March 2010 Issue
Miami University alumni who haven’t been back for a decade or three might be surprised (and happy) to find that Uptown Oxford isn’t what it used to be.
The 3.2-beer, broken-chairs-in-the-bar atmosphere many may recall from the 1970s and ’80s has given way to several blocks of pleasant, sophisticated commercial ambiance: cool coffee shops, smart boutiques and fine dining.
Falling into that latter category is Kona Bistro — an independently owned and operated eatery that feels a little like a culinary blend of jazz and world music: a warm, harmonious spot where old and new, foreign and familiar, melt together into an altogether satisfying something-new.
The first things you see, as your eyes grow accustomed to the dark dining room, are walls painted with big, colorful images of crazily swirling wine glasses that seem to holler out have fun here! That’s not hard to do in a place that serves something like Kona’s jambalaya. It’s as good as you’ll find anywhere, brimming with ham, chicken, shrimp, andouille sausage and as many tomatoes and peppers as you’d want to try to cram into a bowl of rice. It’s hot and good and just what you need, for $15.50.
That puts Kona in the slightly pricey range, but you won’t be disappointed by anything you spend your money on here. We couldn’t believe our luck at the organic beef meatloaf ($17), which arrived in two thick, perfectly seasoned slabs on a bed of mashed potatoes and slightly wilted spinach.
That organic thing matters, too — Kona prides and markets itself on fresh and organic ingredients, along with a varied vegetarian menu. It includes an Indian burrito ($14.50) packed with eggplant, potato, apple, peppers, pine nuts and mango chutney, and a satisfying Cajun-spiced organic tofu ($14.50).
Kona delves deeply as well into pastas, with plates that range from Greek shrimp to rosemary-cheddar chicken (all for $14–$16), and a sandwich menu ($7.75–$10.75) that covers the bases from oven-roasted turkey to curried chicken salad. Our favorite: the BBT, with maple bacon, fresh basil, sharp cheddar and roma tomatoes.
OXFORD Kona Bistro, 31 W. High St., Oxford 45056, 513/523-0686. konabistro.com. Hours: Sun.–Thur. 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Dinner entrees $14–$20. Reservations accepted for five or more.