Swampwater Grill in Mt. Lookout is serving up classic Cajun flavorsWill Jones Located at 3742 Kellogg Ave. in Mt Lookout, Swampwater Grill is cooking up authentic Cajun food you won’t find anywhere else in the city.
When asked why he decided to start the restaurant, Cincinnati native and Swampwater Grill Operating Partner Chris Ornella says, “There’s a shortage of Cajun restaurants in Cincinnati. It’s a unique flavor. Everybody that goes to New Orleans loves the Cajun food so why not bring it to Cincinnati so the people can enjoy it here and not have to travel 900 miles to get it?”
Ornella has worked in the restaurant and bar industry for nearly 30 years. He along with his business partner Kirk Prest (who is in Louisiana) opened the doors of Swampwater Grill in July 2013. They offer an eclectic variety of appetizers that includes smoked jalapeño poppers stuffed with chorizo sausage and cream cheese then wrapped with bacon; spicy crawfish tails, lightly fried; and their famous gator bites, which are tender, golden-fried gator served with crispy jalapeños and housemade remoulade.
“We’ve got some of the best appetizers you can come up with,” Ornella says.
Guests also have the option to order shucked oysters by the half dozen, or one dozen on the half shell, fried or chargrilled. While classic Cajun options such as creamy cheddar shrimp n’ grits, chicken and andouille gumbo and jambalaya with smoked chicken are available, Swampwater Grill also offers smoker pit plates for those who have a taste for barbecue. Guests can enjoy a 12-ounce, bone-in Tomahawk pork chop, perfectly blackened and prepared in the restaurant’s newly renovated kitchen that is equipped with new cooktops and fryers.
“It’s authentic Cajun food that’s as close to New Orleans as you’re going to get in Cincinnati,” Ornella says.
Swampwater Grill has weekday lunch deals from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. starting at only $10, as well as daily dinner specials after 5 p.m. It also has a full service bar with happy hour specials Wednesday through Friday, from 3-6 p.m. The bar features New Orleans-inspired drinks including hurricanes, mai tais and its signature “Swamp Juice” adult beverage. It also offers an extensive list of wines, seasonal rotating taps and local microbrews such as Rhinegeist, Madtree and 50 West.