Review: Bouquet

Covington has such an abundance of adorable, quirky, unique dining experiences. As many of them have gone smoke-free, The Better Half and I are making a point to visit more of them.  One night, we noticed that Bouquet had openings for the time we wanted to eat– all the better– so we made a quick OpenTable reservation and headed to Covington.

The Mainstrasse area of Covington is particularly beautiful, with old-world, European-style charm and just a hint of quirkiness.  There are tattoo parlors near bridal stores, motorcycle bars aroudn the corner from wine bars.  Bouquet is, of course, the wine bar.  The interior of Bouquet is like someone’s very nice, well-appointed living room, with lots of warm colors and a large wood bar.  On the right, you can see their many accolades from   Wine Enthusiast Magazine, and the bar was comfortably busy.  We got a table near the bar.

As Bouquet is a wine bar, we took a peek at the wines by the glass.  They have a pretty expansive selection, and the server assured us that the by-the-glass selection “wasn’t your typical house wine”.  We were trying to be “good” on our diet (which, as you’ll see, kind of went to pieces by the end of the meal), but I had to give in and get a glass of a an Argentinian Malbec, “The Show” from Mendoza.  Nice– and a generous pour.

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We decided on an appetizer, and we each got soup and salad.  The appetizer we chose were the scallops, two perfectly seared, plump specimens on a bed of butternut squash puree, scented with cinnamon and cloves.  There’s nothing better, to me, than a perfectly cooked scallop, and this qualified.

tomato soup, bouquetNext up: soup and salad.  There were two soups that day, and we ordered one of each:  first, tomato bisque, which was rich and creamy and completely unlike the tomato soup of childhood (and that’s not a bad thing).  It was absolutely smooth, and had the bright tomato flavor of the San Marzanos the server said the soup was made of.  I’m telling you, canned San Marzanos can almost get me through to tomato season. Almost.   The second soup was cream of mushroom (cream soups– I told you we didn’t do so well), cut with a heavy dose of sherry.  Cream of Mushroom soup really needs sherry or something else to cut the creaminess that can be nearly overwhelming.  We couldn’t decide which soup was better, but in hindsight, it was probably the Cream of Mushroom (by a slim margin, and probably because of the sherry).
mushroom soup, bouquet

Our salads were equally impressive.  I went with a bibb salad, with tender bibb lettuce, pineapple, cornbread croutons, red onion and yuzu-cardamom vinaigrette.  I was concerned that the cardamom would be overpowering, but it was very subtle, and the whole salad was very light and refreshing– a contrast to the heavier soups.  I really liked the cornbread croutons– they were much lighter than I expected, and not sweet at all.
cornbread salad, bouquet

The Better Half went for the beet salad.  He’s gotten very much into beets lately, and was very pleased with this dish.  It was gorgeously plated– small piles of roasted beats, the plate artfully smeared with tarragon creme fraiche, and the whole plate drizzled with honey.  It reminded me of an artist’s palette– very pretty.   The portion size just right for the light meal we had intended.
beet salad, bouquet
Then, the server tempted us with dessert.  We weren’t originally going to have it (we were being “good”), but we caved.  What can I say? We’re suckers for just the sound of croissant bread pudding, and this one was certainly worth however many calories we consumed.  It was layered, but light, and topped with a homemade caramel ice cream.

I’d love to go back for a full dinner, but you know? Sometimes a light dinner is just what you need.  There are a ton of options– many vegetarian, and much of it is sourced locally (and they acknowledge purveyors on their menu).  It’s a great date night pick.

croissant bread pudding, bouquet

Bouquet on Urbanspoon

  • marlatiara

    @winemedineme OMG. I’m drooling over all that. Especially the dessert.

    • http://twitoaster.com/country-us/winemedineme/ winemedineme

      @marlatiara and they sub tofu for any protein.

      • marlatiara

        @winemedineme Must. Visit. Julie. Now.

  • http://cincybibliophile.blogspot.com/ Josh O.

    Bouquet is actually the first restaurant I ever visited in the greater Cincinnati area. We stopped there for a friend of the fiancee’s birthday during a weekend trip. Who would have thought I’d be moving here the next year? I haven’t gone back for some reason, though. I remember having the scallops, which were delicious. I’ll have to make a trip over the river sometime.

  • Lauren

    My better half and I LOVE Bouquet! We’ve been there 2 times in the past month. So glad you tried the bread pudding…isn’t it to die for? You should definitely try some of their entrees the next time you go (and I’m going to try the beet salad, it looks delicious!). You can’t go wrong at Bouquet. :)

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  • Fish

    Bouquet is slowly becoming a top ten restaurant in Cincinnati. Look for it in the cincinnati magazine restaurant issue.

  • Daniele

    I got engaged on the back patio of Bouquet because it was where we had our first date — Stephen, the chef, made us a six-course dinner, and I was pretty much in heaven. I love this place. The food never disappoints and the staff is always so great. If you like salmon, definitely try it next time. It’s delicious.

  • jamie

    I like Bouquet. Nicole has exquisite taste in wine. Stephen is a very nice person and good chef and he always has scallops!! Staff and ambience are great. After Nuvo closed it became the next best choice. Glad we have them. Thanks for the great wine, food and service

  • http://flourpowerz.blogspot.com becky

    I love bouquet! It was just nice and comfortable. I had some amazing steak there with a chorizo hash. Mmmm…