Week 36 – Everything Bagels

I’ve made it no secret that, in 2014, it has been a bit trickier to get to one new place per week, seeing as I have spent the better part of this year as a Weight Watchers member. Alas, bagels are one of my favorite food groups, a decent “splurge,” and can be eaten while adhering to the Weight Watchers lifestyle. Therefore, when I found myself out in the nether regions Cincinnatians call Eastgate, I remembered there was a bagel place I’d be wanting to try.

Enter Everything Bagels.

Asiago bagel with egg and cheese

Asiago bagel with egg and cheese

French Melt (French toast bagel with egg, cheese, and bacon instead of sausage)

French Melt (French toast bagel with egg, cheese, and bacon instead of sausage)

Chocolate chip bagel toasted with chocolate chip cream cheese

Chocolate chip bagel toasted with chocolate chip cream cheese

Located in a small strip, EB isn’t small, but it is relatively unassuming. The menu is large enough to satisfy a number of people, but naturally I ordered from the breakfast menu, where I got my standard asiago bagel toasted with egg and cheese; light plan cream cheese on the side. My mom opted for the French Melt (French toast bagel with egg, cheese, and she got bacon instead of sausage), which she seemed to enjoy. It wasn’t until after we had ordered and paid that I learned EB had chocolate chip icing. Therefore, when I was finished, I got a chocolate chip bagel toasted with chocolate chip cream cheese. I had a few bites (truly, I only had a few) and it was alright. I don’t particularly love cream cheese masquerading as dessert (see also: cheesecake), but it was alright. The bagel itself was great and I’d have rather had it with butter. The little amount I had was plenty.

The bagels were good enough. I would compare my asiago bagel to that of Panera, where the bagels are perfectly fine. The service was great. If I ever find myself in those parts again, I’d be happy to return.

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Week 35 – Adriatico’s

Week 35 of 2014’s tour is also Stop 1 of Tour de Pizzannati, the newest tour as brought to you by myself, Swarles Barkley, and various guests who will join us throughout to determine which place in Cincinnati serves the best cheese pizza. I’ve always gotten a lot of crap for loving plain pizza the way I do, but Swarles and I wholeheartedly agree that, if a restaurant cannot master the basics, how can it be considered quality? (Same goes for ice cream in my opinion.)

Surprisingly enough, I had never been to this Cincinnati institution, but it had appeared on my List for a long time. Thankfully, too, Swarles and I had been plotting the beginning of the tour, and decided it would be a great place to jumpstart our cheese pizza journey.

The Suspects: Swarles, Friend From Detroit (FFD), FFD’s Friend, BK, and myself.

The Goods: In standard Linsey fashion, I opted for breadsticks to start. With ranch dressing, garlic butter, and pizza sauce to dip—don’t be silly. In addition to breadsticks, the place served tater tots. TOTS, GUYS.* So we just knew that a platter of cheese-covered tots was necessary. For the main event, and for the namesake of the tour, the five of us also got two medium pizzas: one hand-tossed with cheese and another with Sicilian (thick) crust with half cheese and half pepperoni and sausage (that was for BK, who all but refuses to eat plain pizza).

Adriatico's

The Verdict: I liked Adriatico’s. I wasn’t blown away by it like I expected to be and considering how much everyone hyped it up. It was really good, though, and I especially liked the tater tots, hand-tossed crust, and ranch dressing.

Although it didn’t really live up to the hype, I generally liked Adriatico’s, and the ranch dressing was everything I could have wanted and so much more. Also, TOTS, GUYS.

Join us on the tour by using the #pizzannati hashtag, or by checking out our adventure on Facebook!

*I may have to create a tour based strictly on restaurants that serve tater tots because I love them so.

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Week 34 – Cloud 9

My two best friends from high school and I wanted to meet for sushi on a Friday night. Given I walked up to Dancing Wasabi and saw a sign that read it was closed [indefinitely], we had to think on our feet: where could we go to satisfy our wanting sushi but for half price and with Sunday Morning rolls?

Cloud 9 it was.

Cloud 9 Sushi

Mt. Lookout isn’t my favorite since the parking situation isn’t ever ideal, but it is well worth the hassle once in a while, and Cloud 9 proved to be one of those worthy restaurants (see also: Zip’s Café). Located in the former and original Dancing Wasabi location, Cloud 9 featured a similar menu with some new takes and variations on half price sushi. We decided to start with Shrimp Shumai, and we each opted for three sushi rolls to succeed our appetizer. We were all impressed with what we went with, and my personal favorites were the Sunday Morning roll (of course), Crunch Munch, and Bengals roll, which one of my friends got and let me try, and I will definitely get in the future.

Now with Dancing Wasabi closed, I’m happy to have Cloud 9 as a deliciously reasonable option. Big fan.

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Week 33 — Dairy Corner

Cincinnati doesn’t have a shortage of ice cream parlors, but considering I’m often in Oakley, BK and I had a bit more trouble finding a creamy whip to try out near his place. Thanks to a friend’s Yelp check-in and having seen it mentioned by another friend previously on Twitter, we decided to give Dairy Corner a try, a soft-serve creamy whip at the intersection of Route 32 and Church Street in Newtown. (Located just across the street from Main Street Café, where Zips-like burgers are served and would be a great precursor to Dairy Corner for dessert.)

Located a mere 10 minutes from BK’s place in Oakley, Dairy Corner proved to be the closest option to satiate our need for the summertime staple of a chocolate and vanilla twist cake cone—mine with chocolate sprinkles and his with rainbow (weirdo). Coming in around a measly $4.50, it wasn’t only convenient and delicious, but it was inexpensive, too. My theory about ice cream is this: if you can’t master the basics, what are you good for, really? Dairy Corner did it really well, too. I will certainly be back.

Buyers beware, though, as Dairy Corner only accepts cash.

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Save Our Icons

Save Our Icons

I don’t typically so staunchly and publicly touch on these kinds of subjects, but I feel very, very passionately about this one in particular, and feel that it is my duty as a proud Cincinnatian to address it.

Music Hall and Union Terminal are not only beautiful subjects for fantastic photographs, they serve as icons of the uniquely crafted architecture for which our city has become so well known. They serve as gathering places to meet with friends and loved ones. They serve as backdrops for (and even hosts to) music festivals, public events, urban flea markets, Crafty Supermarkets, fireworks displays, live bands and concerts, kickball games, marriage proposals, wedding celebrations, and LumenoCity. Most importantly, they serve as educational venues—Music Hall as a flagship of our vibrant and imperative musical arts community, while Union Terminal more explicitly educates its visitors by way of the Natural History Museum, Cincinnati History Museum, Children’s Museum, and OMNIMAX Theater (among many others).

LumenoCity, in its second installment, experienced a 12-minute ticket sellout, and brought more than 40,000 onlookers (even more than the whopping 35,000 who came over two nights in August 2013) to Washington Park and the surrounding areas for three consecutive nights to witness the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra perform a live concert set to an intricate light show projected onto the façade of Cincinnati’s famed Music Hall, the historic Venetian Gothic landmark. This extravagant and expansive event is just one of many examples why Saving Our Icons should be paramount to our community.

To not want to Save Our Icons is shameful and a detriment to the betterment of our city and our county, which all of its citizens should want to see thrive.

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Week 32 — The Anchor-OTR

The Anchor is one of those places I’d been wanting to try for a very, very long time, but BK and I considered it a Special Occasion Restaurant, and never really had the opportunity to go. A friend’s birthday seemed the perfect reason to finally indulge in one of Cincinnati’s few seafood and oyster joints, and I thought it was perfect that I could try it for cheaper than the two of us going, and I could report back just what I thought.

There was a pretty large group of us—at around a dozen girls, we were comfortably seated on the outdoor patio, which was absolutely my favorite part of the occasion. I was pleasantly surprised that The Anchor could so comfortably accommodate a dozen patrons, and the patio was wonderful, charming, and the weather on that particular night was perfect. The outdoor seating time frame in Cincinnati is quite small, seeing as the weather goes from freezing to sweltering heat in a mere two weeks, so any time we aren’t experiencing stifling and oppressive heat in the summer, sit outside!

I digress.

View from our spot on the patio

View from our spot on the patio

We went to The Anchor on a Thursday, which was $1 oyster and $1 PBR night. I tried a couple of oysters, which were okay, and I also decided to try an oven roasted oyster with hollandaise. The latter had me at “hollandaise,” which I love, but I was underwhelmed by the overall taste. Our server, while informing us of the specials, mentioned the lobster roll, which I’d heard great things about and really wanted to try. After I ordered it, I learned that thing was $29. I felt tacky reversing my decision at that point, so I swallowed my shock and disappointment and tried to make the best of it. I loved the bun on which the lobster salad was served, while the lobster salad itself was a little too much for me: very rich in flavor that, I’m sure, is better suited for other people, but I wasn’t too fond of it personally. The fries were really, really good, though.

Oven Roasted Oyster with Hollandaise and Chesapeake Bay Oysters

Oven Roasted Oyster with Hollandaise and Chesapeake Bay Oysters

Lobster Roll and Fries

Lobster Roll and Fries

My overall opinon of The Anchor: I loved the patio and atmosphere. I am thankful I got to try the oysters for inexpensive, but will happily forego getting them in the future. I also will not spend $29 on a sandwich there (or anywhere) ever again. The cost of my meal, while the taste was decent enough, was not worth it, in my opinion, and if I find myself back at The Anchor again, I will get something else (most likely fish and chips)—something much cheaper, because spending nearly $50 on just myself for two $1 oysters, a roasted oyster, lobster roll, fries, ice water, and a tip is a little bit too much for me. I still have buyer’s remorse, which isn’t the linger factor I was looking for.

I didn’t love my meal during my first tryst with The Anchor, but I’d happily try something else in the future.

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Week 31 — Swad Indian Restaurant

I didn’t start eating Indian food until later in life (within the past five years), and I must be making up for lost time because it is a genre of food that I crave often. (What was I thinking going this long in life without regularly indulging in this cuisine?!) Thus, BK and I decided to satiate our mutual desire for Indian by checking out the newly-opened Swad Indian Restaurant in North College Hill.

If you’ll remember, BK and I first tried Dusmesh in Week 3 of my first Tour de Cincinnati. We both liked it well enough, but that was also before new owners bought the place in July 2013. Said new owners recently opened Swad (translates to “tasty”) in the former Van Zandt space on Galbraith Road at the end of April and, with hearing rave reviews about the place from friends, we decided it was time to give it a try.

Clockwise from left: Garlic Naan, Chicken Tikka Masala, and Paneer Makhani.

Clockwise from left: Garlic Naan, Chicken Tikka Masala, and Paneer Makhani.

Indian food is one of those delicacies where, strangely enough, I get the same dish everywhere I go. It is because of this that I feel I can truly gauge how great a given Indian restaurant is for me. So Paneer Makhani it was for me; Chicken Tikka Masala for BK (he orders this most of the time but not always)—both a 3 out of 6 on the spicy scale; and Garlic Naan to share. My thoughts:

  • The spice level was perfect. I beaded up a bit with sweat on the ol’ forehead, but it was a pleasurable spicy that danced on the precipice of Just a Little More and This Would be Too Spicy.
  • My paneer was perfect. It was fresh and the texture was just how I like it.
  • Even the garnish on my dish was amazing. I’d never seen such a thing, so it was an added bonus.
  • The garlic naan, as always, was awesome. I always thought Dusmesh did naan the best of the area restaurants, and Swad does it even better.
  • I was very impressed by the service. Both of the people who served us throughout our meal were extremely friendly, attentive, and refilled our water so that we never went without (which is often a gripe of mine when eating spicy Thai or Indian food). We were even given complimentary Honey Dumplings (breaded and fried paneer dipped in honey)  for dessert. Spoiler alert: they were awesome.
  • At $25 (before tip), we thought that Swad was one of the slightly cheaper Indian meals we’ve had, which ranks with some of the best North Indian restaurants in the area (Ambar and Shaan are a couple of my favorites).
  • It should be noted that Swad is open six days per week and has a lunch buffet every day they are open, even on the weekends.

I judge my Indian experiences on three things: the quality of paneer, naan, and spice level. Swad not only lived up to all three, but it lived up to it’s “tasty” translation, too.

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Week 30 — Cheapside Cafe

Parked on E. 8th Street downtown, I stepped out of the car at our metered spot and gazed around to locate the small restaurant BK and I couldn’t wait to check out. It wasn’t long before I spotted the telling establishment, as its elongated, bright white facade and patio teepee seemed to shout a sort of “over here!”

We entered through the patio where said teepee was located concurrently with a half dozen picnic tables. The interior boasted the same fresh and bright white design with wood accents, which made its minimalist approach one of my favorite designed spaces in the city.

Cheapside – Interior

Cheapside – Interior

What made Cheapside Cafe even better was that, while I stood in line to order at the counter, I was afforded the opportunity to peruse the beautiful menu board. It was well designed, which made the ordering process that much more pleasant. The menu wasn’t particularly extensive, so if you’re looking for a ton of things to choose from, this probably isn’t your place. But what was lacking in quantity, Cheapside more than made up for in quality. BK was in the mood for lunch, and I—of course—wanted breakfast. He knew he wanted the Curried Chicken Salad Sandwich, while I opted for Challah French Toast (topped with pecans and whipped cream). He seemed to really like his (I liked it, too), but I absolutely loved mine. He was also pretty jazzed to try the Kegged Cold Coffee, which he also seemed to like, and that he described as, “the consistency of Guinness.” While on the topic of drinks, I also liked that the water was self serve. Seeing as I could put down a few in a single sitting, I often need refills. That made the process much more quick and efficient.

Curried Chicken Salad Sandwich and Challah French Toast

Curried Chicken Salad Sandwich and Challah French Toast (with pecans and whipped cream)

This is absolutely one of my new favorite places in Cincinnati. I can’t wait to go back.

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Week 29 — Catch-A-Fire Pizza

We were given an Employee Appreciation Lunch where I work, and lucky for me that meant I got to finally try Catch-A-Fire Pizza, “Cincinnati’s finest wood-fired craft pizzas, from a mobile platform.”

We were given a small menu from which to choose our complimentary lunch and, given my dietary restrictions*, I opted for one slice of pizza and a caesar salad. In standard Linsey form, when I retrieved my goods from one of Cincinnati’s better known food trucks, I got a slice of cheese pizza with my salad, sat down, and enjoyed my meal. You see, I have a theory about a lot of things and, as BK will agree, there is always a method to my madness**. This theory is that, while I order a lot of plain things (cheeseburgers, pizza, and ice cream especially), I believe that a restaurant must master the basics to be considered any kind of good at everything else.

Catch-A-Fire Pizza

And Catch-A-Fire had really good cheese pizza. It may not be the best in the area, but it’s certainly upper echelon of food truck fare and it rivals some of the better pizza parlors in the area. The pie wasn’t too greasy and the slice was big enough to satisfy me (though could have been a bit bigger and I’d have been okay with that). The caesar salad was also good, as the dressing came on the side and left how much of it ended up on the lettuce to me. Thus, Catch-A-Fire is not only inexpensive, but it is delicious and diet friendly as well, which isn’t often found — especially in the food truck circuit. Big fan.

*In the event you haven’t heard me speak in the past six months, I adhere to Weight Watchers’ dietary guidelines. Therefore I can still eat all the delicious foods I once could, just in moderation.

**I am one of the most particular people on the planet. About everything. And for [what I think is] good reason.

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