February 13, 2012
fish and short ribs taco
Back in October I recall salivating about the rumors of Buck Bakersfield — Tacos. Tequila. Whiskey. You had me at tequila. Now it’s February and iSPYCINCY is here to tell you the rumors are true… whatever they are, whatever you heard, they are true. Having only been open for two weeks, I’ve already ventured to the newest restaurant in the Gateway Quarter twice.
now that’s what I call mood lighting
The city of Bakersfield, CA, from which the restaurant takes its name, inspired an era of music, in the 50s and 60s, that fused the sounds of country with rock n’ roll. Think Johnny Cash, Buck Owens, and Merle Haggard. Then mix in some Mexican style street fare with premium alcohol and that gives you a good sense of what Bakersfield OTR is all about. But more than that, Bakersfield is a welcome establishment in a bustling part of Cincinnati. Over the Rhine is hopping with restaurants including the likes of A Tavola, The Senate, Abigail Street, Taste of Belgium and now, with Bakersfield, we can add another destination to the list.
My first experience at Bakersfield was actually before the official opening. They call it “friends and family night,” so the restaurant can work out the kinks prior to ushering in the public. I was happily surprised that there were no kinks to work out. With each item he brought to the table, our server was confident and knowledgeable.
I always say guacamole is the true test of any good Mexican restaurant. Happy to report, Bakersfield aced the test. And those chips… you can hear the crispness with each bite, that’s how fresh they are.
chips con queso and black beans
We had a sampling of the June salad: arugula, oranges, jalapeno, pepitas, and cumin lime dressing. Simply divine. Next up the tacos. It’s hard to pick a favorite amongst so many top notch choices, but if I had to choose it would be a close tie between the short rib (braised short rib, queso fresco, pickled onion, cilantro, radish) and the cochinita pibil (achiote braised pork, pickled red onion, habanero salsa, cilantro). The tortillas are made fresh. Nice touch. The mix of flavors are succulent but not overpowering, which can sometimes be a hard feat to achieve. Bakersfield makes it look easy.
My second trip came last Friday evening following the Cincinnati Ballet’s performance of Carmen. Even though it was past 10 o’clock, I wasn’t sure if we would find a space. As the new kids on the block, I expect Bakersfield to pack em’ in during normal eating hours for the next month (at least). Luckily the crowd was starting to thin. We grabbed the lone seat at the bustling bar to put in our drink orders — one Bakersfield Sour (Bourbon, Grand Marnier, fresh lemon & lime, garnished with a house soaked cherry) and one Red Headed Stranger (Bourbon, Domaine de Canton, dash cayenne pepper, fresh lemon, bitters, garnished with a candied ginger). A two-top had opened up against the wall and the wait staff eagerly helped us move our belongings. The rest of what we’d ordered, chips with queso and two tacos (fish & short ribs) arrived shortly thereafter.
fully stocked and loaded
The food hit the spot, the drinks nailed it on the head, and the service knocked it out of the park. More than anything, however, I love the friendliness of the staff, which is a trait that can clearly be attributed to owners Joe and John Lanni. Both nights I’ve made an appearance, the Lanni brothers were there, overseeing things and sporting a pair of beaming smiles. They run a tight, but effective, ship. Buck Bakersfield should be proud. As, I imagine, the Man in Black would be too, if only he’d escaped that burning ring of fire.to top ↑