We just heard the news the other day that Handke’s Cuisine would be closing on June 20th. Even though this visit took place back in December, I decided that I would go ahead and post the review now, just in case you wanted to give it a try before it’s gone forever…
Handke’s Cuisine has been on my “to try” list for years now, even as far back as when there was a second restaurant in Dublin. However, something always got in the way, whether it be bad timing, mixed reviews from friends, whatever.
So I don’t know if it’s a bad thing or a good thing that my visit came months after the restaurant changed owners, and Chef Handke’s role was changed to that of a consultant. So on a brisk winter night, my husband and I headed out to finally sit down and try it out.
Its location on Front Street is fairly easy to find, and we opted to use the valet parking rather than search around for an available metered space, which seemed to be full for blocks in every direction. The first thing we noticed upon entering the restaurant is that there are a lot of stairs to go up and down. So those of you who are handicapped, be forewarned that this location doesn’t seem to be accessible.
The decor of the restaurant is comfortable, with soft lighting at each table. We were sitting in an area whose ceiling was rounded like a tunnel, which I believe was previously a wine cellar.
Our server brought us out an amuse bouche of Duck Confit on crostini, which was a promising start.
Bread service was a hard roll. We finished it, and waited, but no more bread was brought around. Please sir can I have another? Unexceptional, but I wish there were more than one especcially considering the long wait for the appetizer. I was so hungry I was truly ready to gnaw my arm off for sustenance.
Our appetizer was A Tribute to Charcutterie with House-Made Duck Prosciutto, Country Pate, Parma Ham with Dried Fruit & Nut Medley ($11) The Duck Prosciutto was excellent, cured beautifully, great texture and good flavor. The Country pate was unremarkable, it had decent flavor but weird coarse texture. The Parma ham exceptionally good.
My husband chose an entree of Duck Three Ways, “Bocuse d’ Or” Sautéed Duck Breast, Duck Sausage & Confit of Duck Leg, Sauerkraut, & Chive Potato Mousseline ($28.50). The Sauteed Duck Breast was a similar preparation to what we’ve had before – while it was good, we don’t see how it was award winning. The Duck sausage was overwhelmed by spices, and we could not discern that it was duck opposed to other meat. The Duck confit was good as expected. Sauerkraut was a nice foil to everything on the plate, especially the sausage, and the potatoes mousseline were run of the mill. Overall, it was filling, pretty good, but not outstanding or worth the premium price.
I went for the Lightly Smoked & Roasted Marinated Pork Loin with Caramelized Sweet Potatoes, Cider Demi Glace & Green Beans with Bacon & Shallots ($25.95). I was a bit worried when I ordered it because when I had asked the waiter how it was prepared, he said “well done”. Loin can be notoriously tough if cooked all the way. However, it came out still pink in the middle (thankfully), nicely seasoned and crusted on the outside, and juicy and tender throughout. Sides (sweet potato hash and green beans w/ bacon and shallots) were exceptional, and overall it was a well executed dish.
The Apple Strudel ($8) was the dessert of the day, and not found on the menu. We shared an order, and found that it had good flavor and texture.
Overall, we felt the ambiance was too stuffy – we felt like we couldn’t sit back and relax. It was way too quiet, almost like a library. Service was overly formal. We’ve dined in many fine dining establishments in this town, but this one felt a bit pretentious.
If you’d like to go: Handke’s Cuisine, 520 South Front Street, Columbus (Brewery District), 614.621.2500