Conceived in 1983 as a fine dining spot for the Mariemont Inn in northeastern Cincinnati, The National Exemplar is one of the fancy and upscale amenities of the historic Mariemont destination. The National Exemplar is a bit of a formal place and a steakhouse in the evenings, and during the day it’s also a well-known brunch spot with a patio right along the main stretch. A little bit of a historic feel dominates the low lit dining room where you’ll be served top quality steaks and a variety of other American classics.
A dinner experience here is definitely fine dining, and the steaks top the menu, but the breakfast and lunch experience is also classic without the high prices or dress. Among the things I’ve liked here:
- Prime rib: True to this juice cut of steak, this one is served rare but it’s got a great au jus sauce that accompanies it, to keep it juicy. I think prime rib is best when it’s prepared simply to let the quality show, and I’m a fan of this one.
- T-bone steak: The T-bone is cooked more thoroughly than the prime rib but it’s no less juicy and with a side of mashed potatoes or a vegetable. The steak is similarly seasoned very lightly and it’s a testament to the quality of the chefs here that the food is prepared simply to showcase the quality of the ingredients.
- Eggs Benedict: I gave this a try at a breakfast. It’s an English muffin topped with two eggs and hollandaise sauce, just a dash of paprika to top it. Florentine style, it’s heavy on the spinach and tomato, a tad more than I like but I’m still partial to the sauce on the eggs.
Service in the restaurant is pretty consistently good; the food remains the most important thing, and at times the wait can be longer but it’s nonetheless always quality food. I’d suggest dressing up a bit, and I’d also say the restaurant is popular with an older demographic as well as adult families, so it’s more of a low-key establishment.
In all, National Exemplar is a definite upscale experience, but each time I’ve been here I’ve found the sort of old-fashioned charmed of the place withstands the test of time. It’s a quality experience, and one I recommend bringing your family to.
- The restaurant is open to the public as well as hotel patrons. While this is often the case, I’d say National Exemplar is definitely more of a standalone business that attracts its own customers.
- The evening menu is more of a fine dining experience while breakfast and lunch have something of a different vibe. Dress up for dinner!
- I highly recommend the prime rib, it’s my favorite dish here.