Sometimes it can be hard to show off Cincinnati to people who are visiting from out of town. There are so few nationally known landmarks or culturally important areas. When my British friends are visiting us, the people they meet here always seem mystified as to why on Earth anyone would choose to visit Cincinnati. I grew up mostly waiting for the day that I would leave Cincinnati for good but despite some brief escapes to California and England I was never able to make a move stick. The low cost of living combined with abundant friends and family won me back every time.
The funny thing is that after making my peace with living in Cincinnati for the rest of my life I started to actually get out and appreciate what was here instead of yearning for what was not. What we have hear is a remarkably historical city that is wide open for creative people to make their mark. Mark Twain joked about Cincinnati being ten years behind the rest of the country, and while he may have had a point the flip side of this is that the past feels more present here than in similar cities; for those of us who admire the aesthetic of an earlier age, this is a very good thing. Case in point is my favorite restaurant in town, The Rookwood in Mount Adams.
Several years ago I had heard that the old Rookwood Pottery building was a restaurant, so it seemed like the perfect place to take one of those British friends I mentioned earlier. Get dinner and a little history in the same place. Unfortunately at the time it was called Porkopolis and it was terrible. The food was a page right out of BW3’s playbook and despite the fact that we were sitting in an antique kiln the atmosphere was uninspired. Frankly I was embarrassed that I’d suggested it. But three years ago a new owner took over and I have been a fan ever since. Today this historic building is The Rookwood Bar & Restaurant and, as you can hear in Episode Eight, they really know how to do the bar part well. The bar manger, Rommel Wells, has an affinity for historic cocktails and attention to details. This hand crafted feel that is exemplified in the drinks carries on throughout the restaurant. From the decor to the menu. The food is well-crafted, classic American fair that frequently pays homage to uniquely Cincinnati foods like goetta and Grippo’s potato chips. The first time I ate here, once it was The Rookwood, was on a girls’ night out and the cute waiter and extensive cheese tray made all of us fast converts. Upstairs there is an extensive collection of Rookwood pottery; it is only fitting that the building that created such beautiful works of art now houses a restaurant that lives up to its history. I know that there is a lot of other wonderful restaurants in Cincinnati, but frankly I haven’t had the chance to try many of them because on the rare occasions I have the money and time for a really good meal I always choose The Rookwood.
Here are a few more pictures of the night Charlie and were there to try the Sazerac.