September 2008 Issue
September's Featured Restaurant
One of the most talked-about, best-reviewed restaurants to open recently in Southwest Ohio is nestled in the ever-developing terrain of Warren County along Interstate 75.
It’s mesh — they prefer the lower-case spelling — and when I mentioned an upcoming visit to two different friends, they both said nearly the same thing: “Oh, it’s very good. It’s expensive, but it’s very, very good.”
They were right: mesh invites higher-than-average expectations on the strength of the reputations of its owner/chefs, Paul and Pam Sturkey, who’ve worked in the area a long time. Their new place more than lives up to those expectations.
The atmosphere is sophisticated uptown, despite mesh’s asphalted suburban locale. Cool, muted colors and natural wood accents greet you as you enter the subtly darkened dining room. Linking it to the sleekly modern bar is a massive wall of wine unlike anything you’ll see in the area — a glass-fronted arrangement of some 2,000 bottles that is 12 feet high and stretches along 26 feet of the dining room’s main communal area. The wine list has easy-to-use suggestions that help diners decide what will work best with their food.
Ah, yes, the food. The surprises begin with the appetizers — such as a basil bisque. The bowl arrives at the table with pine nut pesto, tomato fondue and shaved parmesan presented across the bottom of the platter, over which the server pours the soup.
Entrees are similarly engaging and adventurous. We landed on diver scallops atop brulee tomatoes, wild mushrooms and spinach risotto, drizzled with basil vinaigrette, and an elegant piece of beef — a fabulous New York strip, chargrilled beneath a coating of horseradish and crab. Served with scalloped potatoes and French-style green beans and accented with cognac demi-glace, it was a nearly perfect plate.
The staff gets all this wondrous stuff to the table with impeccable timing and yet without a rush, doing their best to make you feel at home, just as the jazz comes floating in from the bar to complete the mood.