In restaurant kitchens in and around Greater Cincinnati, there is nothing new under the sun that I have come across. That is, nothing that has not been done before in the way of preparations.
But there are some solid methods of food preparation seldom used in today’s kitchens. One of those is poaching. More about that subsequently.
Bronson Trebbi and Donny Arnsperger are co-owners of Walt’s Hitching Post, where David “Sanchez” Wilson, is general manager. That trio has utilized imagination and knowledge of the dining public to build a menu that features variety and intriguing choices. For Jewish diners, one of those choices is a poached salmon entree that is to die for, according to Arnsperger.
“It’s a cooking method that is not used much anymore, but it’s also one that is great when it comes to retaining flavors and providing good texture. That’s why we decided to use poaching to do our salmon, and we do it in Kentucky bourbon-barrel ale, which adds a delicious flavor to the dish,” he said.
The bourbon-barrel ale poached salmon is an addition to the menu for at least the summer months, but in my book, poaching is good kitchen practice anytime of year. Poaching involves cooking by submerging the item in a heated liquid. But there is more to it than just that. Poaching is differentiated from other “moist-heat” cooking done by simmering, boiling or braising. To poach, one uses a relatively low heat level – 160 degrees to 180 degrees F.
This temperature range is ideal for cooking delicate foods, such as eggs, fish, fruit and some poultry. Those items may well fall apart or turn to mush under more severe cooking methods, along with possibly losing flavor notes due to excessive heat. Slower, warm-liquid poaching is much kinder to the item, in this case being a salmon filet. Also, poaching is considered a more healthful, wholesome way to prepare the fish, since there is no fat used to cook or flavor the food.
Walt’s salmon entree is served with zucchini, yellow squash, spaghetti and sweet Thai chili butter broth. The reviews have been rave ones, Arnsperger said.
“It’s really popular, along with several other new items on our menu that we added recently. The salmon, and we added a veal chop that we butterfly, and add a Panko breading crust to and serve with a lemon caper sauce (ask to hold the butter). We added a blackened filet (10 ounce) served with jalapeno ravioli; and an ahi tuna (8 ounce) that’s crusted with sesame seeds and garnished with a apples, cucumbers and avocados, in a ginger-soy sauce served with garlic white rice. Their all delicious dishes that our guests really like,” he said.
In years past, Walt’s was known as a rib place, famous for classic dry-rub pit barbecue, and its barbecue sauce, which has a 50-year heritage at the eatery. While that tradition still is part of the offering, there is a lot more from which to select, according to Arnsperger.
“We have a great steak menu at Walt’s, and those are always popular,” he said. “The salmon, the tuna, our famous fried chicken, and the prime rib we offer (Fridays only on the prime rib). And our Side Bets are great – great value, and great flavors and tastes.”
The Side Bets list, where you’ll find the side dishes on Walt’s menu, are a lot more than simple add-ons to a meal. They are part of the fine-dine experience in this “rustic luxury” restaurant. The kitchen has taken the time to make each one special, to my way of thinking. The manner of serving is part of the experience, with many served in small cast iron fry pans. In all, the robustness of flavors and preparations fit nicely into the personality of the place. The sides feel just right. My favorites are the classic creamed corn, served in the cast iron skillet mentioned above, and the steamed asparagus.
“Since women make a lot of the dining decisions these days, our menu has been built around the idea that we want to appeal to both women and men. We have outstanding appetizers, attractive dinner salads, great chicken and seafood entrées and more, to go along with top-quality steaks and smokehouse items. Walt’s menu has something for everybody,” Arnsperger said. He’s correct.
See you at Walt’s Hitching Post!
Walt’s Hitching Post
3300 Madison Pike,
Fort Wright, KY 41017