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Downtown dining for the healthy foodie

Pre-appetizer at Local 127 downtown of house-made treats
Pre-appetizer at Local 127 downtown of house-made treats
Pama Mitchell

In the space that used to be Jean-Robert at Pigall's, Local 127 is a marvelous addition to the Cincinnati dining scene, not the least because of its "locavore" emphasis. The chef and his staff work hard to find locally grown or produced foods, year round.

The restaurant is at 127 W. 4th Street downtown and looks much the same as when it was the city's most upscale, fine-dining destination, but the food and wine concept and execution are quite different. The buzz about the place, opened in Fall '09, has been really positive. And the addition of a "craft cocktail" lounge next door called Tonic only makes it more of a destination.

Menu highlights? First is a pre-appetizer, a sampling of one thing that makes the restaurant unique: a selection of cured and pickled dishes for the table to share (pictured). Most were meat-based, and among the best bites are a smoked trout concoction and the leanest pork-belly preparation you can imagine. (Um, yes, pork belly is not normally on the healthy foodie's fork, but you do sometimes make exceptions.)

One of the most successful dishes is the squash soup, and the touch that makes it especially memorable is a garnish of crispy slivers of garlic. You can also depend on the chef's handling of fish entrees, such as halibut or sea scallops. Instead of industrial beef, Local 127 serves the much lower-fat bison (buffalo) from a ranch in eastern Ohio. Recent dinner entrees have included bison ribeye with fried green tomatoes.

The wine list is extensive without being overwhelming, and it can be fun to go with a group of friends so you can try several different bottles. Be sure to stop first at Tonic for some amazingly creative and unusual spirits, too.

For healthy recipes and more about finding healthy Cincinnati restaurants, check out the healthy-foodies blog.

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