Best Restaurants No. 3: Le Bar a Boeuf’s French Cuisine Is on Another Level

Jean-Robert de Cavel’s neo-bistro provides approachable yet sophisticated cuisine with a beautiful view.
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I don’t know if there is a better restaurant reinvention story in Cincinnati than Jean-Robert de Cavel’s wonderful Le Bar a Boeuf. The restaurant—perched high above the Ohio River in East Walnut Hills’s Edgecliff Building—was mainly a gourmet burger joint when it first opened in 2015. It has since been refined into a full-on French bistro, and as such, it is the best place in town to sample de Cavel’s approachable-but-sophisticated cuisine.

La Bar a Boeuf’s pumpkin ravioli is served with ricotta, sautéed spinach, and oyster mushroom in thyme brown butter.

Photograph by Catherine Viox

They take care of you here, those black-shirted servers. On the night of my first visit, I got stuck in a particularly brutal Cincinnati rush hour crush that I somehow didn’t anticipate, certain to miss my 6 o’clock reservation. When I sheepishly called the restaurant to inform them of my tardiness, longtime maître d’ Marilou Lind replied with the warmth of a fresh-baked baguette: “It’s no problem. Is there anything we need to know about? Theater tickets, anything like that?” They’re thinking about the pace of your meal before you even arrive.

Speaking of theater, for a front-row seat to some of the best monologue this city has to offer, listen to server Daren Dixon recite the lengthy list of nightly specials with poetic precision. Specials here are not just creative ways to dump off unsold inventory: they’re opportunities for both the back and front of the house to explore the full range of their talents.

A warmth permeates this cozy bistro, a heartiness that can steel you for the coldest Cincinnati winter. This could take the form of a buttery local chicken served over a seasonal vegetable fondue and topped with a rich morel cream sauce. Or it could take the form of a seared duck breast served over creamy grits, in a dish that seamlessly melds the North of France with the American South. And it will always, always emanate from the staff.

2200 Victory Pkwy., East Walnut Hills, (513) 751-2333, lebaraboeuf.com

See the full 2023 Best Restaurants list here. 

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