We tried and we tried to go to Take the Cake - way too many months went by before we got there. Somehow, every time we'd make an attempt they were closed. But alas, we've been doing our best to make up for lost time - this place is fantastic! They're another Twitter success story, and have earned their popularity with consistently delicious food.
I've been really digging cous cous (shout out to Courtney at Epiventures for the suggestion of mograbiyeh at Dean's at Findlay) - so was happy to see this salad get set down in front of me with some pearly goodness on top. This salad was piled with capers, eggplant, cauliflower, tomato, cucumber, olives, micro/greens, onions, roasted garlic, and a dollop of some creamy goodness with sour cream, lemon, and tahini. It was the best I've had in a quite a while - it really hit the spot.
The brocolli bacon cheddar quiche's most notable quality just might be its flaky, salty, buttery crust. Sometimes I debate eating crust, in this case I'd almost order it by itself. The filling is substantial but light, and was well balanced. The dish also came with a small side salad - pretty straight forward.
Lastly, we had mushroom soup (basic buttons), micro greens on top, and cooked, chopped onions. It probably could have used a pinch of salt, but it was simple and savory.
Oh, and now to post about the first food that we did not eat. Yes, we missed out on the last eclair. I went up to order it and another Northsider has already reserved the final one. Note: put your name on one of these delectable desserts when you order, not at the end when you pay! Look out for a forthcoming post on the eclair, which really does deserve a post in and of itself.
The Ingredients: They don't say anything about their ingredients on the menu, but I do know from talking to folks who work there (who also happen to be neighbors) that they pay attention to where their food is coming from. I know, that's pretty vague - I will get more details on the next post, promise.
The Story, Setting, & Service: The first thing that hits you as you walk in the door is a mix of great smells. That's always a welcome beginning to any culinary experience. The people are so nice at Take the Cake, and the whole vibe is great. Simple decor - concrete floors, and eclectic artwork on the walls. I loved driving by when it was a bit colder out and seeing the steam in the front window - it looked just as cozy from the outside and it is when you're in.
With an open kitchen, if you sit at the bar, you end up watching people mixing different color fondant for a cake or making beautiful tarts. They got slammed when we were in and handled it very gracefully. With the prevalence of Gordon Ramsey and all the restaurant haters out there, you get the idea that all restaurant staff are constantly going crazy and yelling and out of control. You don't have any of that at Take the Cake. If they weren't so busy and I didn't feel bad about taking a seat, I could really just sit and watch the kitchen, the other customers, and the dance that is a small, local restaurant - very cool.
Get there early, they were darn near sold out at lunch on Friday by 1:30. Also, prepare yourself for classic Cincinnati - I knew half the people in line when we went, and that seems to be the norm. Particularly if you're a Northside resident, you should expect to say hi to some neighbors.
At Take the Cake, you eat healthy and feel good about it. The portions fill you up, but don't weigh you down. Now, if you lose control and go for pastries afterward, you can't blame it on them :). We hope to be regulars for a long time to come.