Brunch Out @ forkheartknife

If you're digging the growing number of laid back restaurants around town where the people who work their actually appear to be happy and enjoying themselves, and the vibe is decidedly unpretentious, then the new restaurant forkheartknife (and a blog) will be added to your list of favorites quite quickly.  Soapbox did a piece on them the other day that covers many of the details of the opening, so we'll just focus on our experience at brunch.

The Food:  The menu was short enough and we were intrigued enough that we ordered one of everything.  While waiting for a friend to arrive, we sampled one of the muffins, and while I couldn't help but think of Betty White on SNL, it was full of raisin-y, walnut-y goodness.  The fruit gazpacho and lemon bread pudding with raspberry sauce came first.  We thought the gazpacho was a fun idea to put a twist on the typical fruit cup, and while I feared it might be syrupy, it was simple and tasty.  As for the bread pudding, I always hesitate on this order because often it is too sweet - but theirs combined just a bit of tart with a smooth, not too rich custard to come out very well.  And the bread part has that chewy/crunchy edge that makes stuffing on Thanksgiving so good.  A winner, especially for those with a sweet tooth in the morning.

Next came the frittatas - bacon and collards in one and red pepper and collards in the other, both with a bit of parmesan sprinkled on top.  Both had a nice flavor, and my only feedback would be that I usually like my frittatas a bit fluffier and a little saltier.  We also had a bowl of the whole new potatoes.  Topped with a unique mixture of chimichurri and red pepper romesco, the combined flavors continued the slight smokiness that began for me with the bacon frittata.  They were like no other breakfast/brunch potatoes I've ever had, and my taste buds were happily curious.  Check out some photos of all the food below in the slideshow.

The Ingredients:  There's no mention on the menu of any local, organic, or other notable ingredients.  And I didn't bug them about it today since they're just getting going.  But, I do hope they'll list their sources as they hit their stride, and I did overhear them talking about buying local produce and looking for a place downtown that is interested in their compost, so it's clearly on their mind.

The Story, Setting, & Service:  I should say from the start that one of the 2 folks who opened this restaurant is a long time Cincinnati-style connection.  You know, the people you know a bit, and see around consistently, and have multiple friends in common?  Six degrees of separation - more like 3 inside the city.  So, full disclosure, while I'm always hopeful people will succeed and be fruitful - I have an added incentive on this one.

As I mentioned at the top, forkheartknife just feels good - they've done a great job with making sure small feels cozy, not cramped.  There are also a bunch of nice personal touches that make it unique - a school style clock with "Cincinnati" written in a cool font (which does not yet tell time/operate), Timmy-built benches and tables, and more.  The menu is written on brown butcher paper that is rolled down on the wall - very cool.  Also, the Counting Crows on the radio really made it clear this was my generation's kind of place.

The place is so small that "service" means looking up at the kitchen area and waiting for all of 5-10 seconds until someone locks eyes with you.  Food came quickly and without hassle.  They've got a drink set up where you can serve yourself water and coffee, which works out nicely.

At this point, one basic question that you probably need answered - when is forkheartknife open?  Right now, the best way to know is by following them on Twitter, checking their Facebook status, or eyeing the window of the storefront for a sign.  As they get settled in, I'm hoping to able to walk over for some of the delicious looking lunch sandwiches that Sierra has been posting about on her blog.  Oh, and no credit cards yet if you go - just cash.

I'm excited and hopeful that this will become a consistent lunch option by week and brunch option by weekend, and of course we'd come through for dinner as well.  There are, I'm sure, kinks to be worked out in these opening weeks, but from the outside it looks like they're off to a great start.

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