For the longest time, the space across from the Aronoff Center for the Arts has been a black hole in the slow developing “Backstage District”. So, I was excited to hear the news of the 21c Museum Hotel coming to the old Metropole building. I have stayed in the 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville and a hotel like this is a tremendous addition to Cincinnati.
Along with the hotel is the new Metropole on Walnut run by Chef Michael Paley coming from the successful Proof on Main in Louisville. Last night a group of friends and I had dinner there. The space is attractively designed with large plastic penguins spread out through the restaurant. The restaurant had a very trendy vibe with an attractive clientele. It seems like it will be a place to see and be seen.
The dinner menu is quite small with five appetizers and six entrees. I started my meal with the Seared Octopus appetizer- $12.00. It was small with a few small pieces of baby octopus that really weren’t seared. The flavor was ok, but I was a little surprised by the paucity of octopus. One of my favorite dishes in Cincinnati is the octopus at Abigail Street which is only $3.00 more, but a thousand times better. One of my friends tried the Charcuterie Bar with the 7 hour egg, hot olives, and a cheese. The 7 hour egg is prepared in a way that is supposed to be very creamy inside. What I saw and tasted was a hard boiled egg. If no one had told me that it was specially prepared, I don’t think I would have really noticed anything special about the egg. The hot olives were standard, nothing special.
For my entree, I had the Metropole Burger- $13.00. The best thing about the Metropole burger was that it was large. It was supposed to have a Bacon Apple Jam on it, but if it was there, it didn’t add any flavor. The burger was topped with a charred tomato and some cheese and tasted very basic. The fries were fine, but very ordinary in a McDonald’s type of way.
My friends had the Pan-Seared Walleye- $27.00, Shelton Farm Pork Confit- $27.00. The Shelton Farm Pork Confit had a nice flavor, but it was the size of two Jimmy Dean sausage patties. My friend who had the Pan-Seared Walleye said it was nothing special and that he would have rather have had the burger since it looked like it was more food.
We thought about trying dessert, but my friends felt that a trip to Graeter’s would provide a better value and more satisfying end to the evening.
I really wanted to like the Metropole. It is a beautiful place, but the food was very ordinary and certainly not worth the price that was charged. I don’t have a problem with expensive entrees, but at least the perception of value needs to be there. As it was, our party left still feeling hungry and feeling a little ripped off.
I have been to Proof on Main in Louisville. We attended a wedding catered by the restaurant and also had brunch there the next morning and we thought the food tasted good. So, I am a little surprised at how ordinary the food tasted at Metropole. Perhaps things will improve over time, but as it stands now, I don’t think I’ll be back. The nice thing about the resurgence of Downtown Cincinnati is that there are many more restaurant choices to choose from and some very quality restaurants to enjoy.