Sunday, April 27, 2003

Chefs put a little spring in their menus

Campbell's scoop

By Polly Campbell
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Where to taste spring:

You can't tell by the calendar when spring really starts. You have to go by signs: tulips, allergies, lawnmowers - and new items on restaurant menus. Chefs love to bring out something new and fresh this time of year.

• The new menu at Jean-Robert at Pigall's, downtown, is its 19th since the restaurant opened in August. The most recent menu includes a trio of eggs made up of shad roe with bacon, scrambled egg with smoked salmon and chives and salmon roe in a light vinegar sauce. There are lobster and root vegetable raviolis, with light anise cream sauce and chanterelle mushrooms. Main courses include a new treatment of scallops: with a lemongrass parsley sauce and orzo with a fondue of shiitake, celery root, leek and asparagus.

• At the Celestial in Mount Adams, Chef Vik Silberberg has added starters of Mediterranean crab cake with tabbouleh, yogurt sauce and mint-parsley scented olive oil. Also baked crottin de Chevignol, with golden and red beets frisee, pistachios and sunny-side-up quail eggs in brioche. Entrees include an elaborate veal composition with seared veal loin, braised veal cheek, crispy veal sweetbreads, perigord winter black truffles, braised vegetable and banana fingerling potato. There's also a medium-rare seared sashimi grade yellow fin tuna with a coriander-peppercorn crust, crispy cilantro potato cake, edamame beans and salsa verde.

• Nicola Pietosa says spring has brought new ideas and new ingredients to the menu of Nicola's in Over-the-Rhine. There are 15 new dishes on the menu, including a lobster ravioli antipasto and a baby arugula salad. On the pasta list, there's pappardelle al porcini, or ribbon pasta with porcini mushrooms and a risotto with lobster tail, fresh basil and tomato sauce, and orchiette with diced fresh tuna. Also capesante del Cardinale, or jumbo scallops in white wine sauce, veal chop alla Griglia and a rack of lamb Milanese.

• Chef Chris Prince of Primavista in Price Hill has new Italian creations. He's added a veal scallopine with shrimp, mushrooms, artichokes and capers in a sherry garlic butter sauce, and a pine nut-crusted salmon over fettuccine with pesto cream sauce and roasted tomatoes.

• The lunch menu at the Iron Skillet in Newtown has been lightened. Owner/chef Laszlo Molnar has added lighter salads and entrees, such as roasted chicken cobb salad, salad Nicoise, grilled sea scallop salad, rum and pineapple glazed halibut, southern fried catfish with spicy tartar sauce and blackened sirloin with green peppercorn sauce.

E-mail pcampbell@enquirer .com

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