I used to have a rule: Never eat in a hotel, and never sleep in a restaurant. In downtown Cincinnati, though, that rule is made to be broken. Orchids at the Palm Court in the Hilton Netherland Plaza is world-class. Executive Chef Todd Kelly was named Chef of the Year by the American Culinary Federation. Pastry Chef Megan Ketover is competing on Bravo TV’s Top Chef: Just Desserts. When I dined there for Do Downtown Restaurant Week, I was absolutely blown away. Rules off!
CityBeat: What was the last great meal you ate and where did you eat it?
Todd Kelly: There are all different levels of greatness! I just ate at the Cincinnatian at the Palace (601 Vine St., Downtown) Sunday night, and I had burgers and beers at Gordo’s in Norwood (4328 Montgomery Road). They were different, but they were both great. Jose Salazar, at the Palace, created a fantastic meal; a great cold vegetable summer salad, grilled octopus, redfish with lentils, just a beautifully cooked piece of fish and hanger steak with wonderful chimichurri. But at Gordo’s I had a great burger in such a fun environment.
CB: What is it that makes those places great?
TK: They do what they do really well. I love hole-in-the-wall places, the kind of places I’d be afraid to take my mother, if they really love to make good food. Do what you do right.