Ohio University's Latitude 39
Tucked into the southeast corner of Ohio, Athens is known for several things: Ohio University, the annual Pawpaw Festival, The Ridges asylum to name a few. What it's not known for is its "fine dining"establishments. Tonight I met up with Vaughn and Jason to sample the cuisine of Latitude 39, an extension of the OU Dining Services. Yeah, yeah. I know what you're thinking. OU Dining Services and fine dining don't (and shouldn't) mix. The restaurant was established in the new student union, mostly as a place for faculty, staff, and parents to eat. When it first opened there was a $50 steak featured on the menu. Jason worked in the kitchen for a while and gave it the loving nickname of "SpLatitude".
Tonight the restaurant was supposed to feature specials made with local ingredients for earth day, which is the reason we went. However, the server never made mention of this and a menu listed a few local farms that supplied produce to the restaurant.
I ordered the Lentil Cakes served with arugula, radishes, edemame, yellow curry vinaigrette, and
mango chutney. I chose to start with a house salad. The greens were fresh and crisp, no iceberg in sight, dressed with a simple balsamic vinaigrette and topped off with grape tomatoes, sliced red onion, and flavorless fried chunks of bread that turned to an oily mush in my mouth.
The entree was served and presented with a little mountain of arugula atop the three lentil cakes. The lentil cakes were wonderfully flavored, a good Indian dal in cake form, however the texture was, well...there wasn't much texture to speak of. Something reminiscent of a finely ground pâté. I would have enjoyed some of the texture of whole lentils for a little variety. I could have skipped the salad, there was a heap of arugula, radishes and red onions. When the flavors of the toppings - for lack of a better word - mingled with the yellow curry vinaigrette and mango chutney, my mouth was overwhelmed with flavor, but not in a good way. The strong flavors and acidic sauces did a number on my taste buds - my tongue is still tingling.
It was a mixed experience. I don't think I will be going back anytime soon, especially with my student budget. At least I can say that I gave it a try.