When you’re headed out for holiday activities, there’s no one-size-fits-all restaurant recommendation. If you’re going to Holiday of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo, you’re probably not going to want the same pre- or post-event dining suggestion as a couple headed to date night under the mistletoe. So here are a few activity-specific, family-friendly recommendations that might help during the holiday happenings ahead.
The only smoking I want with my breakfast is the bacon. Maybe the ham, too, but no cigarettes. With the indoor public smoking ban, of course, you Ohio diners have taken smoke-free eating for granted for a few years now. But in Kentucky it's still a big bone of contention. I recommend checking out Fort Wright Family Restaurant, where last year when they remodeled they went smoke-free. They lost some business as a result but gained many new customers like me.
Findlay Market is serving up some new specialties these days: The long-awaited Vietnamese diner Pho Lang Thang is up and running, as is Sushi Bears, with an extensive menu of vegetarian and vegan sushi and stir fries. Fresh Table opened last month and offers ready-to-serve takeout with a focus on healthy, sustainable ingredients.
November already ... it doesn't seem possible. On the plus side, this is the month of my favorite holiday, National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day. Ostensibly designed to make room for your turkey, it also serves the valuable function of making all those coagulated condiments and remaining bottles of raspberry beer you really didn’t like go away. Nov. 15, people. Celebrate!
During his recent visit to Cincinnati, Michael Stern — who explores regional food for books ('Roadfood') and public radio's 'The Splendid Table' with ex-wife Jane Stern — told me Aglamesis ice cream was on his must-try list, so we headed to Oakley to visit the shop. "It seems like when you say you're coming to Cincinnati, there's a group of people who insist you have to try Graeter's, and then there's another group that says you have to try Aglamesis," he said. "What's the difference?"
I had a chance to be the proud stage mama of Cincinnati dining recently. Since I love showing off the wonderful, unique aspects of our local cuisine, I jumped at the opportunity to spend the morning driving and dining with Michael Stern who, with Jane Stern, explores America's regional food and comments for 'The Splendid Table,' heard locally on WVXU-FM.
I will definitely see you at these events coming up as autumn kicks into high gear. Yum. Let's start with two incredible words: "Chocolate Festival." Mark your calendar for the first ever Cincinnati Chocolate Festival on Oct. 24, noon-5 p.m. at the Mayerson JCC in Amberley Village.
On a recent trip to Lake Michigan, I skipped the interstate and added an hour or two to my trip. What was my reward? A crazy little wooden shack by the road in Kokomo, Ind., with a hand-written sign that said “PIE.” The blueberry pie I bought sat on the seat next to me for the rest of the trip, sparkly with sugar on top, still warm from the oven, smelling like an angel’s pillow on a blueberry bed in heaven.
Cocktails before breakfast! What could make that better? How about complimentary cocktails before breakfast made by one of the country's top mixologists? That Black Paloma I enjoyed on the mezzanine of the Hotel Monteleone last Friday before heading up to the rooftop for fresh bagels with vodka-cured lox was just one of the excellent perks of Tales of the Cocktail.
All you Blue Oven Bread fans should try the other family ventures located in the happening little business district of Bellevue and Dayton, Ky. We gave Buona Vita Pizzeria a try and loved the friendly atmosphere and nice beer selections. The salads were noteworthy in that they hadn't been pre-made and pulled out of an ice-cold walk-in box. The pizza crust was excellent, and the big, delicious basil leaves on top were a plus.
News for my sweeties — and you know who you are — includes updates from Skirtz & Johnson, AJ Creations, Sugar Cupcakery, Abby Girl Sweets, Three Tiers Contemporary Cakes and Cupcakes, Chocolats Latour, Melt's Picnic and Pantry, City Cellars and Chalk.
Have you ever felt like Monty Python's Mr. Creosote, the bloated epicurean who explodes in a gory mess when he surrenders to the inducements of an evil maitre d' offering him a "wafer-thin mint" after a laughably enormous feast? Well, that’s how I felt last Monday after helping judge the Best of Taste food competition for the Taste of Cincinnati festival.
Honor thy mother, dear readers, and that means you've got until Sunday to get your act together. Now here's the rub: Everyone wants to take their mom out to eat for Mother's Day, thus making it a classic overcrowding situation. Here are a few suggestions, with one caveat: Make reservations when possible.
Our friends at Melt announced a new Sunday brunch menu that's vegetarian heaven: Sweet Potato Tempeh Hash, Bread Pudding French Toast, cage-free eggs and organic peas that were raised with respect. Really. Plus news on Washington Platform's Oyster Fest, Vivaldi at Via Vite, vegan food at Lucky John Market and new locations for Taqueria Mercado.
"Dear 'concept' restaurant: It isn't the diner's responsibility to be in tune with your fad, unless you want to appeal to only the few who knew ahead of time that you have a 'niche.' When a customer is visibly uncomfortable with your concept, offer guidance. Or kiss that customer goodbye forever. Can you afford to do that? No, not really."