Affordable variety is the delicious main course of Cincinnati’s Oakley neighborhood | Food and Beverage Features | Cincinnati

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photo: Hailey Bollinger

A variety of dishes available from vendors at Oakley Kitchen Food Hall

If there’s one urban neighborhood that’s grown faster in the last decade than Oakley, I haven’t heard of it. As of this spring, the 74-acre Oakley Station development south of I-71 includes nearly 500,000 square feet of retail and office space as well as 462 residential units. Restaurants aren’t a big part of the development, but you can find quite a few restaurants in the surrounding neighborhood, where relatively affordable rental housing has attracted young people with enough disposable income – enough to run many restaurants, especially on weekends.

Oakley isn’t a restaurant mecca like Downtown or Over-the-Rhine, and you won’t find much of what I would call “fine dining.” But Red Feather Kitchen (3200 Madison Road, redfeatherkitchen.com) certainly has the best claim to that designation.

The food is top of the line, both in terms of price and quality, especially the meat. It’ll set you back over $50 for a double-cut pork chop or a melt-in-your-mouth serving of prime rib, so it’s the kind of place people hang out for an evening – which is fitting, as it There’s a short performing arts offering here to rush through, unlike downtown.

The Red Feather’s bar offers some of the best cocktails in town — the Penicillin ($14) is top-notch — and the wine list won’t even disappoint true connoisseurs. This is a spacious restaurant with several dining rooms and a separate bar room, as well as valet parking.

On a recent visit with friends, we really enjoyed the drinks. Food-wise, our favorites were the roasted beet salad with hazelnuts and arugula ($9), a special entrée of mussels and fries ($18), and the aforementioned short rib ($51).

Opposite the fancy scale is Oakley Kitchen Food Hall (3715 Madison Road, oakley-kitchen.com), a warehouse-style assortment of casual food and drink stalls with ample space and variety to accommodate the hungry masses. .

The first floor of what had been a former shopping center is home to more than half a dozen separate restaurants and an excellent bar, while the second floor is reserved for seating. In the evening, enough people come to fill two or three parking lots nearby, looking for everything from a Hawaiian stand called Onolicious (which offers grilled Spam, an island favorite) to meat specialists Parts & Labor and Khana, a Indian grill, among several others. This is a good destination for couples or groups who disagree on what kind of cuisine they want for dinner. The upstairs area is spacious enough to accommodate more tables than there are currently, which would be useful on busy Saturdays.

I can recommend the smoked brisket with a choice of two sides from Parts & Labor ($16), topped with a zesty homemade barbecue sauce. The Mediterranean stand, Olive Tree, offered a nice skewer of lamb with spiced rice and a green salad ($18.99). And The Cutaway does an Old Fashioned ($12) as good as any at my favorite Over-the-Rhine cocktail bars (the Cutaway is actually run by the team behind the Longfellow of OTR).

Click to enlarge Bee cakes at Sleepy Bee Cafe - PHOTO: KHOI NGUYEN

photo: Khoi Nguyen

Bee Cakes at Sleepy Bee Cafe

One of my favorite, and relatively old, Oakley destinations is the Sleepy Bee Cafe (3098 Madison Road, sleepybeecafe.com), which opened in 2013. Its sunny, upbeat decor is full of whimsy, all-flower and drones with a foundation of Earth-friendly activism. It serves breakfast, brunch, and lunch seven days a week, and in my experience, the place is always packed.

I like the breakfast dishes, although I have a hard time choosing just one. I’m usually torn between Ember Avo Toast ($13) – described as “a fork and knife breakfast toast with avocado, too-easy egg” and other tasty ingredients on toasted multigrain bread – and a scramble, especially the one with chorizo, black beans, pepper and white cheddar ($13). But wait, there’s pancakes, an assortment of buttermilk batter styles or a gluten-free “bee-pollinated flower” version. Depending on the size of the cake and if you want one or two, prices range from $3.75 to $12, with bee pollen batter cakes being the highest priced.

If it’s later in the day and you’re craving more savory fare, Sleepy Bee also has a selection of bowls, sandwiches, salads and soups. Check out the green salad called Bee Chop ($11.50), a delicious mix including raw beets, carrots, celery, broccoli, avocado, mixed seeds and a warm honey dressing.

I love wine bars, and the neighborhood has a good one at Oakley Wines (4011 Allston St., oakleywines.com), a boutique whose basement bar serves a selection of interesting, often unusual wines and offers cocktails, beer and a satisfying “bite” menu to accompany your libations.

I tried the cheese plate ($16) and the bread and butter ($5), the latter may seem uninteresting, except it’s sourdough Go with herb caper butter: four thick slices that paired particularly well with a glass of Verdicchio ($11). ), a fragrant Italian white.

There are enough food choices to make it a meal, if you wish. Occasional special events include Sunday suppers, with a more elaborate menu with wine pairings, and seasonal Tuesday “raclette evenings” based on fragrant French cheese that is melted and poured over meat and potatoes. Earth.

Oakley is also home to Aglamesis Bro’s ice cream parlor (3046 Madison Road, aglamesis.com), which even Graeter fans should put on their bucket list. Not as old in its hometown as Graeter’s – 1908 versus 1870 for the latter – Aglamesis is one of our region’s elite confectioners. The store opened its marble-adorned Oakley storefront in 1913, and it’s still a beauty, with handmade chocolates and other sweets as wonderful as ice cream.

And yes, there’s more: local coffee chain Deeper Roots (3056 Madison Road, deeprootscoffee.com) started with the Oakley site and is among the city’s most elite coffee suppliers. Seafood lovers will find their way to Oakley Fish House (3036 Madison Road, oakleyfishhouse.com), and a small take-out called The Wheel (3805 Brotherton Road, thewheeloakley.com) offers take-out Italian dishes, sides , breads and sweets as well as a range of inventive sandwiches on Saturdays. I haven’t tried The Wheel yet, but it’s often been chosen by Best Of Cincinnati staff, especially for the carrot sandwich ($11), with rosemary-roasted carrots on homemade focaccia with lemon yogurt. garlic, romesco and kale.

If you’re not a resident of this neighborhood, you might consider driving the trip as well.

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