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2. Jean-Robert's Table

Where to Eat 2013

If our passion for Cincinnati’s burgeoning restaurant scene has taken on an evangelical enthusiasm of late, we should all be hugging it out with the monsignor of the local culinary church,a Frenchman who cooks with poetry and passion and has done more to develop aspiring talent for the next generation of food stars than a network of top chefs.

If that sounds like the bar is set high, it is. Jean-Robert de Cavel’s kitchen brigade turns out fiercely personal dishes with an unmistakable sense of place, whether it’s embracing the classic saucy splendor of his French heritage or celebrating a bounty of local produce. The duo of snail and frog legs with Brie, garlic puff pastry, and parsley butter sauce condenses the entire Alsatian province into seven bites, while the lobster vol au vent with its brandy cream sauce and trio of peas, mushrooms, and watercress would be as familiar in a Parisian court of kings as this neighborhood bistro. Like the menu, the room is warm and sophisticated without an ounce of pretension, appointed in treasures and furnishings the chef has discovered trolling antique markets. The staff’s obvious respect for and dedication to de Cavel creates an atmosphere of eager-to-please sincerity that matches his own passion and commitment, and makes everyone feel welcome to the table.

713 Vine St., downtown, (513) 621-4777, jrtable.com

Originally published in the March 2013 issue.