Nada Brunch Review
Nada (http://www.eatdrinknada.com/) is one of my favorite restaurants I’ve ever been to. Great location (across from the Aronoff Center for the Arts), great atmosphere, great food. Inspired by Rick Bayless’ Frontera Grill (http://wp.me/s3jVIR-235), Nada brings modern Mexican cuisine to Cincinnati.
Run by the Boca Group (founded by David Falk) that also runs Boca (duh) and Sotto, Nada is one of the best dining experiences you’ll find for the money. While this particular review is for the brunch portion, I’ll have another review up for the dinner menu later. Obviously, brunch is not quite the atmosphere that you’ll find in the evenings, but it’s still pretty chic. I arrived a few minutes before my wife and was seated fairly quickly. The front of the restaurant has a very nice outdoor dining area, filled with well-dressed people of all ages, some with friends having Bloody Marias, some with their family and small children. Once you enter, you are greeted by a hostess (or 3) at the hostess station. To the hostess station’s left is a bar that had a few people enjoying an early Sunday cocktail. The crowd is not as large as a typical dinner crowd, but it was a respectable size. I didn’t have to wait too long before I was seated on the second floor. The second floor also has a large bar, along with a good-sized party room (which had a very large family with kids in it today) and a beautiful view of the center of Downtown Cincinnati. While I waited for my wife I sipped on the water left by the waiter and enjoyed checking out the Contemporary Arts Center, 21C, and lots of people walking around on a nice summer morning.
My wife soon arrived and we put our food orders in with the waiter. The brunch menu is pretty large, actually. There are appetizers (guacamole, Mexican mac ‘n cheese, among other items), lunch (sliders and several other tacos), and brunch. We ordered the guacamole, which is simply excellent. If it’s not the best guac I’ve ever had, it’s certainly darn close. Served with some amazing double-fried tortilla chips and jicama (the waiter even brought extra for my wife so she could eat that instead of the chips), it tastes so fresh you’d think you were on the beach with Rick Bayless making it for you there. Actually, it’s the cumin that puts it over the top in my opinion. And yes, it’s even better than Rick’s recipe at Frontera.
So, what’s the actual brunch part like at a Mexican restaurant? In a word? Awesome. My wife went with something more suited to the theme of the restaurant and ordered the Tinga and Eggs Cazuela (braised chicken, spicy tomato, chorizo, fried egg, and poblano rice). It came in an iron pot, and tasted like it had all cooked together for a while. The spices were strong without being too hot, and the mix of the chicken, chorizo, and the spices just really gave it a well-balanced flavor. It tasted very “homey,” I think if my mom (a wonderful cook!) made Mexican food, it would resemble this. I was really happy when my wife asked me to help her eat a bit of it. For my dish, I chose the French Toast. Before I describe it, I’ll say I was recently sad to find that Honey (http://wp.me/p3jVIR-42) had closed. Honestly, I was really annoyed to see that the people of Northside and the rest of Cincinnati couldn’t support the restaurant with the best French Toast I’ve ever had, but that’s not the point here. What I now feel I need to do is to find my new favorite French Toast. While Nada’s isn’t quite Honey’s, it’s pretty strong. With bananas in caramel, Canadian maple syrup, whipped cream, and candied almonds, this is some serious brunch. The bread that they used gets a little softer than I prefer from the syrup, but the taste is so good I didn’t care. I enjoyed every part of this dish…the bananas in caramel went amazingly with the syrup, and the candied almonds finished it off and were a treat. It’s 10:30 at night right now and I’m wishing I was eating brunch right now.
Overall, Nada is a must-experience. All of their food is great, and now that they have brunch, you can enjoy it Sunday mornings as well. Nada’s brunch is a wonderful addition to the restaurant and I’d highly recommend it.