out at bouquet

April 15, 2015

Last Friday, I was in high school. No joke.

Due to a hardwood floor refinishing hiccup, I had to pack up and stay at my parents house for a few nights. This displacement extended through the weekend and so just like old times, Kenny decided to pick me up, take me to dinner, and then drop me off by curfew. It was honestly adorable and one of the sweetest dates we’ve been on in a while. If you are looking to “spice” things up, consider this reversion to innocence. Again, so sweet.

And in the spirit of meaningful moments, he made reservations at Bouquet, a spot we hold near and dear as it was where we had our rehearsal dinner. We absolutely love the place but don’t make it back as often as we should. However, this recent trip pretty much secured it in our top five of places to go when the occasion calls.

Now this night was fresh off our week-long dining spring break bender, and it taught me that old habits die hard. I opened the menu and ordered to my heart’s content. I also tasked the bartender with making me up a fun mocktail and I don’t know how he did it, but he delivered exactly what I was craving without me saying so – a strawberry and melon and mint sgroppino. I fell in love with sgroppino at Via Vite, but this one was transcendent. I’ve teased Kenny before about his over-complimentary-ness when sampling my juice drinks, but for this, I knew his reaction would be legitimate. After one sip, he looked me square in the eyes and said order another one. I encouraged the man to bottle that business, letting him know I’d purchase by the case. And for my non nine month cleansing friends, can you imagine it being made with prosecco?! Good lawd.

Bouquet kale saladThe beverage was followed by a pretty insane little kale salad. I was eyeballing a number of other starters hard (sweet potato flatbread, crab cake, cheese plate, fries…basically everything) but when Kenny said he was just going for some soup, I switched gears and went for the salad. So glad I did.

Bacon, whipped feta, candied pumpkin seeds, pickled red onions, apples, beet pickled egg, and pear honey vinaigrette, this puppy didn’t just serve as some health-conscious starter, but rather a stand alone, killer beginning. It was hearty without being heavy, sweet without being super fruity, and trendy without being showy. If are really down with salads, make a point to seek this out.

Bouquet kale soupKenny is such a soup guy. Like such a soup guy. He always gets a bowl at Whole Foods, always wants to make a huge pot at home to eat all week, always inquires as to the soup du jour and then nine times out of ten orders it.  The man loves soup.

And this night was no exception. The special was a kale and vegetable option and he was quite the fan. I can only speak to the one bite I had, and all I remember was saying it felt very wintry. It was hot and hearty and felt like what you’d want while curled up next to a fire. Kenny agreed and continued to down it to the last drop.

Bouquet lobster risottoAnd again, being fresh off the island life, I continued satisfying my seafood palate by ordering the lobster risotto. But how could I not? Asparagus, english peas, oyster mushrooms, arugula, pecorino, and ramp? Only a fool would pass that up.

And my bowl was licked clean. You could literally taste each and every ingredient, and those that were swirled together for a spoonful delivered their own perfect little harmony. From beginning to end, the whole entree was a pretty done deal. I also wasn’t surprisingly stuffed upon finishing, which I think is a testament to the portion and the quality of the ingredients, because there were some serious little players in that dish.

Bouquet fried game henAnd Kenny’s fried game hen was just as remarkable, with brussels sprouts, arugula, pickled red onion, house pickles, horseradish grits, and spicy honey. Honestly though, the best bite was simply the hen and the honey. He reluctantly shared just one of those with me and it was enough for me to understand why he did not contribute anything more than a nod and a hummed uh-huh to the conversation until his meal was complete. It was that good.

The thing about Bouquet is that it is one of the very best around. I’d put it on par with a Boca when it comes to the fine dining-ness of food, but what makes it almost better is that it’s all done so on a more intimate, laid back level. The restaurant is tiny, but it is still impressive. You’ll get the whole experience, you’ll be treated with the utmost respect, and you’ll have the kind of night you are looking for if out for an elevated time, all without it feeling over the top. That’s a pretty special thing.

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  • Reply Thread Cincinnati » out at bouquet April 15, 2015 at 7:00 am

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  • Reply Brittany April 15, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    That lobster risotto looks amazing!

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