GRUB WITH GRAPES
1215 Wine Bar — Grab a highly coveted outdoor, street-side spot for some people watching while you sip a glass of wine and enjoy the offerings from 1215’s new snack menu. Since they have no kitchen of their own, 1215 has recently teamed up with neighbors and friends for food partnerships. Spotted recently: a green gazpacho with broccoflower salad and salt and vinegar chips with ramp ranch from chef Nick Marckwald’s underground dining experience, Hen of the Woods (soon to have an OTR brick-and-mortar location), and quiche souffles from Donna’s Gourmet Cookies. 1215 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-429-5745, facebook.com/1215winecoffee.
20 Brix — This unique restaurant/wine bar/wine store located in Milford manages to pour more than 100 wines a day and serve fabulous food. Chef Paul Barraco’s eclectic menu offers appetizers perfect for sharing as a late-night nibble (dinner until 10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday), as well as dishes that run the gamut from burgers to Day Boat scallops. 101 Main St., Milford, 513-831-2749, 20brix.com.
FIRST DATE FABULOUS
The Bar at Palm Court — There is absolutely nothing in town like the spectacular Art Deco setting at the Bar at Palm Court inside the Hilton Netherland hotel to wow a first date. Pair the room with a classic cocktail and elegant apps — on a menu created by award-winning executive chef Todd Kelly of Orchids at Palm Court — like the marinated tuna with finger limes, crisp nori, yuzu white-balsamic marinade and pickled ginger or the “Buffalo” style sweetbreads with blue cheese custard, celery salad and garlic chips, and you’re practically guaranteed a second date. The bar also offers its own take on a Negroni, with Four Roses bourbon, and the Netherland Plaza Ale, a private-label amber ale by locals Rivertown Brewing Company. 35 W. Fifth St., Downtown, 513-421-9100, orchidsatpalmcourt.com.
Jean-Robert’s Table — Do a lunch date right: Grab two seats at the bar, order up a bottle of the Tissot Crémant du Jura — Jean-Robert’s private label bubbly — two French lunch trays and let the conversation flow.
A recent tray included an asparagus and broccoli mimosa alongside a shrimp po’boy. All trays are four courses, including dessert. And bar manager Jeannie Murray is one of the city’s favorite bartenders. 713 Vine St., Downtown, 513-621-4777, jrtable.com.
Maribelle’s eat + drink — After taking in a movie at the Cinemark Oakley Station, head right across the street to the bar at Maribelle’s eat + drink for a post-mortem of your film over a craft cocktail and a nibble from chef de cuisine Martha Tiffany’s ever-changing, super-seasonal menu. The cheese platter is superb, and recent specials included King Crab ravioli with English peas, brown butter, pickled spring onion and lime vinaigrette. Note: If you had dinner earlier in the evening, consider ordering dessert, as chef Tiffany also creates Maribelle’s pastries, and they too are sublime. The restaurant also specializes in craft cocktails; their wide selection includes classics like a Sazerac or the more inventive Kentucky Kool Aid, with bourbon, Cointreau, blackberry and mint. 3235 Madison Road, Oakley, 513-321-9111, maribellestavern.com.
SOAK UP THE SUDS
Wunderbar — Here’s a recipe for a weekend of successful eating and drinking in Zinzinnati: Head down to Covington, Ky.’s Wunderbar on a Saturday night, plant yourself at one of the German bier haus-like picnic tables and immediately place your order for one of the bigger-than-your-head house-made soft pretzels with cheese. Next, peruse the sausage menu — you really can’t go wrong with any — and order one with pierogies and Brussels sprouts. Wash it all down with a good German brew and then camp out in your car until Wunderbar opens for Sunday brunch. Gorge yourself silly on the Landjunge Fruhstuck and a bloody mary. You may not be able to pronounce it, but this killer plate of two poached eggs, bacon, house-made sausage, goetta, corned-beef hash and a biscuit will keep you sated all damn day. Take a nap, and you’re done. 112 Lee St., Covington, Ky., 859-815-8027.
The Eagle OTR — By now almost everyone has heard of The Eagle OTR and their famous fried chicken. And rightfully so. It’s everything fried chicken should be: crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside. But sometimes you want something other than fried food, so we’ve managed to look beyond the chicken section on the menu and find a sleeper of a sandwich — thin slices of tender roast pork topped with melted cheese, broccoli rabe and a spicy pepper. We guarantee it will knock your socks off and go beautifully with your frosty glass or bottle or chalice of one of their 100 different beers. Also, it’s the favorite of Cookie, The Eagle’s manager, who prefers it over the chicken, because, he says, “I can eat the pork sandwich and not need to nap in the basement.” 1342 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-802-5007, facebook.com/theeagleotr.
NOT YOUR AVERAGE BAR SNACKS
Igby’s — You sit down at a bar and immediately encounter the ubiquitous bowl of nut mix. Or chips. Or whatever. If you’re like us, you wonder two things: How long has that thing been sitting there and just how many fingers have been man-handling this food? Well, worry no more, and just head downtown to Igby’s, where chef Lauren Brown is doing bar food right. Fresh West Coast oysters are served in shooters and on the half shell, and there are sharable plates featuring everything from salads to cold spring rolls to a charcuterie and cheese plate. There’s even a Van Gogh “Dirt” pudding made with Oreos, Van Gogh Espresso Vodka and Cool Whip. Igby’s also has a private-label bourbon from Four Roses distillery, available by the bottle. 122 E. Sixth St., Downtown, 513-246-4396, igbys.com.
Brontë Bistro — Did you know that Brontë Bistro at Joseph-Beth has a full-service bar? Yep, you can browse through the books, shop for gifts and even have your tots in tow while enjoying lunch or dinner with a glass of vino or your favorite cocktail. The menu also contains plenty of vegetarian as well as gluten-free options. They also serve up cocktails influenced by authors’ favorites like Kurt Vonnegut’s scotch and water or F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Gin Rickey. 2692 Madison Road, Rookwood Commons, Norwood, 513-396-8970, josephbeth.com.
Green Dog Café — Vegans, vegetarians and omnivores will feel right at home at Green Dog Café. Enjoy wine, beer and cocktails while dining on salads, sandwiches, burgers, rice bowls and more. Green Dog features locally raised, antibiotic-free meats, as well as a wide variety of organic or sustainably grown and produced wines — available dine-in or to-go. Many menu items can be prepared gluten and dairy free as well. 3543 Columbia Parkway, East End, 513-321-8777, greendogcafe.net.