Collapse Arrows

Recognitions

Reviews & Write-Ups

Expand The Alcohol Professor - "Welcome to the B Line"

WELCOME TO THE B LINE
February 26th, 2018

WELCOME TO THE B LINE

Northern Kentucky bars, restaurants and distilleries get their own tourism designation to connect to the Urban Bourbon Trail
Vendome still at New Riff distillery

All photos by Maggie Kimberl. 

Long before there was a Las Vegas, even before there was nationwide Prohibition of alcohol that led to the rise of the gangsters and businessmen who would eventually put Las Vegas on the map, Newport, Kentucky was the original Sin City. Even as early as the Civil War, this river town was known for gambling, dog racing, and prostitution. Prohibition only strengthened this reputation as businessmen took advantage of America’s thirst by building empires which included everything from brothels to high end nightclubs. Throughout the ’50s and ’60s, residents and governments fought to push these businesses out. There is a notorious story about a candidate for Sheriff running on a reform platform who was drugged and photographed with a local prostitute in an attempt to make him appear corrupt. Ultimately the FBI found the drugs in his system and he was exonerated and elected anyway, beginning the decline of Sin City. Adult movie theaters and strip clubs were shut down, and in 1973 Frank “Screw” Andrews, a once prominent gangster, was allegedly thrown from his sixth-story hospital room, signaling the beginning of the end of Newport’s Sin City reputation. Restoration to historic homes began in the late 1980s and then businesses like the Newport Aquarium started to move in during the 1990s. Today you can’t even tell the area was once the Las Vegas of the Ohio Valley, which has allowed a Renaissance that has led to the creation of The B Line.

The B Line is a collection of bars, restaurants, and distilleries at the northernmost point of Kentucky leading into the Kentucky Bourbon Trail launched February of 2018. It is different from Louisville’s Urban Bourbon Trail in that it’s more than just bars and restaurants, though the concept was very much modeled in its image. I recently spent a weekend exploring some of the stops on the new B Line, and what I found were people who are excited to give this area a new reputation as a bourbon tourism destination.

tasting room at Boone County distillery

WEEKEND WHIRLWIND TOUR

My first stop was Boone County Distilling. Situated in an industrial park near Interstate 71, it’s not the kind of location where you would expect to find a bourbon distillery until you realize that modern bourbon distilleries were often built far outside of towns and cities because of sanitation concerns, and the cities then built up around them.

Fred Minnick was there signing books and pouring bourbon samples from private barrels he had selected at the distillery. I joined the last tour group of the day, the majority of which was people from Indiana and Ohio, including one Indiana man who had driven there for Boone County’s new make spirit called Tanner’s Curse (he bought the last one).

Michael, our tour guide, was highly knowledgeable about the bourbon industry as well as local history. We learned about the original Boone County Distillery, originally the Petersburg Distillery which opened in 1833 nearby and would become the largest distillery in Kentucky by 1880, only to be shuttered by 1910. This new version of the distillery was opened in 2015 with the help of Larry Ebersold, Greg Metze’s predecessor at MGPI.

Fred Minnick signs books at Boone County

Current bottlings of Boone County 1833 Bourbon are barrels Ebersold distilled during his tenure which were purchased en masse with the founding of the distillery. The plan has been to bottle and sell those barrels until the distillery has its own spirit to bottle, which will likely be some time in 2019.

The next stop I made on my journey was Mainstrasse Covington, another area undergoing a renaissance in Northern Kentucky. Newport’s neighbor to the West is separated by the Licking River, a main artery leading to the Ohio. Just ten years ago there was not much going on in Covington other than the yearly Oktoberfest celebration. These days Mainstrasse is bustling on a Saturday night.

Austin Garrison at Bouquet

I sat at the bar in Bouquet, a farm-to-table stop on the B-Line, to have dinner. Bartender Austin Garrison made me his signature Smoked Old Fashioned with Elijah CraigSmall Batch and Bourbon Barrel FoodsBourbon Smoked Salt. Originally a wine bar, now there are 120 bourbons and Glencairns in which to serve them, a sign of a strong bourbon bar. There are plans in the works to do a bar barrel pick of OKI at nearby New Riff (more on that to come). Garrison was highly knowledgeable about bourbon and was passionate about sharing his experience with the steady flow of customers on a Saturday night. I enjoyed an appetizer of house-made pickles and a dinner of beet salad before heading to my next stop.

I crossed the street to visit Bourbon Haus 1841, which has been open for less than a year but already has more than 200 bourbons on the shelf. There’s a cozy bar and lots of comfy couches and chairs for groups, including a small back room with five club chairs adorned with album covers and other classic-rock-themed art. Classic and hippie rock play throughout the space, including on the intimate patio along the front and side of the 1841 brick building. After studying the pages-long bourbon menu, I ordered a half pour of Old Grand-Dad 114, which is served to me in a Glencairn. The ebb and flow of people on a Saturday night reminds me of what my friend Liza Weisstuch often says – “Bar” is the universal word for “welcome home.”

Sunday morning begins with a visit to Newberry Brothers Coffee Shop and Prohibition Bourbon Bar in Newport. “We front as the coffee shop with the bourbon bar in the back,” says owner Kim Newberry. It’s an oddball among coffee shops – it’s only open in the morning on the 3rd Sunday of every month. The rest of the time it is open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights from 5 p.m. until 11 p.m. or 1 a.m. Coffee is roasted on-site and pastries are made from scratch by the Newberrys, who live upstairs. The bar is somewhat hidden – you have to go to the back of the shop, through a small hallway, past the restrooms, and then suddenly you’re in the Prohibition Bar. There’s even a speakeasy room behind the bar for small groups of no more than 6 people to do events and private tastings. This is the most striking of all the hidden gems on the B-Line so far with more than 1500 whiskeys and multiple events and tastings, including fundraisers, throughout the year. It’s also right across the street from a restaurant where parts of Rain Man were filmed back in the late 1980s.

Down the street we stopped at New Riff Distillery, the first bourbon distillery on the way into Kentucky from the North, situated right off Interstate 471 and a short drive from I-71. Owner Ken Lewis originally owned the Party Source liquor store next door but sold it to his employees so he could build this distillery.

Former MGPI Master Distiller Larry Ebersold, who has clearly kept very busy, was also instrumental in the plans for this distillery. The OKI Bourbon currently being sold is, much like Boone County Distillery’s Boone County 1833 Bourbon, bourbon distilled during Ebersold’s tenure in Lawrenceburg. This connectedness is indicative of the kind of camaraderie often found in the bourbon industry where the mantra is “a rising tide lifts all boats.” Rather than being in competition with each other, these businesses have instead banded together to bring in travel and tourist dollars to all their businesses as well as to regrow the once booming Northern Kentucky bourbon industry.

New Riff’s own distillate will be ready to bottle some time this year, though not having their own aged bourbon yet certainly hasn’t slowed their growth. Their event spaces are already booked through 2018 for weddings and birthday parties, and tours take place Tuesday through Sunday year round. In addition to distilling bourbon, New Riff also produces gins with local botanicals which can only be described as “Christmas in a bottle.”

OTHER STOPS ON THE B-LINE

I’ve been checking out this area and waiting for something like the B-Line for years. It just makes sense – right across the river is the control state of Ohio, so people are already crossing into Kentucky looking for a good time. On my last trip I checked out Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar, Molly Wellmann’s Bourbon Bar in Covington with over 600 whiskeys established in 2012. Without a doubt this is one of the best bourbon bars in the region, if not the world. The Tousey House Tavern, also a member of the new B-Line, was one of the surprising places I stumbled upon way out in Burlington, Kentucky. They have a cabinet full of about a dozen dusties that they sell by the pour thanks to the new Vintage Spirits law in Kentucky.

fermentation tanks at New Riff distillery

Also on the B-Line are a few places farther outside of the Newport/Covington area. Old Pogue Distillery in Maysville was a very large distillery before Prohibition, and it was put out of business during Prohibition because of some of those same gangsters in Newport. The Pogue family reopened the distillery on a smaller scale in 2012 and tours are available by appointment only because they are often given by the distiller himself. On the quaint Main Street in this old river town is Chandler’s, a hidden gem with a massive bourbon selection.

 

Thanks to the new B-Line bourbon tourists will be paying greater attention to this once bustling bourbon region of Kentucky. Learn more about the B-Line and participating establishments here.

Read More

ExpandThe Whiskey Advocate

The Kentucky Bourbon Trail’s Newest Entry Point Is Cincinnati
FEBRUARY 1, 2018

The Kentucky Bourbon Trail’s Newest Entry Point Is Cincinnati

Waiting for a flight in the Minneapolis airport last July, Julie Kirkpatrick started talking to a group of men who, like her, were Cincinnati-bound. It wasn’t just idle chitchat; as vice president of sales and marketing for meetNKY, Kirkpatrick likes to know what brings people to Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. She was delighted to learn they were coming for the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. “I said, ‘So you’re staying in Cincinnati?’” she recounts. They weren’t, instead flying into Cincinnati, then renting a car and driving to Lexington.

That’s when Kirkpatrick knew she was on the right track.

Kirkpatrick and meetNKY were in the midst of creating The B Line (short for The Bourbon Line), a tourism initiative launching in February 2018. The B Line aims to boost bourbon tourism in Northern Kentucky, making it a destination in and of itself, and not just a stop along the way to the more famous “Amber Triangle” of LexingtonBardstown, and Louisville.

“I would love to see 10 or 20 years from now that we’re referred to not as an amber triangle, but an amber commonwealth,” says John Stanton, director of external affairs for Kenton County, Ky., who helped spearhead The B Line. The name of the initiative refers to both a boundary—the Ohio River, which physically separates Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky—and the trail of distilleries, bars, and restaurants that tourists can follow throughout the area.

Bourbon tourism in Kentucky is booming; more than one million stops were made along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail in 2017. But Northern Kentucky sees just a fraction of that traffic; New Riff Distilling near Newport had around 30,000 visitors last year.

“I think The B Line is going to be such a success mainly because Northern Kentucky, for lack of a better term, has been a forgotten corner of the Kentucky bourbon industry,” says Hannah Lowen, New Riff’s vice president of operations.

New Riff, along with the Boone County and Old Pogue distilleries, are already a part of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour. Two other distilleries, Second Sight in Ludlow and Neeley Family in Sparta, also make whiskey in the area. But tourists who come to Kentucky for bourbon often overlook these places as destinations. That is now set to change. In November 2017, Northern Kentucky was designated an “Official Gateway to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail” by the Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA). The status is shared only by one other city—Louisville.

“If bourbon wants to be for Kentucky what Scotch is to Scotland, [then] you’ve got to include the whole state,” says Josh Quinn, cofounder of Boone County Distilling.

PERFECT FOR WHISKEY LOVERS

Like Louisville’s Urban Bourbon Trail, The B Line is meant to enhance a trip along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail by pointing visitors toward places they can go once the distilleries close for the day.

“Where do we go and where do we go eat? Those are the questions I answer every day,” says Adam Johnson, senior director of Kentucky Bourbon Trail Experiences at the KDA, which has been working with meetNKY and area bourbon businesses to establish The B Line. “It’s a way for people to learn a little bit more about the state as a whole and its distilling culture.”

The B Line highlights bars and restaurants that cater to whiskey lovers. Partner restaurants must have at least 50 bourbons on their menus, while bars are required to list a minimum of 100 and offer bourbon cocktails. Many venues are planning special menu items, collaborations, and events. In addition, the B Line aims eventually to have a passport program, similar to the one for the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

NORTHERN KENTUCKY’S BOURBON CHARM

Cincinnati’s proximity to Kentucky’s northern distilleries makes it an ideal gateway. Many of The B Line’s restaurants and bars, as well as New Riff Distilling, are located right across the river from the city and can be easily accessed by the Southbank Shuttle Trolley, which runs around Cincinnati, Covington, Ky., and Newport, Ky. Meanwhile, Boone County Distilling is a short trip down I-75, as is Tousey House Tavern.

The Boone County Distilling tasting room.

Whiskey history buffs will find a lot to enjoy in this part of the state. Maysville is a small town that may have been the birthplace of bourbon. The Kentucky Gateway Museum Center chronicles that claim and whiskey’s importance to the area. Museum director C.J. Hunter says that at the peak of local production, there were more than 25 different brands being made at a number of distilleries in the area, which was then known as Limestone Landing. Bourbon was shipped across the state and down the Ohio River to New Orleans. In addition to the museum, visitors to Maysville can tour the Old Pogue distillery, revived by the Pogue family on the site of the original distillery that was shuttered during Prohibition.

The B Line will continue to expand as tourism grows. Visitors can find more information at FindYourSippingPoint.com. In addition to creating a passport program, meetNKY eventually hopes to add a liquor store in CVG airport past the security checkpoint so visitors can more easily bring bourbon back with them. “That’s the best promotion we can do,” Johnson says. “Letting people take a little taste of Kentucky with them to share with their friends.”

DISTILLERIES ON THE B LINE

New Riff Distilling—24 Distillery Way, Newport
Best known for its OKI whiskey, New Riff will debut a bourbon later this year. Visitors can join New Riff’s Ranger program through June 2018 to earn benefits, including a personalized bottle four years from their visit.

Boone County Distilling Co.—10601 Toebben Dr., Independence
Inspired by the area’s historic Petersburg Distillery, co-founders Josh Quinn and Jack Wells opened their distillery to bring bourbon production back to Boone County. The bourbon and rye carry the tagline “Made by Ghosts.”

Old Pogue Distillery—715 Germantown Rd., Maysville
Old Pogue is located on the same site as the original Pogue distillery, overlooking the Ohio River. The Pogue family uses the original recipes to create their bourbon and rye.

In addition, two other craft distilleries—Second Sight Distillery in Ludlow and Neeley Family Distillery in Sparta—are located in Northern Kentucky, though they aren’t officially part of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail or the B Line. (Neeley Family will join the Bourbon Trail in summer 2018.)

RESTAURANTS ON THE B LINE

Bouquet—519 Main St., Covington
This farm-to-table bistro has a list of 140 bourbons which it updates each week with recent and limited releases. Bouquet holds bourbon tastings with master distillers, incorporates bourbon into menu items, and offers cocktail specials and whiskey flights.

The Purple Poulet—603 6th Ave., Dayton
Bourbon has always been a focus for owner and chef Richard Zumwalde, who has a growing collection of more than 160 bourbons to go along with his Southern cuisine. The restaurant hosts bourbon dinners with local distilleries like New Riff.

Tousey House Tavern—5963 N Jefferson St., Burlington
Located in a historic house built in 1822, the restaurant is conveniently located near the airport and interstate. It boasts more than 125 bourbons, offers classic cocktails, and hosts tasting events.

Chandler’s on Market—212 Market St., Maysville
Located in historic downtown Maysville, visitors can grab a meal at the restaurant or a drink at the bar. The restaurant is a short drive from Old Pogue Distillery and a short walk from the Gateway Museum.

Bouquet has a list of 140 bourbons.

BARS ON THE B LINE

Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar—629 Main St., Covington
The bar, known as OKBB to locals, is in MainStrasse, a historic German neighborhood in Covington. Owner Molly Wellmann’s “little slice of heaven” has a selection of more than 600 American whiskeys, and bartenders have been rigorously educated on bourbon.

Wiseguy Lounge—603 Main St., Covington
Upstairs from Goodfellas Pizzeria, Wiseguy Lounge was inspired by Prohibition speakeasies. The space boasts hundreds of bourbons and has a whiskey-tasting program, the Bourbon Connoisseurs Club, that hosts events with distillers.

Bourbon Haus 1841—522 Main St., Covington
Also in MainStrasse, Bourbon Haus opened in 2017 and lists nearly 200 bourbons. The bar doesn’t serve food, but does allow delivery from area restaurants and even has a special takeout menu for Bouquet.

The Globe—12 E 5th St., Covington
Located in a former strip club, The Globe transformed the dark space into a bright, modern bar with a seasonal cocktail list and bourbon flights. Mixology classes are also in the works.

The Prohibition Bourbon Bar at Newberry Bros. Coffee—530 Washington Ave., Newport
Originally opened as a coffee shop, the bourbon bar is tucked in behind, speakeasy-style. With the goal of offering the most bourbon selections in the world, the owners have amassed more than 1,500 whiskeys, any of which can be ordered for regular sipping or to “kick up” a coffee.

Read More

ExpandEdible Manhattan NYC

Where to Eat and Drink in the Ohio Valley
October 13, 2017

Cincinnati jokes can rattle off non-Cincinnatian’s tongues fairly easily: “Hey, do you listen to WRKP?” (No, Les Nessman does not exist.); “Oh, isn’t that where the river caught on fire?” (No, that was Cleveland—the opposite side of the state.); “Didn’t Mark Twain say that is where he wants to be when the world ends because everything there happens 20 years later?” (Inconclusive.); “I’ve been there—and I had to fly into Kentucky!” (True.)

Yes, if you fly to Cincinnati, its seven hills in which 52 unique neighborhoods are nestled do face the rolling hills of Kentucky. And all are waiting to greet y’all with open arms. When you arrive for the Edible Good Spirits tour in November, your route into the city from the airport will welcome you with the stunning Cincinnati skyline framed by the Ohio River.

The New York Times did its quintessential travel piece, “36 Hours in Cincinnati,” recently, which is a great overview of the downtown and Over-the-Rhine neighborhoods. Here Team Edible Ohio Valley will add more restaurants that highlight our local farmers and give peeks into the hidden treasures that are off the New York Times’ path:

For dinner, go to Bouquet (519 Main Street, Covington, Kentucky). Chef Stephen Williams and his team are always ready to surprise you with culinary delights, inspired by the region’s bounty. It is also highlights the Northern Kentucky segment of Bourbon Trail, with over 100 varieties of Kentucky’s liquid gold (some of which you cannot try in Ohio, thanks to arcane liquor laws).

Read More

ExpandMilk With No Sugar

Bouquet Covington, KY
October 5th, 2017

I’ll be honest. It was the tasting menu that drew me to Bouquet. I know, I know…cliche foodie move. Since the phenomenon really caught on, or at least became affordable, I have been a sucker for those mini plates, and I’ve become an expert in listening intently to the staff as they list how each dish was delicately created and plated. I often think of Pete Wells’ NYT piece from 2012 when I opt for a tasting menu- “a tasting menu can yield a succession of delights that a shorter meal could never contain.” What is better than one expertly made dish? 4-23 dishes in an exact order with wines to match of course!

At Bouquet, they do what every restaurant should do- work seasonally. Since our Carriage House Farm visit, I have become more conscious of what foods are in season, I’m weary of food miles, and how we, and chefs, should honour each product. Sure apples are at their best right now, but let’s not hide them- let them shine and be the focus of your dish! And that, dear readers, is exactly what Bouquet did. And with finesse.

Their September Tasting Mnu was as follows:

carrots / greens / ginger / honey / melon
A simple dish that let the carrots be front and centre thanks to skillfully sous vide-ing the vegetable so that it was intensely carroty, yet retained that crunch that only carrots have. A fiery ginger, melon, and honey reduction amplified the peppery kick from the greens, and the light, sweet melon came through enough at the end to cool things down. I doubt I’ll ever have such a carroty carrot again in my life.

Carrots, greens, ginger, honey, melon

spaghetti / heirloom tomato / olive oil
House made pasta in a simple tomato sauce. Nothing too special about that. Oh how wrong you are. The pasta was perfectly al dente, and almost whole meal in taste. The fried garlic packed such intense flavour into such small chips, that complemented the sweetness of the sauce. The olive oil was perhaps a tad too rich, but when in Rome…

spaghetti, heirloom tomato, olive oil

wild shrimp / fried grits / tomatillo / garlic queso / chili oil
The stand out dish for me- both taste and presentation wise. The tomatillos lifted the dish with their bursts of freshness, but were subtle enough in flavour to allow the huge, beefy, succulent shrimps to be the star of the course. The fried grits were a genius feature: packed with creamy cheesy goodness and matching beautifully with the chili oil. The garlic queso was almost aioli like in texture and flavour, but there was a heat and creaminess to it that was just heavenly. I just wish I had the guts to ask for more of it.

wild shrimp, fried grits, tomatillo, garlic queso, chili oil

corn ice cream / cardamom poke cake / smoked padron
Sweet corn ice cream should have been a novelty, a joke. I consider all savoury ice creams as a bit naff. But it worked so well! A huge scoop of this earthy ice cream sat proud on top of a dense, somewhat chewy cake slice, peppered with the warmth and richness that only comes from cardamom. The candied padron pieces were…interesting. Hot and sweet, but too sharp for me I’m afraid.

corn ice cream, cardamom poke cake, smoked padron

Bouquet is teasing us with snaps of their October tasting menu already, and I for one cannot wait to see what genius creations are coming. Aside from their tasting menu, every other dish on offer sounded fantastic- even the more avant garde choice of barracuda that our server reveled in telling us all about. Staff were attentive, jovial, and really really lovely- anyone that can let us eat in peace, but high five us when we accurately guess that the guy stuck in traffic next to use was playing Cradle of Filth, is alright by me.

 

Bouquet Restaurant & Wine Bar

519 Main St., Covington, KY 41011
(859) 491-7777

Dinner Hours
Mon – Thu: 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Fri – Sat: 5:00 pm – 1:00 am

 

Read More

ExpandCincinnati Enquirer Review: Bouquet, in Covington, offers local produce in artful ways

Review: Bouquet, in Covington, offers local produce in artful ways
August 23rd, 2017

Seafood Dish at Bouquet Restaurant Covington

 

What kind of bouquet is Bouquet, the Covington restaurant, most like? Not a dozen red roses imported from South America. Not a florist's collection of hot house flowers. Most closely, it's like a carefully plucked bunch of flowers from the garden and field, all in bloom at the same time, put together in pretty combination. (It's also like the bouquet of a fine wine, which I think is the actual inspiration for the name.) 

Stephen Williams, who started Bouquet in 2007, is one of the local chefs most committed to buying from local farms and producers. His menu in the summer is full of local bounty to which he applies an artistic sensibility. For him, it's about seeing what there is and making something lovely out of it. 

The diner can choose either a four-course tasting menu, with all courses decided by the chef, or order more conventionally from the regular menu. To continue my metaphor, which I'm rather enjoying, the dishes on the regular menu are built around a beautiful hydrangea or peony, while the tasting menu is more like quirky bouquets of cosmos and wild grasses. 

Read More

ExpandAsk a Cincinnati Chef: Bouquet's Stephen Williams has a major sweet tooth

Ask a Cincinnati Chef: Bouquet's Stephen Williams has a major sweet tooth
October 19th, 2016

What is in your refrigerator right now? Cottage cheese, a lot of fruit. I've got a 2-year-old and he's just now exploring food, so fruit is his favorite thing. And lots of milk. That's his other favorite thing. I have some MadTree , some Rhinegeist , there's some bourbon sitting on top of the refrigerator. Lots of ice cream in the freezer. I'm an ice cream fiend...

 

Chef Stephen Williams

Read More

ExpandRiver CIty News: Covington Chef Partners with Pizzeria to Support Findlay Market

Covington Chef Partners with Pizzeria to Support Findlay Market
October 10th, 2016

A Covington chef is teaming up with a pizzeria chain to support Findlay Market.

Pizzeria Locale - the Colorado-based chain that has locations in Cincinnati and Mason, Oh. - is working with chef Stephen Williams on "The Findlay", a pizza inspired by Williams' love of the Over-the-Rhine market. Williams is known for Bouquet, the celebrated restaurant in Covington's Mainstrasse Village.

The Findlay will be introduced and served at a pop-up event at Findlay Market on Thursday, October 27, from 4:30 - 6 p.m. at the OTR Biergarten (or at the Farm Shed if the weather does not cooperate).

There is a $5 suggested donation to the the Findlay Market Fund. Wine can be purchased and will be served by Hart & Cru and local winery The Skeleton Root. 

Pizzeria Locale Pizza

Read More

ExpandRiver City News: Popular Covington Restaurant to Add Lunch Service

Popular Covington Restaurant to Add Lunch Service
July 12th, 2016

Popular Covington restaurant Bouquet will be open for lunch beginning August 1.

After nearly one year in business, Son & Soil, the newest venture from Chef Stephen Williams and his wife Jessica, is ready to expand. Rather than looking for a new location, the couple has decided to move Son & Soil into Bouquet on Main Street. The move will mean more seating for lunchtime customers and an expanded menu.

Read More

ExpandCincinnati Magazine: Best Restaurants 2016

Cincinnati Magazine: Best Restaurants 2016
March 2016

Some restaurants are better suited to date night than others. Bouquet in Covington is hard to beat. Cozy, off the beaten path, and with a menu touched with a lovable Southern drawl, right down to the bourbon-centric cocktails, it verily announces “Come on back, y’all.” And so we do. Chef and co-owner Stephen Williams is dedicated to sourcing ingredients from local farmers and artisans, or the nearby community garden, and the constantly changing menu reflects his farm-to-table ethos...

Bison pot pie with roasted vegetables and buttermilk biscuit crust

Read More

ExpandBusiness Insider.com "The best restaurant in every state"

The best restaurant in every state
January 26th, 2016

Bouquet Restaurant DessertThe US has no shortage of outstanding restaurants that serve everything from flavor-packed amuse-bouches to juicy steaks to hand-crafted desserts. To find the best one each state has to offer, we sifted through our list of the best restaurants in America, James Beard Award nominations, expert reviews, and local recommendations, paying particular attention to fine-dining establishments.

Read on to see which spot is a must-visit in your state:

 

 

Wow - we're so honored to have been named by Business Insider as the best restaurant in Kentucky in their list of the best restaurant in each state! Thanks to our friends who've shared this as well!

 

Read More

ExpandCity Beat "Son & Soil"

Sewing the Seeds of Son & Soil
August 12th, 2015

Most chefs dream of owning and operating their own restaurant. And if a chef has been doing that successfully for a while, there comes a time when it seems like a good idea to open up another place. 

 

Sometimes it’s because of customer demand, or sometimes it’s because the chef becomes bored with the particular type of cuisine he or she has been serving and wants to branch out. In the case of Stephen Williams, chef and owner of Covington’s Bouquet Restaurant and Wine Bar, and his wife Jessica, it was a desire to feed themselves that prompted the idea for the soon-to-open Son & Soil. 

 

The Williamses were actually hoping someone else would come along and open the type of quick, convenient-yet-healthy restaurant needed to fill the gap they’re anticipating Son & Soil will plug on Covington’s Main Street. 

 

“I’ve been down here for 10 years now, and we’ve always wanted something besides bar food,” Stephen says. “I mean, bar food is delicious, but chicken wings and french fries everyday gets a little old, and I was actually hoping someone would put in a Smoothie King for years. We just always wanted something simple like that that we could grab, that was no

Read More

ExpandCIncinnati Magazine: Best Burger 2015

The 45 Best Burgers in the Queen City
July 2nd, 2015

After 123 burgers, epic levels of face-stuffing, and a few bouts of the meat sweats, our intrepid eaters narrowed the field to the top 45. Only one (very big) question remains: Which one will you try first?...

 

Bouquet Burger

 

22. Bouquet: Bouquet Burger, $14
(2010 Ranking: Not ranked)
Bouquet is not your average burger joint, but for a swanky bistro that can sear diver scallops with the best of them, their burger is one to write home about. Thick, rich, and dense, it’s served open-faced on a sweet, golden brown Sixteen Bricks brioche bun with crumbled blue cheese, fresh arugula, tangy housemade pickles, and a schmear of housemade mustard. A marvelous flavor bomb. The night we had it, the beef was sourced from Butcher Betties in Florence, but they now grind it in-house. 519 Main St., Covington, (859) 491-7777, bouquetrestaurant.com

Read More

ExpandCincinnati Magazine's Top 10 Restaurants 2015

Best Restaurants 2015
March 3rd, 2015

Bouquet Restaurant Featured Cocktails

 

 

Bouquet

March 4, 2015

There are five bridges that cross the river into Northern Kentucky. Pick one and make your way to Bouquet posthaste. Stephen Williams’s farm-to-table menu shines in the cozy, unassuming MainStrasse location, offering some of the best bang for your hard-earned dining out bucks. Ease into your meal with warm olives scented with orange zest and pickled ginger alongside a crafty cocktail, the list of which is seasonal and loyal to Kentucky’s enduring gem: bourbon. Williams updates his menu regularly; go twice while the same fresh, local ingredients are at their peak and you’ll see creativity in action. Start with some greens—say the kale salad with a pear honey vinaigrette, bacon, pickled onion, and whipped feta, or the quinoa with a slow-poached 55-minute egg, Kentucky mushrooms, and sherry cream. Who says quinoa has to taste healthy? Williams’s juicy, perfectly seared bistro teres major steak was exceptional in two iterations—with horseradish grits and a parsley chimichurri sauce on the first visit, and an Asian bok choy preparation on the second. The service is upbeat, genuinely warm, and knowledgeable; the wine list extensive and the three-glass carafe a nice option for two people. Williams’s flexibility, deft talent, and flair for originality have rightly propelled him to the top shelf.

519 Main St., Covington, (859) 491-7777, bouquetrestaurant.com

Read More

ExpandWCPO Channel 9 Best Burgers in Town

Top 9: Cincinnati's best burgers
March 6th, 2015

Excalaburger-Bouquet Restaurant 

 

Bouquet (Covington) () : Stephen Williams is proud of his local vendors, so his fine dining-worthy burger represents the region well: Butcher Bettie's beef, Sixteen Bricks bread, house-made pickles and mustard, all served with truffle fries. You might have come to Bouquet for a romantic dinner, but trust me, burgers can be romantic, too, especially if it's this one.

Read More

ExpandCincinnati Refined

Cincinnati Restaurants Open On Mondays
January 13th, 2015
Open til 10pm
 
Whether you have yet to try Bouquet (doing so, by the way, should probably be at the tippity top of your list) or you're an aspiring regular, swing by this Mainstrasse mainstay on a Monday. You'll get a little bit more of that reknowned datenight vibe (not to mention the impeccable food and impressive service) all to yourself. Nothin' wrong with that.
Bouquet Fries 11 29 14
Read More

ExpandCincinnati Enquirer: At Bouquet, chef brings charities, diners together

At Bouquet, chef brings charities, diners together
January 14th, 2015

Stephen Williams-Bouquet Restaurant and Wine Bar-James Beard 

 

Nonprofit fundraisers go hand-in-hand with restaurants. Chefs are often called upon to donate time and food to events and galas.

But Stephen Williams, the chef and owner of Bouquet restaurant in Covington, is taking a more direct approach, creating his own series of events to raise money for local charities and non-profits.

He'll host a wine dinner on the last Tuesday of every month, with part of the proceeds going to a different organization each time. He's starting small, with room for just 24 people at the first dinner, which will raise money for The Carnegie, the arts organization in Covington, Jan. 27.

Chefs are often asked to donate food, but Covington restaurateur takes a direct approach.

 

 

Read More

ExpandCooking with Caitlin interview

November 2014

Cooking With Caitlin-Stephen WilliamsCaitlin and Kelly are joined by their friend Steve Frisch of The Rusty Ball, as well as Stephen and Jessica Williams of Bouquet Restaurant.

Read more: http://www.55krc.com/media/podcast-cooking-with-caitlin-WhatsHot/cooking-with-caitlin-11214-25510525/#ixzz3KUTl6sx8

 

 

Read More

ExpandCincinnati Profile

A Chef That Cares
November 2014

In the culinary world, it is sometimes rare to find a chef that cares about more than just the quality of food and the bottom line of their restaurant. Chef Stephen Williams of Bouquet Restaurant and Wine Bar in Covington is one of that rare breed. As the owner of Bouquet, he naturally cares about the quality of food he serves and the bottom line of his restaurant. As he told me recently, “you’re lucky in the restaurant business to be around a year, and we are about to celebrate our seventh.” They indeed celebrated their seventh anniversary on Saturday, November 1.

Read More

ExpandCincy Magazine 30 Best Restaurants

30 Best Restaurants "Most Romantic"
October 2014

It’s pretty hard to pick a “best restaurant” in Cincinnati.

Ten years ago, if you’d have asked us what the 10 best restaurants were, it would have been easy—and we might not have even come up with 10. Now, with a renaissance in downtown Cincinnati, the embracing of local farms and the greater variety of amazing restaurants opening up around the Tristate, it’s pretty hard to pick. We took a variety of categories that we know you care about, and picked our 30 Very Best Restaurants: the ones who do what they do best. You’ll notice a few themes: fresh, often local, ingredients; a distinctive approach to food; and, occasionally, a sense of nostalgia. It’s not exclusively fine dining, but we did make sure that it’s local (and delicious). Tell us what you think.

Cincinnati's 30 Very Best Restaurants

Read More

ExpandGarden & Gun Magazine Best Southern Burger Spots

Best Southern Burger Spots
September 5th, 2014

A state-by-state look to our readers' favorite burger joints. All suggestions came via Facebook. 

Unfortunately, this article no longer exists.

Read More

ExpandCincinnati Magazine: Spotted - House Party

June 26th, 2014

When James Beard died in 1985, Julia Child insisted that the culinary community do something with his house. As a cooking school proprietor, author of more than 20 cookbooks, and respected arbiter and mentor, Beard had entertained many from the burgeoning American food scene there, making it a natural home for a foundation that would promote the culinary arts. Being asked to cook a dinner at the Greenwich Village headquarters has become one of the highest honors for a chef. When Jean-Robert de Cavel was invited back (for his sixth time) in May as part of the Cincy in NYC arts trip, he decided to share the glory with seven fellow Cincinnati chefs: David Falk of Boca, Stephen Williams of Bouquet, Julie Francis of Nectar, Jean-Philippe Solnom of French Crust Café, David Cook of Daveed’s Next, Jeremy Lieb of Boca, and Jose Salazar of Salazar. Lucky me, I got to tag along, pitching in where I could in the kitchen. Between stuffing snails and peeling fava beans, I also took a few notes. This is how the dinner went down.

Read More

ExpandCincinnati Magazine: Spotted - Cincy in NYC James Beard Dinner

Spotted: Cincy in NYC James Beard Dinner
May 13th, 2014

Just in case you missed it, eight of Cincinnati’s finest chefs combined forces for one amazing dinner at New York's James Beard House this past weekend. The dinner was part of the Cincy in NYC arts takeover that occurred last week that also included performances by the Cincinnati Ballet, the CSO, the Playhouse and the CCM Ariel Quintet. Jean-Robert de Cavel selected and organized the chef team, which featured David Cook of Daveed’s Next, David Falk and Jeremy Lieb of Boca Restaurant Group, Julie Francis of Nectar, Jose Salazar of Salazar, Stephen Williams of Bouquet, and Jean Philippe Solnom of French Crust Café. Each chef contributed a canapé course, as well as a dinner course. The chefs endeavored to feature as many local products as possible.

Read More

ExpandCincinnati Enquier: Feast by Cincinnati cuisine stars at James Beard House

Feast by Cincinnati cuisine stars at James Beard House
May 12th, 2014

NEW YORK – There was a whirlwind of activity in the tiny kitchen of the James Beard Foundation in Greenwich Village as seven of Cincinnati's celebrity chefs prepped for an elite "Cincy in NYC" dinner on Saturday. The lovely townhouse is the former home of the iconic cookbook author and now regularly hosts glittery dinners for visiting chefs.

James Beard Foundation Chef Group Cincy-NYC

Read More

ExpandWCPO In the kitchen with Stephen Williams

Bouquet owner-chef takes cues from farmers, loves barbecue
January 2014

A steady diet of SPAM, microwave popcorn, and bologna sandwiches drove Stephen Williams of Bouquet Restaurant and Wine Bar over the edge and toward the kitchen: It got him to start cooking.

 

 Chef Stephen Williams

*This article no longer exists

 

 

Read More

ExpandOpenTable Diners' Choice

2013 Annual Winners - Best American Cuisine
December 2013

Powered By OpenTable: Restaurant Reservations. Right this way.American cuisine has truly come into its own, thanks in part to the chefs and restaurateurs who are elevating our nation's food culture one plate at a time. This holiday season celebrate the cuisine that makes America's foodies feel that there's no place like home.

The list of winners is based on more than 5 million restaurant reviews submitted by OpenTable diners for more than 19,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

 

 

Read More

ExpandCincinnati Enquirer

Polly: Best things I ate in 2013
December 2013

By Polly Campbell | pcampbell@enquirer.com

It's the time of the year when I push back from the table, delicately dab the corners of my mouth one last time, go home to flop in the recliner and mentally relive all my meals of the year.

It takes awhile. What with online guides to burgers and Italian food and vegetarian restaurants and Oktoberfest, etc, and my "Polly's New Favorite Thing" column and weekly restaurant reviews, I've cut a pretty wide swath through the food that you can get for money in Cincinnati. 

<br><br> Many local chefs and food producers have put their talents behind making better versions of time-honored, popular dishes. Why invent something completely new when there's still Peking duck to perfect, or better ways to make a doughnut? Why not take something wonderful from the past that we've gotten used to in a degraded form, like a croissant (yes, you, croissantwiches) and make the glorious, original version again? <br><br> Not that there wasn't some unbridled creativity on the loose around Cincinnati, with chefs coming up with tastes never before encountered. That's been fun, too. <br><br> Here, then, is a sampling of the best things I ate this year, many of them classics, but not all. If you read my blog or click the Dining button on Cincinnati.com frequently, you may have already heard of all these, but here they all are, cherry-picked for you and in one place. <br><br> <i>Pan-seared salmon, green beans, roasted fennel and potato suzette, roasted roma tomato garlic buttte

 

Read More

ExpandTasting Panel

Queen City Cuisine
December 2013

The Tasting Panel Magazine Cover

Read More

ExpandNKY Magazine Aug/Sept 2013

A Natural Bouquet
August 1st, 2013

Chef Stephen Williams finds it difficult to classify his restaurant.“Some people call us French-Southern with an American twist, but we also do Chinese, Indian and South American,” says Williams. “You can’t really label us. We just love to cook.”

That’s because the Bouquet Restaurant and Wine Bar never has a menu set in stone. The meals depend on available produce and ingredients from local farms.

 Stephen Williams at the bar at Bouquet

Read More

ExpandNKY Magazine Best of 2013

Top 20 Restaurants
April 20th, 2013

Whether it’s a burger, Belgian waffle or boar, roasted and served over polenta, the chefs of Northern Kentucky deliver. So, annually, NKY dares to declare the best of the best.

These are our favorites, but we are not content with a one-way conversation on something so important. Do you have a favorite chef? A little-known treasure of an entree? The perfect secluded table for two?

NKY 20 Best Restaurants

Read More

ExpandCincinnati Magazine's Best Restaurants 2013

Top 10
March 1st, 2013

If Kentucky is the new California, Chef Stephen Williams is the new Alice Waters (sorry, chef) whose cozy neighborhood bistro has one fork planted firmly in the canon of Kentucky-proud, the other in classic French

Cincinnati Magazine Where to Eat Now

Read More

ExpandCincinnati Enquirer's Campbell's Scoop

Review: Bouquet keeps getting better
Febuary 14th, 2013

In my first review of Bouquet, the little place in Covington that chef/owner Stephen Williams started on a shoestring, I said it was a restaurant I expected to develop over time, like the bouquet of a fine wine. I could not have been more right.

At the time, the food was good, but written in prose. Now it’s poetry. I’ve rarely experienced a restaurant improving this much. The plates are more beautifully arranged, the composition of the dishes shows originality, but also a respect for fresh, local food. There is a strong touch of Kentucky in the dishes, along with classic technique and a thoroughly modern understanding of how flavors can go together.

Campbell’s Scoop

Read More

ExpandSophisticated Living: Cincinnati

Bouquet Restaurant and Wine Bar
July/August 2012

While relatively common throughout Europe, where Slow Food is more mantra than buzzword, the locavore movement is still a relatively new phenomenon in most of the United States (the term was coined in 2005 and in 2007 was selected as word of the year in the Oxford American Dictionary). One of several local champions of the thos, Stephen Williams, the chef/owner of Bouquet Restaurant & Wine Bar in Covington's historic Mainstrasse district, allows patrons to experience the benefit of flavors that have had the time to ripen in the field rather than a warehouse...

Read More

ExpandOpen Table Top 100 American Restaurants

2012 Winner
May 12th, 2012

American cuisine has truly come into its own, thanks in part to the chefs and restaurateurs who are elevating our nation's food culture one plate at a time. The list of winners is based on more than 5 million restaurant reviews submitted by OpenTable diners for more than 15,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Read More

ExpandCincinnati Magazine's Best Restaurants 2012

Top Ten
March 1st, 2012

Is there anything we love more than a great neighborhood bistro? A real bistro, one that can be counted on as much for its lack of frills and conceptual statements as for its relative modesty, excellent food, and straightforward delivery? This is the essence of Bouquet Restaurant & Wine Bar, the kind of place every neighborhood needs.

Cincinnati's Top 10 Restaurants Magazine Cover

Read More

ExpandEdible Ohio Valley

Notable Edibles: Spring 2011

Edible Ohio Valley Magazine CoversAmid the friendly main drag of Covington, Kentucky, lies a restaurant and wine bar committed to local ingredients and promoting our Ohio Valley producers.

As a testament to Bouquet Restaurant and Wine Bar, the origin of each ingredient of the food they serve is widely known and displayed. At this excellent restaurant, diners know where the chef finds the food in two ways: how they describe the items on the menu and by the list of purveyors they include at the end of the seasonal, two-page menu.

Read More

ExpandCincinnati Magazine's Best Restaurants 2011

Where to Eat Now 2011
March 1st, 2011

5. Bouquet Restaurant and Wine Bar            

Where to Eat Now 2011


Truth be told, Bouquet surprised us all. When I first reviewed it in April 2010, I found the lo-fi vibe of this 42-seat bistro charming, the good heartland cuisine from Chef/Owner Stephen Williams promising, but the service inconsistent. By the time we returned in the fall, things had clearly changed.

 

Read More

ExpandWine Me Dine Me

Review: Bouquet
January 26th, 2011

Covington has such an abundance of adorable, quirky, unique dining experiences.  As many of them have gone smoke-free, The Better Half and I are making a point to visit more of them.  One night, we noticed that Bouquet had openings for the time we wanted to eat– all the better– so we made a quick OpenTable reservation and headed to Covington.

The Mainstrasse area of Covington is particularly beautiful, with old-world, European-style charm and just a hint of quirkiness.  There are tattoo parlors near bridal stores, motorcycle bars aroudn the corner from wine bars.  Bouquet is, of course, the wine bar.  The interior of Bouquet is like someone’s very nice, well-appointed living room, with lots of warm colors and a large wood bar.  On the right, you can see their many accolades from   Wine Enthusiast Magazine, and the bar was comfortably busy.  We got a table near the bar.

- See more at: http://winemedinemecincinnati.com/2011/01/review-bouquet/#sthash.5UnCfCdE.dpuf

 

Read More

ExpandFlour Power

Bouquet
June 27th, 2010

Since Jean-Robert At Pigall's closed we have been struggling to find somewhere to go every month for a relaxing and inspiring lunch or dinner. We were originally going to go to Boca, however we just weren't up to it. I switched our reservation to Bouquet not expecting much. I don't know why I didn't expect much.

This is going to sound douchey, but I don't care. When you have eaten somewhere like JR@P you become accustomed to expecting things and when you can't find them anymore it's very sad. Is this a eulogy of JR@P? No, this is my utter surprise at a little place called Bouquet.

When you walk it you are greeted to white tablecloths (so simply elegant) and an obviously french looking decor and atmosphere. Our server seated us by the front of the restaurant by the bar. I noted they had a nice selection of bottled beer, I saw some labels I've never seen before.

 

Read More

ExpandCincinnati Magazine 2010

Grape Expectations
May 1st, 2010

It is a cold night in a long unbrokenstring of cold nights. We pull our coats tighter and lean into each other as we deliberately sidestep the icy vestiges of recent winter storms. Snowflakes swirl in the air overhead and glimmer through the lights that illuminate the mid-19th-century quaintness of MainStrasse. Veins of frost reach across the front windows of Bouquet Restaurant & Wine Bar and Otto’s, next door. Charming, like a snow globe village, we decide, lingering for a moment before ducking into Bouquet.

Read More

ExpandBest of Metromix Cincinnati

Romantic Restaurant
January 11th, 2010

A cozy, quaint addition to MainStrasse Village, this wine bar is a must for lovers of the vine. Bouquet features a superb wine selection (hence its name), a knowledgeable staff and a small but well thought-out menu.

Read More

ExpandCity Beat

New MainStrasse dining option comes up roses
February 13th, 2008

Located on a hip and happening block of Covington's Main Street, the Bouquet Restaurant and Wine Bar is a pleasant surprise. In fact, in the incestuous world of Greater Cincinnati dining, Bouquet is a thriving branch covered with shiny leaves: It sits opposite Dee Felice and right next door to local favorite Otto's.

 

Read More

ExpandVogue

5 Industrial Cities Making America’s Rust Belt Shine Again
11-28-16