Oh, the rumor mill in Cincinnati.
It’s a very fast moving mill. Ever since Carl Lindner’s death, people have been talking about the future of the Cincinnatian and the Palace Restaurant: will they continue? Will they continue to be 4-star and 4-diamond? Will we still be able to get Dover sole?
The rumors of its demise are greatly exaggerated.
Though their most recent chef, Matthew Beaudin, has left– he is going back to the Carribbean to teach the underprivileged how to farm and cook, which is the best reason I’ve heard for leaving a job in a long time– both the Palace and the Cincinnatian continue on, though they will look a little different.
Martin Pittman, the General Manager of the hotel, and I got a chance to talk about the changes. They’re a long time coming: Cincinnati’s namesake hotel has looked, quite frankly, a little bit dated. Now, if you walk past the Vine Street windows, you’ll see chairs stacked and workers working to replace carpet (which, says Pittman, is “gorgeous”), polishing brass, redoing woodwork, and generally sprucing the place up.
“The Palace was a favorite of Carl Lindner’s, and in that tradition, it will continue to be a fine dining restaurant,” said Pittman. The Cricket will remain the hotel’s casual concept, with some new furniture and a bit of sprucing up, too.
Pittman is actively looking for a new chef, and expects a new menu to debut around March 15 for Spring. “Everyone [Beaudin] hired over the past year are still in the kitchen, and his menu will still be served,” said Pittman. The restaurant is targeted for reopening by February, but Pittman expects it to be a little earlier than anticipated.
Fine dining has been a declining trend both nationally and globall; a trend reflected in Cincinnati’s dining scene: fine ingredients, talented chefs, but a very “come-as-you-are” attitude that doesn’t necessitate a tie or jacket. That said, Cincinnati has always been known for fine dining (see: The Maisonette, the Terrace Room, and others). It’s good to see that the Palace (along with Orchids) will continue the tradition of formal, white tablecloth dining, which has its place as much as the more casual dining options that are popping up all over the city.