Smashburger + Christian Moerlein: The Best of Beer and Burgers

The SmashBurger Classic Chicken paired with Christian Moerlein's Barbarossa Dark Lager by Caroline Wik.

In general, it’s our policy to not review big national chains.

After all with most chains, maybe excluding service, what you get in one should be nearly identical to what you get at another. Not much point in reviewing that. On top of that – we love Cincinnati (and surrounding areas) so we want to highlight all the things that make this place special, not the things you can get anywhere.

It’s for that reason that we really, really appreciate when a big chain gets serious about localizing their offerings to make them unique and special to the area. That’s where Smashburger and Christian Moerlein come in.




An Introduction to the Lotus: Popped Lotus Seeds

Pan-fried popped lotus seeds by Caroline Wik

Lotus root isn’t exactly a really common food here in the States, much less the seeds of the lotus plant. This is a shame as both are really tasty – and so we’d like to change that.

Eaten both raw and cooked in everything from salads to main entrees to desserts, lotus root and seeds are common in East Asian cuisines, but can also be found in other parts of the world (as far away as Columbia!) In particular the seeds are a delicious snack and addition to foods. Not to mention, the flower itself is absolutely gorgeous.




Purple Rice: Truth, Lies and a Recipe

One Clean Plate - Purple Rice - Caroline Wik

One of our favorite parts of eating at Korean restaurants is the purple rice (sometimes called black rice) – it’s colorful and elevates an often overlooked accompaniment to the forefront. What exactly makes this side dish purple is sometimes a point of contention between diners – we’ve heard everything from beans to squid ink being used to make the rice purple. Since we have a unique point of view we thought we’d not only sort this debate out but also teach people how to make this side dish at home.

The two main and most plausible-sounding reasons are that white rice is mixed with either beans or a black type of rice – the bean and other rice are what colors the water which is then soaked up by the white rice, which takes on its hue.




Announcing the Winner of the Mikesell’s Contest

One Clean Plate - Mikesell's Product Launch Sour Cream and Onion Kettle Cooked Chips, Jamaican Jerk Kettle Cooked Chips and Cinnamon Toast Puffcorn Delights by Caroline Wik

We’d like to thank everyone who entered the contest on our website, Twitter and Facebook page! Unfortunately only one person could win the three-month supply of snacks by Mikesell’s and four tickets to the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens. Rather than just pick someone at random, we decided to make it a bit more interesting.

We attached the names of the contestants to tennis balls and put them all in a box, then tossed them and allowed our tennis-ball-obsessed dog decide the winner.




11 Cincinnati Foods That Are Actually Better Than Yours

Cincinnati Skyline by Frank Pierson

In case you haven’t heard, there is an article posted on Buzzfeed yesterday that’s making waves around the Internet: 11 Cincinnati foods that are better than yours. Of course, it’s just one person’s opinion and they are entitled to that opinion, but we here at One Clean Plate think this list leaves much to be desired and ignores many of the greatest small restaurants and artisan shops Cincinnati has to offer in favor of the big well-known brands.

So, here we offer up our list of 11 Cincinnati foods that are actually better than everywhere else.




Busken’s Lite-Hearted Donut: The Latest in Cheeky Sweets

One Clean Plate - Busken Bakery - Lite-Hearted Donut by Caroline Wik

Did you know Busken makes more than those smiley-face cookies?

Indeed, it’s true. Although they are most known for the cookies and cheeky-billboard advertisements Busken makes lots of other baked goodies – including donuts. And now, they’re making a special donut just for the calorie-counters out there. Because who doesn’t want something sweet every so often while dieting?

Cheekily-named the Lite-Hearted Donut, the new low-calorie pastry is a heart-shaped glazed donut with only 140 calories, 2.5 grams fat, and no trans-fat or saturated fat. For reference, a normal glazed donut from Busken is 300 calories and 16 grams fat which makes the Lite-Hearted donut just a bit less than half the calories.




Seasons 52: A Promising New Restaurant Opening in Rookwood

One Clean Plate - Seasons 52 - Wine Glass by Caroline Wik

The restaurant scene in Greater Cincinnati has been making an exciting comeback in recent years offering a wide range of dining experiences, along with a not-quite-as-strong but still respectable push for local, sustainable agriculture. We here at One Clean Plate love both – especially when the two come together. While we prefer to focus most of our attention on locally-based businesses and food issues, every once in a while a large chain catches our attention. One such chain generously offered us a chance to visit their latest addition for a tour and sampling of the food with the promise of healthy, seasonal food. Intrigued, we had to check it out.

Seasons 52, which opens its first Ohio location on February 4th in Rookwood Exchange, is a grill and wine bar offering ’seasonally inspired flavors’ modern American fare. The menu changes four times a year to focus on what is in season, and also features lots of organic produce – although unfortunately not local. Darden Restaurants which owns Seasons 52 recruited award-winning Chef Clifford Pleau to be their Senior Director of Culinary where he has crafted the menu with an eye toward fresh, in-season ingredients prepared in a simple and elegant way to showcase their natural flavors. Along with the focus on ingredients is also a focus on utilizing natural cooking methods such as wood-fire grills and brick-ovens. To top it off, all items on the menu are 475 calories or less.




Best Of: Korean Restaurants in Greater Cincinnati

One Clean Plate - Riverside Korean Restaurant - Entrance by Caroline Wik

Finding authentic cuisine from another country can be a challenge no matter where you are. Cincinnati luckily has a fair amount of diversity among restaurants, which gets even broader when you expand your scope to include the Greater Cincinnati region. Sometimes though, you just want the best of a certain type of cuisine – and helping you with that is the task we’ve given ourselves. This week’s challenge: Korean.

Finding authentic Korean cuisine can be a lot like trying to find authentic Chinese – often places serve dishes that have been over-sweetened or altered to fit “American tastes.” However, authentic Korean can be found with some research – not only in Downtown but even in the suburbs. Keep reading to find our list of the best authentic (or near-authentic) Korean restaurants in Downtown Cincinnati, south of the river and up in suburbia.




Celebrate Bockfest in Over-The-Rhine

Are you ready for Cincinnati’s 20th Bockfest? The annual celebration of beer, Over-the-Rhine’s brewing history and spring begins on March 2nd at Arnold’s Bar & Grill with a parade and runs through March 4th. Bockfest features, obviously, lots of beer and food but also includes live entertainment, walking tours and much more.

The parade begins at Cincinnati’s oldest saloon, Arnold’s, at 5:00 p.m. led by a goat pulling a keg of bock beer and the reigning Sausage Queen and ends at Bockfest Hall. Following the parade at Bockfest Hall will be the blessing of the bock beer ceremony and tapping a ceremonial keg.




Spring 2012 Restaurant Week Runs March 12-21

Greater Cincinnati Independent Restaurants Logo

Greater Cincinnati Independent Restaurants Spring Restaurant Week is quickly approaching, running March 12 through March 21, offering an opportunity to support local restaurants and enjoy three-course meals for only $26.12 per person.

Restaurants participating in the GCIR Spring Restaurant Week offer a special prix fixe menu, from which diners can enjoy a three-course meal. Many require reservations, so be sure to reserve a space early.




Green B.E.A.N. Delivery: Organic on Wheels


Green B.E.A.N. Delivery is a service that promises to connect organic and artisan farmers with local consumers, providing them with fresh produce and groceries. It runs year-round, unlike most CSAs and farmers’ markets, is convenient and promises to make local food cheaper and more easily obtained.

So, when Green B.E.A.N. contacted us asking for a review, we were understandably excited. More support for local, sustainable food is great and we happily support it and others who do too. So we signed up for the small produce bin and waited. There are designated delivery days and times for different areas, ours being Tuesday anytime between 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Different types of bins are available, the basic produce bin being a mixture of fruits and vegetables that is available in different sizes. There’s also a “grocery bin” that provides some fruits and vegetables, and then other products you can choose from a list such as meats, bread, jams, etc.