i don’t have any pictures from last nights dinner, i feel uncomfortable with the idea of carrying a camera into a restaurant and photographing someone else’s food..  but it was a fun night that i want to share about!

i have been to slim’s a few times.  once in the very early conception, when they first began and they served lunch and dinner and were open lots more hours.  there was no phone.  i was just starting to become very interested in food and cooking and eating and the concept of dining.  and when i went there, i remember i was taken with the food and the space and the feeling of the whole thing.  it was a beautiful place to eat lunch, the light was just right. 

the second time i ate at slim’s was with jenna and timmy and some friends.  we went for dinner in a cold season, it must have been the winter after i moved back here.  we were so excited to take some of our walla walla wine and have a good dinner.  i remember being jazzed about the food, it hitting a chord in my coming off of jimgermanbar and THE WEST in general.  the food being interesting and really true to itself and cultured but not fussy.  the business of ‘dining’ sometimes feels like this bizarre ritual or facade, when it is really a relationship and the openness of this place and the shared tables and all the wood makes it so warm..  all the while, creating a really nice dining experience.  we felt out-on-the-town and transported.  and there was sorbet!  in the middle!  as a cleanser!  after this night, i have told everyone that my favorite place in cincinnati is slim’s.  but i haven’t been back, til last night.  

last night was this sort of friends & family night at slim’s, billed as a new concept for them for tuesday – thursday dinner, when slim’s is normally closed.  they are calling it VOUT which originates from this jazz musician- Slim (get it? slim’s) Gaillard’s jazzy lingo.  there is this whole sort of dictionary of words, VOUT is used as a word ending or word substitute- with VOUT-O-LA meaning joy.  which i like to think about. 

i took timmy because i really like talking food with him and he is going to be gone for a while, so a nice send off, i guess.  we brought a bottle of walla walla wine and we were ready to see what this VOUT was all about. 

i think the idea is to have things be much more casual on these nights, even less dining, but still really great eating and at prices that people like me and timmy and all the other people who love going out to eat but maybe don’t have jobs- that we could eat here often.  and maybe it has something to do with this: http://cincinnati.com/blogs/dining/2010/02/25/slims/.  funny making statements like that (and what does it even mean?) right before you start being open more.   maybe slim’s is growing enough food to be feeding more people.  or maybe the space is there and in the spirit of pizza night, use it!

you order at the counter and take a number.  there are courses, but i guess everything will be priced ala carte.  we didn’t get much insight into that part of the operation.   there is water on the tables.  and my favorite waitress hailing from every cool restaurant in northside, margie, brought us things as they were ready. 

i got a watercress soup first.  it was a lovely green color and it had this curious smokey flavor, but i don’t think paprika, that kept me scooping the enormous shovel-like spoon into it.  and it tasted very appropriate for the day, like an almost springtime with the green and the fresh, but with the woodstove still burning.  where do i come up with these things? 

then came the charcuterie plate.  which was a good mix and a good size, just giving a taste of maybe 5 or 6 different meats.  i was most interested in the greens and the cured lamb.  i would have been happy to have had a few shaves of the lamb, and forgone the other meats- in favor of something pickled and a nice cheese.  the other meats were either too dry or too fatty, in the way that you get stuck chewing and wondering what to do with the wad..  but timmy liked the others, so maybe i just haven’t been eating enough meat lately..

we both had the fig and blue cheese salad.  the greens growing in the front windows look like the ones in our salad.  and that must be the sweetest spot in the world for greens to live, they were so tender and flavorful and beautiful.  i ate a bunch with my fingers, wanting to hold them closer, get a good look at them.  the dressing was light and perfectly balanced and the fig/blue cheese combo gets me everytime.  

the business of ordering dinner was a little confusing, there weren’t any prices listed on the menu, so i can’t conceptualize how this will work today.  the main, sides and sauces listed seperately.  if it was me, i would probably help some people out and just make the optimal pairings into one “plate” and offer that.  i would say that i came up with an optimal pairing, having a bite of the tender pork on a plantain chip with the black bean salsa was perfect.  timmy had mussels and we had a slaw and some smokey mash as sides. 

i liked everything and really enjoyed thinking about restaurants in general and how it is so interesting to try to work with or against what your customers are going to expect.  working in restaurants, i think you start to assume that you can tell people what to do when they walk into the door of your place.  and if they don’t get it, then they aren’t the right person to spend their money there.  or that they don’t have appreciation for you or your food or what you are ‘doing’. 

being a part of practicing that last night from the “customer” side was interesting.  i ended up feeling that it would be less work for everyone to just have the service in place.  and that was so interesting for me, since i have been in the process of brainstorming ways to have very minimal service at a restaurant, myself. 

either way, it does seem that the folks of slim’s are able to have things be the way they want, to try experiments on their customers and to make it a great, stimulating experience for everybody involved.  as it was for me last night!  ovbiously, since this girl has been off the restaurant review train for a while and i couldn’t wait to write about that dinner!