By Stephanie Wilks
June 20, 2012
Scallops with risotto, spinach, and a buttery concoction of garlic and citrus compote
When I walked into Virgil’s Café last Saturday, I was welcomed not only by the host but also by five locals at the bar. Like an episode of Cheers, it was as if they had some personal stake in my experience. Then again, maybe they’re just proud patrons. After all, Virgil’s (located in Bellevue) is full of the Southern charm you only get by crossing the river. Plus, it was recently featured on the Food Network series, Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.
After being seated at a table decorated with a charming cluster of wildflowers, and thoroughly briefed on the intricacies of the specialty gin and green chartreuse liquor cocktail, I started to wonder what the friendliness is all about. They are either genuinely happy, OR, please pass the kool aid. No matter the difference, the positivity is contagious.
Doesn’t hurt that everyone is well fed, too. And, unlike folks who prefer to support good ole Mickey D’s on a regular basis, Virgil’s patrons have that hometown, let’s support the community spirit.
Community do-gooding aside, the cuisine at Virgil’s Café is reason enough to make it a regular dinning experience. You’re certain to find something you like – hearty artisan sandwiches, pastas, gnocchi, bbq ribs, and salads – and the menu is constantly changing, with new specials posted each day.
Ever crave New Orleans style cooking? You’re in luck. Chef Matt Buschle whips up the best shrimp creole, etouffee, and frog legs in town. I hear his sausage is fantastic, particularly at Sunday brunch, hint hint. I chose the scallops this time around (a dish easy to under or over-cook) but they were delicately sweet and a little crispy, pairing well with risotto, spinach, and a buttery concoction of garlic and citrus compote. Oh, and don’t forget to spoil your meal beforehand with some house-made bread and butter.
Most ingredients hitting the plates are locally grown, capitalizing on the flourishing farm to table dining trend. In terms of decor, vivid canvases from the neighboring Sigra Gallery adorn the walls of the renovated Edwardian brick building and have done so since the restaurant’s inception three years ago.
Pastrami reuben sandwich
Virgil’s demonstrates everything that’s right about a local, independently owned restaurant—a creative, evolving menu, strong ties to the community, fresh ingredients, personal service, and a unique atmosphere. You’ll be hard-pressed to find another gem quite like this one in the Greater Cincinnati Area, let alone anywhere north of the Mason-Dixon line.
But don’t take my word for it; try it for yourself. If you need me, I’ll be at the bar, with the locals, sipping on the signature gin cocktail and inhaling the bread.to top ↑