Dining at Symphony Hotel harkens America’s gilded age


Back in the 19th century, there was an element of grandeur to be found at upscale dining scenes, especially if situated in “hotels.” Elegant settings, fine cuisine, special service: a real experience. You will find that at the Historic Dining Room of the Symphony Hotel near Cincinnati’s iconic Music Hall and magnificent Washington Park.

Dining at the Symphony Hotel differs from the average restaurant experience. You’ll need to reserve a table, and the best way to do that is by email—email is easiest and encouraged. There are three evenings that dining is offered at the hotel: Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Also, there is a Sunday brunch.

Wednesday diners experience a 3-course offering, while a 5-course meal is served on the weekends from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. The menu options are limited, but each evening, there are entrée options featuring: beef, fish, chicken or vegetarian. When you make the reservation, you will be asked to select one of the four entrée options, so your entrée is set before you arrive. The five courses served on weekends include: soup, salad, sorbet, entrée and dessert.

“Every meal is hand-crafted and we take special care with every aspect of the preparation that way,” said Colleen Iles, GM of the hotel. “We are able to keep food costs down and to serve a really special, elegant meal to our guests by approaching the meals in this way (arranging for the patron to choose the entrée at the time of reserving the table). I receive the email and I confirm by email the reservation and the entrée choices made by the guests in the party.”

Along with the 5-course Friday-Saturday dinner, there is live music from 8-11 p.m., styled and toned for the dining experience. The Sunday brunch is offered from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and features entrée options that range from $8.95 to $12.95.

Part of the elegance of these meals is the setting. The hotel is one of a handful of boutique hotels scattered around the country. There are nine guest rooms in all, each named after a famous composer of classical music. Rooms are fitted in period antiques. Each room carries a composer sobriquet such as the Beethoven, Schubert, Bach, Mozart, Brahms, Mahler, and so on.

“We do package stays for guests spending a special time with us, an anniversary or birthday or maybe part of a get-away weekend,” said Iles, speaking of the 24/7 hotel operation she manages. The package may feature a bottle of champagne in the room, along with arrangements for a special dinner in the Dining Room.

“Many times, we have had groups for bachelorette parties stay here after their celebration (also at the hotel) because the guests don’t want to chance driving home after a night of partying,” she said. The hotel offers party services, such as the bachelorette party, along with other special events such as wine dinners, wine, bourbon, or tequila tastings.

There is a rooftop deck at the hotel, and many guests take a bottle of wine up there to enjoy the weather and the view. The Symphony Hotel and Restaurant… a must see!