An Evening at Restaurant L
Photography by Aaron Conway
An evening at Restaurant L is more than exquisite French fine dining. It is a gourmet journey encompassing friendly service, an elegant tempo and a host of other delightful nuances that, the owners will tell you, can only be experienced inside the restaurant’s doors.
“From the way we’ve set up the seating arrangement to offer a great view of the dining room from any table, to the fine linen, to the décor, and of course the food and its presentation, it’s all about the little surprises,” says Jean-Robert de Cavel, owner and French master chef.
The restaurant, on the first floor of Great American Tower in the heart of the downtown business district, opened in August. Guests are welcome for dinner Tuesday through Saturday. It is served 5:30-9:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and 5:30-10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Restaurant L’s bar has extended hours, from 5:30 p.m. until midnight each day.
“Our opening week was truly spectacular, and to see so many familiar faces out to support our new venture was really inspiring,” says co-owner and maître d’hôtel Richard Brown. “When Jean-Robert and I first started talking about creating Restaurant L we wanted to create a place where the fine art of hospitality was fully in tune with the food offering.”
Guests’ comments have run the gamut, from heralding the new restaurant as a wonderful place to celebrate memorable events to
expressing how nice it is to see a return to a fine dining experience in Cincinnati.
L’s elegant, timeless style – blue-and-gray painted embossed walls, silver velvet upholstered swoop-back chairs, 23-foot ceilings and silk drapes – is inspired by designer Coco Chanel, circa Paris 1950. Nineteen tables perfectly accommodate L’s level of detailed service and fine food. And the windows, notes de Cavel, offer guests a grand view of Great American Ball Park and Fort Washington Way.
“The prix fixe offering is set up where you create your own menu, which I think is very unique for our guests,” de Cavel says. “We want people to experience different types of dishes that may be outside of their comfort zone when coming to L. It’s all about how you
The wine list is predominately French, per the restaurant theme.
“There are over 23 selections of wine by the glass, and over 160 by the bottle, with wine pairings for both the three-course prix fixe and menu gourmand offerings,” says David Anthony, general manager and sommelier. “Effortless wine pairings are available for every step of the guest’s dining experience. A sommelier is always at hand.”
The wine list offers a full spectrum from old world to new world selections from Germany, Spain and even the Pacific Northwest. Plans call for the list to expand to include Southern Hemisphere wines in the near future. The champagne list offers selections from small production to large marquee houses.
“From Pierre Peters to Krug, we have champagne for pretty much any occasion,” Anthony says.
Also offered each evening: Jazz piano from 9:30-11:30 p.m. in the bar, where guests can also choose from an a la carte menu during dining hours.
The addition of Restaurant L is one of the many visions added to properties owned by
Western & Southern within the southeast quadrant of Cincinnati’s central business district.
“Our plan has always been to attract a fine dining restaurant to Queen City Square and downtown Cincinnati. We are pleased that master chef Jean-Robert de Cavel and the extraordinary maître d’ Richard Brown had the same idea,” said Mario San Marco, president of Eagle Realty Group, the real estate subsidiary of Western & Southern Financial Group. “We expect that Restaurant L will be a special place for Cincinnatians and visitors to celebrate and make memories with friends and family.”
Brown and de Cavel originally worked together at the Maisonnette and later at Pigall’s. The high-profile chef opened Jean-Robert’s Table in August 2010, and French Crust Café three years later. Le Bar a Boeuf, his third restaurant, opened in March 2015. And now, L.
“When Richard and I decided to do the restaurant, we were looking for a name that had an emotional connection with us,” de Cavel says. One day they realized the beauty of something so apparent in their lives – each of their daughters’ names begin with the letter L. As in Laeticia de Cavel, 12, and Lauren Brown, who recently began her third year as chef de partie working for Daniel Boulud at Restaurant Daniel in New York City.
“We never noticed that before, it was like a lightning bolt of realization,” deCavel says. “It really is the perfect name. Both Richard and I have one kid and it’s a full generation between them. It’s so natural. It wasn’t ‘why not’? It was ‘this should be the name.’ I think people believe it’s a beautiful letter. L resembles so many beautiful things. Love. L, it was serendipitous. It was so meant to be.”
Restaurant L is located at 301 East Fourth Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202. For more information, call 513.760.5525.