Why visit Cincinnati? (Really, why?)

Man, we Cincinnatians love lists — especially when we’re on them. Ever since mega travel site Lonely Planet picked the Queen City as a top-10 US travel destination for 2012, my Facebook and Twitter feeds have been blowing up with the news. The TV stations all had a bit on the announcement, as did the Business Courier.

“Is Cincinnati suddenly chic?” the Enquirer asked. “Lonely Planet thinks so.”

Lest this Cincy parade get too out-of-hand, I’m here with a fire hose.

Can I just say what we’re all thinking as we look at a list that includes the US Virgin Islands, Hawaii and Yellowstone National Park?

Cincinnati — really?

I let loose my cynicism on the guy who wrote the article, Lonely Planet US travel editor Robert Reid, and he came back with a response so smart and cheerful that I found myself nodding my head.
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On the (sad) state of Cincinnati dining

I once “reviewed” restaurants for an ad-heavy publication that encouraged us to play nice with potential sources of revenue. And so I found ways to side-step undercooked fish and foul pieces of meat (“The fries were incredible!”). If the place was a rancid sty, I’d play up its cozy charm. If the service was lousy, I’d remark that the eatery was “still finding its legs.” If it was really bad, we’d just scrap the review.

This is all to say: I ate a lot of mediocre food in a lot of mediocre restaurants. And I think Cincinnati can do better.

Last night, after months of anticipation, my boyfriend and I ate at the much-hyped Jean-Robert’s Table. It was the final straw. Oh, fancy French restaurant with your wooden French menus and your quirky French bird artwork and your four French stars on Yelp, oh how I wanted to love you. But now that I don’t have to pretend, I’ll say it.

You were just OK.

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