As the local Twitterverse is abuzz with the newest Metromix-Cincy Best Of List, I find myself at the ready to skeptically audit their ever-cloudy review process. If I've learned anything from MetroMix over the past few years, it's to always approach their suggestions with a certain cautious optimism. I must say however, that I feel like Metromix was spot on with this years picks almost across the board- especially with remark to Cincinnati's newest steakhouse- Jimmy G's.
The true success of this new spot located just a couple doors down from Lunar is the nearly impossible blend of mid-century modern with true modern contemporary. It takes the idea behind a steakhouse and re-visits it with with a certain Mad Men aura. And, to Chef Gibson's credit, the whole climate exudes the sense that Don Draper's crew may swing in at any moment, tumblers of scotch and tie bars in hand. Explained to us in terms of the steak (which building a restaurants personality on the cooking process seems to be a damn good place to begin) the open fire and wood-burning grill is meant to emanate something akin to the primal instinct- in a simple cut of meat cooked over glowing wooden embers to medium rare perfection. While it doesn't necessarily reject the current trend of gastrique in the rest of the menu, it finds the "femininization" of pure cuts of meat the downfall of good steakhouses everywhere; that it simply gives into the current trend. Gibson and his compadres didn't miss a beat on the ambiance either, the experience begins to unfold from the lobby. Walking down the grand staircase, a floor to ceiling of the wine cellar meets you- just enough to whet the palate, right before hitting the bar. At the entrance, you are hit with what those pictures your dad showed you of his college internship held- heavy on the mid-grade wood panelling and light on the nonsense. It's a 21st century gentlemen's club- that subtly welcomes you to Madison avenue, by asking you to fix your proverbial tie and sit up straight.
As anyone of Chef Jimmy's caliber and tenure in the city of Cincinnati knows, we Cincinnatian's are big fans of a good drink, and even bigger fan's of a good place to go for that drink (hat tip German Heritage). With a bar that may have been plucked right out of modern day SoHo, the wall of liquor abutting the unfettered concrete of the street side wall makes for a great place to hang your hat and wait for a table.
In the dining room you see no mistake in the obvious mid-century vibe, and make sure you catch the shag carpets in the lounge behind the bars too, to gather the full effect.
And, believe it or not, this place makes some killer food too.
I have to give a warm thank you to our waiter as well, Greg Lavender, the head server for the renowned Chef Gibson. Hailing from a number of years at the classic Cincinnati go-to The Precinct, Lavender wanted a change in scenery and pace, and wanted to challenge himself not only as a foodie but as a restauranteur. After looking over an extensive wine menu ranging from $30-$600/bottle we settled on a wonderful pinot noir, Jargon (we would continue to "settle" for this again and again) that was perfectly oaky and makes a great accompaniment to any of their fine dry-aged steaks.
Going to a steakhouse, we of course decided to skip ordering any kind of steak. Instead of hitting the town with 12 oz of medium rare beef sitting in our stomachs that evening, my two fellow diners and I decided to make a tapas-like spread out of it. By this time, I'd yet to hear anything about Jimmy G's that failed to incorporate an endorsement of the Raclette- something I'd never had the pleasure of enjoying that threw me into a nostalgia for the ski slopes (or even just a little-bit-colder-than-55-degrees-in-January Cincinnati weather we've all come to know and love). As explained to us, this is a classic after-slopes meal grown from the heart of the Swiss Alps. Basically, a board covered in potatoes and a baguette run underneath of a slab of the eponymous Raclette cheese left to warm by a fireplace all day tended by someone resembling Ursula Andress. This cheesy delight was truly phenomenal. With liberal portions of cheese and lightly roasted potatoes, it was a hearty starter that left nothing to be desired.
We also enjoyed the edamame hummus and pita- bringing a wonderful bite of wasabi to the hummus helped to knock a normally humdrum appetizer out of the park. Along with this, we also tried some of the garlic mashed potatoes that would have paired perfectly with a steak that none of us ordered. The lack of protein at our quick meal was meant more to be an impetus to come back- I mean how can you go to a steakhouse and not try the signature cut?
Luckily, an influential Cincinnati doctor and powerful one-percenter was on our heels. Having eaten at many of the finer (or what used to be before all of this class-warfare nonsense) steak joints in the city, he gave the Filet of Ribeye an "I'll be back". Quantifying this is difficult, but basically its like a one-and-a-half thumbs up from someone with incredibly discriminating taste for the exquisite. At a later point, the word "fair" was thrown in the mix- but this is of course a man of incredibly discerning tastes.
Overall, splitting the bill among the three of us left the damage at just around $50 apiece: 3 bottles of wine, 3 appetizers and the "Chefs Whimsy," the gribbles. Desert was something we decided to sidestep for another bottle of the Jargon, but their will be an addendum post for both the steak and desert from this wonderfully 50s-chic restaurant. Stop in and ask our friend Greg about the inspiration behind the restaurant- because he sure sold us.