Review: Honey

Northside is growing as a hub for innovative, interesting food.  You have (in no particular order) Melt, The Hideaway, Slim’s, Take the Cake, and, of course, Honey, which occupies Boca’s original location on Hamilton Avenue.  Some friends of ours  (Teresa and David) wanted to go out to dinner, and wanted me to suggest the place.  Ever so thoughtful, they said we should try something I hadn’t written about– so I chose Honey.  I last ate there in November of 2007, for my birthday, and was very impressed.  I figured that it would be great– so no one would be disappointed.

Honey is a restaurant that seems to belong in some city that is known to be much hipper than Cincinnati usually is thought of being.  It’s very clean and spare in its decor, and its food is just a little adventurous.  They don’t take reservations, but feature a nice bar with some great cocktails– great dirty martinis and ginger martinis.  On a Saturday night, we had about a 45-minute wait, during which we (a party of four) drank cocktails and perused the menu.  One of the members of the party doesn’t drink alcohol, and was impressed by the variety of sodas, juices and other non-alcoholic beverages available.  Though many restaurants take into account low carb or vegetarian lifestyles, not many consider those who don’t drink.  We were seated nearby the kitchen door, which most people would find to be a bad location– not us!  It ended up with perfect lighting to show off their food in pictures.  Little did they know!
Honey
As we had four people (normally, it’s only two), we had a chance to sample a far greater number of dishes than we normally do.  We started with a first course of three appetizers:  Honey’s famous fries, polenta, and crabcakes.  Honey is known for its fries– made of Yukon, Sweet and Idaho potatoes, served with a chili-lime honey.  I love perfectly prepared frites (which these were), and I particularly like sweet potato fries, so this was a great combination, complemented nicely by the warm, sweet yet spicy chili-lime honey.  I could probably make a meal out of the fries alone.  The polenta was pan-fried, and topped with caramelized onions, smoked mozzarella and roasted garlic and garnished with balsamic reduction and infused olive oil.  It was crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside, and complemented wiht some of my favorite flavors.  It was beautifully composed and quite tasty.  The crabcakes were also good, garnished with part of an artichoke, caper berries, and an eggplant, with plenty of crab.  The first course was a home-run.  Could they continue through the rest of the meal?
Honey

Honey
We ordered four different entrees:  scallops and pork belly, a Honey burger, meatloaf, and ravioli.  The scallops and pork belly were my favorite– perfectly braised pork belly and perfectly cooked scallops on top of a sweet potato puree, with a sweet tasso ham reduction tying it all together.  The Honey burger, perfectly cooked-to-order, on a fresh bun, was moist and juicy, topped with fresh toppings (including guacamole!) and accompanied by more of those great Honey fries. Meatloaf was inventive– moist, with tasso ham reduction like the scallops, peppery mashed potatoes and an assortment of vegetables.  The four of us barely spoke, our meals were so good– except to offer each other forkfuls to try.
Honey
Honey
Honey

The waiter then came by with dessert menus.  I doubt any of us would normally get dessert and an appetizer, but the desserts all sounded so good, we could barely decide what to get.  We settled on bread pudding, chocolate cake and a lemon pound cake.   The bread pudding was rich with raisins and a sweet rum sauce, and would normally have been the star of the show… except that we had the other two desserts, which were even better.  The lemon pound cake had a great, crumbly crust and dense crumb, and was set atop some lemony creme anglaise with blueberries.  The chocolate cake was  the star of the show, flourless and dense, with an unanticipated accompaniment: concord grape sorbet.  It was similar to pairing chocolate with good port, the richness of the cake was cut by the slight tartness of the sorbet.
Honey

Honey

In all?  Not a single disappointment in the entire meal.  Honey is a place I’d like to go back to more often– this is a hidden jewel in Cincinnati.  Now, if only they’d accept reservations!

Honey on Urbanspoon

  • http://www.vandeneynden.biz Rose

    Sounds like a place I need to try. YUM!

  • akadjian

    Pictures are making me hungry!

    And yes, Honey is excellent. They also have a good brunch on Sunday from 11-2 pm.

    Also, Hideaway is now serving brunch during the same hours. Found out about this recently and it is also quite good.

    I mention this because the one thing the Northside/Clifton area seems to be missing is a good breakfast joint. For good diner greasy spoon food, there’s the Bluejay, but they’re not open on Sundays.

    If anyone has any suggestions, I’d be interested.

    Thx for the Northside short out, Julie!

  • http://getinmahbelly.blogspot.com liz

    yay, i <3 honey!

  • CChrisB

    “Honey is a restaurant that seems to belong in some city that is known to be much hipper than Cincinnati usually is thought of being.” – Very true, and isn’t amusing how often this sort of statement comes up? I’ve also heard people say similar things about Slims, Cumin, Twist, and several other Cincinnati spots. Maybe we’re hipper than we realize!

  • g

    love the reviews, but would also like to know a price range for some of the places you review. makes it easier to know if i would even attemp a spot :)

  • http://winemedinemecincinnati.com julie

    G– Honey ranges about $25 per entree, $8-10 for an appetizer, $7 or so for dessert.

  • http://blondacrossthepond.com Denae

    I like to judge a place by variety and unique ideas for food and drinks. The Ginger Martini (Yum! Did you try one?) and the Lemon Pound Cake sound stellar.

  • vudutu

    Glad to hear you liked it! We like Honey a lot and usually eat at the bar, we tend to places where we can, this way we can sample the wines, meet new people and beside your server is wine list savvy and close by! Julie, g had a good suggestion, perhaps you should think about adding a price gauge and category to your reviews so people could seek a place by cost.

  • http://whatiwore2day.blogspot.com Kasmira

    I also enjoyed the honey fries and honey burger!

  • http://spotoft.com Teresa Lea

    oh lord the fries…

    I have had sweet potato fries before, but these were completely different. And the sweet n spicy HONEY!

    yummmm

    btw – those pics really turned out great

  • http://www.foodiewannabes.blogspot.com k

    i have almost that exact same shot of the honey fries in my review – cause they’re amazing!

    all your photos are great and are making me HUNGRY!

  • http://www.esrati.com David Esrati

    The burger was great- and I think it was less than $12. So you can eat on the cheap.
    Between Slims and Honey- you can’t go wrong in Northside.

  • http://gourmetorgourmand.blogspot.com Lesley

    Honey is in the spot Boca used to be in for years. When the guy who owns Boca was leaving Northside for Oakley, he told me and my husband he felt like he was “graduating from high school”. That comment turned me off completely, because Northside had been good to him, and people were traveling to see him there.
    Well, I’m glad Honey opened there, because they got a lot of his clientele and the restaurant is ALWAYS fantastic. I’ve never had a bad meal there. And it’s much more affordable than the “new and improved” Oakley Boca.