Fine Casual Dining with Cool California Flairhttps://www.chutegerdeman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Maplewood.jpg1440428Chute GerdemanChute Gerdemanhttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/27b8b1d5d4480e694e1d763231b8e868?s=96&d=mm&r=g
Food trends often follow lifestyle trends. Today, everything from business hours to professional attire to dining occasions has shifted towards casual. You can see evidence of this as we look at the continued decline in the fine dining category. Consumers are shifting interest to more casual environments that are relaxed yet elevated—ones that offer creative cuisine at lower prices, just not necessarily white glove service and reservations required. Through the blending fine dining with fast casual elements, this how the fine casual trend has come about.
Recently, I had the pleasure of brunching at Maplewood Kitchen & Bar, a new restaurant concept in Cincinnati, Ohio, that perfectly showcases this burgeoning trend of fine casual. It’s the latest culinary concept from Thunderdome Restaurant Group, who also brought us Bakersfield and The Eagle among others. You’ll find it located downtown on Race, between 5th and 6th, a little out of the way from the hustle and bustle of Over-the-Rhine.
It’s a lighter take on American-style brunch classics with smaller, healthier portions for a good price and super delicious. I went with my siblings, and between us we got lemon ricotta pancakes, avocado eggs benedict, and a fantastic goetta breakfast sandwich with a tomato-jalapeno jam.
The space is beautiful. Think California style café with a rustic, almost beachy vibe—weathered, white-washed accents, wood flooring and tables with greenery accents. Oversized leather booth seating, marble elements, and chandeliers add an upscale element to the environment.
As you enter, you wait in line to order and pay, pick any table, and they bring the food out to you when it’s ready. When we got there was a line out the door, but thankfully there’s a mimosa stand where you can order a drink made with one of their own specialty blended juices.
Menus hang on a rail along the wall, and you can pick them up and read them as you please, and maybe change your mind a few times (plus there’s a handy basket by the register you can drop them in). There’s a self-serve fountain, drip coffee, and water (including sparkling, so fancy!), and if you order any specialty drinks they’ll bring them to you. There’s a ton of seats, so by the time we ordered there were plenty of open tables, and even though it was a super crowded Sunday morning, I don’t think I saw a single group waiting for a table once they ordered. The attention to detail is evident, and they’ve got the speed of service down pat really hitting home the fine casual concept.
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