M (A Restaurant Review In Cincinnati)

From the first second you enter, you know this place is going to be a success. You can feel it on your skin. The man who meets you at the door is happy up beat and polite. This is a neighborhood eatery (!) and it’s what you would expect in Palo Alto. Sleek interior, not so Haute Chic as to make you feel uncomfortable. An open kitchen featuring The Wood Fired Oven is key, nice variegated butcher block tables, short sweet menu and wine list. They are opened until 1! Hooray. We go there.

Clientele are all ages and well dressed without being The Angsty Hipster Achingly Trendy.

Menu is divided into four categories. There are first courses (I had the roasted vegetables), Pizzas (I chose the basil, buffalo mozzarella, and tomato sauce classic one), meat courses (beef, pork shoulder, fish, and one other… I think it was chicken), and finally there are gratins as a separate category, casseroles of home-like goodness. We did choose the pork shoulder and skipped the gratin this time.

You are encouraged to share and we did, all courses we had were divided between my husband and me. If it was to be skimpy we would find out.

The service was unflaggingly attentive but not smothering. There was one order which was missed and a longish wait for our meat course but that is minor and expected with a new restaurant.

The waitress brought us our wine (a good Argentine Malbec) with the pizza and roasted veggies. Have to say that the veggies were far more spare than I thought they would be and the actual roasted vegetables were hiding in small bits under the lettuce leaves, BUT we were presented with three “rosettes” of a salami which was local and shaved paper thin with a stack of about 4 thin pieces of toasted baguette. I divided the vegetable plate and we ate.

I noticed one strange and wonderful thing about that salami.. it tasted and smelled like spring flowers! How did they do that? Just like the scented jonquils that we have in our back yard! What a wonderful thing in December!

The tiny lettuces were perfectly seasoned and the bits of bread were fine with olive oil. The  “vegetable plate” was a success!

Next was the pizza. I ordered a plain and classic version of the divine pie and was not disappointed. The crust was wonderfully thin, the toppings were well oiled and not dried out despite firing in the oven. A delight!  Some serious thought had been put into this one.

By the way, I have eaten at “wood fired” places which REEKED of smoke and touted themselves as sniffy grill restaurants, very expensive etc. This one was not smoky at all but the food was grilled to perfection.

Our pork shoulder arrived about 20 minutes after ordering it (a long time) but it was delicious! The crust was perfect and perfectly seasoned. Tender and juicy, what was not to love here? Oh, and it was accompanied by wonderful grilled Brussels sprouts. Both things were perfectly caramelized.

We opted out of desert. There was a bonnie apple pie with a cheddar gelato (!!!) which looked quite yum but we wanted to be good. Actually all of the deserts looked great but we were sated even after we had split everything!

We found friends who were dining there too, they came to the table to post mortum it all and told us that they had the beef and it was tough (which was a disappointment), and their desert pie was very late in arriving after being ordered.

The bill for all of that came to a mere $66. Wow, quite worth it and we were happy as can be when we left. So I would say this is a great place. We are going to come back  and have a late dinner soon! I am looking forward to that!

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