If I were about ready to die or, better yet, just leaving town for a bit, the following would be my ideal last meal in Cincinnati. First, I’d choose Mount Adams, because I live there and because its history of drunks and monks appeals to both sides of my nature.
I’d start at DaVeed’s, because there’s nowhere else like it. Packed into a charming old house, it doesn’t give off that stuffy fine dining vibe you find at some restaurants. If you sit at the tiny bar, it’s even more down to earth, because you can talk to the bartender as you scarf down something gourmet. Because I’m a selfemployed writer, I’d do the poor person’s version of DaVeed’s: The Artisanal Cheese Plate ($14) and a bottle of Chimay. Made by hand and in small batches, artisan cheeses have more soul than their mass-produced counterparts. I’d chase each one down with a Chimay, that creamy beer brewed by Trappist monks. It goes even better with cheese than wine does.
Because I rarely go a week without visiting Mt. Adams Bar & Grill, I’d have to stop by here for my second appetizer. I like its rowdy history; it gives eating a burger and drinking a beer an edge. The story goes that the Grill was once a speakeasy and its owner was a millionaire whiskey manufacturer who murdered his wife in Eden Park two hours before his trial for violating prohibition. Its gorgeous bar takes you back in time, and the more you drink, the more you sense its haunted, lively past. You can almost see some happy drunk from 1919 sitting next to you and stealing sips from your beer between guffaws. I’d have one of their super-cheap appetizers, like the tasty hummus and tabouli ($6) with plenty of warm pita toast.
Next I’d pop into The Fish House, because it’s just that — a house. It’s better than Mitchell’s or any other seafood chain restaurant, not only because it’s privately owned, but also because it’s quaint. You can take the nar row staircase to the upstairs with its dim lighting and dark, natural wood. Romantic, it’s the perfect place to have my fantasy entrée: the Curry Sea Bass ($28). This dish has been on The Fish House’s menu for years, and there’s a reason: The pineapple curry is the perfect union of sweet, sour and salty. These flavors, when presented together, can give you a taste orgasm. If you need a break from all the excitement, you can always dip into the buttery whipped sweet potatoes and lightly seasoned vegetables. A fun pairing is the Bernardus Chardonnay with its tropical fruit undertones.
My final stop is Longworth’s Tavern for bread pudding. I used to think all bread pudding was soggy and non-descript and better eaten by Dickens characters than real people. I never would have actually ordered it until I tried Longworth’s Homemade Bread Pudding ($7). They’ve somehow managed to engineer a bread pudding that is firm yet pillowy, soft yet substantial, the kind of bread pudding you want to dive into or take a nap on. Topped with pecans and drenched in vanilla Bailey’s sauce, this is the kind of dessert that could put me to bed every night with a cup of warm milk and sing me to sleep, because I know I’d have sweet dreams.
I also know that this is quickly turning into food porn, so I’ll say just one more thing: It’s also the perfect ending to this progressive fantasy meal.
DaVeed’s at 934
934 Hatch St., Mount Adams 513-721-2665.
Mt. Adams Bar & Grill
938 Hatch St., Mount Adams 513-621-3666.
Mt. Adams Fish House
940 Pavilion St., Mount Adams 513-421-3250.
1108 St. Gregory St., Mount Adams 513-651-2253.