Today is the grand opening of Washington Place Bistro & Inn. The restaurant that took over the remarkable space that once housed the long-standing Baricelli Inn in Little Italy.
Last night was a media preview dinner for both bloggers and traditional media outlets. In the spirit of full disclosure (as always), I am doing some freelance PR and social outreach work for the restaurant’s owners and coordinated last night’s event. I was given this opportunity after I interviewed owner Scott Kuhn for a previous post. As many of you know, I’ve worked in PR for the last 13 years and will often do some freelance work on the side, especially when it involves my other passion – food.
So with that in mind, I am clearly biased and therefore won’t write a typical review since I don’t really just have my blogger hat on. But there are several items I think are worth spreading the word.
First off, I do think you should go and check out this place for yourself. It’s truly remarkable the transformation they did from its Baricelli days. Now, we were big Baricelli fans and are super eager for Flour to open in early 2011. But truthfully, we’d only eat there in the summer – on the patio – because neither one of us cared for the décor inside. Scott redid everything from top to bottom, including the inn suites. And we’re not just talking new carpet and a fresh coat of paint. There’s even a spacious new lounge area in the entryway, something I always felt the old space was missing. Though I must admit, I do miss that large, walk-in cooler of cheese, glorious cheese! Though Baricelli Cheeses will be used in many of the new dishes, like the mack and cheese (mack for Mackenzie Creamery).
I also like the significant effort the restaurant is making to support Veggie U, an organization I care deeply about (be sure to check back tomorrow for how you can support Veggie U and basically eat free for the next year). Not only is the chef, Jonathan Guest, utilizing many items from The Chef’s Garden, but each guest has the ability to donate to Veggie U at the end of their meal. Further, the owners want to continue that spirit of giving and will soon offer ways to support UH as well, a hospital and an organization that both Scott and his family have been heavily involved with and committed to supporting for years.
Continuing in the spirit of supporting the community of Little Italy and surrounding University Circle, within the next month or so they will start offering “employee discounts” for people that work in neighboring areas. Further, if you visit one of the area attractions, stop in to the restaurant on that same day to receive a special treat, too. Once these have been finalized, I’ll be sure to share the specifics. And if you’re a Foursquare user like me, there will specials for the Mayor and for each 5th check-in, like free appetizers.
Regarding the event last night, everyone was treated to passed appetizers, then a six-course tasting of some of their favorite dishes. The menu itself has a definite slant towards gourmet comfort foods, especially pleasing this time of the year. Though I did clear each plate, there were two items I am eager to order on my next visit: the roasted beet and Mackenzie Creamery goat cheese salad (truly, I think this was my favorite dish – I am a sucker for beets) and the oxtail pierogi with Ohio City Pasta truffle-stuffed potato pieogie (a new venture for the guys at OCP). On a side note, I had the pleasure of meeting Jean Mackenzie and her partner Jim. I’ve been a fan of her cheeses for several years now but had never met her. What a truly delightful and charming couple – look for a Q&A with Jean soon!
You can view the full menu, including lunch and brunch, here. And if you happen to be in the area on Wednesdays, be sure to take advantage of the $40 deal: a bottle of wine, appetizer plus two entrees. You can learn about this plus other restaurant happenings and special offers on its Facebook page, too.