Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Moerlein Lager House:

David and I get a lot of PR pitches for our blog. Some are more applicable and well thought out than others. And while we sometimes accept the pitches, I usually decline and refer them to other bloggers in Cincinnati who are more into that kind of thing.

Sometimes we also get emails from readers, which I love. It means a lot to know that people enjoy reading your work and find the reviews entertaining and useful. David and I continue to grow, both in the kitchen and as bloggers, and we’ve made wonderful friends in the blogging community that we’re privileged to know.

Last week, I was flattered to receive an email from Matt, a U.C. student and Nomerati fan. He was thinking of starting a food blog and asked if we would be willing to meet and give him some advice and answer some questions.

Of course!

So David and I went down to the Moerlein Lager House and shared a nice dinner and some of our thoughts. As we talked, it amazed me how much our blog has changed in three years. Our conversation shifted to a variety of different topics, but we focused on a few things we felt were important for an enjoyable food blog. While we talked about a lot of the nitty-gritty details, I think the three points below are pretty important.

1. Find your writing “voice” and let it show in your posts.
2. Pictures. Don’t be afraid to take pictures. Don’t be afraid to learn to use your camera. But do be afraid to use your flash, which is a major no-no for food bloggers.
. Don’t take yourself too seriously. This is supposed to be fun, remember?

As for the Lager House, it’s beautiful, and it’s amazing to see the thought that went into every detail. I love the view, the open environment, and of course, the plentiful beer selection. We’ve been there twice now, and both nights it was pretty busy.

The first time we visited was opening night, and we just checked the place out and had a few beers. Our second visit involved ordering dinner, which we did after much negotiation between David and myself on what we’d order.

The menu for the Lager House is large, and obviously a lot of care went into the menu items. The prices (on food and beers) are also fair, which we appreciate. Though I like the variety, a huge menu can get a little overwhelming, and David and I wonder if it’s going to get a little smaller once they’ve been open for a while.

For dinner, David chose the Hops Smoked Pork Belly ($17.00), served with spaetzle (clearly a nod to Cincinnati’s German heritage), marinated mushrooms, creamy Brussels sprouts and demi-glace. The pork belly was nicely striped, with a meaty chunk of pork on top of a creamy slab of fat. The Brussels sprouts were halved and sauteed, which gave them excellent texture, though they were tossed in an aioli or mayonnaise-like sauce, which seemed a bit out of place.

David also got the Lager House B.L.T. salad ($6.00), which he said was very good and a nice size

I chose to get the Smoked Stack BBQ ($11.00), with pulled pork, smoked sausage and chipotle barbecue sauce, served with sweet potato chips. I loved the sweet potato chips and the sauce, which was tangy and had a kick from the chipotle. The pork itself did not have a significantly smokey flavor, but that’s hard to find in Cincinnati. I liked the addition of the crunchy fried onions on the sandwich, too. This sandwich was also huge, so as much as I liked it, I could only get through half.

close-up of crunchy onions

We also ordered some of the options from the meat and cheese board ($10.00), including the goetta, King Ludwig beer cheese, goat cheese fritter, and candied pork belly. All the meat and cheese boards are accompanied by grilled beer bread, mustard, sauerkraut and cute little pickles. I like the board and I think it’s an excellent option for someone who just wants a little snack to go with a beer.

Goat cheese fritter hiding behind the mustard

Cute little pickles!

Matt chose to get the bone in pork rack ($19.00), which we were curious about. It came out beautifully presented, with apricot onion marmalade, and he said it was delicious. He also ordered the angry mac, which was indeed angry, made with hot mett and jalapeƱo sauce.

Angry Mac

I’m excited to have the lager house at the Banks, which is also just a few blocks away from my office, and look forward to having lunches and after work happy hours there. Greg Hardman and everyone involved in the project should be extremely proud. I’m also excited to try more of the menu items, though I think a few of them are still finding their legs.

Moerlein Lager House on Urbanspoon