So, I came to Cincinnati from Colorado for the weekend for our (K and me) Dad's 60th birthday party. I miss the Cincinnati cuisine, though Colorado Springs has many delightful restaurants including a Moroccan place that I've only been to once, but it may be my favorite.
After a string of debacles at various airports across the country on my longer-than-necessary journey, I arrived at the party to surprise my dad with my presence. He said, "What are you doing here?" I had several drinks and found that I am a champion in alcohol consumption at sea level, which is a huge elevation decrease from the 6100-6300 feet I usually drink at. If you ever want a particularly cheap night of drinking, go up a mile or so and have two beers, you'll probably be lit. But I digress. The bar tenders were awesome (and they did all the clean-up, super awesome), the ambiance was lovely (because of k's decorations), and the food was provided by Catering Excellence, specifically a guy named Joe Whitton. Joe attended the party as well; I found him to be a very cordial fellow. There were finger foods like cocktail sausages, meat wraps, cheese, a broccoli salad and pasta salad. It was all quite delightful, especially the meat wrapped around horseradish cheese. I didn't eat much however, in anticipation of Skyline later that night!
Having been born and raised in the Nati, I simply cannot express my love of Skyline in mere words. It is the whole reason I visit Cincinnati instead of having my family come to Colorado to see me. Skyline is just not the same when you have to eat it from a can with Kraft 2% Milk sharp cheddar cheese as a topping and Oscar Meyer turkey dogs for the dog part of the coney. Apparently Skyline has expanded their menu in a significant way since I last lived in Cincy, but I always stick with the traditional coney and 3-way to get my annual fix. Needless to say, Skyline = heaven...in fact I think that's what the angels serve as a snack in Heaven.
I did the rounds, I ate at LaRosa's. Still delicious as usual. I even drank the tasty draught root beer, though I normally don't drink pop. I wanted to get the full effect.
Saturday night we ate at Mecklenburg Gardens, a Cincinnati staple...probably even more so than Skyline. Because the place has been there since the Cenozoic era of Nati-time, it has the coolest atmoshpere, fun German beers and food. We ate: Saurkraut balls, potato pancakes (my favorite), pretzels with beer cheese (also favorite), Mecklenburg pie, German chocolate cake, and a bavarian cream puff (the tastiest dessert). My entree was the Portobella Spaetzle. It was good, the mushroom was the best part. I thought there was a bit too much cream sauce that ended up overpowering the fun of eating spaetzle. The waiter was not the best, he didn't even bring the dessert tray over, which the most fun thing about eating out. But overall, Mecklenburg Gardens rocks.
Next, we ventured into downtown to check out the revitalized night life. Very swank, never thought I'd see people out in downtown Cincy on a Satruday night. Palomino was the first stop, which is a great place to eat also, but we only had Lavendar Martinis there, which are pretty much the best martinis ever. I've never found them anywhere else, not even California (and they are supposed to be hip out there). Our friend Melissa works there and she is the best server they have.
Last stop of the night was a bistro a block from the Palomino that started with a J and is a hard word to remember, especially if one was drinking that night...which this one was. K can provide the name. The bar tender, Jen, is the greatest. We let her decide our drinks and they were excellent. A Washington Apple Martini and another Martini that had pineapple and was equally well-made and delicious. Totally recommend this cool locale for a stop on the downtown bar circuit. See Jen, ask her to make something up for you, she'll know exactly what you need!
The whole Nati experience seems to have changed since I last lived there, almost a decade ago. The westside is still, mostly, delightfully unchanged (still lacking in stand-alone Starbucks, WTF?), but it looks like the city is becoming more metropolitan and sophisticated. I even saw a Brazilian Steak House dt, excellent work with the revitalization, city council!