Cincinnati is known for its food. From Skyline and Montgomery Inn, to Graeter’s, Busken Bakery and United Dairy Farmers, the Queen City isn’t starved for palette pleasers. But a handful of local entrepreneurs are hungry for something new. Keep reading to find out where you’ll soon be able to eat, drink and be merry.

Moerlein Lager House
Mark your calendar for February 6, 2012. That’s when the riverfront Moerlein Lager House will open, according to Tom Cunningham, executive partner with the Cunningham Restaurant Group (CRG). “We will open with about 820 seats and will be able to expand to over 1,000 during certain periods like Reds games and Riverfest,” Cunningham explains.

CRG, best known for its Stone Creek restaurants in Ohio and Indiana, will serve as the restaurant operator of the new Lager House. “The menu has not been announced as of yet,” says Cunningham. “But you can expect to see a modern day version of American/German fare ranging from The Best of the Wurst, which will include Cincinnati wiener wurst, bratwurst etc. to Rotisserie Prime Rib, Beer Can Chicken, and Pork Chops.”

Cunningham says they’ll also have flatbreads, fresh seafood and pastas. “The menu will be extensive,” Cunningham says. “We will be open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. We will also have a brewery and will brew Christian Moerlein Beer on site.” They’ll also feature about 100 other brands of beer from all over the world.

“This is by far the most desirable location for us to introduce what will be an iconic restaurant and beer pub,” says Cunningham. “The views will be incredible as you will see a full river view both east and west, the Roebling Bridge – a historic icon in its own right – as well as the sight of the world-class Phyllis W. Smale Riverfront Park that is under completion of Phase 1 as we speak.”

The Lager House will have an active event calendar, too. Cunningham says those interested will be able to access the online calendar closer to the opening date on their website, www.moerleinlagerhouse.com. He adds that they are currently interviewing for a variety of positions, as they’re hiring nearly 200 people by the end of the year.

Scott Sheridan, partner with the new downtown-based "Jimmy G's"

Jimmy G’s
Throughout the years, Scott Sheridan’s vision, imagination and business savvy has attracted the likes of Justin Timberlake, Snoop Dogg and nearly every Cincinnati clubber to one of his nightlife venues. In 2003, he launched his first nightclub, Club Clau. He then went on to launch Purgatory and more recently FB’s and Lunar/Launch.

While nightlife has been Sheridan’s specialty for years, he’s dishing up something new with his newest venture, “Jimmy G’s.”

The restaurant’s namesake, Chef Jimmy Gibson, has worked as Executive Chef at some of the most nationally acclaimed restaurants in the country including downtown Cincinnati’s The Phoenix, Ciao Baby in Washington D.C. and Dolce, one of the top Italian restaurants in New York City in the early 90s.

The new urban eatery will be located in the old Wah Mee space adjacent to Lunar on Elm Street downtown. “In terms of decor, the evolution and sophistication will be provided by an Art Nouveau meets ‘Mad Men’ design style,” says PR/Marketing specialist for Jimmy G’s (and Scott’s sister), Kim Sheridan.

According to Kim, the space is divided into three interconnecting sections: the lounge bar, a central dining room and two private dining/banquet areas, “The larger of which includes a custom fireplace,” she adds. “Guests enter from the street, down a mysterious stairwell through an arched entranceway into the restaurant. Including all of the rooms and the bar area capacity will sit at about 175.”

Wine lovers, rejoice. Jimmy G’s will also feature personal wine lockers, which you can reserve prior to the opening. According to Chef Gibson, “Jimmy G’s will be a ‘protein-centric’ menu featuring small plates. “You will be able to be in Thailand on one plate, the Caribbean on the next, Milwaukee on the next and Nice on the last. There will be something for everyone.”

This restaurant is – quite literally – interconnected with Scott’s nightclub, Lunar. The upper level of Lunar nightclub is accessible via an elevator in Jimmy G’s. “All dining guests will receive VIP entry into Lunar, as well as other special promotional offers and services,” says Kim. “Since traditional ‘clubbing’ has lost some of its edge and consumers have become increasingly restaurant and food savvy, Jimmy G’s will blur the boundaries between restaurant and cocktail lounge, morphing into a chic after-hours venue.”

The restaurant is being launched by joint principal owners Ron Goldschmidt, Ryan Goldschmidt, Scott Sheridan and Bill Foster. “It’s all about supporting downtown Cincinnati; whether it’s OTR, Walnut, WeVi (west of Vine), etc., it doesn’t matter where you go as long as people are coming downtown,” says Scott. “Every business owner down here is working together toward the same goal and that’s to make Cincinnati a growing metropolis that continues to thrive.”

New 4EG Bar
While the name and specifics of the concept are still under wraps, 4EG just broke ground on their ninth local venue over the weekend.

Located near the former Maisonette, the new bar will be approximately 7,500 square feet. According to 4EG partner, Bob Deck, they will utilize the basement and the first three floors of the six-story building. “Architecturally, it will be very unique and unlike any of our other eight Cincinnati concepts,” says Deck. “It will be mostly an upscale bar with some lounge elements.”

This will be 4EG’s third project with 3CDC “and we are happy to be doing so,” says Deck. Core Resources is doing the development and 4EG is working with Beck Architecture on the design. Deck says he expects it to open in early- to mid-spring and projects that it’ll employ about 50 people.

“I think it will be another great addition to the back stage entertainment district, along with utilizing an old building that’s been vacant for years,” says Deck. “It should compliment the area well and increase the viability of downtown Cincinnati.”

Abigail Street
According to Julie Niesen Gosdin, author of food and spirits blog wine me, dine me (in cincinnati), Abigail Street will be “the less-meaty sister restaurant to Senate.” She says there will be wine on tap, Mediterranean-style cuisine, and 75% fish and vegetables. “[A] good treat for the wife or girlfriend,” she adds.

Taste of Belgium
By now, you’ve probably heard of Jean-François Flechet’s delectable “Taste of Belgium” Liege-style waffles and crêpes. For the past several years, he’s brought a taste of Belgium to places such as Coffee Emporium, Findlay Market and the North Market in Columbus. Taste of Belgium now has a home of its own in OTR. “They just opened a cafe, currently open 7am-3pm Mon-Sat,” says Godsin. “They’ll be opening for dinner. Belgian bistro [with] frites cooked in beef tallow, waffles, crepes.”

Bakersfield
Gosdin also has the scoop on another restaurant opening soon in OTR. “Bakersfield should be opening shortly – no opening date,” she says. “Tacos, tequila and beer.” The restaurant is being developed by brothers Joe and John Lanni, who founded the Hamilton-based Currito burrito chain.

The theme of this soon-to-be foodie fav stems from Bakersfield’s influence on country music in the ’50s and ’60s. As music legends such as Buck Owens and Merle Haggard developed the “Bakersfield Sound,” it was an epicenter of country music in California.

While the restaurant will be urban and modern, patrons will also enjoy a “rebel, outlaw feel” according to the brothers. Bakersfield will be joining an existing lineup of OTR restaurants, such as Lavomatic, Senate and A Tavola Pizzeria.