CityBeat Blogs - Food & Drink http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/blogs-1-1-1-40.html <![CDATA[Slice of Cincinnati: OCD Cakes]]>

As the night sky blankets Cincinnati at 3 a.m., a faint glow emanates from the kitchen window of a small apartment. While most University of Cincinnati students who are awake at this hour are up to their eyeballs in tedious lab reports and last-minute reading, James Avant is caught in a frenzy of mixing bowls, whisks and measuring cups. The apartment fills with succulent scents as he blends together lemon zest and raspberry puree. His everyday stress and anxiety pours into the batter, fills the cupcake tin and rises into lemon raspberry cupcakes.

Avant’s cupcakes are more than delicious — they’re the edible gratification of mental health. The 22-year-old began baking to relieve stress after he was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) about four years ago. “I spent a lot of my days just kind of cleaning and counting and repeating, and my mind was kind of clouded with worry all the time, and so one of the ways I was able to overcome that in addition to therapy was through baking,” he says.

After one year of baking to relieve stress, watching YouTube tutorials and a getting little inspiration from an episode of Two Broke Girls, Avant decided that if we going to bake so often, he might as well profit from it, too. So he started a business, OCD Cakes, out of his home.

Obsessive Cake Disorder (OCD) Cakes helps raise mental health awareness through tasty baked goods. “OCD Cakes exists to take a bite out of the stigma surrounding mental health,” Avant says. “Cake is something that is commonplace in our culture and linked with so many different emotions, so why not take something you already use and consume and change the way you look at it in order to start positive conversations about mental health?” he explains. Five percent of the profits are donated to mental health agencies.

Going through high school and college, Avant personally experienced some of the negative stigma surrounding mental health. He recalls feeling the eyes of everyone in his classrooms burning into the back of his neck as he scrubbed desk with Lysol wipes before sitting down or got up out of his seat to clean up stray marks left by the teacher when erasing the board.

“You can’t make people understand what goes on in your head,” Avant says. “You have to do the best you can to find things they can easily identify with to make that conversation more comfortable. That’s why I use cake, because everybody likes cake!”

After graduating from UC with a bachelor’s in neurobiology in the spring of 2015, Avant now teaches part-time as the culinary lead and pastry chef at Sur la Table. Avant still runs OCD Cakes out of his home, conducting business online and through word of mouth. In addition to baking up fun and innovative cake designs, Avant bakes to raise awareness for number of causes in addition to mental health. He has donated cupcakes to benefits for SOTENI International, a Cincinnati-based nonprofit that works to prevent HIV/AIDS in Africa and reduce it effects for those affected by the disease. OCD Cakes has also partnered with UC Counseling and Psychological Services for a Stress Less Fest, where students could try OCD Cupcakes and show their support for mental health by writing on a giant poster board what mental health means to them.

Avant says he also volunteers for local organizations, such as Su Casa and the psychiatry department of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. “I really want people to see that I’m more than just giving away my product,” he says. “I really want people to see that I’m engaged in the wellness of others as well.”

One of the goals of OCD Cakes is to change the way people think about mental health. Avant says one of the reasons for this is that mental illnesses are more common than people think; it is important not to push mental health issues under the table or discourage people from getting help, because our minds should receive the same attention as our bodies. Like he bakes to de-stress, everyone needs to find constructive ways to get their feelings out. That’s why Avant says he wants to be as loud and proactive as possible about mental health issues. “We’re only going to make progress is everyone’s involved,” he says.


For more information about OCD CAKES, visit ocdcak.es.

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<![CDATA[Slice of Cincinnati: My Dad's Place]]>

Located in the heart of St. Bernard, My Dad’s Place has everything customers expect from a small town diner — crinkle cut fries, thick and juicy burgers, double decker sandwiches, homemade soups, fluffy pancakes and breakfast all day — on the cheap.

My Dad’s Place started because, well, owner Dave Roll’s father owns the building the restaurant is housed in. The space originally housed Dave’s Pub, but the business was sold after Roll’s son Tyler Rapien was born. After the space fell into disrepair as Boomerang’s Bar and Grill, Roll decided to buy it back and start a family-run restaurant.

“St. Bernard has been needing this for so many years,” Rapien says.

Roll and his son stepped up to fill the void of local restaurants, despite the fact that neither of them have prior restaurant experience. The menu was brought to life by Pam Bishop, the former owner of Pam’s Diner in Colerain (now Frank’s Diner).

Rapien, a senior at Roger Bacon High School, says managing the restaurant comes easy to him because he is a people person. Next year he will continue to manage the restaurant while he attends Northern Kentucky University to study marketing.

If you grew up in St. Bernard like me, or a small neighborhood just like it, you probably have a thing for small diners. While many people from around the neighborhood absolutely love Chili Time (including my grandfather, who ate there almost every day), I am one of the Naridans who is willing to face the look of shock on others’ faces when I say I am not a big fan of that spot.

Thankfully, My Dad’s Place offers traditional comfort food with the same low prices. For only $4.75 you can get a cheeseburger with slices of thick, premium bacon. The burgers are surprisingly thick and filling for how inexpensive they are, and very tasty.

For those who like breakfast, the pancakes are as big as your face, sweet and fluffy. A stack of three with your choice of breakfast meat is $6. My Dad’s Place’s most popular dish is the goetta, egg and cheese hoagy for $4.25. Glier’s goetta, a fried egg and American cheese pack the hoagy bun for a treat that’s appropriate any time of the day. It’s no wonder the sandwich is even popular during dinner hours.

My Dad’s Place also serves Philly cheese steak sandwiches, chicken Phillys and reubens, as well as a variety of salads. In short, there’s something for everyone.

What makes the restaurant unique is the friendly feel customers are greeted with immediately after walking inside. All staff are pleasant and helpful — this is thanks to the fact that the restaurant is family-owned and operated.

“When you walk in here it doesn’t feel like a restaurant to be honest,” Rapien says. “It doesn’t matter where you are from; you are family to us.”

You do not have to be from St. Bernard or missing Pam’s Diner in order to enjoy My Dad’s Place. It is a nice stop for anyone craving comfort food at a great price in a friendly atmosphere.

While My Dad’s Place has only been open for a little more than a month, it has already enticed a string of regulars and a packed house on its first day. This was largely thanks to Rapien’s marketing on Facebook.

“The whole friggin’ town was here,” Roll says. “We had people still waiting for food at 10 even though we closed at 9.”

No worries — I waited less than 20 minutes for the food I ordered. This is quite impressive considering the grill is quite small. Rapien says there are plans to expand the building to make the small kitchen larger in the future.


MY DAD’S PLACE is located at 4501 Vine St., St. Bernard. More info: 513- 448-0030 or facebook.com/Mydadsplacestbernard.

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<![CDATA[Friday Fish Fry Guide]]>
For those of the Christian faith, Lent is the time between Ash Wednesday and Easter spent in religious observance preparing for the resurrection of Christ. It's a time to reflect, repent, fast and engage in some Americanized self-denial — like giving up Coke products or chocolate. It's also a time when people abstain from eating meat on Fridays — fish good; red meat bad — so in Cincinnati there's a flurry of end-of-week activity at local churches and parishes, who are all serving up fried fish dinners and raising money in the process. 

The competition is stiff, so if you're looking to indulge in some down-home, damn-good weekly beer-battered cod and hearty mac and cheese through March, here's where to dine. Some churches even offer adult beverages and parishioner-baked desserts, along with catchy themes and specialty items. Here's a list of local favorites — those offering unique twists or with "best of" votes from area media outlets. 

For a full list of local fish fry events, visit thecatholictelegraph.com/fish-fry-guide.

All Saints
Two words: fish tacos. Why wait in line in OTR when you can pop on out to Kenwood for some fan favorite fried fish, nestled in a lovely tortilla. Menu also features grilled salmon, tilapia, fried cod, sweet potato fries and pizza. And local beer. 5-7:30 p.m. Fridays through March 18. 8939 Montgomery Road, Kenwood, allsaints.cc.

Beechwood High School Fish Fry Drive-Thru
One of the more popular local drive-thru fries. Head to the high school's concession stand to pick up your order — email in advance so it will be ready. Meal includes choices like a baked salmon dinner, fried fish dinner with two sides, fried fish sandwich, pizza, chicken nuggets and sides. 4-7 p.m. Fridays through March 25. 54 Beechwood Road, Fort Mitchell, Ky., 859-620-6317.

Bridgetown Finer Meats
Ok. So this deli is not a church. They still do Fabulous Fish Fridays. Every Friday through Easter, you can grab a fish sandwich as big as a house (with cheese, lettuce and homemade tartar sauce on two slices of giant bread), a shrimp boat, lobster mac and cheese and other fancy specialties. They also have a contest on their Facebook page where if you guess the closest to how many fish sandwiches they serve that day, you win a free sandwich. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Fridays through Easter. 6135 Bridgetown Road, 513-574-3100, bridgetownfinermeats.com. 

Hartzell United Methodist Church
All-you-can-eat fish fry, featuring hand-cut and hand-breaded cod. Menu also includes chicken breast, shrimp, cheese pizza and sides including mac and cheese, cole slaw, applesauce, bread, dessert and drinks. Also available for carry out. $10 adults; $5 children 6-11; free under 5. 4-7 p.m. Fridays through March 11. 8999 Applewood Drive, Blue Ash, 513-891-8527, hartzellumc.com.

Immaculate Heart of Mary
Offers standard fish fry fare — shrimp, crab cakes, pizza, mac and cheese, french fries — but is also home of the famous Tommy Boy, a piece of fried fish nestled inside of a grilled cheese. Also available at the drive-thru. 5-7:30 p.m. Fridays through March 18. 5876 Veterans Way, Burlington, Ky., ihm-ky.org.

Mary, Queen of Heaven
Home of the Codfather, aka the alter ego of John Geisen of Izzy's dressed in mafia-wear and carrying a stuffed cod (photo ops welcome). Offers dine-in, carry-out and drive-thru options so you can get a Holy Haddock sandwich on a hoagie bun, Icelandic beer-battered cod cooked in vegetable shortening, mac and cheese, green beans and more. Menu also features homemade desserts, pizza, grilled cheese and BEER, which you can imbibe waiting in line to get in. 4-8 p.m. Fridays through March 18. 1150 Donaldson Highway, Erlanger, Ky., 859-371-2622, mqhparish.com/#!fish-fry/rhwto.
  • All Izzy's restaurant locations are also offering the Codfather special through March 24: North Atlantic cod filet, battered with Izzy's special blend of 17 spices, served on a kaiser bun with lettuce and tartar sauce. izzys.com.

St. Barbara 
For dine in or carry out. Menu features a cod fish dinner with three sides, the Bob Lee special (baked tilapia and four shrimp), shrimp dinner (8 shrimp with three sides), baked tilapia and a la carte options. 4:30-8 p.m. Fridays through March 18. 4042 Turkeyfoot Road, Erlanger, Ky., 859-371-3100.

St. Columban Church
Lots of choices here. Dinner choices include two sides — fish sandwich dinner, fried shrimp (five pieces), grilled salmon dinner, grilled tilapia dinner, fish taco dinner or buffalo shrimp wrap dinner, with side choices of waffle fries, green beans, baked potato, french fries, mac and cheese, coleslaw, applesauce or tossed salad. 5-8 p.m. Fridays through March 18. 894 Oakland Road, Loveland, 513-683-0105, stcolumban.org.

St. Francis de Sales
Fish fry featuring fried and baked fish, pizza, the famous "DeSales Slammer" and mac and cheese. 5:30-8 p.m. Fridays through March 18. 1600 Madison Road, Walnut Hills, 513-961-1945.

St. Francis Seraph
For $8, grab a meal with two sides (mac and cheese, applesauce or coleslaw). 5:30-7:30 p.m. Fridays through March 18. Christian Moerlein Malt House Taproom, 1621 Moore St., Over-the-Rhine, stfrancisseraphschool.com.

St. Joseph Academy
Adult fried/baked fish dinner includes 12 oz. fish with three sides, drink and dessert, or adult six piece shrimp dinner for $11 (senior dinners $8). A la carte items include Cajun shrimp gumbo, fish sandwich, hush puppies and sides like scalloped potatoes, mac and cheese, french fries, salad and green beans. 4:30-8 p.m. Fridays through March 18. 48 Needmore St., Walton, Ky., 859-485-6444, sjawalton.com.

St. Joseph Catholic Church
Menu features hand-breaded cod and catfish, plus shrimp, crab cakes and salmon. Also includes homemade desserts. 4-7:30 p.m. Fridays through March 18. 6833 Four Mile Road, Camp Springs, Ky., 859-635-5652, stjosephcampspringsparish.com.

St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish
The parish's 11th-annual fish fry. Carry out and dine in available. Menu includes beer-battered and fried cod and shrimp, baked cod, grilled salmon and a seafood combo (with all three!). Dinners include two hush puppies and choice of sides (baked potato, green beans, mac and cheese and more). 4:30-8 p.m. Fridays through March 18. 5720 Hamilton Mason Road, Liberty Township, 513-777-4322, saint-max.org.

St. William 
Annual fish fry with drive thru or dine in. Features weekly live entertainment. Menu includes choices like Magnificod Platter (hand-breaded cod, fries, hush puppies and coleslaw), Baked Salmon Platter (baked salmon, green beans, roasted potatoes and coleslaw), Shrimp Platter (eight pieces of butterfly shrimp, sauce, fries, hush puppies and coleslaw) and other dinner platters and sides. Baked goods sold weekly. 4-7:30 p.m. Fridays through March 18. 4108 W. Eighth St., Price Hill, stwilliamfishfry.com.


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<![CDATA[Slice of Cincinnati: Urban Artifact]]>

With sour beers and live music with state-of-the-art audio quality, Urban Artifact brings people together for “wild culture” — its tagline — all housed within a historic Northside church.

The craft brewery, which opened in April 2015, offers house-brewed sour beers, including seasonal flavors, as well as five signature staples. Liquor and wine are also offered for those who do not care for sours.
If you visit Urban Artifact this month, be sure to try their Abacus gose, which pairs the flavors of raspberry and chocolate for a surprisingly smooth treat. (I am not much of a beer drinker myself, but Abacus is the only beer I have ever liked.) One of Urban Artifact’s four owners, Scott Hand, boasts that it is probably the only beer of its kind in the world.

“We like to combine the activity of getting together with great beer,” Hand says. Urban Artifact beer is complemented with live music nearly every night of the week. With a different band playing each night, Urban Artifact’s crowd also changes nightly. The venue invites all different types of artists to play there, but the strongest emphasis is on local and regional acts.

The brewery’s taproom and listening lounge are located in the old church basement, unique for its high quality acoustics. Artists who play there are left remarking on how great the sound is. This excellent sound comes thanks to Hand, who used his expertise in designing theater spaces to craft the music venue.

Urban Artifact plans to move into the sanctuary part of the church after renovations are complete. Converting this space into the ideal music venue will be the most difficult part of the process, but Hand says he is ready and excited for the challenge. He is currently in the planning phase for this project.

The idea for Urban Artifact sprung from Hand’s interest in music. In fact, he started an independent music label while in college at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning. His label, Grayscale Records, was meant to represent all music in the indie spectrum.

After writing a plan about the future of the music business, Hand decided to focus on connecting an audience directly to musicians instead. Beer was added to the mix in order to create the Urban Artifact brand.

While Hand moved to Chicago after graduating from UC, he returned to Cincinnati almost five years ago for his family. Here, he met the right business partners to bring his vision to life. He remarks on how Cincinnati is the ideal city for a project to sprout.

“You can do everything here,” he says. “You can come here with a dream and good business plan and make it happen.”

Urban Artifact’s location within the city is also ideal. The old church was chosen because it was in the middle of a neighborhood, which Hand says has been fantastically receptive to the new venue.

“While I would love to be a tourist attraction, it’s great to be appreciated by the locals,” he says.

At first, Hand was apprehensive about housing Urban Artifact in an old church. “I thought the church thing was going to be a deal breaker, but almost everyone who comes here thinks it’s hilarious,” he says. This includes a group of 18 priests who came into Urban Artifact dressed in their full traditional garbs to drink one day.


Check artifactbeer.com for complete music listings. Visitors can also look forward to URBAN ARTIFACT’s one year anniversary party April 23 and special events housed above the bar and music space. Drinkers in Dayton and Columbus can find Urban Artifact beers at select distributors throughout the area.

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<![CDATA[Raising the Bars: Nerd Night]]>

Some bars just know how to bring a little intellectual fun to a night out. From classic trivia nights to unique arcade games, these places have it all. So pull up a chair, order a drink and get geeky.

The Famous Neons Unplugged – For trivia nerds

This eclectic place has one of the best trivia nights in town, along with one of the best drink selections as well! They offer 10 rotating drafts, 135 craft bottled beer and in-house vintage beers in addition to domestic favorites. For those who like to mix it up a little, Neons creates specialty cocktails every day. For now, their cozy and homey interior will keep you warm through the winter, but be sure to check out their string-light-lit back patio in the warmer months — you can even bring your pets along for the ride! Monday nights are trivia nights at Neons and if that’s not enough excitement for you, they even have giant Jenga to play.
208 E. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-827-9361, wellmannsbrands.com/neons. $.

Over-the-Rhine Brewery District Tours – For history nerds

If you’re anything of a history buff, you’re going to love these tours through the pre-Prohibition-era breweries of Cincinnati. Not only will you get to explore the historic buildings, you’ll also get tours of the cellars and underground tunnels that were at the heart of the Cincinnati brewing scene decades ago. Some of the places featured on this tour include the Sohn/Cliffyside Brewery (opened in 1846), the Hudepohl Brewery (founded in 1850) and the Christian Moerlein Brewery, which is among the top 5 largest pre-Prohibition breweries in the country. Explore the beer-stained history of the Queen city with these incredible tours.
cincinnatibrewerytours.com. $.

16-Bit Bar+Arcade – For video game nerds

With more than 50 classic arcade games from Donkey Kong to Pac Man, this throwback bar is one of the geekiest places in the city. The best part? If you drink, you play for free! The bar even continues its ’80s and ’90s theme into their “old school” and “new wave” cocktails. Drinks like the Hulk Hogan (vodka + lemonade + original bomb pop popsicle), the Cheech Marin (Espolon Reposado tequila + lime + agave nectar + orange zest + salt) and the Pam Anderson (Malibu rum + peach vodka + cranberry juice + pineapple juice + lime juice + grenadine) will keep you juiced up and ready to beat high scores all night. And if you haven’t had enough by the time you leave, they even sell nerdy apparel to suit your every need.
1331 Walnut St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-1616, 16-bitbar.com/cincy. $$.

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<![CDATA[Slice of Cincinnati: Cuban Pete]]>

It’s a Wednesday, and the line at Cuban Pete Sandwiches on Court Street downtown stretches out the door during lunchtime. Hungry customers don’t mind waiting in line for the only authentic Cuban cuisine in Cincinnati. The staff is prepared, having pre-made 50 traditional Cuban sandwiches at the start of their shift.

The restaurant catches the attention of a Cuban man, who cuts all the way to the front of the line and approaches Nelson Fonticiella.

“This isn’t real Cuban food!” the man tells Fonticiella.

Fonticiella, the restaurant’s owner and general manager, simply tells the surly customer he has no idea. The man admits he has been looking for authentic Cuban food in Cincinnati for years. He hasn’t even been able to find a restaurant that uses Cuban bread for sandwiches.

Of course, he doesn’t believe that the man before him with green eyes, red hair and freckles is Cuban —not until he samples the piece of bread Fonticiella gives him. It’s so good that he orders a Cuban sandwich and eats the entire thing while having a conversation with Fonticiella’s father. Just one sandwich isn’t enough for him, so he orders a steak sandwich and scarfs it down in the store before ordering a chicken sandwich to go.

“A real Cuban guy sat there and couldn’t resist eating two of our sandwiches,” Fonticiella says later. “That’s about as complimentary as it gets.”

He knows for a fact Cuban Pete is the only restaurant in Cincinnati that serves authentic Cuban bread, which he imports from Miami.

The bread cooks up nice and crisp when sandwiches are pressed, giving them the perfect filling-to-bread ratio (as opposed to other styles of bread that can make sandwiches too … bready).

Each week Fonticiella roasts 100 pounds of pork for his sandwiches and tacos. It’s juicy, tender and flavorful.

“This is authentic as it gets. Besides, I’m cooking in an oven instead of burying a pig in the ground,” he says with a laugh. “Eventually I’m going to have to teach someone else how to do it, but I’m having trouble giving up my secret pork recipe.”

The recipe comes from a leather-bound book he found in his grandmother’s attic containing all of his great-grandfather’s recipes. Pedro — or Pete, as he was nicknamed — cooked for his hungry baseball teammates in Cuba. Although he did not make it to the U.S. when the family immigrated to Florida, his recipes did.

Fonticiella’s grandmother began to teach him how to cook when he was seven years old. Now, his great-grandfather Pete’s recipes account for half of what is served at Cuban Pete, including the chicken and steak. The other half are Fonticiella’s creations.

The idea for Cuban Pete began eight years ago when Fonticiella opened a food truck in Lexington, Ky. The business moved to Cincinnati three years ago after Fonticiella frequented the city for concerts and saw the restaurant and music scenes expanding. So far, he has not regretted his decision to move up north.

“The thing I love about Cincinnati is that everyone who is from here or lives here is proud as hell to be from Cincinnati,” he says. “Everyone knows the ins and outs and the history of their city.”

Although he originally intended to open up more Cuban Pete in other cities such as Indianapolis, Fonticiella has decided to stay put in the Queen City. In fact, he loves it so much that a second location will open by the end of the summer. The new store will be located somewhere in northern Cincinnati, he says.

“I want to take the food and culture that has influenced me my entire life and share it with places that don’t really have it,” he says. “Cincinnati is the perfect place to start. Every day, I have people coming up to me telling me it’s the best sandwich they’ve ever had in their life.”

It’s not just the unique foods that makes Cuban Pete an experience — it’s also the interaction with the staff and Cuban culture.

“Ninety percent of the time when it’s not busy, you are going to see me sitting and talking with the customers,” he says as a couple of regulars step into the restaurant. He greets them by name.

While Fonticiella’s father lives in Lexington, he regularly commutes to Cincinnati and hang around Cuban Pete. Fonticiella describes his father as the quintessential loud Cuban; he is always out on the floor talking to customers.

Understandably, customers’ favorite part of Cuban Pete is the food. I enjoyed the authentic Cuban sandwich as well as the Chicky Boom-Boom sandwich. Seasoned, marinated chicken is complemented by the perfect combination of sweet jerk sauce and spicy Sriracha, paired with red onions and tomatoes.

Enjoy hand-cut fries as a side or fried plantains for a sweeter alternative. They’re sweet and enjoyable enough for dessert. You can also get some of Pete’s amazing pork or chicken on a taco, which comes with pineapple cilantro salsa. There are also breakfast options and different variations of the Cuban to try, such as the creative Cincy Cuban with goetta.

The menu will be expanding with healthier options and desserts Feb. 1, with house-made black bean burgers, salads with homemade dressing, and Tres Leches Cake.

All menu items are reasonably priced, especially considering the quality of the food. Cuban Pete serves the only authentic Cuban food in Cincinnati, and Fonticiella goes the extra mile when sourcing his ingredients. He can find his pork, drinks and ingredients for marinades locally from Jungle Jim’s, Findlay Market and Restaurant Depot, but the bread and bolo ham come from Florida.


For more information on CUBAN PETE: cubanpetesandwiches.com

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<![CDATA[Raising the Bars: Foodie Fever]]>

Do prefer to fill your stomach before a night out? Love loading up on artisanal appetizers, fancy finger foods and awesome hors d’oeuvres? Calling all foodies: these bars are for you.

Hofbrauhaus – Newport

If German food is your cup of tea, the Hofbrauhaus in Newport is the place to be. It’s hard to go wrong with their bier cheese fries or any of the indulgent schnitzel options — and don’t forget about their legendary beer selection! This local favorite was the first Hofbrauhaus in America, modeled after the 400+-year-old original in Germany. So loosen your belt and join in the tradition.
200 E. Third St. Newport, Ky. 859-491-7200.
$$. Lots of space. 

Latitudes – Anderson

From Germany we head to this eclectic Mediterranean bar and grill. Sit down for some tapas while you experience one of their famous karaoke or trivia nights, and make sure to check out the calendar for their next live music act. This place is perfect for a low-stress, high-caliber night out with close friends, acquaintances you occasionally grab dinner with or a hot date.
7454 Beechmont Ave., Anderson, 513-827-9146.
$$. Theme nights. 

BrewRiver GastroPub – East End

BrewRiver GastroPub has some of the best “bar food” (if you can even call it that) in the area — they call chicken liver pate a light snack. The head chef, Michael Shields, spent six years working under Emeril Lagasse: chef extraordinaire and the star of 12 different cooking shows. If you love New Orleans delicacies and an incredible beer and wine suggestion for every meal, then this authentic establishment is right up your alley.
2062 Riverside Dr., East End, 513-861-2484.
$$. Live music.

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<![CDATA[Raising the Bars: Girls' Night]]>

Pull on your high-heeled boots, grab some of your best friends and head out on the town for your best-ever girls' night! These bars have everything from spacious dance floors to crazy cocktails that’ll definitely spice up your weekend plans.

Bar Louie – Newport

“Open early, closes late” is the credo of this café/lounge based out of Chicago. Bar Louie’s vibe is eclectic and welcoming and features a wide range of handcrafted signature martinis like the new Star Wars-themed cocktails — these definitely are the drinks you’re looking for. And if you want something to soak up all those whimsically themed martinis, the Verde Chicken Flatbread is to die for.
1 Levee Way #3118, Newport, Ky., newportonthelevee.com/bar-louie.

Open late. $$. Specialty drinks.

Longworth’s – Mount Adams

Longworth’s huge dance floor, live DJ and unique feel should make it one of the first stops on your agenda — and with happy hour every day from 4-8 p.m., it’s easy to get a good start for a great price, meaning your night can last even longer. Then if you feel like continuing the party into Sunday Funday, you’ll be welcomed with $3 Mimosas and Bloody Marys all day long.
1109 St. Gregory St., Mount Adams, mtadamslongworths.com.
$$. Outdoor patio.
 

Mynt Martini – Downtown

Want to add a touch of class to your big night out? Check out the super sleek Mynt Martini lounge for their live music, tasty hors d’oeuvres and fancy cocktails. The first thing you’ll notice when you walk in is the neon-lit bar and tables, which clearly sets the scene for how awesome the rest of your night will be.
28 Fountain Square Plaza, Downtown, myntcincinnati.com.
$$$. Live music.

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<![CDATA[Raising the Bars: Game Day]]>

No matter which game you’re watching or which colors you don (better be orange and black), the Cincinnati bar scene has a little something for every kind of fan. From packed sports bars to quiet neighborhood grills, there’s always a place to enjoy a couple of the things the Queen City is known for — good teams and great beer. This Saturday will be no exception when the stupid Pittsburgh Steelers come to town for an AFC first-round playoff game.


Brass Tap
The Brass Tap in Clifton has 20 HDTVs, which play any and all Bengals games — with the sound on! The bar also serves up more than 300 beers — 80 on draft and 250 in bottles with 30-plus locals. Saturdays and Sundays, any pizza (served on pretzel dough crust) and pint combo is $10, and on game days, enjoy $3 off any large format beer selections. You can check out the expansive wine, food and both draft and bottle beer menus online. Fun place to get loud and shout at the TV with college kids. 251 Calhoun St., Clifton Heights, 513-242-2337, brasstapbeer.com.


Brothers Bar & Grille
For those looking to find a unique and eclectic sports bar on a budget, Brothers Bar & Grill is right up your alley. The bar itself is located right on Newport on the Levee's square, meaning a stunning view of the river is just outside on their back patio. The menu features made-from-scratch appetizers like Wisconsin World Famous Cheese Curds, bleu cheese and bacon tavern chips, and jumbo pretzel sticks, and also has plenty of full sized meals. Their daily drink specials ($2 double wells, anyone?) will keep your pockets lined and your belly warm while you cheer on your favorite team
1 Levee Way #2126, Newport, Ky., 859-291-2767, brothersbar.com.


Gas Light Café

Pleasant Ridge’s friendly neighborhood tavern expects a big crowd for the playoff game. Its legit bar-food menu includes one of the best burgers in town, plus other creative sandwiches and sides. 6104 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge, 513-631-6977.


Holy Grail Tavern & Grill

One of the city’s biggest and most authentic sports bars, the Holy Grail at The Banks hosts weekly Bengals radio shows and will undoubtedly be packed for the big game against the Steelers. Huge menu, tons of draft beers and enough TVs to see exactly which player tries to poke another in the eyes. Holy Grail West offers more of the same in Delhi. The Banks, 161 Joe Nuxhall Way, Downtown, 513-621-2222; Holy Grail West, 1278 Ebenezer Road, Delhi, 513-941-5555. holygrailcincy.com.


Kitty’s Sports Grill
Positioned directly across the street from Paul Brown Stadium and buzzing with a big bar-vibe, Kitty’s is the place to be for Bengals fans. This gem is relatively new to the Cincinnati scene, but it’s already making waves with super friendly staff members, fantastic drink specials like $12 bottomless bloody marys and mimosas on the weekends, and so many TVs you won’t even know where to look. There’s even a 120-inch projection screen above the bar — talk about a front row seat. 
218 W. Third St., Downtown, 513-421-8900, kittyssportsgrill.net.


Knockback Nat’s
This all-American, nationally recognized (check out their
Travel Channel shout-out), locally beloved dive bar mixes together all the necessary ingredients for the perfect game day. Their dartboard-and-jukebox vibe pairs wonderfully with the inexpensive and delicious array of grub — from their famous smoked wings (just 75 cents when you buy a beer!), to loaded vegetarian nachos. You’ll feel like a regular on your first visit, so it’s easy to get comfy and enjoy the game, no matter the score. They also have free popcorn. 
10 W. Seventh St., Downtown, 513-621-1000.


Lachey's
Anything more hometown than a hometown sports bar run by a couple of hometown dudes? Lachey's does game day up right with drink specials for every Bengals home and away match — $5 mimosas, $5 Bengals bombs when the Bengals score and $3 Bud and Bud Light drafts if the Bengals win. They have a plethora of giant TVs above the bar, a running sports ticker and a tasty tailgate-friendly bar menu featuring three different flavors of tater tots, buffalo wings and stuffed meatballs. 56 E. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-275-0740, lacheys.com.

Martino's on Vine
Some people like the Pittsburgh Steelers and if those people don't want to be boo-ed out of a bar, they can head to Martino's on Vine. You can watch the Steelers lose on any one of their 31 TVs while you enjoy a two-foot hoagie, a variety of interpretations on a Philly cheesesteak or Pittsburgh-style wings. 2618 Vine St., Corryville, 513-221-8487, martinosonvine.com.

O’Malley’s in the Alley

The quintessential Cincinnati sports bar, O’Malley’s offers weekly lunch specials, happy hour deals and other specials for Reds and Bengals games. The Irish pub is one of the city’s oldest bars, O’Malley’s is a crucial stop to and from riverfront sports contests and should be poppin’ on playoff night. 25 Ogden Place (off Vine Street), Downtown, 513-381-3114. omalleysinthealley.com.


Rhinehaus
OTR's original sports bar Rhinehaus is not only a Bengals bar, they're also an official Packers bar (and they also show all Premier League Match games; sportz!). With 14 total TVs, including a giant projector and a screen in the mens bathroom, it's a cool and cozy place to imbibe a brew from one of 16 rotating taps or down a few "rhino" shots. These haus shots include concoctions like the Orange Rhino (Malibu orange float, vanilla vodka, orange juice and cranberry) and Kentucky Rhino (whiskey and creme de menthe). You can also get food to go or delivered from nearby OTR eateries aka buy yourself a Turtle Shell from Gomez. 119 E. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine, rhinehausbar.com.

Tina's
Bengal Nation's who-dey hangout. This third-generation family-owned and -operated watering hole is only a block from Paul Brown Stadium, so naturally they bleed orange. They have 13 wall-mounted flatscreen TVs, 8 rotating beers on tap, shuffle board, darts and plenty of room to relax and watch the game. Their full menu features everything from sandwiches and salads to chicken wings, chili and a cheese plate. They even do tailgating pick-up orders for home games; call ahead. 350 W. Fourth St., Downtown, 513-621-3567, tinasbar.com.
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<![CDATA[New Year's Eve Dinners]]>
Reservations are required for pretty much all of these events. Please call to reserve space and make sure the evening isn't sold out. 

BB Riverboats New Year’s Eve Cruise — Sail into the new year full-steam ahead. The cruise includes a three-entrée buffet, party favors, entertainment, a late-night snack buffet and the main event — a split of champagne at midnight. Boarding begins at 8 p.m.; cruise 9 p.m.-1 a.m. $105 adults; $65 children. BB Riverboats, 101 Riverboat Row, Newport, Ky., 800-261-8586, bbriverboats.com.

A Bright New Year Beer Dinner at Fifty West — Make your last meal of 2015 a four-course beer dinner consisting of familiar foods with a twist. Each course is paired with Fifty West brews, including a special pilsner released for the New Year. 6-9 p.m. $59. Fifty West Brewing Company, 7668 Wooster Pike, Mariemont, 513-834-8789, fiftywestbrew.com.

Banana Leaf Modern Thai — Receive a complimentary glass of champagne with purchase of an entrée or dessert. 7 p.m. Prices vary. Banana Leaf Modern Thai, 101 E. Main St., Mason, 513-234-0779, bananaleafmodernthai.com.

Cafe Mediterranean — Featuring a fixed five-course menu. 7 p.m. $45. Cafe Mediterranean, 3520 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, 513-871-8714, cafe-mediterranean.com.

Cincinnati Donauschwaben — Celebrate 2016 German-style with an all-you-can-eat appetizer/sandwich buffet and dessert, with music from Alpen Echos. Reservations required. 8 p.m. $25. 4290 Dry Ridge Road, Colerain, 513-385-2098, cincydonau.com.

Grandview Tavern & Grille — Surf & turf, braised short ribs and potato-chip-encrusted sea bass in addition to special appetizers and desserts and a champagne toast at midnight. Live music by Legato. 7 p.m. Prices vary. 2220 Grandview Drive, Fort Mitchell, Ky., 859-341-8439, grandviewtaverngrille.com.

Hometown New Year’s Eve at Hebron Grille — Whittle down the hours with a steak and lobster dinner, live music from Dave May and a champagne toast at midnight. Take home door prizes every hour from Rhinegeist, Verona Vineyards and more. 6 p.m. $15. Hebron Grille, 1960 N. Bend Road, Hebron, Ky., 859-586-0473, facebook.com/hebrongrille.

A Mellow New Year's Eve at Bella Luna — Enjoy a mellow meal at Bella Luna with a prix fixe menu featuring ravioli, bone marrow with pomegranate jam, eggnog bread pudding and more, plus complimentary champagne with dessert. $125 per couple. Bella Luna, 4632 Eastern Ave., East End, 513-871-5862, bellalunacincy.com

Metropole — Savor every last bite of 2015 with a New Year’s Eve dinner at Metropole. Chef Jared Bennett’s farm-to-fireplace á la carte menu will be served until 6:45 p.m. At 7:30 p.m., guests will be treated to a four course prix fixe menu with amuse-bouche. 5:30-11 p.m. $95 ; includes champagne toast. Metropole, 609 Walnut St., Downtown, metropoleonwalnut.com.

Midnight in Munich — Celebrate NYE with our sister city, Munich. Features a traditional German buffet with roasted pig and includes entertainment, a champagne toast, appetizers, dinner and desserts. 5 p.m. Prices vary. Mecklenburg Gardens, 302 E. University Ave., Corryville, 513-221-5353.

Mount Adams Pavilion’s New Year’s Eve Ball — Two DJs on two levels provide music throughout the evening. Guests receive party favors, access to a complimentary hors d’oeuvres buffet and — of course — champagne to toast. 9 p.m.-2:30 a.m. $30; $40 at door. Mount Adams Pavilion, 949 Pavilion St., Mount Adams, facebook.com/mountadamspavilion.

Nectar — Enjoy a three-course prix fixe meal at Nectar for New Year's. Meal includes choice of local polenta, coq au vin and caraway-crusted petite fillet. Reservations required. $65. Nectar, 1000 Delta Ave., Mount Lookout, 513-929-0525, dineatnectar.comtmp_1451326182321.

The Presidents Room — An optional five-course tasting menu accompanies live music and a champagne toast. 7 p.m. Prices vary. The Presidents Room, The Phoenix, 812 Race St., Downtown, 513-721-2260, thephx.com.

Taft’s New Year’s Eve Bash — Taft’s Ale House hosts its inaugural New Year’s Bash with live music by the Eden Park Band and a rare beer tapping at midnight ­— the brewery has teamed up with Taste of Belgium to created a special waffle-based beer for the bash. 7 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Tickets start at $35. Taft’s Ale House, 1429 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-334-1393, taftsalehouse.com.

Venue Cincinnati’s New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball — A sit-down dinner, party favors, a champagne toast and Electronic music by DV8. 7 p.m.-2 a.m. Tickets start at $25. The Venue Cincinnati, 9980 Kings Auto Mall, Mason, 513-239-5009, thevenuecincinnati.com

Vinoklet Winery — Celebrate the advent of 2016 with a dinner buffet at the winery, with choice of prime au jus or swordfish, plus more. Includes open bar, hors d'oeuvres, party favors, dancing and a champagne toast at midnight. 7:30 p.m. $75. Vinoklet Winery, 11069 Colerain Ave., Colerain, 513-385-9309, vinokletwines.com.

For more New Year's Eve events, visit citybeat.com.
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<![CDATA[This Week's Food and Dining Events]]> WEDNESDAY 02
CityBeat’s Bourbon & Bacon — If you like eating divine swine products or drinking high-quality brown liquor, head to New Riff Distillery for CityBeat’s annual Bourbon & Bacon party. Guests will enjoy samples of bacon-inspired dishes from local restaurants like Holtman’s Donuts, Pompilios, Cuban Pete, BrewRiver GastroPub and more. Wash the pork down with whiskey from Buffalo Trace, OYO, Woodford, Old Forrester and more — or just grab a beer. Tickets include 10 drink samples and all-you-can-snack food. 6-9 p.m. The event is currently sold-out. New Riff Distillery, 24 Distillery Way, Newport, Ky., citybeat.com.

You Won’t Miss Gluten — Whether eliminating gluten from your diet by choice or necessity, this class will teach you easily replace starches in your main dishes. 6-8 p.m. $70. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

THURSDAY 03
Holiday Entertaining — Get ready for the holiday season with recipes and tips to help you spend more time enjoying your guests. 6-9 p.m. $65. Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State, 3520 Central Parkway, Clifton, culinary.cincinnatistate.edu.

Entertaining with Cheese — The most important hosting class you’ll ever take, whether you’re throwing a party or just eating cheese in your bed alone. Learn to make simple but sensational cheese boards. 6-8 p.m. $35. Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com.

Warped Wing Tapping — If you’re a fan of Dayton’s Warped Wing brewery, head to BrewRiver for a special tap takeover with giveaways and live music. 6-9 p.m. Free. BrewRiver GastroPub, 2062 Riverside Drive, East End, brewrivergastropub.com.

Cincinnati E.A.T.S. — Do you like dining and mingling? Cincinnati E.A.T.S. takes over Cricket Lounge with cocktails and appetizers, followed by a seated dinner and dessert. The organization — Epicureans About Town Society — is dedicated to supporting great, local restaurants and charities. Bring two canned goods to donate to the Freestore Foodbank. 6:30 p.m. $46.50. Palace Restaurant, 601 Vine St., Downtown, cincinnati.com/cincinnatieats/index.shtml.

FRIDAY 04
Date Night: Spiced Crusted Pork —  Bring a date and create a main dish of smoked paprika-crusted pork and Swiss chard with quinoa. 6-8 p.m. $160 per couple. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

SATURDAY 05
Dad Day at Rhinegeist
Photo: Rhinegeist
Dad Day at Rhinegeist — Party in plaid with dad at Rhinegeist. The brewery celebrates the release of its seasonal brew Dad — a hoppy holiday ale — with a party featuring commemorative glassware and posters for the first 100 guests. The event is BYOD and BYOP (bring your own dad and bring your own plaid), with a special #DadPlaid photobooth and cozy holiday setting. BTW: Dad comes in a plaid can, which is why Dad Day has a patterned theme, not just because tartan is incredibly Christmasy. Noon-5 p.m. Saturday. Free. Rhinegeist, 1910 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, rhinegeist.com.

Cincy Brew Bus: Bourbon, Brews and a Winery Too — The bus stops at New Riff, The Littlefield, Henke Winery and Rhinegeist. Noon-5 p.m. $70-$75. Leaves from New Riff, 24 Distillery Way, Newport, Ky., cincybrewbus.com.

Kids and Teens in the Kitchen: Holiday Cookies — Kids ages 8 and older can learn to make cut-out cookies, royal icing and various decorating techniques. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. $50. Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State, 3520 Central Parkway, Clifton, culinary.cincinnatistate.edu.

A New Holiday Brunch — Prepare an easy brunch for a winter holiday or lazy Sunday. 10 a.m.-noon. $65. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

Sushi Rolling and Dining — Learn to roll three kids of sushi. BYOB. 6 p.m. $25. Sushi Cincinnati, 130 W. Pike St., Covington, Ky., sushicinti.com.

Braxton Block Party — Braxton Brewing Co. hosts a Cov block party with live music from the likes of Tracy Walker, Pete Dressman, Motherfolk and more. They’ll also be releasing the first beer in their Heritage Series: Dark Charge. Tappings throughout the day. Food trucks available. Noon-1 a.m. Free admission. 27 W. Seventh St., Covington, Ky., braxtonbrewing.com.

Drink Local for Christmas — Test locally crafted wine and spirits for gift giving. Choose from 17 wines and 10 boozes. 2-7 p.m. $15. Woodstone Creek Winery & Distillery, 4712 Vine St., Saint Bernard, woodstonecreek.com.

Holly Jolly Roger Lunch Cruise — Christmas plus pirates! This lunch cruise features a family-friendly pirate crew, game, activities, turkey and a special appearance by Santa. Noon-2 p.m. Saturdays. Through Dec. $40 adults; $24 children. BB Riverboats, 101 Riverboat Row, Newport, Ky., bbriverboats.com.

SUNDAY 06
Repeal Day Celebration
Photo: Provided
Repeal Day Celebration — On Dec. 5, 1933, the United States passed the 21st Amendment, effectively repealing Prohibition. Celebrate by getting drunk on Sidecars and Mary Pickfords in Jazz Age costumes at the Metropole at 21c. The restaurant and bar’s Repeal Day party honors the end of Prohibition with 1920s tunes, a burlesque show and classic speakeasy cocktails. Period-inspired costumes encouraged; mustaches provided by Metropole. Special room rates apply for those who don’t want to tipple and drive. 7-11 p.m. Sunday. Free admission. 609 Walnut St., Downtown, metropoleonwalnut.com.  

MONDAY 07
Dinner Amongst the Stars — Local celebrities serve a meal to benefit the Still Strong Foundation and the Carlos Dunlap Foundation. 6 p.m. $250. Prime 47, 580 Walnut St., Downtown, 513-579-0720.

A Do-Ahead Brunch Celebration — Entertain with ease during the holidays with this make-ahead brunch menu, including savory goat cheese and artichoke frittata, baked crab benedict and a sparkling bellini. 6:30-8:30 p.m. $70. Cooks’Wares, 11344 Montgomery Road, Harper’s Point, cookswaresonline.com.

TUESDAY 08
A Trip to Vietnam — Learn classic skills such as seasoning and using spring roll wrappers. Create your own meal of pho and learn to roll your own spring rolls with rice noodles and veggies. 6-8 p.m. $70. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

Cookies Uncorked — Grab some friends for a night of cookie making and wine. The class includes naked cookies, icing, equipment and instruction. 7-9 p.m. $45. New Riff, 24 Distillery Way, Newport, Ky., newriffdistilling.com.

 

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<![CDATA[Thanksgiving Dinners]]>
Whether you can't make it home for Thanksgiving, you're avoiding your family or you just don't actually feel like waking up at 6 a.m. to start cooking, plenty of area eateries are making it easy to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving feast with all the trimmings minus the time spent in the kitchen sticking your hand up a turkey's butt (and time spent getting drunk enough to ignore your Republican uncle's ramblings about how Donald Trump would make America great again).

Arnold’s Misfit Thanksgiving — This Thanksgiving meal is open to everyone. Bring a dish to share. 5 p.m. Free admission. Arnold’s Bar & Grill, 210 E. Eighth St., Downtown, facebook.com/arnoldsbar.

BB Riverboats — BB Riverboats hosts two Thanksgiving Day cruises — one lunch and one dinner — featuring a holiday feast with all the trimmings. Menu features roasted turkey, dressing, ham, green bean casserole, potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and more. 1-3 p.m. or 5:30-7:30 p.m. $43 adults; $22 children. 101 Riverboat Row, Newport, Ky., bbriverboats.com.

Behle Street by Sheli — Featuring a traditional Thanksgiving meal, either in house or to go. Menu includes ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, corn pudding, sweet potato, cranberries, green beans and more. 1-8 p.m. $23.99 adults; $8 children. 2220 Grandview Drive, Ft. Mitchell, Ky., behlestreetbysheli.com

Embers — Serving the restaurant’s full menu, along with a traditional holiday three-course meal including choices of turkey, stuffing and pecan pie. 4-10 p.m. $35 adult; $17 children. 8170 Montgomery Road, Kenwood, embersrestaurant.com.

Fall Feast — The 10th-annual Fall Feast from Give Back Cincinnati is all about community, love and abundant free food. Join 4,000 of your neighbors to give thanks, eat heartily and laugh cheerfully. The event also features free coats, haircuts, a health clinic, flu shots, vision screenings and pediatric dental check-ups, plus live music, a kids zone and big-screen TVs to watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade and football. Doors open 9 a.m.; dinner 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Free. Duke Energy Convention Center, 525 Elm St., Downtown, fallfeast.org.

Four Seasons Restaurant — Buffet includes turkey, ham, shrimp, mashed potatoes, oyster dressing, fresh fruit and desserts. 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m. $24.95 adults; $13.95 children. 4609 Kellogg Ave., Anderson, fourseasonscincy.com.

La Petite France — A traditional buffet feast plus assorted French delights. Includes turkey, escargots bourguignon, quiche Loraine, smoked salmon, pumpkin soup and cocktails. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. $34.95 adults; $15 children. La Petit France, 3177 Glendale-Milford Road, Evendale, lapetitefrance.biz.

Laszlo’s Iron Skillet — Menu features entrées including maple-leaf crispy roasted duck, wiener schnitzel and oven-roaster turkey. Guests will be seated every two hours, and reservations are encouraged. 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Pricing à la carte. 1020 Ohio Pike, Withamsville, laszlosironskillet.com.

Metropole — This traditional meal can be served à la carte or as a four-course prix-fixe dinner. Turkey, soups and salads, stuffing and sweet potatoes are all on the menu. 2-8 p.m. $49 adults. 609 Walnut St., Downtown, metropoleonwalnut.com.

Parker’s Blue Ash Tavern — Parker’s buffet features all the trimmings of a traditional turkey dinner. Noon-7 p.m. $34.95 adults; $11.95 children. 4200 Cooper Road, Blue Ash, parkersblueash.com.

Riley’s Restaurant — This all-you-can-eat buffet offers everything from mashed potatoes and gravy to oven-roasted turkey and pecan and pumpkin pies. 11:30 a.m.-6 p.m. $19.50 adults; $8.95 children. 11568 Springfield Pike, Springdale, rileysgreatmeals.com.

Walt’s Barbecue — All-you-can-eat buffet at Walt’s. 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m. $19.95. 6040 Colerain Ave., Colerain, waltsbarbeque.com.

Wunderland Banquet Hall — Includes turkey, ham, stuffing, macaroni and cheese, steamed vegetables, rolls and pumpkin pie. 1-4 p.m. $18.50 adults; $7 children. 7881 Colerain Ave., Colerain, wunderlandhall.com.

 

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<![CDATA[This Week's Dining Events]]> FRIDAY 06
Cincinnati Cheese Festival — Get ready to get cheesy. Imbibe unlimited samples of more than 300 cheeses from international artisan producers at the Cincinnati Cheese Festival, which takes over the Christian Moerlein Brewing Co. on Friday. Things heat up during the Grilled Cheese Meltdown, when local eateries like C’est Cheese, Taste of Belgium and CRAVE compete to whip up the most imaginative (and tasty) grilled-cheese sandwich — fest-goers vote for their favorites. General admission includes two drink tickets, and local band Blue Caboose performs Americana and Bluegrass music throughout the evening. 6-11 p.m. Friday. $40. 1621 Moore St., Over-the-Rhine, cincinnaticheesefestival.com.


Demystifying French Wines — Advanced sommelier Laura Landoll leads this class in which you can learn about major and minor French wines. Small bites accompany the tasting. 6:30-9:30 p.m. $85. Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State, 3520 Central Parkway, Clifton, culinary.cincinnatistate.edu.


Stew-topia at 21c Museum Hotel — Justin Hoover and Chris Treggiari, the artists behind the ongoing project War Gastronomy — “a dual-industrial tricycle system that unfolds into a pop-up food cart and cultural archive of personal stories of relocation, dislocation and overcoming struggle” — present Stew-topia, another community food- and story-sharing event at 21c Museum Hotel in conjunction with their participation in Wave Pool Gallery’s current exhibition, Holding Ground. Hoover and Treggiari will perform in Gano Alley (directly adjacent to 21c) on Friday and will hold a discussion of their work inside the Museum Hotel on Sunday. 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday; 4 p.m. Sunday. Free. 609 Walnut St., Downtown, facebook.com/wavepoolgallery.


SATURDAY 07
The Great Ohio Brew N’ Que — Fifty West Brewing Company hosts the Great Ohio Brew N’ Que with Great Lakes Brewing Company. Chefs John Tomain of Fifty West and Rock Finley of Great Lakes will create a barbecue buffet (with a vegetarian option), paired with 10 craft beers from each of the breweries, including their collaboration beer Walking Sticke. 4 p.m.-midnight. $40. 7668 Wooster Pike, Mariemont, fiftywestbrew.com.

Free! Thanksgiving 101 — This free class will teach you how to prepare, bring, roast and carve a turkey and make fluffy mashed potatoes. Also get a chance to buy a Thanksgiving 101 supply kit. 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Free. Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

Holler Festival
Photo: New Riff Distilling 
Holler Festival — Nearly 5 million barrels of bourbon are aging in the Bluegrass State, and you get to enjoy the best of them at the first-ever Holler Festival. Join Kentucky breweries and distilleries as they showcase their signature craft beers and whiskeys. Learn the secrets of the trade, sample drinks and heavy appetizers, grab your special-edition glass and hang out with the best bourbon producers in Kentucky. Participating breweries and distilleries include Ei8ht Ball, Copper & Kings American Brandy, Blue Stallion Brewing, Old Pogue Distillery and The Gentleman Distillery. All proceeds benefit Renaissance Covington. 6-10 p.m. $50. New Riff Distilling, 24 Distillery Way, Newport, Ky., hollerfestival.com.

Homemade Pasta 101 — Learn the basics of kneading, rolling and cutting fresh pasta by hand, plus a recipe for homemade tomato sauce. 6-8:30 p.m. $50. Gorman Heritage Farm, 10052 Reading Road, Evendale, gormanfarm.org.

Kids and Teens in the Kitchen: Mexican Fiesta! — A cooking class for ages 8 and up. Learn how to make fajita quesadillas, churros and more. This is a kids-only class. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. $50. Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State, 3520 Central Parkway, Clifton, culinary.cincinnatistate.edu.

Holiday Cookie Decorating — In this hands-on class, learn to make the perfect sugar cookie, plus tips for expert decorating. Noon-2:30 p.m. $40. Cooks’Wares, 11344 Montgomery Road, Harper’s Point, cookswaresonline.com.

Holiday Beer Extravaganza — Every Cincinnatian knows that the Christian Moerlein Lager House is one of the premier spots to down a cold one. But this Saturday Christian Moerlein is taking things to festive levels of fun with its Holiday Beer Extravaganza. The extravaganza will boast more than 20 different selections of imported and craft beers — just what you need to jump-start your holiday cheer. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday. Free. Moerlein Lager House, 115 Joe Nuxhall Way, Downtown, moerleinlagerhouse.com.

TUESDAY 10
Cold Weather Comfort Soups — Ilene Ross hosts this class on making cold-weather staple soups. Noon-1:30 p.m. $40. Cooks’Wares, 11344 Montgomery Road, Harper’s Point, cookswaresonline.com.

Fresh Tortilla Workshop — Learn to make corn tortillas at home. 6-8 p.m. $75. Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.
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<![CDATA[New Chef to Take Ownership of Django Western Taco]]> There’s a new chef at Django Western Taco, and as of the beginning of the year, he’ll also own the joint.

After stints in both The British Virgin Islands and New York City, chef Josh Campbell, formerly of Cincinnati restaurant Mayberry, has returned to town and has found a home at the popular Northside “Cowboy Cuisine” restaurant. For now he’s running the kitchen, but he’s also made a deal with long-time restaurateur Jens Rosenkrantz to buy the place. 

“I think it’s a great fit,” Rosenkrantz says. “I’ve been looking to have someone take it over for a while, and having known Josh for years, going to Mayberry all the time, and his style of cuisine, and his style, I cannot think of a better fit for this place.”

With the recent departure of Django executive chef Andrew Mersmann to Oakley’s Red Feather, the timing for the move was perfect for both Campbell and Rosenkrantz. "I came back from NYC and was just figuring out what I wanted to do, I didn’t know if I really wanted to run another restaurant, and I found out that there was gonna be a transition and I got a hold of Jens," Campbell says. "He closed down Mayberry with me, was there on the last day with me, so I did my due diligence to see if this was something I wanted to get into.”

There will be some immediate updates to the décor, including a larger bar area, and Campbell is working on his new, more seasonally driven menu, although he promises that the most popular items like shrimp tacos will stay.

The restaurant will also be bringing back Sunday brunch and will now be open for lunch on Monday and dinner on Sunday.

 

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<![CDATA[This Week's Dining Events (10/28-11/4)]]> WEDNESDAY 28

Clean Eating: Eat Well, Live Whole — Learn the basics of creating a healthier kitchen: how to read labels, find hidden ingredients and deal with allergies. 6-9 p.m. $65. Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State, 3520 Central Parkway, Clifton, culinary.cincinnatistate.edu.

Crab Carnival — Washington Platform’s 16th-annual Crab Carnival features a variety of crab and crabbatizers, crab soups, crab salads and other assorted crab creations. Through Nov. 14. Prices vary. Washington Platform, 1000 Elm St., Downtown, washingtonplatform.com

THURSDAY 29
A Taste of India — Chef Catrina Mills leads this class about the spices used in traditional Indian dishes, including how to make Indian spiced chicken, spiced vegetable biryani, naan and more. 6-9 p.m. $65. Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State, 3520 Central Parkway, Clifton, culinary.cincinnatistate.edu.

Witches Brew — This benefit at Fifty West features two specialty dinner options and two limited-edition beers made with Pink Ribbon Girls and Team Fight Club. A portion of proceeds goes to both charities. 4 p.m. Free admission. Fifty West, 7668 Wooster Pike, Mariemont, fiftywestbrew.com.

Post-Apocalyptic Dinner Series — An eerily themed five-course dinner party paired with red wine and freaky post-apocalyptic Halloween treats. 7 p.m. $100. 20 Brix, 101 Main St., Milford, facebook.com/20brix.

FRIDAY 30
HallowEve Brew Bash at Ault Park — Taste the best selections from more than a dozen of Cincinnati’s breweries, including Bad Tom, Blank Slate, Braxton, Cellar Dweller, Christian Moerlein and more. Tickets include 10 four-ounce tastings. Don’t forget your costume. 6-10 p.m. $25. Ault Park Pavilion, 3600 Observatory Ave., Hyde Park, aultparkac.org.

Halloween Weird Beer Weekend — Head to Arnold’s for a weekend of weird beers. The bar hunted to find the strangest and most peculiar brews they could get their hands on, including Rivertown’s Death, brewed with ghost chili peppers; Jackie O’s Pawpaw Wheat; Rhinegeist’s Vanilla Maple Squirrel; and more. All of the beers will be tapping on Friday, with live music all weekend. Friday and Saturday. Free admission. Arnold’s Bar & Grill, 210 E. Eighth St., Downtown, facebook.com/arnoldsbar.

The Night of the Living Ales — Brass Tap hosts a costume party in conjunction with Fifty West, featuring six Fifty brews on tap. Costume contest with awards for first, second and third places. 6 p.m. Free admission. Brass Tap, 251 Calhoun Ave., Clifton Heights, facebook.com/fiftywestbrewingcompany.

Shrimp Three Ways — Learn to make shrimp three different ways. 6-8 p.m. $75. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

SATURDAY 31
Hopgeist — Rhinegeist rings in Halloween with the second-annual Hopgeist Double IPA festival. If you’re really into IBUs, this is the fest for you. Guaranteed to deliver “hair-raising hop flavors,” the fest features beers from breweries across the country — Dogfish Head, Jackie O’s, 21st Amendment — including super-rares from locals Listermann, Blank Slate, MadTree and more. Rhinegeist will also be debuting the winner of their homebrew collaboration, Homie, a double IPA with mosaic hops. VIP tickets include early access at noon and free food from Dutch’s and Maribelle’s. 1-6 p.m. Saturday. $35; $50 VIP. Rhinegeist, 1910 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, rhinegeist.com/hopgeist. 

Rock the Core Cider and Beer Fest — Drink the District held this cider and beer festival in Washington, D.C. in May, and they’re bringing the event to Sawyer Point on Halloween. Sample more than 30 different ciders and 20 beers, both local and regional. There will be food from Alabama Fish Bar mobile and Cuban Pete’s. 2-6 p.m. $35-$50; $10 designated driver. Sawyer Point, 705 E. Pete Rose Way, Downtown, drinkthedistrict.com/cincinnati/rock-the-core.

SUNDAY 01
World Vegan Day — Celebrate World Vegan Day at Park + Vine with free N’ Eggs Benedict (Shadeau ciabatta roll, topped with tofu, vegan goetta, spinach and vegan hollandaise) and La Teraza Coffee. This marks the 71st anniversary of the term “vegan” and the establishment of The Vegan Society. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Free. Park + Vine, 1202 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, parkandvine.com.

Empty Bowls — This fundraiser benefits the Kids Café at the Freestore Foodbank. Potters from the Clay Alliance create and donate 1,200 handmade ceramic bowls. Attendees select a bowl to take home and walk through a simulated soup kitchen line to enjoy a tasty dinner provided by the Cincinnati Chef’s Association and are restaurants. Kids Cafés provide children with meals, homework help, hygiene assistance and activities. Seatings at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. $23. Bell Event Centre, 444 Reading Road, Pendleton, 513-871-2529, clayalliance.org.

MONDAY 02
Delights of Malaysian Cuisine — Angie Pang talks about and demonstrates how the spices, flavors and sauces of Malaysia complement fruit, veggies, meats and each other. Learn to make lettuce wraps, pineapple salad, pancake with Malaysian chicken curry and a Pandan crepe filled with gula melaka and shredded coconut. 6:30-9 p.m. $47. Cooks’Wares, 11344 Mongtomery Road, Harper’s Point, cookswaresonline.com.

Barbers vs. Brewers — MadTree Brewing — renowned for its thickly bearded brewers — is snipping away at prostate cancer by shaving its crew’s prized possessions. In conjunction with Movember Cincinnati, MadTree is raising funds to fight prostate and testicular cancers, as well as awareness about men’s physical and mental health issues. If enough money is raised, attendants will bear witness as brewers bid farewell to their whiskers; the more money is raised, the more beards will be shorn. In addition to the shave-off, the event features split-the-pot drawings, raffles and food from Catch-A-Fire Pizza. MadTree will also tap Experimental Pale Ale 007 specifically for the occasion, infused with cedar, juniper berries and grapefruit. Contribute to the cause at youcaring.com/madtree. 4 p.m. Monday. Free admission. 5164 Kennedy Ave., Oakley, 513-836-8733, madtreebrewing.com. 

TUESDAY 03
Stuff It — Learn to stuff anything: peppers, chicken breast and more. 6-8 p.m. $70. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

WEDNESDAY 04
Classic Spanish Tapas — Hands-on cooking to make classic Spanish tapas that are easy and full of flavor, like chorizo and potato stew and garlic shrimp. 6-9 p.m. $75. Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State, 3520 Central Parkway, Clifton, culinary.cincinnatistate.edu.


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<![CDATA[Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend]]>
Each week CityBeat staffers, dining writers and the occasional intern tell you what they ate this weekend. We're not always proud — or trendy — but we definitely spend at least some money on food. 

Colleen McCroskey: Cincinnati’s love affair with Skyline is predicated upon our collective ability to ignore what it is we’re actually eating. It’s delicious, obviously, but where does that meat come from? Does it come out of a bag? Does the cheese have plastic in it, as I was told by multiple people in grade school? Probably not, and I’m still going to eat it (duh), but this weekend I was introduced to homemade Cincinnati chili in the form of The Chili Hut, a food truck that frequents hotspots around town (I tried it at City Flea). It was fantastic — it tastes exactly like what you would expect homemade Skyline to taste like, but better. You can actually taste the meat, as opposed to it basically just being a textural element in Skyline’s version, and it was really just lovely and fresh. Knowing that my three-way was covered in something homemade made my foodie heart very happy. I still love you, Skyline ... but you’ve got some competition. 

Anne Mitchell: Went on a last-minute impulse trip to Red River Gorge, and found that it was Rocktoberfest weekend. Miguel’s Pizza — climbers’ central — was crowded beyond belief, but we had a great dinner Saturday night at Red River Rockhouse. The Rockhouse is further up the road from Natural Bridge, and there are a couple reasons why it’s worth the drive: super nice staff, great food and they have beer! Oh, yeah! Since they’re outside of the dry county at the center of the Gorge area, you can have a tasty beer, a glass of wine or even a shot of Kentucky’s own bourbon with your meal. We had hiked the Skybridge trail, so I was massively hungry and had a side kale salad with my Heavenly Cheeseburger. It’s heavenly because it’s delicious, but also because the cheese comes from Heavenly Homestead Farm. Pretty much everything at the Rockhouse is locally sourced, organic, and non-gmo — and delicious.  

Jen Hoffman: I made gourmet bagel pizzas and avocado toast on a campfire!

Maija Zummo: I went to Zip's on Friday. As always, it was incredibly crowded, but we found some space in the back bar. Zip's is known for its burgers, obviously, but I don't eat meat so I have no idea what they taste like; they smell good though. I'm actually a huge fan of their veggie burger, which I'm pretty sure is just a frozen Garden burger or Boca burger, but it's topped with all the things a regular cheeseburger is topped with — mayo, cheese, lettuce, onion, pickle, tomato — so it is super satisfying in a burger-and-fries way. I also had fries and several beers. They had Southern Tier Pumking on tap. I don't drink much beer (or pumpkin-flavored things), but I love Pumpking. Also the service at the bar was great and very casual even though they were totally slammed. Sometimes, if you're a weirdo like me, it's easy to feel claustrophobic in Zip's and I appreciate chill people. I have no chill.

Casey Arnold: The only place I went out to eat this weekend was Mellow Mushroom in Hyde Park. It's the one place my family can agree on eating at with all of our different food hang-ups. So we go there all the time. I'm not mad about it.

Tony Johnson: Saturday night, at about one in the morning, I ordered Topper's Topperstix with banana peppers on them. They arrived an hour and fifteen minutes after I ordered, about twice as long as they said it would take. The driver was also apparently eating something because there was barbecue sauce all over my pizza box. 


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<![CDATA[Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend]]>
Each week CityBeat staffers, dining writers and the occasional intern tell you what they ate this weekend. We're not always proud — or trendy — but we definitely spend at least some money on food. 

Ilene Ross: The BF and I had a super busy weekend in the kitchen putting up tomatoes and okra — he’s a wiz with the canning — but we did manage to get out for a bit. On Saturday morning we hit up Findlay Market for provisions and started with breakfast at the fairly new Toast Bar at the Blue Oven Bakery stand. Hearty slices of brioche or other types of bread are slathered thick with your choice of sweet or savory toppings. I chose peanut butter with honey and honey-roasted peanuts, and the BF went with everyone’s childhood favorite, cinnamon sugar. We paired our toast with lattes from Urbana Cafe. Delightful. Next, we stocked up with at-home eats: chicken thighs from Busch’s, smoked lamb sausage from Kroeger & Sons, Japanese eggplant and corn from Turner Farms, spices from Colonel De and general groceries from Madison’s. While we were selecting our groceries we overheard a Madison grandchild who works in the shop say to Mr. Madison, “’Such & such’ brought down the 50-cents for the eggs.” You don’t hear that sort of neighborly attitude at Kroger, which is exactly why we shop at Findlay.
On Monday afternoon we attended Morsels of MORTAR, an open house featuring tastings from four food entrepreneurs who have graduated from the business incubator program MORTAR Cincinnati. We tasted French fries from Fryed, vegan Jamaican cuisine from JameriSol, desserts from Jazzy-Sweeties, and cobbler from Aunt Flora. After the event we strolled to Brezel OTR, grabbed a couple of pretzels and headed over occupy a couple of Adirondack chairs at the bar in Washington Park. I highly recommend this delightful spot as a place to relax, unwind, and enjoy the sights and sounds of the city. Especially the joyful noise of the kids enjoying the fountain. It was an especially nice way to end our holiday weekend.

Emily Begley: It’s finally September, and that means pumpkin-flavored everything is perfectly acceptable. If you’ve never tried pumpkin pie-flavored vodka, go to the store tonight and pick up a bottle of Pinnacle’s. I mixed in a shot with diet cream soda, basically creating a cup of liquid pumpkin pie. (Ice is a must.) It was a great addition to our Labor Day feast, which included grilled sweet potatoes and portobello mushrooms.

Pama Mitchell: We had a good meal and good time at The Littlefield. They make an excellent, strong Manhattan. At $12 it’ll set you back, but one goes a long way. It’s served in a rocks glass over one large ice ball, which keeps the drink cool without diluting it. The dinner specials were all interesting, too. I chowed down on a lamb/beef burger with feta cheese and pickled onions, accompanied by “crunchy green beans” that thankfully weren’t fried (not with the rich burger) — just cooked very al dente. Companions had a pappardelle special (tomatoes, cheese, vegetarian) and the most virtuous among us opted for another special, an Asian-style entrée-sized shrimp salad. (He supplemented that by eating some of his wife’s pasta.)

Katie Holocher: I had a mad craving for Taste of Belgium's chicken and waffles, so my little family and I checked out the new Rookwood location. The chicken and waffle was of course, just as delicious as I remembered, plus I had a raspberry latte that su-eriously hit the spot. And while the wait was long (50 minutes), the staff was super nice and accommodating and our orders were out lickidy split. The whole treat was pretty sweet!

Anne Mitchell: We had our annual neighborhood picnic Sunday, and my friend and I made 100 hamburgers. It's a potluck, and the food is actually awesome. One of our neighbors is a food stylist, and brought an amazing big chafing dish of shrimp with dill butter. Seriously impressive. Washed it all down with Moerlein's Push Reel. Thanks, unions!

Casey Arnold: Saturday my parents took my boyfriend and me to dinner at Chuy's in Kenwood for our belated birthday dinners. We stumbled across the restaurant not too long ago after a day at the mall and were surprised how great the food was, especially because it's a chain restaurant. It was the perfect place for our varied tastes, from my meat-and-potatoes dad, gluten-free boyfriend, vegetarian self and I'll-try-anything-once-and-never-refuse-a-margarita mom. Sunday morning, after spending an evening dancing to Freddie Mercury tunes at Northside Yacht Club the night before, we returned the next afternoon for brunch. There's a simple buffet setup with the added bonus of running into friends every time we've been there. Our friend and co-owner Stuart mixed us some seriously delicious as well as some seriously ridiculous cocktails. My favorite was the Gatorpagne, just half gatorade and half champagne. 

Tony Johnson: I ate a black bean three-way, a cheese pizza with banana peppers from Dewey's and Reese's Pieces.

Jesse Fox: On Saturday, my band filmed a music video that included consumption of mass Budlight Ritas. I tend to gravitate to the Raz-Ber-Rita, but I had a couple Lemon-Ade-Ritas as well. Sunday and Monday I worked on the World Peace Yoga cookbook I am photographing for chef Mark Stroud. He made two incredible feasts to be photographed with models both days and we were all able to indulge once the photos were done. Sunday was a vegan take on the "all American picnic/barbecue" so lots of beans, potato salad, sloppy joes, etc. Monday was more of a thanksgiving-style cuisine and I think I ate my weight in Shepard's Pie. If I had to guess, I would say a weight gain of at least 10 pounds happened over the course of the past three days. Someone roll me to the gym, please.

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<![CDATA[This Week's Dining (and Drinking) Events]]>
WEDNESDAY 19 
Canning Classes — Learn how to preserve your garden’s harvest with this canning class. Workshop features the latest recommendations based on USDA guidelines on safely canning vegetables and other low-acid foods. Geared toward beginners. 6-7:30 p.m. $15. OSU Extension Office, 5093 Colerain Ave., Mount Airy, hamilton.osu.edu.

All About Avocado — Romaine salad with avocado, citrus vinaigrette, bacon and summer tomatoes; Moroccan-flavored crispy shrimp with orange and avocado salsa; tomato, avocado and black-bean salsa with tortilla chips. 6-8 p.m. $70. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

THURSDAY 20
Cincy Brew Ha-Ha — If 50 comedians performing over the span of three days doesn’t get you laughing, the ninth-annual Cincy Brew Ha-Ha beer and comedy festival has just what you need to give your silly streak a pulse: beer. Lots of it. With two 100-seat beer gardens and plenty of beer booths serving up everything from locals like Braxton, Rivertown, MadTree, Ei8ht Ball and more to craft favorites like Dogfish Head, 21st Amendment, West Sixth and Fat Tire, Brew Ha-Ha plans to satisfy more than 20,000 thirsty and laugh-seeking Tristaters with plenty to drink and an impressive lineup of comics. Headlined Thursday night by Adam Ferrara (Rescue Me, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Definitely Maybe), Friday night by David Koechner (Anchorman, Anchorman 2, The Office) and Saturday night by Brandon T. Jackson (Roll Bounce, Wild ‘N Out with Nick Cannon, Tropic Thunder), you’ll either be laughing your way to a full belly of beer or drinking your way to a day full of laughter. Or both. 5 p.m.-midnight Thursday-Friday; 4 p.m.-midnight Saturday. Free admission; $5 for drinking wristband; $1 beer samples; $5 full servings. Sawyer Point, 705 E. Pete Rose Way, Downtown, cincybrewhaha.com.

A Showcase of Summer Fruits — This menu highlights summer produce. Learn to make chilled melon gazpacho, Caribbean jerk chicken tacos with mango salsa, pork tenderloin with berry-rosemary sauce, quinoa pilaf with goat cheese and kale, and strawberry shortcake. 6-8:30 p.m. $50. Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com.

Fish: Season, Sear, Sauce — Oven-fried cod with homemade tartar sauce over rice pilaf, white-wine poached salmon with caper sauce and paprika tilapia with garlic chipotle butter. 6-8 p.m. $80. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

FRIDAY 21
Date Night: Delicious Scallops — Green salad with toasted pine nits, oranges and balsamic vinaigrette, then sea scallops with spiced corn and pickled red onion topping over celery-root mash and sugar snap peas. 6-8 p.m. $165 per couple. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

SATURDAY 22
Shake It Up Cocktail Festival — Jungle Jim’s is a wonderland of exotic food and booze, and their new Shake It Up Cocktail festival celebrates the end of summer with just that. Say goodbye to tan lines, pool parties and flip-flops with expertly crafted cocktails and mixed drinks, and imbibe an atmosphere full of flair bartenders, expert mixologists and more. 6:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday. $40; $15 non-drinker. Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com.

A French Bistro — A French bistro meal accompanied by Bordeaux wines. Includes country pate, steak fries, French cheese and pot de crème. 6-8:30 p.m. $50. Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com.

Row x Row Dinner — Cocktails, dinner prepared with produce and meat from Gorman Heritage Farm and other local organizations, music by Sound Body Jazz, dancing, silent auction and raffle. Benefits Gorman Heritage Farm’s Educational Programs. 6 p.m. $35. Gorman Heritage Farm, 10052 Reading Road, Evendale, gormanfarm.org. 

Summer Celebration Presented by Red Shoe Crew — Pizza, drink specials, and a cornhole tournament, all benefitting Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Cincinnati. Noon- 3p.m. $10 wristband; tournament fee $40 in advance; $50 at the door. Goodfella’s Pizzeria, 1211 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-3625. 

Gourmet Grub for Good — Amateur chef competition and silent auction. Benefits Community Shares of Greater Cincinnati. 7-10 p.m. $45. Mayerson JCC, 8485 Ridge Road, Amberley Village, 513-475-0475. 

Best Friends and Brews — A night filled with everyone’s two favorite things: furry friends and beer. This tasting supports the SPCA of Cincinnati, featuring food from local restaurants, music by the Comet Bluegrass All-Stars and a raffle. Last year’s event sold out, so get your tickets quick. 7-11 p.m. $25-$125. Sharonville Shelter, 11900 Conrey Road, scpacincinnati.org/events.

An Afternoon with the Beer Barons — Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum has been the final resting place of many a famous Cincinnatian, from lawyers and politicians to our beloved beer barons. And Spring Grove celebrates our malty past with an afternoon dedicated to exploring the graves and stories of famous brewers through docent-led motor-coach cemetery tours and a party in the Rose Garden. Enjoy history with a side of beer and food as beer-brewing establishments manned by non-dead people, like representatives from Christian Moerlein, MadTree, Rhinegeist, Rivertown, Blank Slate and more, provide attendees with samples of their most popular and most unique beers. Food will be provided by Funky’s and Queen City Sisters, and Buffalo Ridge Jazz Band will put on musical entertainment. 4-7 p.m. Saturday. $40. Spring Grove Cemetery, 4521 Spring Grove Ave., springgrove.org.

TUESDAY 25
Grilling with Ellen: The Flavors of India — Indian spiced shrimp, Tandoori-style kebabs, spiced lemon rice with cashews, green beans with fresh tomato relish, cucumber mint raita and mango tart. 6-8:30 p.m. $65. Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com.

Pan Sauce Workshop — Learn to create quick, flavorful pan sauces and use those techniques to dress up three favorite proteins. Make pan-roasted chicken thigh and orange brandy sauce, pork tenderloin with grape and thyme red-wine sauce, and salmon with rosemary-lemon sauce. 6-8 p.m. $75. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

WEDNESDAY 26
Risotto Workshop — Learn to make basic risotto, then make a rich, wild mushroom and bacon risotto, and a roasted butternut-squash risotto with romaine salad. Chef will also demonstrate dessert risotto made with vanilla and orange. 6-8 p.m. $70. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

THURSDAY 27
Taste to Remember — Talented area chefs come together to benefit the Children’s Hunger Alliance and the Greater Cincinnati Chapter of the American Culinary Federation. 6:30-9 p.m. $60; $40 YP. 20th Century Theater, 3021 Madison Road, Oakley, childrenshungeralliance.org.

Weeknight Jerk Chicken — Prepare rub and jerk chicken to pair with cooling cucumber yogurt sauce and creamy polenta with roasted red peppers. 6-8 p.m. $70. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.


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<![CDATA[Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend]]>
Each week CityBeat staffers, dining writers and the occasional intern tell you what they ate this weekend. We're not always proud — or trendy — but we definitely spend at least some money on food. 

Ilene Ross: On Friday, the BF and I met some friends at Metropole for a long, leisurely lunch. I had broccoli beignets, a smoked blackberry grilled cheese sandwich and chilled corn soup. We all split a cookie plate, the chocolate mousse and the bourbon custard for dessert with pots of really wonderful French-press coffee. That grilled cheese sandwich was magnificent, and the whole experience was the perfect start to the weekend. Good food and great friends. I taught a cooking class on Friday night, so I got scraps of what my class made. It was perfect because after my huge lunch I wasn’t really hungry.
On Saturday, the BF and I took my son to 1940’s day at the Museum Center. We passed on the Spam rations they were offering and ate a late lunch of burgers and sandwiches. Guess what?!? They serve tots as a side dish at the Museum Center instead of fries. We were overjoyed, as we are all tot addicts. Since we gorged on hot tots, we were stuffed and needed no dinner. 
On Sunday, the BF and I decided to try having brunch at Sundry and Vice. Brunch at S & V consists of ordering food from the nearby Revolution Rotisserie & Bar by phone — which is soon delivered by a charming young man — while enjoying adult milkshakes. The boozy milkshakes are quite delightful. We spent the afternoon making cucumber pickles and then we grilled steak, corn, squash and eggplant for dinner.

Jac Kern: This weekend, some incredible friends threw a couple's shower for my fiancé and me. They surprised us by hiring a Benihana chef and borrowing a mobile hibachi grill (they exist!) for a delicious feast. We started with sushi, then everyone dug into steak, shrimp, chicken and veggies from the grill, complete with a giant heart-shaped mound of fried rice. The night ended with personalized fortune cookies and ALL THE DRINKS. Way too much fun. 

Katie Holocher: I tried J Bar Pizzeria in Hyde Park this weekend and it was killer. Not only do they have a pretty perfect patio with huge trees strung up with lights, but they also had live music on Saturday night, $4 housemade sangria and about 10 pies that I wanted to try. My husband and I went with the J Bar (red sauce, pepperoni, house cheese blend, truffled gremolata, parmesan, add banana peppers). It was awesome. And again, I would literally be down for any of their other specialty pizzas. We may go back once a week to try them all. 

Colleen McCroskey: I am on a constant search for the perfect chicken salad. Grapes and almonds: acceptable, sometimes preferable. Celery: Not so much. Panera’s will do in a pinch, and the chicken salad at Mt. Adams Bar and Grill, like everything else they do, is comforting, standard and delicious, but this past Saturday I tried a chicken salad so good I don’t know if I can ever go back to anything else. It was from Revolution Rotisserie, the Findlay pop-up that just opened their brick-and-mortar location a few months ago, and I kid you not when I tell you I did not know that chicken salad could taste this good. It’s creamy but not too rich, and seasoned so well it inspired me to take a trip to Colonel De’s the next day to try and incorporate that type of killer flavor into my own cooking. It’s so good that there are none of the fruit-or-nut add-ons that you usually find in a chicken salad, because Revolution’s chicken —moist, super-flavorful — can stand on its own. And, best of all, no celery. 

Casey Arnold: Saturday my boyfriend Brian and I wandered around the city like we do on the weekends. We started at The City Flea where we pet strangers' dogs and sauntered from shady place to shady place to find some relief from the heat. I stopped at the Dojo Gelato truck for a scoop of lemon sorbetto so I could feel light and healthy and a scoop of their creation called Junk in the Trunk (Grateful Grahams, smashed Oreos, peanut butter cups and toffee with sweet cream gelato) for obvious reasons. We wandered over to Vine to check out the new retail space called Elm & Iron to gawk at all of the pretty things in the shop. Eventually we made our way down to Bakersfield. We were lucky enough to approach the hostess as she was on the phone with a party of two who was canceling and were seated immediately. We snacked on chips and guacamole and sucked down a tart and tasty margarita while we waited for my dinner to arrive. I ordered a papas tostada, which was smeared with a spicy black bean paste and tasted so amazing that I kept poking my fork toward Brian with every other bite to try to make him try it. He eventually did and was equally impressed. 
We both really wanted to check out Northside Yacht Club, too, so we went there next (after spending an hour combing through the racks of Casablanca). We're friends with one of the owners and were regulars at its former incarnation, Mayday, so we were excited to see what they did with the place. It looks gorgeous now. The decor has a nautical theme that won't slap you across the face, but rather reads as modern and chic. We sat at the bar and ordered drinks. Brian tried one of their Tiki cocktails, something with ginger beer that had a lot of robust flavor and was served in a copper cup. We were too full for food but vowed to return so Brian can try a gluten-free pulled pork grilled cheese, which we have already heard good things about. 

Northside Yacht Club interior
Brian Cross

 

NYSC drink
Brian Cross

After, we headed to MOTR for a surprise birthday party. (HBD Tori!) MOTR whipped up a taco bar for the party room (what? they do that?) which was fun, and our friend made her a whimsically smashed and lopsided cake that the party devoured.   

Sarah Urmston: On Friday, I hosted a girl's night in my new place, so naturally journeyed to the famous Whole Foods to pick up a collection of goodies to create the perfect cheese plate. (Sometimes I think I love cheese more than any human should.) Scattered along my wooden Ohio-shaped cutting board were three different types of cheese — a soft gouda, a mild cheddar and a brie I put out a little early to give it a more spreadable texture. I chose round garlic-and-herb crackers that went well with the brie, as well as whole-wheat crackers for the cheddar, gouda and authentic Italian salami I placed in the center of the board. Since no good cheese plate goes without fruit, I placed bunches of red seedless grapes in the vacant spaces of the board and a bowl full of cherry vanilla almonds beside it all, which were completely gone within minutes. All went ridiculously well with the variety of wine everyone brought

 



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<![CDATA[This Week's Food & Dining Events]]>
WEDNESDAY 12
Sugar Rush — We've all heard the phrase "Like a kid in a candy store," but you don't have to be a child to indulge in a smorgasbord of sweets. Join CityBeat at the Playhouse in the Park Wednesday for our annual Sugar Rush party. You'll feel like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory as you explore a colorful candy extravaganza. Several local sweeteries will provide samples of their best cupcakes, ice cream, donuts, pies, pastries and more. Guests will vote for their favorite treat of the night and a portion of ticket sales benefits the Cincinnati Ballet. 5:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday. $20; free for children 8 and younger with adult admission. Playhouse in the Park, 962 Mount Adams Circle, Mount Adams, citybeat.com

Downtown Cincinnati Restaurant Week — Dine at some of the area’s top eateries, which will be offering three-course, prix-fixe menus. Participating restaurants include Zula, Metropole, Jeff Ruby’s, Nicola’s and Via Vite (to name a few). Through Aug. 16. cincinnatirestaurantassociation.com

Canning Classes — Learn how to preserve your garden’s harvest with this canning class. Workshop features the latest recommendations based on USDA guidelines on safely canning fruits with a water bath. 6-7:30 p.m. $15. OSU Extension Office, 5093 Colerain Ave., Mount Airy, hamilton.osu.edu.

WingFling! — Washington Platform serves up more than 40 different types of wings, bone-in or boneless, with sauces ranging from mild to hot to stupid. Through Sept. 5. Prices vary. Washington Platform, 1000 Elm St., Downtown, washingtonplatform.com.

Dinner in a Flash — Learn recipes for quick-cooking meals, including breaded chicken cutlets, stir-fry beef and more. 6-8 p.m. $75. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

THURSDAY 13
 
Great Inland Seafood Festival — While there might not be any lobster in the Ohio River, there will be 10,000 of them — imported from Maine — on the banks of the Ohio all weekend for the 28th annual Great Inland Seafood Festival. The fest features more than 15 local and national eateries and vendors selling everything from super-fresh shrimp and crawfish to crab legs, oysters, salmon and more. Along with the crustaceans and other marine life, there will be live music, alcohol and more entertainment. 5-11 p.m. Thursday-Friday; noon-11 p.m. Saturday; noon-9 p.m. Sunday. Free admission. Festival Park, Riverboat Row, Newport, Ky., greatinlandseafoodfest.com.

Wine School: Flight Night — Learn to compare new-world and old-world wines. This guided tasting will take you through five wines. Includes a small tasting plate. 6:30-8 p.m. $25. New Riff, 24 Distillery Way, Newport, Ky., newriffdistilling.com.

Pay It Forward Celebration and Fundraiser — Head to Dewey’s for dinner and do-gooding. A portion of West Sixth beer sales will be donated to The Cure Starts Now. 5-7 p.m. 11338 Montgomery Road, Symmes Township, 513-247-9955.

Igby’s Cin City Cigar and Flight Night — Flights of Four Roses bourbon and Johnnie Walker scotch paired with cigars from Straus Tobacconist. 5:30-8 p.m. Prices vary. Igby’s, 122 E. Sixth St., Downtown, igbysbar.com.

An Elegant Summer Table — Seasonal dishes like grilled pork tenderloin, roasted corn and Challah bread pudding, wild mushroom and green bean salad and almond cake with fresh berries. 6-8:30 p.m. $50. Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com.

FRIDAY 14
Crayfish All-You-Can-Eat Party — A Swedish tradition focusing on enjoying food and socializing with friends and family, featuring crayfish and other Swedish dishes and desserts. 4-8:30 p.m. $9.99; $2.49 ages 11 and under. IKEA, 9500 Ikea Way, West Chester, 513-779-7100.

Light Summer Pasta — Farfalle with caramelized onions and pan-roasted cherry tomatoes, cavatappi with sugar snap peas in lemon citrus sauce, then finish with orzo pasta salad with spinach and prosciutto. 6-8 p.m. $65. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

Hoots and Hops — Stroll trails at night stopping at hands-on education stations while tasting beer from Mt. Carmel Brewing Company, 50 West, Rhinegeist and MadTree along with sampling from more than 12 eateries. 7-11 p.m. $35. Cincinnati Nature Center at Rowe Woods, 4949 Tealtown Road, Milford, 513-831-1711.

Anniversary Celebration for the Ohio River Foundation — Meet the staff of the Ohio River Foundation, hear stories and more. $1 of every pint sold benefits the organization, which aims to protect and restore the Ohio River and its watershed. 5-8 p.m. Free admission. Rivertown Brewing Company, 607 Shepherd Drive, Lockland, ohioriverfdn.org.

SATURDAY 15
The Food of Love with the CCO — Kick off the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra’s Summermusik series in style at Food of Love: Fête, an elegant Art Deco-inspired soirée preceding Summermusik’s opening concert Saturday. Begin with cocktails in the Music Hall Ballroom, followed by a sumptuous dinner and a performance — “The Food of Love,” a play on a quote from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night — featuring a collaborative performance from the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company and the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra. An intermission featuring chocolate dessert sets the stage for the second half of the program, a premiere performance from the National Chopin Piano Competition winner Eric Lu. Cocktail attire recommended. Cocktails 5:30 p.m.; dinner 6:15 p.m.; concert 8 p.m. $150; includes tickets to the opening night concert. Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, ccocincinnati.org.

Fire and Ice Craft Beer Festival — Fire = high-gravity beers/IPAs/smoked and spiced beers. Ice = lower-gravity beers/fruit beers/session beers. Drink both types from a selection of 50 beer provided by more than 25 different breweries. 3-11 p.m. Saturday; noon-8 p.m. Sunday. Free admission. Firehouse Grill, 4785 Lake Forest Drive, Blue Ash, 513-733-3473.

Date Night, Spiced Pork — Brined pork chops with chipotle jalapeno barbecue sauce, risotto with roasted poblano and sweet-heat sugar snap peas with bacon. 5- 7 p.m. $155 per couple. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

SUNDAY 16
Cincy Sundaes — Make sundaes with Dojo Gelato and then listen to four presentations on innovative community ideas. Audiences vote on their favorite and the winner receives the door money. 3-5 p.m. $5. New Riff, 24 Distillery Way, Newport, Ky., cincysundaes.com.

MONDAY 17
Chef’s Table: Summer Brunch with Cincinnatian Chef Nathan Sheatzley — Get to know area chefs and watch them prepare their best dishes via an up-close camera. Enjoy a carefully paired tasting menu and take home recipes each chef prepares, like chef Sheatzley’s summer brunch with Dutch apple pancakes, BLT benedict, a waffle donut and more. 6-8 p.m. $50. New Riff, 24 Distillery Way, Newport, Ky., newriffdistilling.com.

TUESDAY 18
Savoring Summer — Cold potato and cucumber soup; spinach salad with mango; salmon with sesame; pasta with mascarpone; and creamy lemon tart. 6-8:30 p.m. $50. Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com.

Hot Summer Nights: Miami — Work at your own induction stove to create pollo agriculce (sweet and spicy chicken) with mango, arroz azafran (saffron rice) and tender green beans with ham and mustard. 6-8 p.m. $70. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

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