Tuesday 18 September
It's local restaurant week in Cincinnati, and about 20 places were running specials of $33 for a 3-course meal. We decided to go someplace new, and chose View Cucina for its appetizing-sounding menu, and also because Tuesdays are half-price wine night.
View is one of those places that's in a local apartment building, and as it clings to the side of a hill overlooking Eden Park and the river, it does have a patio with a spectacular view. The weather was a bit brisk, but we had come prepared with jackets, and they kindly set us up at a nice table with soft cushions on the chairs, interesting warm bread and herb butter, and even took our picture.
Our appetizers were shrimp beignets in a sweet pepper aioli, and empanadas stuffed with duck confit in barbeque sauce. Both were fine, and we enjoyed a bottle of Frei Brothers Cabernet Sauvignon (chocolatey, with a lot of soft Merlot character) along with them.
The second course was a cup of butternut squash soup with maple and cinnamon, sweet as a cupcake, only cut by a sprinkle of smoked blue cheese; and a marinated green bean and asparagus salad in honey-balsam vinaigrette; again, the sweet was cut by a minuscule package of salt in the shape of some lardons of braised pork belly.
For main courses, we chose a little pan-seared filet mignon rubbed with pepper, cocoa, and brown sugar (are you sensing a theme here?), doused with bourbon cream sauce and a lump of bison-bacon paté, served on a soft bed of scalloped sweet potatoes with some soft slices of summer squash; and two slices of duck breast, also pan-seared, with grappa and dried cherry sauce, on pumpkin apple risotto, also with slices of squash.
This is where the chef showed off all his faults. The pan that he was "searing" in couldn't have been more than warm, so the flour coating that should have made the duck slices crisp became slimy, while that nice piece of filet mignon was greyish medium instead of the medium rare we had asked for. And his sweet-tooth took over, leaving both vegetable beds sugary and almost indistinguishable, though one tasted more like my grandmother's tzimmis than the other. We're actually glad they ran out of the venison osso buco we had come for, as it came with bacon and pineapple sauce!
Certainly no Italian could produce, or eat, this kind of food. So sorry, View - you have a view, but no cucina.