Being on the Cincinnati Top 40 for cheeseburgers, Lavomatic doesn’t need much as far as an introduction is concerned. Lucky for you, I’m feeling generous.
Location (OTR): Lavomatic enjoys proximity to all of the retail stores, bars, and restaurants on Vine Street in Over-the-Rhine. It was because Senate had a 30 to 45 minute wait that we decided to instead head across the street to Lavomatic. None of the three of us had been, so its convenience to the other extremely crowded restaurants was especially great.
Atmosphere: One of the best parts about this place is being able to sit on the rooftop terrace with vistas of Italianate architecture in the surrounding cityscape. As the sun went down, the terrace lights went up, allowing for maximum viewability of the surroundings. To get to the rooftop, the host(ess) led us through a pretty bare restaurant that was very well designed and thoughtfully and trendily decorated. I’m not sure what the patronage is like on the weekends, but I hope that more people go than were there on a weeknight.
Food: Upon sitting down to eat at Lavomatic, we learned that it was Restaurant Week in Cincinnati. A couple of things crossed our minds: 1) How did we not know about this? Certainly there are better ways to market this big event, and 2) What on the menu is available, and is this going to even be a good deal? My friend and his girlfriend decided to get the $35 “couple option” which, we decided, was the best deal. For a single (like myself that night), one could choose to spend $35 for an appetizer, salad, and entrée. OR a couple could split an appetizer, salad, and each get their own entrée. You decide which you think was better. They opted for the Shells & Cheese (with Frank’s Red Hot and potato chip crisps on top), arugula salad, and he got the Flank Steak, while she got the brisket burger. I also got the brisket burger, which was cooked medium atop an English muffin, with smoke gouda fondue, bacon, and some kind of tomato spread, which I 86’ed. I’d never had a burger on an English muffin, and I loved it. The all-around flavor was outstanding, while I didn’t love the meat by itself. My dinnermate and I also decided that our burgers would have benefited from a bit more cheese.
Lavomatic has pretty good food even if it’s a little pricy. The landscape and surroundings are probably the best part of the experience.
Overall grade: C+ [out of a possible A+]