Last night we paid a fleeting visit to Pleasantry in Cincinnati’s bustling Over The Rhine district. What has fast become a foodie heaven, in OTR there is a place for all tastes and every budget. It feels like every week a new idea is brought into fruition, and another tempting menu lures us back to our favourite part of town.
Yet just off from the main drag, nestled in a residential area peppered with balacony-d apartments and community vegetable gardens, is Pleasantry. The brainchild of Joanna Argus Kirkendall and Daniel Souder (of 1215 Wine Bar fame, also located in OTR), it is clear that this is a spot destined for great things, given such creative, successful juggernauts are at the helm. As we were blessed with a balmy July evening, we opted to dine outside in their sizable patio area, which includes the OTR staple of bare brick, succulents, and Edison string lights. But given that my own home is full of that too, I am delighted to see the trends going strong- as were other diners who popped out to snap the cacti and succulent displays.
What drew us to Pleasantry was their carefully constructed menu that features only in-season, organic, locally sourced ingredients. The food menu is complemented by an all natural wine list (including orange wine, which was tempting but we opted for Say Grace, a gin cocktail featuring Columbus distillers, Watershed). The wine list should be considered the shining jewel in their elegant, understated crown. They have received praise locally and nationally for their selection of natural wines, a selection that may dismay many a customer, but easily sets them out from the countless other eateries in the Queen City.
Our shared app of ricotta with parsley, pistachio, and cardamom honey was light, heavenly and very moreish. Served with crusty, warm bread, it made for a delicate palate cleanser before we jumped enthusiastically towards our mains. As is a trend with my other half, he opted for the house burger, served medium with toothsome pimento cheese, the usual condiments, and Saratoga chips. (Our only fault with our experience was the lack of sauce or dip for the chips.)
My cauliflower steak with coconut milk, fresh coriander, grapefruit and sambal was an extraordinary dish, excellently constructed and excitingly paired. When we have the marriage of lime and coconut forced on us, the pairing of the tart, luscious grapefruit chunks with hot Thai flavours was initially alarming, but ultimately genius. Chef Evan Hartman should be very proud of this dish.
No meal would be complete without dessert. In this instance, we shared Pleasantry’s take on Strawberries and Cream. A fennel, rhubarb and strawberry compote served with a generous spoonful of a delicately flavoured sweet cream and a huge, crackable slab of meringue. Another beautifully constructed plate. We couldn’t pass up on espressos to end, and were delighted to see local brand Deeper Roots on offer.
The service, staff, and setting were only topped by the fact that this marvelous three course meal for two, including drinks, was less than $60. Also offering a breakfast and lunch menu, means it won’t be long before we pay another visit to one of OTRs best finds.
Pleasantry- 118 W 15th St, Cincinnati, OH 45202- (513) 381-1969.