I often stop myself from judging a new restaurant on opening night, week, or even month. They are often working out issues with timing, perfecting food and drink, and it's difficult to even find an open seat. So, let me express my awe and amazement that at 6:15 p.m. on opening night of Bakersfield OTR, Steve and I enjoyed a laid-back meal filled with laughs and comfort, amid a few broken glasses and the kind, attentive owners. We were able to walk in and choose between a communal dining table, a table near the kitchen, or two spots at the bar. This is not to say this much anticipated whiskey/tequila bar wasn't buzzing with new clientele, it was, but rather we beat the BIG crowd by 5 minutes and opted for the seat at the bar, naturally.
The owners of this wood and brick claden bar are the owners of Sohi in Oxford and Currito in Clifton. I recognized them immediately from my many lunches in Oxford at their sandwich shop. It had just opened prior to me leaving Miami and I remember distinctly how much I loved that they put kimchi on a sandwich. They did not disappoint with their new venture. This is a good time to note how attentive and knowledgeable the bartenders and servers were the entire evening. Great service!
If Sohi and Currito are meant for the college student needing a solid meal on the go, Bakersfield OTR is meant for the young professional looking for a nice drink and meal after a bustling day at work in downtown Cincy. The bar is gorgeous with dark wood, exposed brick, and craft cocktails served over old western movies on the multiple flatscreen tv's. After perusing a menu, I went with the tequila manhattan and Steve tried the barrel-aged manhattan. The tequila manhattan was familiar in taste to the old well-known drink, but enjoyed the punch of tequila and bourbon soaked cherries. Delicious for an after-work drink and to set the tone for our meal.
After enjoying chips and guacamole (the closest guacamole I've ever eaten that compares to my own), we wanted to try everything on the menu. Well...with only two of us, we couldn't try everything, but we made a good effort. First we split the short rib torta. Wow! That sandwich was worth eating every night this week. Full of pull-apart short rib meat and topped with sweet carmelized onions and arugula, the torta was perfect. If you haven't had a torta (mexican sandwich) before, this is a good place to start. Served with a homemade medium roasted tomatillo dipping sauce, this sandwich was delicious.
(Not a great picture, but I was too busy shoveling this into my face to care!)
We couldn't try Bakersfield without trying the tacos. I had the cochinita pibil (braised pork and habanero sauce) and to further confirm my love for the meat, the short rib taco (topped with queso fresco and cilantro). Both were delicious, topped with pickled red onions. When you go, ask for the salsa verde -- a fresh and bright homemade sauce.
All in all, Bakersfield OTR will join my regular list of places that invoke relaxation, good conversation, and tasty bites.