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a tall building in a city

We live on Pleasant Street and our goal is to try all the restaurants in Over the Rhine.  With an ever changing array of restaurants, it’s a lofty goal. But owning a food tour business does give us a jump start.

One restaurant that has stood the test of time is the Symphony Restaurant which has been serving diners for over 23 years. Situated on 14th Street, it is directly across from Music Hall. The restaurant features 3 or 5 course pre-concert dinners by reservation 2 hours prior to the concerts and shows.  After the concert begins or on alternate  nights, there are ala carte menus to order from.

We chose to dine early on a Thursday evening with friends.  We were pleased to be entertained with music from a jazz trio.  The music was relaxing and enjoyable and not so loud as to interrupt our conversation. Our server was helpful in answering all our questions and sharing his recommendations.  The room we dined in had rich aubergine walls, large paintings, high ceilings and an eclectic feel.  There is a bar too which offers a nice array of cocktails, wine and beer.

Since our goal was to sample the smaller bites, we ordered from the Overture Appetizers rather than the Course Menu.  We begun the evening with a glass of wine followed by the Almond Crusted Baked Brie, topped with apricot preserves with sliced Granny Smith Apples and olive oil crostini.  It was a delicious appetizer to share.

Staying true to tradition, my husband ordered his usual burger – the Symphony Burger; a mix of prime chuck, brisket, and short rib, topped with caramelized onion, smoked gouda, & barbecue sauce.  He was happy.

I opted for the fried green tomatoes topped with goat cheese and a wonderful creamy pesto sauce.  It was beautifully plated and I enjoyed every bite!

My vegetarian friend choose the squash blossoms stuffed with goat cheese and gouda, over a roasted cauliflower hash with red beans and rice.  It was an ample serving, so she enjoyed it for lunch the next day!

Her husband choose the Amish chicken. We were all very impressed with the level of freshness and presentation. The food looked like it was ready for a photo shoot!

I recommend the Symphony restaurant for a number of reasons,  First is the food.  We all felt is was fine dining for a fair price.  The dishes were beautiful and well executed.

Second, the drinks and cocktails were varied and affordable.

Third, the noise level is perfect. So many restaurants have the background music so loud, you have to shout to be heard.  Enjoying dinner and enjoying live music by talented musicians is an added bonus.

Fourth is the atmosphere.  A dinner out should be an experience.  I felt like I had stepped back in time to a quieter, less hurried world.  The furnishings weren’t the cookie cutter industrial chic exposed brick that every other restaurant in Over the Rhine is known for.

Fifth is the service. After we finished, one of the staff mentioned the upstairs deck and offered to give us a tour.  We even got to see one of the guest rooms.

The hotel is owned by Karen Blatt, who graduated from DAAP with a degree in design.  In keeping with the musical theme of the hotel, Karen decorated each room in a different style and named each after a classical composer.  It is evident from the moment you approach the 1871 historic exterior that this is a boutique hotel. When you step inside, you feel as though you are transported back to the 19th century.

Karen was one of the early entrepreneurs opening up a hotel in Over the Rhine. 20 years ago it was a neighborhood in transition.  But one by one each dilapidated and neglected building is being restored to it’s original glory. It is an exciting time to be living in Over the Rhine.

This is now becoming a desired neighborhood with a beautifully renovated 8 acre park bordering Music Hall, a national landmark.  Plus with the creation of the Cincinnati Streetcar, the neighborhood is accessible from the northern or southern tip of the city.  It is home to locally owned businesses of every kind from shops to bars to wineries to theaters to markets.  It has more restored Italianate buildings than any other city in the country.

“Experiences” are the hottest selling item nowadays. If you want to experience a dinner or a short stay in a restored German neighborhood brimming with things to do, take a look at the Symphony Hotel and Restaurant.

Symphony Hotel and Restaurant

210 W 14th St, Cincinnati, OH 45202

(513) 721-3353

Live Jazz  Thurs. Fri. Sat. evenings

~Laura Noyes, July 2019