A few weeks ago, Molly and I met for a class at Iron, and then wanted to grab dinner and get some work done. The list of restaurants with healthy dining options was slim. That’s why we’re pretty amped for Muse, a new spot on Mt. Lookout Square, to open. Think all local ingredients, mason jar salads to-go, kombucha infused cocktails, low waste, food as medicine, emerald Oysters previously exclusive only to Boston. If I could live at Muse I would.
Muse is the brain child of local Annie Illysky, who believes food is medicine. We met with Annie, Muse Head Chef Jennifer Kempin, and Annie’s pup Millie on a rainy night a few weeks ago before the doors of Muse were set to open. We shared a few glasses of wine and discussed the origins of Muse, the future menu, and all things local.
Through personal experience, Annie realized just how life-altering nutrition can be. A few years ago, Annie invested in the local juicery Rooted (another spot we love). When she heard about a vacant space opening up on Mt. Lookout Square, she decided to take the leap and open a restaurant herself. Annie’s desire is to not only nourish customers but to educate as well. The first lesson: food can be healthy and delicious.
Annie is an amazingly creative and artistic person, so we assumed the name Muse was being used for it’s definition as a noun: a source of artistic inspiration. Instead, Annie explained the name comes from the word’s definition to consider something thoughtfully. It’s Annie’s hope that Muse will help people be thoughtful about what they’re putting into their bodies and how they’re eating. Muse might help us all return to celebrating and savoring eating instead of shoving down a KIND bar in our cars.
Muse will open it’s doors in early December. The menu will source foods from five local farms that Jennifer and Annie visit regularly. One of those farms is Turner, an amazing oasis in Indian Hill that we will do a post on shortly. The farm names will be displayed proudly on the wall right next to local artist Jeanne Steele’s framed sketches. Consistent with other farm to table restaurants the menu will change weekly. One constant will be the vast offerings of dietary options: vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free, paleo. You name it, Muse will serve it. This may be the first restaurant in Cincinnati where vegetarians and paleo folks will both leave 100% satisfied.
Over the past 20 years, the average U.S. dinner plate has grown from 8 inches to over 12 inches. It’s no wonder that during the same time frame, Americans increased calorie consumption by 22 percent on average. The easiest mindless way to eat less is to eat off smaller plates. Rookwood Pottery created plates made exclusively for Muse. These stark black plates are slightly smaller than the over-sized plates Americans have grown accustomed to encouraging healthy portion control–and more room for dessert!
Speaking of dessert, when you come in December Annie says you MUST try the flourless chocolate cake. Jennifer recommends coming on Wednesdays–oyster night. Annie has a connection in Maine with an Island creek oyster bar, and is bringing Cincinnati emerald oysters. Muse will be the ONLY place you can get emerald oysters outside of Boston.
One of our favorite Muse offerings is the mason jar salad: assorted fresh ingredients are stacked into a mason jar. The only action required by diners is dumping out the ingredients on a plate. Boom, lunch is ready. Annie and Muse are also attempting to produce little to no waste, leaving as little imprint on the environment as possible. Thus, these salads leave no vegetable part behind. As Jennifer put it, “the vegetables are cut to taste good, not look pretty.”
I still think this mason jar looks pretty, pretty, pretty good. Swing by on your lunch hour or on your way home to pick up a quick, healthy dinner, and bring the mason jar back for money off your next purchase.
Perhaps we’re most excited for what’s on tap–kombucha. Fab Ferments, a local producer, is creating an exclusive kombucha for Muse which you can sip straight or spike with a local spirit. Look for a post in December describing the kombucha-infused cocktails. We can’t wait to try them all!
To check out more on Muse, find them on Facebook by clicking here. If you check Muse out (and we recommend you do), comment below and let us know what you think!