Al fresco is a term borrowed from late 19th century Italian, meaning “in the cool (air).” Today, the term refers to a style of dining outside an eatery, especially in temperate climes, where people may loll away an afternoon or evening eating, drinking, people watching.
Some al fresco spots have advantages over others in our Dining Out orbit, and an advantage may be found at Brown Dog Café in Blue Ash.
“The patio area here is like having your own private box seats at any major event that is held at Summit Park,” said Paul O’Moore, a manager at Brown Dog Café.
As an example, he cited and described America’s birthday party, the Fourth of July fireworks show held at the park that evening. The place was packed for that event, he said, and the restaurant enjoys similar crowds at Summit Park events throughout the warm-weather months.
Events aside, the Brown Dog patio is a popular spot, O’Moore said. “If somebody wants to dine al fresco, we definitely can scratch that itch for them. We have a fully covered patio area that seats 70, and even on the hottest days (or evenings) we keep a nice breeze blowing through there with fans.”
While reservations are taken for indoor seating at the cafe, there is no reserve seating on the patio at Brown Dog Café.
“It’s more casual on the patio. People come in from walking or even jogging in the park, or they may be at the park with kids. Sometimes parents of small children will have a drink or something to eat while watching their kids on the playground (close by) in the park. They can keep an eye on the kids and relax at the same time,” O’Moore said.
Another feature of the patio at Brown Dog is the pizza bar. A pizza oven is the centerpiece of this patio attraction, and truly, it is an attraction for kids awaiting a pizza they will be eating soon.
“It’s definitely an attraction for the kids, and for adults too, I will say. They order a pizza and then sit at the bar and watch the pizza chef prep the pizza, put the ingredients on, and then slide it into the oven (an open-hearth oven with blazing heat showing at its mouth),” he said.
Part of that fun is talking to the chef doing the prep, and the more precocious kids have a thousand questions, it seems, about the pizzas and the oven and how hot it is and all the rest.
“Probably a third of our business at this time (of year) is the pizzas,” O’Moore said.
Easy to see why, I think. We tried one of those pizzas, the Mediterranean, and it’s loaded. The flavor of the herbed ricotta and tangy goat cheese is simply wonderful, according to my taste buds. The flavors of the cheeses complement the fixings, which include artichoke hearts, grape tomatoes, banana peppers, an olive tapenade, and spinach leaves. Then there is the crust: it’s crunchy and chewy at the same time. And it’s the type of crust you want to eat, not leaving a morsel behind. If you enjoy vegetarian pizza, you will love this one, I’m betting.
Also, we had the pepper citron salad as part of our meal. This salad features local greens (a spring mix of greens) and a peppercorn encrusted grilled chicken breast from Ohio Amish farmers. The salad gains flavor from a lemon citron reduction and several specially prepared add-ins. Among these are: a mint-cucumber relish, grilled asparagus and marinated tomatoes. The salad is dressed with a citrus vinaigrette.
Turns out our meal is a common patio choice in these warm days of summer.
“Lots of people, couples, do exactly that; a pizza and a salad of one type or another that they share, a glass of wine or a beer. It’s perfect for this time of year,” O’Moore said.
Also, of note at Brown Dog is the All Vegan Gourmet Experience held the last Tuesday of each month. For instance, the kitchen prepared barbecued jackfruit, of Asian origin, and here’s what O’Moore had to say: “It mimics pulled pork. We smoke the jackfruit, and the result was really quite remarkable. People loved it.”
Next up on the All Vegan Gourmet Experience is a paella with the taste and texture of the Spanish specialty, but all vegan, on July 30.
Finally, if you read this article when the paper hits the streets, Brown Dog Café will be halfway through Burger Week, July 15-21, which means $5 will get you a gourmet “beef brat burger” topped with pickled red cabbage, red onion, Kaiser dill pickle and stone-ground mustard, on a pretzel bun (hold the cheddar).
See you at Brown Dog Café!
Brown Dog Café
4335 Glendale-Milford Road
Cincinnati, Ohio, 45242