1403 Vine St.
Cincinnati, OH 45202
A definite modern take on a very beloved Midwestern cooking style can be found in the middle of Cincinnati’s Over-The-Rhine neighborhood in Pontiac BBQ and Bourbon Bar. The street has brought forth many interesting concepts in the past few years with a contemporary flare, but one with a special focus on something as dear to the city as barbecue is rarer and more ambitious. This spot is great for its bevy of good drinks and the food deserves a definite tasting.
As the menu is focused on barbecue, the concept is built with a menu that feels like a southern kitchen, with big sandwiches, meats and ‘fixins. But it still keeps that nice, refined feel of an upscale restaurant, typical of many stops in Over-The-Rhine. Some of the things worth a try:
- Smoked Chicken Wings: Very nice smokey flavor on these wings, with just a little bit of crunch on the outside. The sauce is a sticky sweet flavor that is very memorable.
- Brisket nachos: Nachos staked mile-high with a ton on veggies, peppers, beef brisket and a little bit of barbecue sauce. This one is best for a group, but is the perfect balance of cheese, crispy and smokey without letting one overwhelm another.
- Fried pickles: The breaded pickles here are very crispy and come with a dressing as well as a sauce that is just a bit spicy. Great!
The menu of drinks is good too, but it’s constantly changing! Some things I tried:
- Smooth Criminal: Bullet bourbon, domain de canton, honey syrup, lemon, soda and blackberry rice. With a sprig of rosemary to top it off. Sounds like a lot, but it’s got a nice, light and sweet
- Escape pina colada: The summertime favorite drink, banana chai infused rum, coconut, honey syrup and pear cider make this one interesting beyond the usual sweetness.
- Love in an elevator: Bourbon, maple, mint and peach ginger beer. That sounds like an odd combination, but it works very well! Kind of a heavy, sweet taste with a light fruit finish.
Over-the-Rhine has lots of great restaurants, but bringing refinement to something simple like barbecue, in a town that has so many great competitors, is tricky. The restaurant has good barbecue, great cocktails and overall a nice presence. It’s an interesting addition to the neighborhood, and makes for a nice alternative to many of the restaurants that make up downtown Cincinnati.
- The spot has a bar but I would recommend keeping a group small, because Pontiac is relatively small and seating is limited.
- The cocktail menu changes regularly. But they’re very creative seasonal options worth a try.
- The barbecue is fantastic, but there are lots of fried goodies meant to be shared.