Let me say off the bat that this post will not do this spot justice.
What you have to understand is that there were too many exciting things going on for me to really concentrate. For one, I had been so anxious to check out Sartre in the first place. It looked amazing, sounded amazing, and everyone I talked to said it was amazing. Therefore, I pitched it as the place to go for an annual Christmas dinner date that Kenny and I keep with two desperately wonderful friends (hey Kristen and Marc!). These guys are just such important people to us that when we are together, the whole evening ends up being a flurry of good eats, great drinks, and even better laughs.
So while Sartre is the place where we ended up dining, we spent the evening just basking in each other’s company. And while I am hoping to share the highlights from the dinner, know that when I think back on this evening, it has everything to do with Kristen and Marc, and then secondarily with the sweet potato beignets. Which speaking of…
…were as good as they were promised to be. My other friend (hey Jenna!) said she went to Sartre twice in one week just for the sweet potato beignets. These had the puffy consistency of a beignet, with the dense sweetness of a sweet potato, which provides all the flavorful goodness you would hope for when two things like this come together. I followed Jenna’s advice, and now you should follow mine – these are a must order.
We also went all in with the poutine (Pastrami Poutine Cabbage / Cheese Curd / Caraway Seed), the fresh mozzarella (Fresh Mozzarella Grain Bread / Bottarga / Lemon), and a clam special being offered that night. Unfortunately, these are all running together in my mind, which is probably due to the bottomless bubbly brigade that I put myself on, so while I feel at a loss for how to detail each of these upon memory, know that there is no flickering memory of disappointment, so I trust they were perfectly perfectly good.
Then due to all the appetizers and shareables, we opted for only two entrees to split. Of the two, all of the praise is going to the burger. Holy-sweet-bejeezus-take-the-wheel burger. This thing was YUM.MY. Everything great about this burger is almost entirely due to the fact that it was served on a Blue Oven Bakery English Muffin, which is hands down my most favorite bakery item in this city. It is usually only a treat I savor with a smear of butter, but having it serve as the vehicle which delivers me a deliciously garnished burger is almost too much. The bites of this burger were the only moments of sobering clarity that I recall from this part of the evening. It was as if throughout the night I was enjoying and experiencing it all in the black-and-white version of Kansas, and then after one bite, the technicolor of Oz. It really was that jarringly good.
Then there was another dish, the roasted chicken porchetta (Roasted Chicken “Porchetta” Parmesan Broth / Braised Root Vegetables). And while this thing was a beauty, I don’t remember anything about it (I am saying that as a whisper). Honestly, I may or may not have even taken a bite… I am sure that it was good, and it was awfully gorgeous, but I was either having too good of a time clinking glasses with my girl Kristen, or I was willfully disappearing into a reverie-like state while eating the burger, who knows. But regardless, I am sure it was delicious.
Other than all that, you need to know this about Sartre – its space is awesome. Housed in the same building as Rhingeist, there is that familiar enormous feeling (with mega high ceilings) but then there is also this awesome sense of comfort. The decor is tasteful AF and this is yet another space that makes Cincinnati’s historic past so modernly cool.
I can’t wait to go back, to really pay attention, and report again on what I know is a killer spot in Sartre.