Week 13 – Neon’s Brunch

Like we needed a reason for Neon’s to be any cooler on a nice, sunny Sunday afternoon.

I think a lot of people can agree that Neon’s has become over-saturated by Cincinnati’s bro population. At least on Friday and Saturday nights. Maybe I’m just old. I digress. Enjoying day drinks on the patio is still tops in my book, as I had my 29th “birthday party” during happy hours on Saturday evening. I guess I couldn’t get enough of the place, because after we watched some Premier League at Rhinehaus on Sunday morning, we found ourselves heading right back to Neon’s to try its newly-instated Sunday brunch brought to us by @taste513. Date said, “We’re going to have every kind of OTR brunch possible before the end of this Premier League season.” I hope he’s not wrong.

We were both impressed by MOTR’s brunch that we had recently, and because the burgers are so good at Neon’s anyway, we thought brunch may end up being really delicious. We weren’t wrong. I opted for the Burger (infused with bacon, and with an over-easy egg, arugula, and tomato) since I was in the state where greasy food was entirely necessary. Date got the Chorizo Tacos. One of our friends got the same as Date, while the other opted for the Croissant Sandwich with bacon (egg, cheese, and your choice of bacon, sausage, or goetta, on the softest, most delicious croissant I’ve ever sunk my teeth into). My burger was awesome, Date loved the Chorizo tacos (the best he’s had, he claims), and we all agreed that the Croissant Sandwich was tops. I cannot wait to get my hands on the Eggs Not Benedict (English muffin with two over-easy eggs, local bacon, and IPA cheddar sauce) next time I have Neon’s brunch.

Because, oh, there will absolutely be a next time. What a fabulous way to start a Sunday and to bring your weekend to a close.

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Weekly Recap

This past weekend was another one of those where I got to do and see so many fantastic things around the city. Being that my birthday was last week, April 1, we decided no fooling around on how to celebrate. So celebrate we did.

Saturday morning, my friend and I started the day off by going to Washington Park‘s free Boot Camp. Every Saturday until May 31, WP will host a series of various styles of Weekend Workouts. It was a little tough (I am so sore!), but what better way to start the weekend than by working out in the midst of our great city with Music Hall (and more outstanding architecture) serving as a backdrop? From Boot Camp, I decided I deserved a Holtman’s Donut. The place was packed! I opted for my go-to cake donut with chocolate icing, and thought that I would get a dozen to share for my birthday festivities to follow. The cake donut with chocolate is still my favorite after trying so many different kinds (sugar twist, glazed, maple bacon, and glazed fudge cake; the latter serving as my birthday cake). Have I told you guys how much I love that place?

For my birthday, Date bought us tickets to the Cincinnati Museum Center, where we spent a few hours perusing Diana, A Celebration exhibit, the Cincinnati History Museum, and the Natural History Museum. From there, we made our way to late-afternoon drinks and patio sitting at The Famous Neon’s Unplugged. The weather was wonderful—the sky clear and a bit warmer than we are used to (this winter was just brutal), even though the chill was pretty real after the sun went down. Soon after that happened, we planned to go to Wunderbar in Covington for dinner. I’d heard the pierogies were tops and Date is German, so it seemed necessary. (More on this place later.) After dinner, we found our way to Newport on the Levee to watch basketball and hang out with Date’s family.

Sunday was a bit more low key, but we still got to enjoy time watching soccer at Rhinehaus, then got brunch at Neon’s. After even more relaxation (read: three-hour nap), Date and I treated ourselves to one of our favorite Indian spots, Shaan Indian Cuisine. Guys, this weekend was awesome.

I still struggle to see how people think there isn’t anything to do in this city. What are some of your favorite things?

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Week 12 – MOTR Brunch

Date, his friend, and I spent a recent Sunday morning at Rhinehaus watching our beloved Liverpool Reds dominate Manchester United 3-0. After having a few beverages and speaking with one of the bartenders and a couple of guys who got it during halftime, we decided to give MOTR’s brunch a try.

I’d heard wonderful things about it from friends, so I was very excited to try it. I opted for the Special, which was a BLT with egg on an everything bagel; served with tater tots. (TATER TOTS!) Date decided on Breakfast Tacos, which were also good. I was extremely impressed with our brunch at MOTR and, most importantly, it was super reasonable.

I will absolutely be recommending this to everyone I can. And, hopefully, I will be back soon, too.

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Week 11 – Knockback Nat’s

I love me some chicken wings and recently found myself invited to Knockback’s for March Madness and wings with, ahem, girlfriends.

I’d been to the bar a number of times, but had never tried the food, and had been dying to try the smoked delicacy I’d heard so much about in Knockback’s wings. I decided to order eight with medium sauce and ranch on the side (of course). Not 20 minutes later, the food arrived and I was more than happy to dig in.

My wings were good enough. I’m not sure the medium variety lived up to the local and nationally acclaimed accolades I’ve ready so much about, but they were good. The ranch rubbed smoked chicken wings were pretty phenomenal, and I will absolutely be getting those next time. And, speaking of ranch, the side that accompanied my chicken-y fare was top notch—the real standout of the meal. I was especially thankful for the ranch because those wings were spicy. Even the ones with ranch rub.

What I loved most about Knockback’s was that it was a place where I could simply order at the bar for my food to be delivered to my table as soon as it was ready. Not many bars have such great food. I will be back.

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Week 10 — Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum

According to Wikipedia (which is 100% fact all the time), “Spring Grove is the second largest cemetery in the U.S. and is recognized as a U.S. National Historic Landmark.”

But Spring Grove is more than just a cemetery. It is a beautiful compilation of 700+ acres adorned with botanical scenery, unique architectural landmarks, and serene bodies of water.

In high school, our photography classes came on field trips here; senior pictures are often taken here (mine were, too!); and brides and grooms use its lovely scenery for wedding photographs. Spring Grove is extremely photogenic, and this past Saturday—in its Spring-like glory—the sunny skies and warm-ish (okay, it was 45 degrees) weather provided the perfect scenario to get out of  the house to peruse and document one of Cincinnati’s most picturesque and expansive landmarks.

One of the ponds at Spring Grove.

One of the ponds at Spring Grove.

Gothic Revival Dexter Memorial

Gothic Revival Dexter Memorial

Gothic Revival Dexter Memorial

Gothic Revival Dexter Memorial






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Week 9 — Green Papaya

When I refer to my “best friend” it usually begins with “one of…” and there are a few ways I can mean:

1) My best friend. The ultimate. The best friend I’ve known since I was born.
2) “My two best friends from high school.” Graduated with them. Still best friends. Self explanatory.
3) “One of my best friends from college.” Friends became family members in college and I am still very close to a select few.

This particular best friend has been one of my closest friends throughout middle school (okay, the tail-end of 8th grade, but still), high school, and college, where we attended Bowling Green State University together and even lived with each other for a short time (she’s a year older than I am). She currently lives in New York, so whenever she comes home (not often enough), it’s important to go to a restaurant that can pony up and compete with the NYC scene. She also has pretty strict diet restrictions, so we typically opt for Asian food (unless we go here).

Green Papaya was my first choice. Not only was I extremely impressed my first go-around with this Thai delicacy, but it is concurrent with my new lifestyle, and it catered to NYBF’s (New York Best Friend) dietary needs as well. NYBF’s sister, who joined us, was happy with the decision as well, despite not having dietary restrictions. Worked for everyone!

Green Papaya

What we got [clockwise from top left]: California roll; shrimp dumplings with”house special sauce” which is a really delicious version of—what I’d guess to be—Asian honey mustard; vegetable fresh roll wrapped in rice paper and served with peanut sauce; and grilled salmon with steamed mixed vegetables (YUM). NYBF’s sister got mango fried rice (not pictured here, but documented in my original post), which has chicken and shrimp and is so delicious. Thankfully she let me have a bite!

My opinion from my first experience remains the same: this food is seriously delicious. It may not usurp my favorite Thai dish of all time (Thai Garlic Chicken from Mekong Thai Cuisine), but it’s a close second. I want to make this place a regular, especially since I can have it on my diet.

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Midweek Must Mention — Chain Restaurants


I’m only going to talk about this once, but I feel like I need to give credit where it’s due. I love going out to eat. It is something my family has always done a lot of, either out of convenience or as way to satiate our familial need to be social. It’s something I’ve continued to do throughout adulthood, and consider it to be a very hard habit to break.

Despite the fact that I go out to eat much less nowadays—what, with trying to stick to a stricter budget and now my Weight Watchers regimen—it is something I still like to do occasionally. Some chain restaurants serve a very real purpose for those who are incapable (geographically or mentally) of branching out and trying new, local places, or those who are trying to stick to a new lifestyle/diet. I know I’ve always preached about eating locally—and I still think everyone should—but I have a new-found appreciation for chain restaurants, albeit in moderation.

When I go out to eat, I typically try to find places that serve salmon and broccoli. For dinner, anyway. Here are some of the chain restaurants I’ve found to be very beneficial for my lifestyle and serve dishes other than the standard fish and veggies:

Bruegger’s Bagels (bagel with egg white and cheese; bagel with cream cheese)
McDonald’s (egg white delight and hash brown)
Subway (egg white and cheese on flatbread)

Subway (6-in. wheat sub with chicken strips, veggies, and light mayo; apple slices)
Bruegger’s (bagel with light cream cheese and veggies; fruit salad)
Chipotle (bowl with brown rice, chicken, and corn salsa, with sour cream on the side)
Ruby Tuesday (Sliced Sirloin Petite Lunch Plate served with mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli)
Panera (You Pick 2 – caesar salad, hold the croutons; cup of low-fat chicken noodle soup)

Multiple. I’ve gone to a number of chain restaurants that offer dinner plates and serve fish and vegetables. This isn’t hard to find from American restaurants, steakhouses, and the like. (Examples: Cheddars, LongHorn, Rusty Bucket, and O’Charley’s.)

I’ve learned that there are many great choices to make even while going out to eat. I don’t have to stop doing so entirely, and have grown to love the various “treats” I still get to have while on a diet. It just so happens that means going to more chains. Fortunately, I have also discovered a number of local restaurants that serve diet-friendly food, and look forward to sharing those with you as well.

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Weekly Recap

This past weekend was another one of those not awesome weekends, but it wasn’t too bad either. Cincinnati-wise it was awesome. Diet-wise, I’ve had better, but I still did pretty well considering.

Friday night I went to Milton’s Prospect Hill Tavern for a friend’s 30th birthday celebration. It was there I got to see a number of people I know—some I haven’t seen in a very long time. Being able to catch up with friends while patronizing a fantastic local bar was pretty great. After Milton’s I was fortunate enough to check out Cincinnati’s very own Roadtrippers. I’ll tell you more about that later.

With Date beginning his new regimen this week, Saturday we began our day by eating at our favorite Japanese restaurant, Kyoto, in Symmes Township. I figured I would support his indulging by going with him because I’m such a nice girlfriend. Also, it sounded delicious and I am all for a treat here and there. Later in the afternoon we were fortunate enough to secure tickets to the Xavier vs. Creighton game at the Cintas Center, which is one of my favorite sports facilities in the area. Being newer, it lends itself to great aesthetics and all-around practicality (except no cup holders). Plus I got to see Doug McDermott play, and Xavier beat the 9th-ranked team in the nation, which were pretty good, too. We followed up the XU win by getting a burger from Gordo’s. (Naturally. It’s kind of a tradition around these parts.) Gordo’s has one of my favorite burgers in the area, and it was well worth the indulgence.

Now back to my regularly scheduled programming of Weight Watchers until hopefully my birthday.

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Week 8 – Slatts Pub

Anymore, I  love being able to patronize a local establishment while adhering to my new lifestyle. It isn’t often that these local restaurants serve diet-friendly dishes, but I’ve found that there are a number of American restaurants in the area (I’ll write more about this later) that serve just that.

Slatts Pub is an American restaurant located near the intersection of Cooper and Kenwood Roads in Blue Ash. The menu is pretty extensive, and boasts items such as salads, sandwiches, tacos, burgers, and various protein-centric (chicken, fish, and beef) entrees. My go-to fare is salmon and veggies, so any restaurant that has that option is A-okay with me.

The food is good and the restaurant is large and can easily host a bigger party for birthdays or work get-togethers. The outdoor seating area is great, too, for the warmer months of the year (are they here yet?!). I especially recommend Slatts if you have a group of people to which an expansive menu needs to cater.

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Week 7 – FUSIAN

Finally! A Chipotle-style restaurant that outdoes even Chipotle!

With locations in Cincinnati, Dayton, and Columbus, FUSIAN is a wonderful regional faster food restaurant with customizable sushi, which is pretty awesome in and of itself. Additionally, the interior decor is wonderful as well, as it is chic and modern, but also welcoming and comfortable. But mostly chic and modern.

Once upon a time, I typically opted for a white rice roll with shrimp, cucumber, avocado, and cream cheese, topped with spicy mayo, sweet soy, and tempura flakes. The shrimp was breaded and deep fried, and provided a wonderful, tasty texture (Date really likes that element, too), while the cream cheese always added that extra umph—a delectable and flavorful texture that added so much to sushi rolls without being too Americanized.

Recently, however, I’ve found that FUSIAN is a Weight Watchers-friendly meal choice, as I now fill my sushi roll with tuna or salmon, carrots, green onion, avocado, and sweet soy. (Nutrition calculator is available online here.) The best part about it is that, if I have extra points and want to treat myself to tempura flakes or spicy mayo, I can. But I can get a diet-friendly roll and it doesn’t feel like diet food.

Locations in Cincinnati:
Downtown (600 Vine Street)
Hyde Park Plaza (3780 Paxton Avenue)
Coming Soon: Kenwood

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