If you're looking for unique dining and want a break from the urban life, Knotty Pine offers a taste of Cajun cuisine in a country setting. The rustic locale is a great part of its charm, though for some people the remoteness might be a bit of a drawback.
Mileage-wise, the Knotty Pine is not that far from downtown Cincinnati. But make no mistake, this is UFO country.
Still, if you're a true lover of spicy Cajun cuisine, it's not likely that you'll be deterred by the glimpse of a cigar-shaped hovercraft shooting off toward Uranus or be intimidated by the snaggle-toothed banjo-pickin' mountain boys that swear at the cars as they wind along Licking Pike.
The Knotty Pine is for bold diners. Those who like a little fire in their bellies and who don't mind having an entire animal on their plate. In other words, the Knotty Pine is all about eatin' Loooo-zee-ann-uh-style!
Now, despite having grown up a New Orleans Saints fan and having seen my first naked woman at the age of 4 on Bourbon Street, I'm not the sort of person for whom the phrase "mouth-waterin' crawfish" holds a lot of magic. But, otherwise, I'm damn near apeshit about hot food, and Knotty Pine has that in abundance.
On my most recent trip to The Pine, I ordered the Cajun Platter, which offers all of your major food groups — beef, chicken and shrimp — marinated in a fiery hot sauce with a tang as salty as Burt Reynolds' mustache, along with Cajun staples like gumbo and red beans and rice.
The place has a very casual atmosphere, a good thing since my dining companion was wearing Jordache jeans circa 1982 and a "This Ain't No Beer Belly, It's a Fuel Tank for a Love Machine" T-shirt, even though I've told her on several occasions that this isn't proper attire for a pregnant woman.
Coming back from one of her many trips to the bathroom, she axed me if the floor was crooked or was she just drunk. The answer to both questions was yes. The Knotty Pine has a floor that belongs in a fun house.
Then again, that just adds to the bayou ambience. I like to imagine that the swamp gas from decaying possums and gators has deformed the floor. Though other diners might like to concoct their own stories as to why Knotty Pine has a dining area that could double as a ski slope.
If you're heading out to The Pine on a weekend, it's a good idea to make reservations. Not because it's uptight, but because come suppertime it's a mighty popular spot.