both a casual brewpub and a bistro menu. In the summer, there's an extensive patio overlooking a man-made lake and small planes landing and taking off from Blue Ash Airport. 4785 Lake Forest Drive, 563-9797.


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