Best Restaurants 2012

Photograph by Anna Knott

Maybe it’s his good-humored sense of play, or maybe it’s his cheekiness, but Chef Owen Maass’s menu inevitably has a couple of dishes that raise an eyebrow. Since he’s the sort of chef who doesn’t care if he rattles you a bit, that may mean a dusting of vegetable ash on a sashimi appetizer, “blow torch Mornay” to describe the sauce blanketing the croque madame on the brunch menu, or the server announcing that “the chef believes seared foie gras is best with breakfast food” to explain the pancakes, peanut butter, vinegar granola, and chocolate bacon jelly that accompany it. The first hit is a visual one—Maass’s art background drives him to style food brilliantly—but the second (and fourth, and last) hit is always rooted in flavor. At times it’s bold and raucous, at times it’s unpredictable, but always it’s celebratory—a rollicking declaration that he knows how to have fun, and thinks you should too. And you will.

3520 Erie Ave., East Hyde Park, (513) 871-8714,

Originally published in the March 2012 issue.

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