Friday afternoon my wife and I decided to head somewhere new (both for us and Cincinnati) for lunch, BrewRiver GastroPub. BrewRiver opened in mid August on Riverside Avenue in the former Maribelle’s space. Though it is less than three miles to downtown Cincinnati down Riverside, the restaurant isn’t very easy to get to from certain directions. The other main route is a couple of miles on Riverside from Delta in Columbia-Tusculum, as we did on our visit.
Though it was sunny outside the day of our visit, it was still a little too chilly to enjoy the really nice looking outdoor patio. Upon entering the main side door to the first floor dining area and bar, we quickly saw how crowded the space already was. I was expecting to have to wait for a table or decide to come back again another time. Fortunately the host/server who greeted us just moments later led us to a table on their spacious second floor. Normally this space isn’t open during the day, but the staff was more than accommodating for us as needed.
Having a completely empty second floor to ourselves was actually nice in a few ways. First, we brought our toddler aged son along with us, so he had room to run around when sitting for lunch was no longer fun. But even more importantly we were able to have extended conversations with the chef and hear the cooperative effort coming from the upstairs kitchen.
There is a large selection of beer available, including some house beers which are brewed by the Great Crescent Brewery in Aurora, Indiana. I sampled the Calliope India Pale Ale, which is a British style IPA meaning that it is more balanced than the more hop forward West Coast style. The beer was quite good and I wish it weren’t lunch so I could have sampled more than one of their offerings.
After placing our drink orders we were told the soups of the day, one of which was a chicken and sausage gumbo. Being that the chef spent 6 years working under Emeril Lagasse in New Orléans and Atlanta, we were excited to try this dish. As our server pointed out, the gumbo isn’t as spicy as what you might find in New Orléans, but it was still very good and full of large chunks of chicken and andouille sausage.
For lunch I selected the B.L.T. sandwich served with fries and house made catsup ($10). Our server was quick to point out that the bacon is actually pork belly that is ale-brined and cured in-house. And while it still looked a lot like bacon, the taste wasn’t as smoky, which I missed. With that said the sandwich was still pretty good and I like that it was served with local lettuce and tomatoes on toasted farmhouse bread. The fries were hand cut and fried to perfection. The serving size was more than enough and I found the plantain based catsup very interesting and a refreshing change from the normal tomato based.
My wife went with the fish and chips ($16). The fish is an ale-battered cod and it came served with a house-made kimchi tartar sauce. Again this dish was served with plenty of fries and the same catsup as before. I tried a couple of small bites of the fish and it was very fresh and tasted great, especially with the tartar sauce. My wife proclaimed this as the best fish she has had in quite some time, and that includes a recent trip to San Francisco, so you know this is the real deal.
Even though it may not be the easiest place to get to, BrewRiver GastroPub is definitely worthy of a visit for great food and an awesome beer list.