Preview: poco a poco

Little by little, they’re opening…

I love Hyde Park Square– it’s easily in my top five favorite spots in the city. As a little girl, my great aunts lived in A’Laise and took me for ice cream, waved to the firefighters, let me press my nose on the shop windows to look in– very different from the suburban sprawl I grew up in.

So last Saturday, Terry and I wanted to try something new for lunch, so I suggested we wander up to the Square to see what was going on. Hyde Park Blast was this weekend, so I assumed there might be some interesting food. I was right! poco a poco, the new latin/asian concept in the old Red space was open.  They had outdoor seating available, and indoor– but on a hot day like Saturday was, outdoor wasn’t even a consideration.  We made our way into the nearly unrecognizable space:  all of the dark decor had been replaced with bright colors; the red lightbulbs with white, and the windows flung open.  It is a fantastic transformation of the space.

The server came over and explained that they were doing a gradual soft opening– opening for Square events before their grand opening on July 9th, but in the meantime they were offering a limited menu.  She recommended the ceviche as her favorite dish, and took our drink order– I had a poco margarita, and Terry stuck with water.

The margarita was great– and when the owner came around asking us how we liked everything (as they were doing with everyone), I asked what made it a “poco” margarita– he said they made their own sour mix, and added a splash of orange juice.  This was a nice, smooth margarita– great for a hot day.

We started off with some really nice guacamole (well seasoned, not too spicy, but not boring either) and really great, freshly-made chips.  The chips were tossed in a spice mix– hints of red pepper, cumin and salt were most prominent– and they were addictive.

For our entrees, we picked the ceviche (on the server’s recommendation) and the pork shoulder.  The ceviche, a mix of squid and shrimp in lemon, lime, and orange juices, was the best I’ve had in quite a while.  The flavors were bright, the citrus cooling, and the presentation beautiful.  The portion was generous– as it was a “small plate” I figured it would be just a couple of pieces of seafood– but instead, it was an entire pint glass full of the seafood and citrus mixture.  Terry, who had a bad ceviche experience, said it was the best he’d ever had, and kept stealing bites from the pint glass.  That’s always a good sign.

Terry’s pork shoulder was also good– served with grilled tortillas (and they brought more if you needed them), they were spicy and rich, not greasy, with a little bit of chihuaha cheese for creaminess.  I couldn’t put my finger on what the spice profile was– as this is supposed to be Latin with an Asian flair, I’m pretty sure I tasted sriracha mixed in with tomatoes and cumin.  Though it, too, was a small plate, the portion of pork was large and easily split between two people.

There was a table next to us that got the other things on the menu that we didn’t try– chicken and shrimp.  They raved about the shrimp to the owner, who came around to every table asking for suggestions and reactions.  I need to go back and try those shrimp, along with the other menu items they will be introducing on July 9.

In the meantime, catch them while you can– they’ll be open sporadically for the next week.  This is a great addition to Hyde Park Square, and from what I can tell, a great improvement to Red, as the prices are affordable and could be an easy, walkable regular destination for Hyde Park residents.  I know I’ll make a trip up there soon to try out the entire menu, so consider this a preview!

Poco a Poco on Urbanspoon

  • Andrew

    Added to this, the family that owns the Cock & Bull has bought up the old Vineyard space. It’s a big change happening.

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  • Jonni Lynch

    My husband grew up on St. Charles Place (where his mother and father still reside) and walked the square everyday…a MUCH different place in the late 70’s and 80’s. Even had a Kroger. This restaurant sounds like a nice edition—the pictures made me hungry, sitting here at my desk!

  • Craig Hochscheid

    Why oh why can’t we get something like this on the Westside?

    • http://winemedinemecincinnati.com julie

      I don’t know! I think perhaps because the west side can be so sprawling. I’m not sure how a place like this would fit in on Glenway Avenue.

  • rick

    four of us went in there at the Blast as well and came away with a totally different perspective. the only thing they offered was a break from the heat. the waitress didn’t know if they had beers on tap; the guac had a brown tint to it; the place isn’t decorated; the beer cooler looks like tit came from a 7-eleven. we left and went to Arthurs.

    • http://winemedinemecincinnati.com julie

      Our guac wasn’t brown– and we didn’t ask which beers were on draft. That’s what soft openings are for, though– working out the kinks.

  • patrick

    Thanks for the great reaction! One thing is that we open on the 8th!

    • http://winemedinemecincinnati.com julie

      Thanks for the correction. Sorry about that!

  • Maureen Heroux

    Thank Julie, I saw that was open and I def want to try it! Now I can’t wait!