The day was turning to evening as we decided to step into 21c Museum Hotel's signature restaurant, Metropole—led by Executive Chef, Jared Bennett.
As the doors swing open, a beautiful aroma hits you and instantly brings up memories of sitting by a campfire with the smell of fresh wood chips.
This aromatic fragrance is a defining aspect of Metropole, as it showcases a custom-built wood burning fireplace designed to bring forth hickory and charred wood flavors in all their dishes. As we were shown to our seats, it was easy to see the history of Cincinnati unfolding around us. Mosaic tile floors laid ground for beautifully arched windows and wall décor highlighting companies that have shaped Ohio culture.
Our evening began with colorful cocktails that packed amazing flavor. "Tickled Pink" is a gin-based drink highlighting undertones of hibiscus, lemon and mint.
The other was "The Juarez," concocted with tequila and orange bitters, adding a unique charred lemon flavor. The smokiness from the char, was a great compliment to the usual bitterness of tequila. Simply delicious. As drinks slowly emptied, we were ready to order two appetizers that had caught our eyes.
First came the Sweet Corn Fritters—as a native Floridian, I was born and raised on corn fritters so I had very high expectations and was undoubtedly blown away. The fritters, had a beautiful golden crust that was enough to keep the mixture together, but soft enough to pull apart with ease.
In addition, the lemon aioli paired with whole sweet corn kernel, melted in your mouth, and was an unparalleled flavor profile I never knew was possible with fried foods.
Soon thereafter we had the flank steak tartare. The flank steak, in comparison to other cuts of meat, is known to be on the fattier side—but provides an unwavering flavor. It was complimented by egg yolk, capers and green onions.
The meat in combination with all other aspects made it a very savory dish. The plate came with charred bread, fried onions, a bed of fresh greens with grain mustard. This was a dish I’ll base any other explanation about how steak tartare is supposed to be. That good!
For entrees, we chose the Fireplace Duck Breast and the Marksbury Farm Pork Chop.
The duck breast, which sat over puréed sweet corn, was cooked to perfection taking in hickory and wooden undertones throughout the meat itself. The fat charred along with the skin of the duck, forming a crust that was packed with intense flavoring. A surprising aspect of the dish was the inclusion of blackberries, bringing in a sweet highlight to the otherwise savory pieces of meat.
The Marksbury Farm Pork Chop, with its woodsy aromatic tones, gave way to an amazingly seared texture and highlighted it's flavor profile to the max.
Sitting over spaghetti squash, it's easy to see why this brings backs guests and foodies alike on a regular basis.
Feeling autumn swiftly approaching, we just had to go with the Braised Summer Squashes. Served in a cast iron skillet and tantalizing with its hearty blend of burrata, mint, basil, romesco and hazelnuts.
To refresh our palates before dessert, we enjoyed the "Debutante" which combined all of our favorites into one—Bulleit Rye Whiskey, vodka, ginger beer, and a red wine float.
This alongside "X Marks the Spot," which had a white rye whiskey and local tropical produce reopened our appetite for the dessert that would soon be on its way.
We sprung for the Milk Chocolate Ganache and found ourselves enchanted that such an ordinary dish could be made extraordinary.
The sesame peanut ice cream played in perfect unison with not only the chocolate, but also the orange glaze on the side. This is a beautiful plate that easily encompassed our night of excellent eats.
Metropole prides itself on cultivating Cincinnati culture and uses local organic farmers and producers for the bulk of their ingredients. To make sure both Metropole and 21c Museum Hotel stays true to their roots, there's a flock of yellow penguins made from 100% recyclable material throughout the two buildings.
It’s an amazing art installation that allows the penguins to change color in all 21c Hotels and is a subtle reminder that each visit will be uniquely your own.
Metropole is a gem of Cincinnati and one you must flock to!