I was in Cincinnati for the 2005 Christmas Holidays. While there I had booked a room at the Westin and tickets to the Nutcracker. To help complete that night, I wanted to find a restaurant that was (1) downtown or very close (no more than a $10 cab ride), (2) at least a little upscale - i.e. NOT fast food, (3) able to deliver GOOD food and good service, and (4) able to give some local flavor (my wife is not from Cincinnati, like I am). Montgomery Inn - Boathouse seemed like the perfect place to acheive all of these things. I called ahead for reservations and then confirmed them the day we were to dine there.
While the food was very good, the service really left something to be desired. When we arrived a few minutes before our reservation time, the maitre d' seemed puzzled. He then tried to seat us at an absolutely horrible table, right next to the little computer kiosk where the servers input the orders and print out the bills. The table was also right along the path of incoming guests and had quite a bit of foot traffic flowing past it. It was basically the worst table in the house. I informed him that we had called ahead and that this was to be a romantic dinner and that this table was unacceptable.
He asked what we were interested in, and we pointed out a couple of other free tables for two that would be fine, a little further away from the main thouroughfare of the restaurant. One of these was beside the window overlooking the river. He balked at the suggestion, stating that that table had been secifically reserved for a "six and four" party. This seemed rather suspect to me, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt and said we would wait for another available table for two. By this point we couldn't very well go elsewhere and expect to get dinner in before the start time for the Nutcracker. He informed us that it would be a thrity minute wait for another table for two. I was starting to get a little steamed at this since we HAD called ahead for reservations. We tried to be patient though, so we said we would wait.
After waiting for about five minutes and seeing two other parties of two get seated ahead of us, my wife inquired again about the empty table for two by the window. The maitre d' said he would double check with the manager as to its availability. When he asked the manager (this time within our earshot) the manager said "Yes its available, just like I said before". The maitre d' finally gave us the table. I think that this entire time he was simply fishing for an extra gratuity in exchange for giving us a decent table. I did not give him any such gratuity, since I believed he was engaging in dishonest behavior to begin with.
The waiter for our table was also rather brusque. He took five minutes just to get over to us for our drink orders, another five minutes to bring the drink orders (I know that the Sprite I ordered and the cranberry juice my wife ordered must have taken a long time to prepare), he did not inform us of any specials (we only heard of them as he read them later to the table next to us - they sounded pretty good), and it took another ten minutes to get our salads. He was never very friendly and seemed rather distracted the whole night (by what I have no idea).
When the food did finally come it was very good. We did not order desert, though, since by the time we could have ordered any, we needed to leave to get to Music Hall in time for the start of the Nutcracker. I was very glad that I had planned plenty of time between our dinner reservations and the start of the play. We needed all of it.
I am a native Cincinnatian, so it pains me to write a bad review of a restaurant that Cincinnati has taken pride in for many years. The fact of the matter, though, is that it appears that Montgomery Inn - Boathouse is resting on its reputation. They seemed more interested in jamming as many paying customers into the restaurant, and extracting as much money as possible from the crowd, rather than in what they could do to make people's dining experience enjoyable. If you are coming to downtown Cincinnati to eat, do yourself a favor and avoid the Montgomery Inn - Boathouse. It is no longer what it once was.