Liberty Township, Ohio
Like many modern mixed-use developments, Liberty Center is something of a tiny city. Shops, upscale eateries, and pocket green spaces dot its crisscrossing streets. The $350 million complex opened in 2015. It is now home to diverse food options (including a dine-in movie theater), an AC Marriott hotel, Cincinnati Children’s Discovery Center, and retailers like Forever 21 and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
On a snowy January day, shoppers braved the bluster to scope out Liberty Center’s newest tenant: Lotus Pad Asian Cuisine. The restaurant opened in December 2017, marking the small chain’s second location; the other sits on a ski resort in Big Sky, MT. A family-style, Vietnamese-and-Thai-influenced menu nods to the slopes, with entrees ranging in spice level from easy to intermediate and the fiery “experts only.”
Bangkok fries are the appetizer to try, piled high with crumbled pork and drizzled with alternately creamy and tangy sauces. Chef specialties include Pumpkin Curry and Crying Tiger, a 10-ounce Wagyu steak rubbed with spicy mint. Noodles, curries, and stir-fries round out the menu, with twists on Asian standards like Crab Pad Thai, salty-sweet and studded with freshly picked crab.
Lotus Pad sources organic ingredients whenever possible from Morning Sun Organic Farm in Preble County, Pippin’s Produce in Fairfield, and the Ohio Valley Food Connection. “Organic and local just makes good sense—for health, for the environment, and for the community,” says cofounder Bryan Henderson.
In his more than 25 years of restaurant management, Henderson says the local “overwhelming response” to Lotus Pad is a first. “We didn’t do much marketing, mostly just word of mouth,” Henderson says. “People in the area were ready for an approachable ethnic food option, especially when they heard about our commitment to fresh, organic flavors.”
Photo by Mackenzie Frank – www.mkfphoto.com