Best Of 2018

Best Sweet Potato Beignets: Sartre OTR

Best Sweet Potato Beignets
click to enlarge HAILEY BOLLINGER
Hailey Bollinger

The Cincinnati foodie world buzzed this past summer in anticipation of the opening of what promised to be an exceptional new venture in OTR. Word first came in August in the form of a cryptic, free-verse poem delivered by managing partner Jim Cornwell to a handful of media types. Headlined by a chef most recently at a Michelin-starred San Francisco restaurant and top staff from our city’s best dining spots, Cornwell soon provided a few more details. The new place would be a brasserie style, French-accented eatery at street level in the Rhinegeist building on Elm Street. At the end of September, Sartre OTR made its debut. The French-ish restaurant may be named for the gloomy French philosopher, but there’s nothing gloomy about its interiors. Warmly lit and cozy, with a beyond-gorgeous bar, the well-designed space is plenty inviting, creating an ambiance that is at once majestic and intimate. While people have been raving about the décor itself, the food ain’t too shabby either. Entrées range from buckwheat crepes with raclette to steak frites and seared sea scallops, but a big hit under the shareable à partager section are the sweet potato beignets. Now, the word “beignet” conjures up images of deep-fried delicate pastry covered in a sprinkling of powdered sugar, but these potato balls aren’t sweet: they’re puffy, yet filling and served in a bowl with a swipe of delicious harissa sauce that honestly looks a little bit like it belongs on a Big Mac. Even though they’re listed as shareable, you’ll want to keep them all to yourself. Sartre, 1910 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine,