Balboa is the latest hip spot on Grandview Avenue, with large open doors separating the dining room from the 70-seat patio that fronts the street.

Balboa is the latest hip spot on Grandview Avenue, with large open doors separating the dining room from the 70-seat patio that fronts the street.

The inside is low-key, with neutral colors, wooden tables, a cement floor and subdued lighting behind the bar. It also features something you don't see every day in central Ohio: two swing seats positioned at the bar.

Brian Swanson, formerly of CGS Group that developed the club scene on Front Street, is the owner at Balboa.

He said he sees great opportunity with Balboa and the adjacent Grandview Cafe, which he also purchased and plans to reopen this summer after a major renovation project.

"You don't pass them up," Swanson said. "You don't get a shot at a lot of locations like this every day."

Balboa replaces Shoku, a sushi restaurant, at 13112 Grandview Ave.

It is Swanson's fourth restaurant, the other three being Bodega, which he bought a year and a half ago, Grandview Cafe and Hadley's, which will open in six weeks or so downtown.

Executive chef Jason Murphy, who's worked locally at institutions such as Cameron Mitchell Restaurants and the Refectory, designed the menu with simplicity and affordability in mind. No single items tops $14.

"You go to a lot of places that serve tacos and it's overly complicated -- 'pick this, pick this, pick this,' " said Murphy, who trained formally at Johnson & Wales University.

There are six pre-selected taco choices.

For example, the grilled mahi is paired with cilantro-lime coleslaw and tropical salsa. The braised short ribs get a topping of roasted poblanos, caramelized onions and tomatillo cream.

Murphy brought the popular bowl concept to Balboa, where customers choose their own base, proteins, cheese and sauces.

Other menu highlights include tortas, or sandwiches, soups, salads and appetizers.

There's a full list of margaritas and a large on-tap beer selection.

The bar is open until 2 a.m. daily.

Kitchen hours are 4 to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 4 to midnight Friday, 11 a.m. to midnight Saturday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 614-745-1201.

Chris Dillman, one of central Ohio's true gurus of the grape, once again is seeking to be a certified master sommelier, an effort that was just beyond his reach five years ago.

Dillman, currently a member of the Court of Master Sommeliers, with an advanced designation and certified specialist of wine, will spend May 16-17 in Aspen, Colo. taking the service and tasting portions of the test. He passed the theory portion of the test in March in Atlanta.

He described the complex blind tasting portion of the test as "sort of like playing a game of chess while competing in a 100-meter relay race with three people (staring) at you and taking notes the whole time."

If he passes, he would be the third master sommelier in Ohio.

CLB Restaurants is taking its Matt the Miller's Tavern concept to the Cincinnati area.

The company will open the restaurant in November at a new lifestyle section in the suburb of Kenwood.

It will be the fifth MTM overall, joining three locations in Columbus and another in Carmel, Ind.

The latest tavern will occupy 5,500 square feet of space in the Kenwood Collection, which featured 260,000 square feet of retail space and another 250,000 square feet of space in the Tower, a high-rise office building.

Craig Barnum, president of CLB Restaurants, said MTM will be among such powerhouse retailers as Whole Foods, the Container Store, Crate & Barrel and LL Bean.

"We're not going to need to worry about whether people know where we are," he said.

Barnum wouldn't disclose an investment figure but said hopes the new MTM will make $3.5 million in annual sales.

He said he plans to build another MTM in the Cincinnati area and two per year following in regional markets in the near future.

Fresh pasta, homemade sauces and salad dressings, and retail wines will be offered every Saturday, starting May 14, through fall at Nicola, the Italian restaurant at 4740 Reed Road.

The mercato, or market, which debuted last year, will be held from 9 a.m. to noon on the patio. If it is raining the market will be moved to the the restaurant's banquet room.

Chef Nick Bedalli, who will be making many of the food items on sale, will be joined by other retailers selling a variety of merchandise.