Braxton Brewing Company

I’ve now been to Braxton Brewing Company a couple of times and I absolutely love the space. The garage-like setting is pretty large for a tap room, so there is plenty of seating. They also have food delivered by five different vendors nearby (including Four Seasons catering, LaRosa’s, Rima D’s, Backstage, and The Gruff Pizzeria and Delicatessen), so if you ever want food with your beer, they’ve got that covered.

 I also really love how interactive Braxton is on social media. They have screens up that show Instagram posts, tweets, and Yelp reviews on loop. It is extremely important to engage your audience, and I think they’ve mastered this marketing tactic. (Their official hashtag is #liftonetolife.)

As far as the beer is concerned, it’s good. Not the best around, but I like it. Both times I’ve been, I’ve gotten a flight with Storm (Cream Ale), Sparky (American Wheat Pale Ale), Crank Shaft (American IPA), and Dead Blow (Stout). My personal favorites are Sparky and Dead Blow. They also feature guest taps and the flights are extremely reasonable.

The beer is good and inexpensive, there are food options nearby, plenty of parking, and the space is great. If you haven’t yet been to Braxton, check it out.

BK’s final take: nearly what I had to say about the place verbatim.

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Weekend Recap

Most weekends are adventurous in Cincinnati — whether it’s exploring our great parks, going to any kind of sporting event, checking out one of many of our local museums, or simply trying a new restaurant or drinkery, there is more than enough to do in this city I’m lucky to call home.

This weekend was no exception, as I had a lunch date on Friday at Kyoto, one of my favorite Japanese restaurants in the area; got in a wog (walk/jog) in my beautiful, walkable neighborhood; went to 2015’s first Washington Park City Flea and summer kickoff celebration before Sundry and Vice*, rhinehaus (where we also ate Gomez Salsa*), Braxton Brewing*, Liberty’s Bar & Bottle*, and The Growler House; and a more low key Sunday that included Franklin’s first day at Neons, Five Points Biergarten* (where we had some of our favorite wings from Renegade Street Eats), and topped off the weekend with ice cream from Mt. Washington Creamy Whip*

 

Now here I am and it’s Monday. As usual, I am utterly exhausted from my weekend festivities. I need a weekend for my weekends in this city, so please tell me again how boring Cincinnati is.

*More on this later.

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Son of a Preacher Man

I drive by Son of a Preacher Man, Enoteca Emilia’s new take on southern-style bourbon, chicken, and biscuits, to and from work every day and had been looking forward to trying it since it opened a few short months ago. If I would have had expectations (I’m not sure I did), SOAPM would have exceeded them, as we had a really solid experience.

The place was great — quaint and well put together, but not over the top or pretentious, and the service was pleasant, too. Parking wasn’t an issue either, as there was a paid lot across the street and plenty of street parking in the area.

Son of a Preacher Man

We ordered pimento cheese fritters to start, which were fantastic. For entrees we ordered the fried chicken sandwich (served on a biscuit) with macaroni and cheese; two-piece chicken platter with pork and beans; and bourbon bbq meatloaf with southern mash. All three dishes were good, but the standouts were the pimento cheese fritters and bourbon bbq meatloaf with southern mash. The honey, hot sauce, and biscuits that accompanied our meals were also great. The mac and cheese was okay, but could easily do without. I’ve heard the cheddar grits are great and look forward to trying those in the future. I don’t typically do dessert, but because we were celebrating my birthday, I also ordered mud pie for dessert. That was also good. Solid food all around.

There aren’t many restaurants these days where you can have a quality experience with good service and a fantastic appetizer, three great entrees, and dessert for $50, but we did just that at Son of a Preacher Man. We will certainly be back, and we will definitely be trying out the specialty bourbon cocktails (we live within walking distance).

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Preview: The Woodburn Brewery and Taproom

It’s been a long time coming, but The Woodburn Brewery and Taproom is really coming to life.

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The space may only be in its preliminary demo stages, but it’s already amazing. The bones of this building are fantastic and I am incredibly anxious to see the finished product. Here’s what to expect:

  • At least 10 beers on tap at all times.
  • Not so sure about the food situation, but plenty of places around have it and food trucks are an option.
  • A proposed September-ish opening, so four months until we get to fully enjoy this place.

Living and working in this neighborhood have afforded me the opportunity to meet so many wonderful new people, including The Woodburn’s founder and “beer guru.” There is a true sense of community in the Walnut Hillses, and that was especially evident in this weekend’s sign raising and preview party celebrations for The Woodburn Brewery and Taproom. I’m very happy for my friend, but I am also happy to know that our community celebrates these victories together. (Also: beer.)

BK’s final take: “I can’t wait for The Woodburn to open and bring even more to our neighborhood.”

Follow The Woodburn on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Weekend Update

This weekend was a heavy hitter, and it included a lot of go, go, go and an out-of-town visitor (among many other things). Fortunately for us (but not so much my waistline), our weekend eating started on Thursday as, after my haircut at Babylon the Salon, I order takeout for BK and me from Thai Express*.

Friday evening was pretty jam packed, seeing as I picked up my guest from the airport at 4:30pm and, from there, we stopped by Cafe DeSales for a light dinner before the Little Kings Mile and after party (that included a wedding!) which kicked off Flying Pig Weekend. We decided to take our guest to check out The Growler House, where we had a beer before ordering another small meal from Suzie Wong’s that we picked up on our walk home.

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In order to avoid long waits for breakfast/brunch on the weekends, it is necessary to get up and going as early as possible. Thankfully I’m 30 now, which means I was up and ready to move by 8:30am. We first headed to Taste of Belgium where our guest was especially complimentary of the space itself, but also the food (it’s our favorite, so of course we loved it). We had about a 10-minute wait, so we made the short walk to Washington Park to show it off to our Clevelander friend. After ToB, we went in HOMAGE, where we all found at least one thing we liked. (And, in my case, I found three, but I’m not made of money, so there were some tough decisions made.) BK and I were jonesing for Coffee Emporium, so we quickly stopped by to grab a couple of drinks, where our guest was also complimentary of how great CE was. If i didn’t know any better, I’d say she really enjoyed her quick jaunt in the city with us.

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I digress.

The Clay Alliance Spring Pottery Fair took place on Saturday on Woodburn, as it was a really eventful and exciting weekend for our neighborhood. Our guest was spending the night with us, as she and I went to college together and were going to a friend’s baby shower on Saturday, so we stopped by The Spotted Goose on our way, where I — of course — found a wonderful onesie for our friend’s little one.

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While we initially thought Saturday night would be a relaxing one, it was not. We instead spent some time at Ei8ht Ball Brewing where we got flights, followed by The Party Source, Strong’s Brick Oven Pizza, Flashback’s, and ended the night at the newly-opened Braxton Brewing* for more flights.

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Sunday morning meant Flying Pig festivities, as The Growler House opened at 6:30am with food, beermosas, and bloody marys. The Woodburn Brewery and Taproom* was previewing its space and some beer to passersby for the occasion, too. Even better, they had complimentary Fireside Pizza Wagon goods posted up outside of their new space. After hanging out there for a while, we took our breakfast pizza back to The Growler House, where we sat on the patio with a beer and enjoyed the neighborhood just the two of us.

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And, in typical us fashion, we ended our great weekend by ordering takeout — this time beef bibimbap and crab rangoon from Suzie Wong’s, one of our favorite Asian restaurants in the city.

On top of all the great things we got to do this weekend, much of it was done by walking. One of the biggest reasons we decided to live in this neighborhood is because it is so walkable. This weekend was one of those times that really proved just how much.

Our city is so special. So alive. So electric; especially on weekends like Flying Pig Weekend, and especially when the weather is as intoxicating as it has been. I often have to take a step back to revel in how much I love this place and the people I’m lucky to share it with.

BK’s final take: “There isn’t a better way to spend a nice [Sunday] in our neighborhood.”

Thinking there is nothing to do in this city is more of a reflection of your inability to get out and do things than it is a reflection of what there actually is to do here. How do you like spending your weekends around town?

*More on this in a later post.

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Taft’s Ale House

About a week ago I asked BK if we could go on a date soon. We spend a decent amount of time together. We get some kind of meal together at least a couple of times a week. Heck, we live together. But there is something truly great about sharing uninterrupted time with the undisputed Greatest Person on Earth™.

So that we did.

I was given the choice between an Indian restaurant (our usual Sunday night tradition), going to get a cheeseburger, or finally checking out Taft’s Ale House and, even though it wasn’t an easy decision, we decided on the latter.

We parked at Washington Park, just a couple blocks south of Taft’s, which I’d seen plenty of pictures of and had heard rave reviews about both the beer and the food. When we walked in, I was taken aback by how beautiful the space was. No amount of pictures could ever prepare me for or glorify that kind of beauty, even if I’d seen a hundred photos that preceded our date. We were seated at a communal table and, aside from awkward gawking (by me) at the girl’s food next to me, there wasn’t much interaction between strangers. Truth be told, I don’t mind communal tables. In fact, I kind of enjoy them.

I digress.

Flight featuring all ten beers

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With ten beers on tap, we decided on getting two flights to split between us. From top to bottom and bottom to top, all of the beers were solid. My favorites were the First Pitch (American Pale Ale), Maverick Chocolate Porter (made with fresh Maverick chocolate from Findlay Market), Gavel Banger IPA (yes, I liked an IPA), Nellie’s Keylime Caribbean Ale, and Cherrywood Amber. It is so difficult for a brewery to have a solid lineup of ten beers on tap, but to jump out of the gates with that kind of varied arsenal is even more impressive. And the food was pretty good, too. The menu had me at tots, which I got on the side of my Border sandwich (thinly sliced tri-tip steak, melted pepper jack, and chipotle sauce), and BK got on the side of his Bacon Cheddar sandwich (thinly sliced tri-tip steak, Applewood smoked bacon, melted cheddar, and red ranch sauce). My sandwich was good, but I think BK’s was even better. I should also mention the condiments were also great (they have a house-made “red ranch” sauce and I really liked their standard ranch, too).

The beer was really inexpensive, the food was good (even if not particularly cheap in comparison to the beer), the service was great, and the space was unbelievable. Dare I say this is one of the most beautiful spaces in the city, and certainly the most beautiful restaurant? I will absolutely be back.

BK’s Final Take: “The beers and tri-tip steak sandwiches were both great. Taft’s is easily one of the best places to spend a couple of hours in OTR.”

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Pizzannati Stop #6 – Goodfellas Pizzeria

In January, our “pizza club” decided to make Goodfellas the sixth stop on the Tour de Pizzannati.

Goodfellas had recently opened a pizzeria in Over-the-Rhine and, while I liked the original location in Mainstrasse, the new OTR eatery — on what can probably be considered Pizza Block (see also: Lucy Blue and Cincy by the Slice) — blew it out of the water.

I am such a huge proponent for counter service at restaurants and Goodfellas OTR did it so well. The interior was fantastic and there was subway tile (my favorite!) everywhere on the first floor. There was seating by the counter where you order, but there was also seating upstairs, where there was a fantastic bar with TVs. There aren’t many great, trendy drinkeries that feature TVs without feeling like an all-out sports bar, but Goodfellas really dids it right. The ceilings were hugely tall and the space was wonderful. I can’t wait to watch some football there in the fall.

So maybe I should talk about the food, huh.



Cheese (How much and how delicious?)
– 4/5
Very good and pretty plentiful.

Sauce (How much and how did it taste?) – 4/5
Not too much, really. Just right.

Crust (Style of crust and texture.)
– 5/5
New York-style pizza, which was on the thin side of hand-tossed. Crust was crispy and delicious — just how I like it.

Overall Flavor (How did it all come together?) – 4.8/5
The pizza was great. Loved the cheese and crust and that the slices were as big as my head.

Temperature (How was the pizza cooked?) – 4/5
I love my pizza cooked just enough; cheese with little to no brown. Our cheese pizza was cooked a little more than I typically like, but that didn’t detract from the overall flavor.

Ranch (This won’t break a place, but it could very well make one.)
The ranch was pretty good. A great addition to the pizza and breadsticks.

Other (Notes go here.)
We got entirely too much food the first time we went, but we got to try a lot — including the cheesesticks, which were gluttonous but awesome. The second time I had Goodfellas, I got a slice of pizza, a breadstick (had both with ranch, don’t be silly), and a drink for cheap for their lunch combo. On a Sunday.

Total
21.8/25

Goodfellas is the perfect marriage of great, reasonably-priced food (a lunch combination of a slice of large pizza, breadstick or side, and a drink is $6 from 11am to 4pm seven days a week); laid back atmosphere; libations; and TVs should you so choose to watch any variation of sports that may be on. Plus, the pizza is as big as my head and the breadsticks are as long as my arm, so total win. I absolutely love this place.

BK’s Finale Take: “It was good … the breadsticks were probably better than the pizza.”

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After a bit of a hiatus …

… it’s time.

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It’s been a really busy past few months with getting a puppy and working two jobs, but now that Franklin is a little older, things are starting to settle down and I’m getting back into a good routine. I’m sorry for the delay and lack of posts, but I assure you that I have more than enough content to keep you as satisfied as a plate of poutine from Senate (with a fried egg on top) — maybe not quite as delicious, but fulfilling nonetheless.

I digress.

I am not sure I want to continue with writing about one place every week in 2015, but — going forward — I will instead consistently write about new (to me) and “repeat offenders” as I continue my Tour de Cincinnati. Posts may end up shaking down to be about once per week; sometimes more, sometimes less. Regardless, I’m ready to get re-started. I hope you are, too.

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2015

After wracking my brain about what 2015’s theme could be for the blog, a friend came to me and proposed an idea that is “as much for me as it is you.”

I’ve been on a year-long journey with Weight Watchers (which, in all actuality, will be an ongoing lifestyle for me for the rest of my life) and, with using the same kind of format for the past two years, I decided it’s about time to take a different direction — a direction that doesn’t necessarily focus on food, but instead things to do around the city that don’t require the same amount of calories: places like museums, musical/theatre performances, parks, the arts, as well as “good” dining and food-related options.*

Thankfully, Blogmate for 2015 just “requires a footnote and companionship.” But thanks to her, I now have a Calories Sold Separately theme for 2015 that will coincide with a similar format followed in years past, because “You CAN get food or beer, but it isn’t the only reason you’re there.”

Happy New Year, everyone. I hope you enjoy my new journey as much as I do!

*Disclaimer: because of cost and other factors, I may not necessarily get to each of these on a weekly basis. Instead, I will simply highlight a new subject each week.

Weeks 47 – 52

I know this is a pretty cheap way to summarize what I’ve not yet written about to end the year, but I’m sure you can all agree that the holidays have been pretty crazy busy. Not to mention that I started a new job in addition to my full-time job, which has decreased my free time exponentially in the past month. I should also mention that I have a mere 11 hours to complete all 52 posts. I’ll keep this summary short[er] since I can be verbose, so here we go:

Week 47 – Betta’s Italian Oven
BK and I ate at Betta’s, a place I’d been wanting to try for a long time, before a Xavier game, to which we got season tickets this year. Betta’s was pretty awesome. I loved the place and atmosphere, and thought the food was pretty good, even if our service wasn’t amazing. I will definitely be back.

Week 48 – Delicio Coal Fired Pizza
Delicio was stop #5 on Tour de Pizzannati. I liked it. The wings were amazing, and the pizza was good. Not amazing, but good. Pizza is like French fries to me. Or ice cream. Or money: regardless, I’ll take it, but there is certainly a spectrum.

Pizza places ranked (in order):
1) Strong’s
2) Fireside Pizza
3) Red Rose
4) Adriatico’s
5) Delicio

Week 49 – Listermann Brewing
I’d never been to Listermann’s tap room until recently, where we pre-gamed before a Xavier game (it is directly across the street from Cintas on Dana Avenue). With only recently becoming more of a “beer drinker” (still a stretch), I have a new found respect for Listermann and its many amazing beers. Also, I love that they have a pre-game with either Renegade Food Truck or Fireside Pizza Wagon before Xavier home games. Big fan.

Week 50 – Otto’s
Craving a new place for brunch, BK and I headed to Otto’s in Mainstrasse, where I ordered biscuits and gravy (topped with house ground chicken sausage gravy with poached eggs) and a potato cake, while he got the crab hash (lump crab and potato hash, topped with poached eggs and a spicy sour cream sauce) and house-made goetta. Brunch was quickly served as we sat at the bar, and we both loved what we got. Especially the potato cake.

Week 51 – Nest
Beware that Nest’s hours online (and on Yelp) are incorrect. Thinking I had until 7pm a few days before the holiday, I arrived at 6:45pm to a dark building. We left pretty peeved, but still came back the next chance we had to check out what I’d heard to be a great selection of gift options. On the lookout for Cincinnati-related ornaments (seriously, nowhere around here has them, except one vendor at Crafty Supermarket), I didn’t find what I set out to, but still saw a number of good gift ideas for the future. Pretty friendly service, too. I will likely be back.

Week 52 – Brij Mohan
Having heard a number of outstanding things about this vegetarian North Indian restaurant, BK and I finally had the opportunity to try it since we were in the area (doesn’t happen often). The “vegetarian” categorization didn’t faze me, as I eat paneer (cheese) dishes anyway. I was more concerned for BK, though, except I got this message earlier today: “Just had [Brij Mohan leftovers for] lunch. That place was realllllly good.” We both agreed the naan was exceptional, too. We both cannot wait to go back to try more from the menu (especially the apps and sweets). Brij Mohan is absolutely one of our new favorites.

Happy New Year, everyone! Be safe and set out to see and eat all the great things in 2015!

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