As OTR’s makeover continues apace, the blocks north of Liberty are getting a little injection of French Existentialism. Sartre is a slight nod to the eponymous French philosopher, but it’s mainly just a stylish, comfortable, and seriously lovely place to hang out.
The restaurant shares the block with Rhinegeist, but is a totally separate outfit. That said, there will eventually be a special menu that you can order directly from inside Rhinegeist, which will be delivered via a system of pneumatic tubes, bank teller-style.
Sartre’s chef is Justin Uchtman, and his dinner menu is heavily focused on quirky-but-confident takes on French cuisine, with snacks like piquillo pepper beignets, a relatively huge seafood selection that includes Yellowtail tartare, “poisson frit”—that’s fried fish, y’all—and a roasted royal bass with crushed potato. There are plenty of more substantial options (the confit pork shoulder is a standout), and a little “French(ish)” menu with bistro classics such as moules frites, country pâté, salad Lyonnaise, and steak frites. There’s also an Oysters & Champagne menu for those fanciest of fancy nights out.
All of the menus—from food to cocktails to beer and wine—read like a who’s-who of local purveyors: Bread from Allez Bakery and Blue Oven Bakery; coffee from Deeper Roots; and of course, a beer collaboration with Rhinegeist: “Being,” a grisette brew inspired by Jean-Paul himself.
The wine program, designed by Beverage Director Randy Diedling, is the only one of its kind in the city, focusing on cellar-temperature wines—that is, wines whose temperatures have been controlled since they left the wineries. Casual wine-drinkers may not recognize that the wine is the perfect 98.6 (or whatever) but they’ll probably notice that it tastes amazing.
And then there’s the décor, sourced from Wooden Nickel Antiques, The Plant Trolley, and Orange Chair, among others. Even the background music is carefully selected, designed by local DJ extraordinaire Matt Joy.
Taken together, all of the elements that make up the Sartre experience will bring a serious dining upgrade to the Northern Liberties.
Sartre opens to the public Friday, September 29 at 5 p.m.
Catch chef Justin Uchtman at Savor Cincinnati. Grab tickets and find out more here.