Senate Restaurant: Over-the-Rhine, Cincinnati, OH

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Senate Restaurant: Over-the-Rhine, Cincinnati, OH

Senate Restaurant: Over-the-Rhine, Cincinnati, OH 800 646 Chute Gerdeman

If you’ve spent any length of time in the heart of Cincinnati, you know that the older parts of the city are rich in German culture and beautiful architecture. Over-the-Rhine, one of the oldest neighborhoods, is believed to be the largest, most intact urban historic district in the US with architectural significance on par with New York’s Greenwich Village, Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina. But like many character-rich, historic areas, Over-the-Rhine had fallen on hard times.

Images via Facebook: Over-the-Rhine

Since 2006, millions of dollars have been invested in the neighborhood’s development. New businesses are starting, condos are being built, and general improvements are being added to the area. As a graduate of the University of Cincinnati, when I first heard about the rebuilding and rebranding of Over-the-Rhine, I’ll admit that I had a hard time believing it. It was always the area you avoided. Here in Columbus, we’ve seen a similar project progress before our very eyes with the now-beloved Short North. In the last half of the twentieth century, the Short North went from crime-filled district where squatters occupied the buildings, to chic urban development where rents are high, boutiques are expensive, and restaurants are all-the-rage. Can the gentrification of Over-the-Rhine be as successful? I finally visited the revamped area last month, and am a full believer in the newly defined OTR Gateway.

Image property of Chute Gerdeman

I’ll admit that the main purpose for my excursion to the Gateway was not a sociological study on neighborhood rejuvenation. Rather, it was to visit Senate Restaurant. The tiny but comfortably posh joint is just about a year old, offering gourmet “street food.” Appetizers range from tamales to mussels. Hot dogs are a featured item, but they’re not your stadium variety dog. They are creatively composed culinary delights with toppings such as bechamel sauce, mole-braised pork belly, Thai peanut sauce, and locally-made cheese curds. Sublime french fries come in two indulgent varieties: truffle oil fries and duck fat fries. Sandwiches are taken up a few notches with items like the Lobster BLT (with butter-braised lobster and bourbon-smoked bacon), a Sweet Potato Falafel Sandwich, and the McBelly—their barbecue pork belly sandwich inspired by the McRib.

Images property of Chute Gerdeman

Images property of Chute Gerdeman

The environment is what you would expect of a chic urban eatery—small, intimate, minimalist, but still laid-back and welcoming. The clientele includes everyone from college students to professionals. Most importantly though, the area felt safe—not something you can normally claim in OTR. Looks like the improvements are working! Senate and its surrounding businesses are such a welcome addition to downtown and Over-the-Rhine, it really makes this former Cincinnati resident proud. If this is a sign of things to come, bring it on Cincinnati! I’m excited to see what develops.

Image property of Chute Gerdeman

 

Featured Image: © 2011 Google, Map Data © 2011 Google, Sanborn. Inset image property of Chute Gerdeman.

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