Happy Mouth Schedule

Here is the schedule for who gets to pick when for the Happy Mouth Supper Club Monthly Indulgence.

Updated October 27, 2011.

January: Angel Z. (was Kristy)
February: Carrie & Ron G. (was Dave & Robin (was Wendy B))
March: Tracy S.
April: Jay B.
May: Kristy R.
July: Ted W.
August: Holly S.
September: Wendy V.
October: Drew V.
November: Julie & Terry G.
December: Ed S.

Happy Mouth — September 2011

On Friday, September 23, a group of us met for the monthly Happy Mouth Supper Club outing. It was Wendy’s month to select, and she chose MERITAGE (which rhymes with “heritage”), a new restaurant that has opened in Glendale. It was a great selection, and we (Ted, Tracy, Carrie, Ron, Terry, Julie, Jay, Wendy, and me) very much enjoyed the food. They offer “classic food with a twist”, and have kept the menu small and reasonably simple, but flourishes appear here and there as the “twist”.

The classic Steamed Mussels in White Wine Sauce features a couple pieces of nice bread (however, the bread should be served alongside — rather than soaking in the wine sauce and getting soggy), and the Grilled Brie Sandwich is outstanding with it’s smear of balsamic reduction on the plate (if you happen to find the tomato soup on the menu, it is a natural pairing with this sandwich!). The Fried Eggplant and Zucchini is surprisingly light, and the roasted garlic aioli compliments the crisp, fresh vegetables nicely.

A previous visit, I tried the Bistro Steak Sandwich, which was cooked properly and tasted nice, but the large vein of sinew running through the steak made it chewy and slightly difficult to eat (this is to be expected with this particular cut of meat, but perhaps the kitchen could jaccard the steak before cooking). The fries were fresh, crispy, and very tasty — a treat.

We found their selection of wine to be very nice, but were surprised at the limited number of wines by the glass, especially considering the name of the place (meritage is a type of wine, “Bordeaux-style without actually being Bordeaux”). I hope in the future to see additional wines offered by the glass. However, we found pleasant choices by the glass.

We stayed for dessert and Wendy & I enjoyed a piece of their Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. Nicely executed, with a thick layer of sweet frosting on top of dense carrot cake. The only thing missing, one of my dining companions noted, was the little frosting carrot decoration!

It was a good Happy Mouth, and we have high expectations for MERITAGE. Have you eaten there? Let us know what you thought of MERITAGE in the comments.

Happy Mouth–August 2011

Hard to believe that summer has slipped by. It’s been head-down, busy around here. I apologize for the lack of updates. Expect a larger update soon.

On Wednesday August 31, the Happy Mouth Supper Club met at Green Papaya in Hyde Park for dinner. It was Holly’s selection, and she chose a fantastic place. Everything was inviting and comfortable, and we felt very welcome there. Our fabulous server closely examined our club’s plaque and asked us several questions about our group before endearingly exclaiming, “I am very exciting to serve you tonight!”.

We settled in for lovely dishes – from their Golden Bag appetizer to sushi, pad thai (including Holly’s awesome selection of crispy pad thai – a runaway hit), seafood basil (nicely spicy, that one), and much more. Everyone seemed to have a great experience with the food, and the conversation was certainly fun too. Service was very good, and food came out from the kitchen quickly.

After dinner, I went out to see the new cars that Julie & Angel were sporting… Cool stuff! Very nice new rides, girls!

Another successful Happy Mouth!

Happy Mouth–July 2011

This month’s outing of the Happy Mouth Supper Club was at IT’S JUST CREPES in downtown Cincinnati. It was Ted’s month to select, and he chose a fun, funky place.

The restaurant, which is usually packed at lunchtime, is much less busy at dinner. We had the place mostly to ourselves. We enjoyed the crepes – I had the Buffalo Chicken Crepe and a Chocolate Covered Strawberry Crepe for dessert. DELICIOUS!

It was a great choice by Ted, and another successful Happy Mouth.

Happy Mouth – May 2010

For this month’s Happy Mouth Supper Club outing, Kristy picked The Wildflower Cafe and Coffee House all the way out in Mason. It’s a bit of a haul, but well worth it.

Our rowdy group had an entire room to ourselves (a good choice on the part of the restaurant!) and we enjoyed a wide sampling of their wares. Standouts included the Cheese Board, Burgers, Gourmet Grilled Cheese, and desserts.

It was a good time for all of us!

Happy Mouth – April 2010

This was originally Jay’s month to pick. Because Jay’s mom was having a surgical procedure (which went well, by the way!), Wendy offered to switch months with Jay.

So, this month became Wendy’s month to select. She chose to host a brunch at The Comet in Northside. Ted, Tracy, Ron, Carrie, Wendy, and Andrew made it out that morning. The Comet, long known for their tasty burritos and great live music, recently started doing brunch on Sundays.

Chef Luke Radkey does a great job of turning out delicious dishes from a tiny kitchen. The menu features a few staples but changes slightly each week. You cannot go wrong with any of the brunch choices! Start your meal with a light mimosa to set a nice tone (I think it would be fun if Luke offered “mimosa two ways” – one of these and one of these!), then settle in for excellent, made-to-order brunch items.

Of particular interest to our table was the Sticky Toffee French Toast, while I went for an asparagus quiche that was a new menu item. Everything was delicious!

Despite the rather low turn-out (we had members tending to ailing relatives, out of town, etc), we had a great time at Happy Mouth. The brunch at the Comet is not to be missed!

I suggest you get there early – the doors open at 11:00am sharp – because it tends to fill up.

Happy Mouth – March 2010

cocktails-sign On Saturday, March 13, 2010, the Happy Mouth Supper Club met at The Rookwood for dinner. It was Tracy’s month to select, and also her birthday.

The group met at the downstairs bar for “craft cocktails” before dinner.

What “Craft Cocktails” in Cincinnati means to me, a short essay by Andrew Vogel:

Craft cocktails, or “scratch cocktails” (implying that the cocktail is made from scratch – a term I prefer because it lacks the pretense of “craft cocktails”) are a throwback to days of yore when fresh-squeezed juices, house-made simple syrup, premium spirits, and precise measurements were the norm. These cocktails are, perhaps, the antithesis of the bar scene we saw in the movie Cocktail. (Why we ever left the high standards of the old days is topic for another post.)

The experiences I’ve had with “craft cocktails” in Cincinnati make it clear to me that we don’t have the full implementation of the spirit (no pun) of “craft cocktails”. Sure, local wine lists now include cocktails (which I think is just dandy), but too often, the places in Cincinnati seem to substitute fresh lime juice for mixes, make their own simple syrup, call ‘em “craft cocktails”, and jack the price.

What are hallmarks of craft cocktails in Cincinnati?:

  • Commoditizing simple syrup (1 part sugar, 1 part water) by adding virtually undetectable amounts of ingredients (like lavender or juniper) to it. The percentage of simple syrup in most drinks is fairly low, and the percentage of lavender in most simple syrup is extremely low, so the flavor simply isn’t there.
  • Slow service (holy smoke – bar service at Rookwood was so… slow…! Sadly, this seems to be the norm.)
  • $9 for a $4 drink
  • Pretense

That being said, the selection of drinks on the menu at The Rookwood appears varied and interesting, but ultimately, the palette of ingredients is limited so the resulting drinks end up being fairly routine. Plus, $9 to take a chance on an unknown drink is cost-prohibitive for many people.

After waiting too long to have my order taken, I received a “Com Tollins”, The Rookwood’s twist on a Tom Collins. It was made well, but not better than a similar cocktail I’ve had for less than half the price. Ultimately, what matters to me is not riding the wave of the latest fad, but what happens in your mouth – what’s it taste like? And, I found that the difference between a premium-priced “craft cocktail” isn’t worth the price difference for a “non-craft” cocktail made with non-well spirits.

It is interesting to observe how fads come in and out of fashion, and how hangers-on are quick to jump to the latest fad. (From a culinary perspective… Remember foams? Yeah, I am glad that fad is over!) I suspect that in 12-15 months, we’ll be done with “craft cocktails”. Perhaps by then we’ll be back to “flair bartending”! 😐

So, I am not impressed with this fad of “craft cocktails”. Still, I acknowledge that being able to charge $9 for a $4 drink is smart marketing.  (Open wide and say “glug”!)

Until I find a place that embraces the full-spirit of “craft cocktails” in Cincinnati, I’m declaring Cincinnati a “half-craft cocktail” town.

Here ends the short essay.

However, hanging with friends was very nice. We were a big group, nearly filling the bar seats before we moved to a private upstairs dining room for dinner.

The Rookwood took very good care of us upstairs, and the food was good. I enjoyed a chicken dish with polenta, brussels sprouts, and bacon. Everyone else seemed to enjoy theirs as well!

Another successful Happy Mouth! Happy Birthday Tracy!