Best Of 2019

Best Restaurant to Put Your Mouth Where Your Money Used to Be: Branch

Littlefield Restaurant Group rehabbed a historic building in East Walnut Hills over a two-year period and in December opened Branch and an adjacent downstairs bar called Night Drop. For much of the last century, the building housed a bank, thus the name of both the restaurant and bar. The group and various architects, contractors and artists spent about two years and over $1 million to design, build out and decorate the Art Deco interior of this unique building at DeSales Corner. The dining room graces a relatively long, narrow space that seats 72, including 20 at the bar. Above the bar sits an imposing mural commissioned for the restaurant that fits so beautifully with the original design of the room that it could be vintage 1935 instead of 2018. Executive chef Shoshannah Anderson most recently worked her culinary magic at The Littlefield, but in a tiny kitchen. And one goal of Branch was to give Anderson “a proper kitchen, where she can do even more interesting food” than she produced there. Dinner choices are presented in two columns, “Shares” and “Stocks,” a play on the building’s history. It is the shares — or smaller plates — that are a knock out: pork belly and vegetable dumplings in an umami-rich miso broth; curry roasted cauliflower; chilled Israeli chickpea salad; and meaty chili-smoked wings. Anderson loves to use a smoker on a variety of meats and sometimes even cheeses, so look for occasional specials with a smoky flair. Branch offers three specials each weekend night, including a dessert special most nights, plus brunch on Saturday and Sunday. The scene here is decidedly hip and urban and has some of the parking issues commuters abhor that go along with that vibe but go ahead and spring for the paid lot, everyone: Branch is the real deal. Branch, 1535 Madison Road, East Walnut Hills,