Wednesday, November 7, 2007 | Cincinnati.Com » CiN Weekly » Dining Guide » Knotty Pine on the Bayou

Knotty Pine on the Bayou

Southern-fried ambiance


1802 Licking Pike, Cold Spring, 859-781-2200

"When a lot of people call us, they'll say 'Is this the restaurant with the crooked floors?'" says Kathy Caulfield, co-owner of Knotty Pine on the Bayou. "We refer to it as our ambiance."

The "ambiance" of the gently rolling crests and valleys in the floor of Knotty Pine's dining room, a result of slippage on the hillside where the Cold Spring restaurant rests, has become one of the main attractions of the restaurant/bar.

The menu full of Cajun cuisine and Southern-fried favorites is the other.

Knotty Pine's Bayou-flavored dishes come courtesy of Kathy's husband and Louisiana native John Caulfield. Of course, every time you have one of his specialties, there's a chance it could taste slightly different. Each table at Knotty Pine offers a unique assortment of hot sauces, with names ranging from Hot Sauce from Hell to Queen of Farts. The majority of the hot sauces now come from a distributor out of Chicago, but in the early days the Caulfields stocked their hot sauces a bit differently.

"In the very beginning we would go everywhere and anywhere we could to find hot sauce, or when (customers) would travel, they would bring some back to us," Kathy Caulfield says.

A self-described "third-generation bar person," Kathy Caulfield took a fairly straightforward path to the beer and grub business. Her father was in the bar business. Her grandfather was in the bar business. She's in the bar business.

John Caulfield's route to the Knotty Pine was more unusual. John came to Cincinnati as an iron worker, but an on-the-job injury forced him to take an extended leave. While he recuperated, Caulfield passed the time by enrolling in culinary school.

When the bar and restaurant next door to John and Kathy's Cold Spring home came up for sale, they bought it.

Thirteen years after Knotty Pine first opened its doors, some of the restaurant's inaugural staff still work there.

"A lot of our help has been here since day one," Kathy Caulfield says. "We are so fortunate in the fact that we have such amazing people working here. It's more like a family."

That family atmosphere extends to the customers. While the Knotty Pine kitchen has set hours, the bar portion closes pretty much when people are tired of hanging out.

"The way we do it is when the last customer leaves, that's when we close," Kathy Caulfield says.

HOURS (Kitchen): Open 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 5 to 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday.

MENU SAMPLER

APPETIZER: Frog legs, a Bayou special offered sautéed or fried ($8.95 for three frog legs, $10.95 for five)

SOUP: Cajun gumbo, a seasoned mix of andouille sausage, chicken and fresh vegetables piled on top of rice ($4.95 cup, $6.95 small bowl, $11.95 large bowl)

ENTRÉE: New York strip steak ($17.95 8 oz, $20.95 12 oz)

DESSERT: Chocolate Kahlua crème pie ($4.95)

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