You know from the moment you step inside the restaurant in this building, which opened in 2012 as the 21c Museum Hotel Cincinnati and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, that you're in for a memorable meal. Let's start with the ambience. When the 90-seat dining room is full, the noise bounces off of the carefully preserved mosaic tile floors. This is not a place where couples can cozy up for quiet conversations. It's a place to get together with foodie friends eager to see what else is coming out of the custom-built wood-burning fireplace—and people who are open to having a 3-foot yellow plastic penguin placed alongside the table.
We dined at Metropole three times; twice for breakfast because we were staying in the hotel and once for dinner. Every dish we tried was expertly prepared; just know you'll pay for that careful hand. Breakfast options include fruit smoothies ($5), egg white omelets ($12), a 21c Breakfast that includes two eggs, Cincinnati's famous goetta (an oat/pork side dish), roasted potatoes and charred tomatoes ($14) and buttermilk malt pancakes topped with caramelized bananas and served with buttered bourbon syrup ($12). A spicy house-made breakfast sausage and house-smoked slab bacon are each $4 extra but worth the splurge if you're a breakfast meat fan. At that rate, with juice and coffee, a $40 breakfast tab for two is common here.
The seasonal dinner menu is short but packed with locally sourced flavors. Metropole gets its bread from Blue Oven Bakery in Williamsburg, Ohio, and serves locally roasted French press coffee, plus a a rotating selection of American craft beers on tap and, of course, Kentucky bourbon. A charcuterie bar offers three meats and cheeses for $16, and appetizers include a creamy cauliflower soup made with Granny Smith apples, currents and toasted almonds ($9), charred foie gras ($18) and Wagyu beef tartare ($17). Standout entrees include the string roasted chicken served with dripping pan vegetables and grilled lemon for $24 and, believe it or not, the Metropole burger, which comes on a potato bun and with bacon-apple jam ($13). The coleslaw-style Brussels sprouts side dish ($8) will inspire you to figure out how to make it at home.