MOTR Pub (Review)

Along with original live music, new OTR spot offers creative, scrumptious dining options

When you recall the Rock & Roll clubs of your youth, you might remember cover charges, smoky bars, sticky floors, cheap beers and drinking way too many shots. You might have grown up and become more responsible, but that doesn’t mean you still don’t like your live music.

MOTR Pub’s motto is “know your Cincinnati rock and roll,” and it's a place for Rock & Roll old timers and newbies alike. MOTR is helping to put Main Street back on the entertainment map with free live music (Rock, Indie, Folk and more) every night and great food day and night. How many shots you choose to take is your business.

Back in its heyday, Main Street was packed on most nights, and many people — including the owners and chef of MOTR — are working hard to get that energy back. My friend and I did our part and visited on a rainy, chilly November evening.

MOTR is not yet a dining destination but will soon be with its diverse menu. We sat at the bar and, as we waited for our draft Hudy Delight and Hudy Amber ($2.50 each), my we tried to recall what the space used to be. Both of us had bartended on Main Street years ago, yet we were stumped. We came up with “Moose Something.” (The space actually housed bars like Coopers on Main and Moose on Main, the name that escaped us.)

MOTR is just what you want in a venue: dark wood, local art for sale, a cozy front room stage and a small room downstairs for those who want a quieter place to hang out. The downstairs is dungeon-like, but in a good way (it’s not a musty room with implements of medieval torture, although there are a few daggers on the wall). Sipping a Hudy as a silent tribute to my West Side roots, we contemplated eats. We started with Vinnie’s Pretzel with Beer Cheese ($3.75) and ventured into a vegan/vegetarian feast, with a Vegan BLT with Fries ($7), the Shroom “Burger” ($8.50) and the St. Francis Monastery Mac and Cheese ($5.50).

Sometimes when you order a pretzel parts of it are cold, hard and disappointing. This one was hot, tender and salty and from a local gourmet pretzel stand. The beer cheese was served cold, which was not necessarily a bad thing, but I expected it to be at least warm. A good start regardless.

I'm usually suspect of simulated meat products, but the Vegan BLT was absolutely delicious. Chef Kat, a graduate of the Midwest Culinary Institute, marinates tofu in soy sauce and adds hickory smoke and maple syrup before baking it. It is then thinly sliced and stacked between vegan bread slices. I require a starch with every meal, and the fries were a good addition.

The Shroom “Burger” is a marinated and grilled portabella mushroom with chipotle aioli, roasted red peppers, feta, lettuce and tomato served on a brioche bun. I'm not as nave to say that you don’t miss the meat, but you will find both sandwiches hearty, tasty and satisfying. If you do miss the meat, you can order the hand-packed Angus Beef MOTR Burger ($8) or a BLT ($7) with real bacon (you can even add an egg).

With a name like St. Francis Mac and Cheese, questions are in order. We find out that Chef Kat once cooked at the St. Francis Monastery and made the mac and cheese for the priests and brothers. You kind of have to order it. I think it’s in the Apocrypha or something.

This mac and cheese is just my style, as the trend toward overly creamy cheese sauces does nothing for me. I like the stringy, cheesier mac and cheese sans the cream. It reminds me of my mom’s mac and cheese. The elbow macaroni was al dente and the cheese had a bit of a spicy kick. The breadcrumb topping sent me back to elementary school. There were delicious, crunchy clumps of breadcrumbs scattered atop of a bowl of cheesy noodles that added texture and taste.

If you can’t get to MOTR for dinner, they offer brunch on the weekends (overall hours are expected to be expanded “as we develop into our space,” according to the MOTR site). You can get the same BLT, vegan or pork ($7); a Spinach and Cheese Strata ($6.50); the Migas Tacos ($6.50) with potatoes, eggs, cheese, onions and tomatoes; or my favorite breakfast dessert, Pumpkin or Plain Waffles ($6.50). Had a bad week? Enjoy a Bloody Mary ($7.50) or a Mimosa ($7).

MOTR Pub is unique. Live music seven days a week, a small, well-crafted brunch and dinner menu that incorporates local ingredients whenever possible and a staff that believes in the incredible possibilities of our fair city. Supporting MOTR means supporting local farms and vendors, and it means supporting great live music. What are you waiting for, a Groupon?


Go: 1345 Main St., Over the Rhine
Call: 513-381-MOTR
Hours: Food served 5:30-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 5:30-11 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5:30-11 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday (see Web site for bar hours)
Entrée Prices: $5.50-$8.50
Red Meat Alternatives: Varied
Accessibility: Fully accessible

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