This is a recurring series of posts based on new products we find in the marketplace that are fun, different and FLAVORFUL!
It is no surprise that restaurants and bars have been one of the industries that have taken the largest hit during this unusual time of COVID-19. We know owners have had to innovate and pivot their selling strategies in order to stay afloat when they were told, in most states, they cannot have customers inside their buildings. Reinventing takeout is not easy, especially for craft cocktail bars or fine dining restaurants. I was delighted to see restaurants and bars across the United States prove that they were up to the challenge.
I wanted to highlight some Flavorful Finds in flavorful Cincinnati. Read more about the DIY lemon ricotta pancakes and the ready-to-drink margarita I devoured, as well as the cookie dough that never made its way to the oven.
Tacos Tuesday or Tequila Tuesdays have not felt the same during social distancing, I have been missing my favorite Mexican restaurants during this time. In fact, a study by Datassentials during this time of COVID-19 says Mexican is the #1 food type that people crave/miss from restaurants. Trying to replicate a similar experience, I tried Condado Tacos. First, because their tacos looked fantastic. AND, most importantly, I could order a blood orange margarita to-go, not just a regular lime margarita I could make at home. I, for one, am loving living in a world where to-go cocktails are socially acceptable.
I want to note here: takeout can be very difficult to execute, especially for consumers like me that have a long drive back to their homes. However, everything from Condado exceeded my expectations. We devoured the tacos, one of the standouts was the Bubba Kush taco, crafted with jackfruit BBQ flavors married with the tender and succulent pulled pork, crisp texture of jicama, and then topped with the delectable salsa. I am always curious to explore the vegetarian offerings, theirs was called The Dutch Dragon. Created with portobellos, coleslaw, pickled jalapenos, and two different salsas, you cannot go wrong with portobellos and salsa.
The dip trio validated my opinion that you can never have enough dips. I ordered the pico de guaco, not only does it have a clever name, it was perfectly balanced guacamole and pico dip. Followed by the queso elotes – I LOVE queso but mixed with some Mexican style street corn, oh my gosh, you will never go back to plain queso dip. Last, was the pineapple salsa, it was so refreshing and light that I could not stop eating! Finish all of that with a blood orange margarita, and you have yourself a fantastic Tequila Taco Tuesday.
Crown Republic Gastropub
Crown Republic Gastropub was one of the restaurants our team visited a year ago and loved the natural and fresh ingredients coming to life in unique ways. I ordered one of the new takeout quarantine menu items: the Shawarma spice chicken with Kushari-style rice and some Toum sauce. Toum sauce is a heavenly Lebanese garlic sauce made with garlic and oil, commonly served with grilled chicken, Shawarma, or Shish Tawook. Let me just tell you – it was so nice to have a gourmet dish while social distancing. I had been missing trying new dishes, like this Shawarma chicken with Toum sauce, it gave me the fix I needed.
To balance out my meal, I also ordered their cookie dough. They instruct you to bake the cookies at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes. I am embarrassed to admit that the pint of dough didn’t make it in the oven… but it was delicious and I am sure it would be just as good baked!
As our team keeps researching COVID’s impact on foodservice, we have been listening in to Datassentials’ webinars. In one of their first, they mentioned restaurants that have done a great job tailoring their takeout products to consumer demands. One of Cincinnati’s finest, Sacred Beast, was featured on the webinar. This family-owned restaurant started offering something called a “Beast Kit” which is really just chicken, rice, and beans with some delicious toppings (such as their pico de gallo, yum).
They also started functioning as a bodega, selling groceries such as toilet paper, eggs, or even a bottle of wine!
My favorite offering was the DIY lemon ricotta pancakes. My three-year-old actually helped me make these, and we loved them. What I liked about this wasn’t just the fantastic citrus paired with ricotta – it was that this is something I probably never would have made at home. However, Sacred Beast made it so easy for me to make these at home! So much so that I feel confident to replicate in the future (I don’t know if they would be as good, but I can try).
Restaurants and bar owners reinvented takeout and found ways to execute creative offerings for consumers. (They’re still doing it too!) Incredible results included fine-dining restaurants exploring what ‘to-go’ could mean for them, more DIY kits (for those with time and the desire to learn a new skill), as well as bartenders finding ways to create a well-balanced cocktail for you to enjoy from the comfort of your couch.
In a time where we all have been searching for moments of happiness in our days, as silly as it may sound, I believe food and beverage can do that for each of us. I know a crafted cocktail or a nostalgic and flavorful dish like carne asada tacos or chicken tikka masala bring a little joy and comfort into my day.
Check back in next month as we explore the latest Flavorful Finds to spruce up your ice cream sundae bar!