The Palace Restaurant

by Bryan on October 5, 2009

If there is a a type of restaurant I should never, ever review, it is a place like The Palace. It is fine dining restaurant located in the Cincinnatian hotel. Let me explain. I loved the fact that The Maisonette existed, and was proud that Cincinnati had a place that was 5-star for as long as they were, but I never went. Same with Pigall’s. When they announced they were closing, I briefly debated going to experience it, but it is just not my cup of tea.

But, I have gone to The Palace many times over the years, and have had a mixed experience. To be fair, if there was ever a time that the phrase “It’s me, not you” should be applied, this would be one of them. However, I have enjoyed the latest incarnation of The Palace the best.

We went there for our anniversary last year, and I recall quite pleasantly the meal we had. Of course that is the big problem with fine dining establishments… they go changing things on you. This year we decided to go for no other occasion than my son was going to Grandma and Grandpa’s for an overnight.

The Setting

I have always found the restaurant itself to be kind of odd. It flows out into the atrium of the hotel, so it’s not really a “place”. Add to that the style of the atrium. Think ’80s Embassy Suites with a Miami Vice color scheme. It is in really good repair, so I am not saying it is run down, but doesn’t fit, in my opinion with the architecture of the hotel, or with the restaurant. Also, you may get seated essentially in the atrium (which we did this time) and the lighting is really dim there. As a result, one of the big disappointments was no picture taking for me in that light. The place settings, tables and tableware along with the art hanging are great, it’s just the juxtaposition of the Atrium that is odd. But enough of that, not a deal killer, but a negative.

The Food

I have consistently liked the new menus under the new chef. I think he provides a great balance of innovative items with standard fare for folks like me. I even stepped out a little on this visit. They also have an excellent deal with a Prix Fixe 3-course meal for $44. I could dither on the Fixe part of that (they upcharge for some of the more expensive appetizers and entrees) but it is a great deal.

I ordered the “French Onion Soup”. The quotes are a part of the name, which is a pet peeve of mine, but I’ll let it go. The server explained it was the Chef’s deconstructed French Soup. So, why not call it Deconstructed French Soup? Regardless, I enjoyed it. The description on the menu was: stuffed cipollini onions, bruleed gruyère and chicken consomme. The bowl is delivered with three Cipollini Onions stuffed with brioche, each having a Gruyere wafer inserted like a small sail. The server then pours the Chicken Consomme around the three onions. It was very good. My wife had the Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho.

Now here’s the funny part. My wife is the adventurous one, but for entrees she went with Prime Fillet of Beef. She loved it, especially commenting on the horseradish cream. I didn’t really step out that far, choosing the Grilled Hanger Steak. It was very good. My only knock (based on my extensive culinary background </sarcasm>) was that I think it would have benefited if sliced thinner. It was just a touch chewy for me, which is inherent in that cut of meat, but still very good. I stole some of the wife’s horseradish cream for a bit or two,  and it was very good.

The deserts were fantastic. The wife went with Roasted Peach Strudel. The description on the menu was crepe wrapped peaches, linzer biscuit, cream cheese ice cream and ginger caramel.  It was a very impressive plate, and she enjoyed it immensely. I could not resist the Malted Chocolate Collection. It is milk and dark chocolate malted mousse “shot”, chocolate dipped malted milk ice cream bar and a hot fudge cake with malted meringues. Every component in the dessert was great, and the presentation was impressive. My wife who merely tolerates my picture taking actually suggested I ask the server if I could take it to a lighted area to get a pic, that’s how interesting it was. I chose not to be a total dweeb. It was delicious.

The Palace is not the kind of place I would go to a lot, even if I could afford it, but I almost always enjoy the trip, and sometimes you just got to step out and go to a fancy place.

Palace on Urbanspoon

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