50 YEARS OF PRESERVING CINCINNATI

Cincinnati Museum Center is kicking off their latest local exhibit with an elegant gala: both celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Cincinnati Preservation Association (CPA). The organization was started by three women dedicated to saving Native American and early settlement sites, then evolved their mission into saving entire neighborhoods.  Since 1964, the non-profit has worked buildings with historic architecture, public art, monuments and landscapes, as well as archaeological sites. One of their several current focuses, in addition to advocating for Union Terminal repairs, is restoring the historic neighborhood of Walnut Hills.



If you've visited Over-the-Rhine, it's likely that you've passed by or enjoyed a meal in one of the buildings saved by the CPA. They've worked along side developers to rehabilitate:
  • Renaissance Hotel, Downtown
  • The Color Building on Vine Street, home to Asian fusion restaurant, Kaze.
  • Nicolay Lofts and Westfalen Lofts, at Race and 14th Street
  • Hummel Building, condos located adjacent to Washington Park and Music Hall

    The new grey facade of the Hummel Building.

The former is where they'll be hosting the gala, November 8 at 7:00PM. Taking place in the Marriott Renaissance, Burnham Room C, the evening kicks off with cocktails at 6:00PM, followed by a gourmet dinner at 7:30PM. Tickets are available via phone (513-721-4506 Ext. 2) for $150 per person.


On a budget? Be sure to check out the FREE exhibit, Celebrating 50 Years of Working Together Saving Places at Cincinnati Museum Center in the Culture Gallery, located near the Historical Library in the center of the rotunda, lower level. The installment runs through April 5, 2015.

CUCINOVA URBAN ITALIAN

Hailing from Columbus, Ohio, a new restaurant opened up in Kenwood this month, and it easily made its way onto my favorite tastes list. Cucinova moved into the shopping center near Half Price Books on Montgomery Road, and is serving up first tastes of the franchise in Cincinnati's northern suburbs.



Taking form in the popular walk-the-line, fast casual restaurant (similar to Chipolte), Cucinova cooks up custom creations in the form of personal Neapolitan pizzas, salads, and pasta bowls. Diners can opt for a chef-created specialty off the menu or build their own meal at each station. The best part: whatever you choose and however many toppings you pile on, it's only $6.99.



I visited Cucinova for a tasting night and sampled all three options, building each myself. I like to stretch the limits with toppings and was curious how the structural integrity of the pizza would hold up -- it succeeded! Made with hand-stretched, scratch-made dough, the pizza crust was full, fluffy and baked to perfection. If you like Dewey's pizza crust, you'll love this. Sliced into six pieces, I piled on plenty of veggies, seven to be exact, and opted for half red sauce, half creamy parmasean sauce, drizzled with balsamic. Both were spectacular, but the latter half was easily my favorite.


Next, the spaghettini bowl came with just the right amount of pasta and plenty of room to pile on the extras, plus sauce and cheese. I loved being able to fill the bowl with as much vegetables as pasta to even out the meal. Both the pasta and salad come in two sizes, small and large. The small was the perfect size to complement my other entrees; I could easily see doing a pick two with both a small pasta and a salad for lunch.

There's pasta under there somewhere...

I also built a salad with just as many veggies heaped on top of the lettuce, plus two kinds of cheese, and a plank of salmon. I'm pretty picky about ordering fish from quick service restaurants, and this one exceeded expectations. The salmon was fresh and juicy, not frozen and reheated, and flaked apart as if it were straight from the sea. I never thought I would pick a salad over pasta or pizza, but this was by far my favorite thing of the night -- and the bowl that I emptied first.



If you haven't been to Cucinova yet, here's a reason to give it a try:
I'm giving away a $25 gift certificate to the restaurant to one lucky winner! To join, leave a comment on our Cucinova Facebook post and I'll pick a winner October 31! Now that's a Halloween treat everyone can enjoy.

TRI*METRO ENTERTAINMENT BUS


Learn. Experience. Ride.


Those three simple steps can help bring new ridership to Cincinnati Metro. The transit agency has partnered with Cincinnati young professionals organizations to promote tri*Metro, a campaign to introduce the many benefits of riding the bus.






On Saturday, September 13, Cincinnatians will have an opportunity to travel by bus to a variety of venues throughout Downtown, Over-the-Rhine, Mt. Lookout, Oakley, Hyde Park and O'Bryonville. From 8:00PM-2:00AM, ride Metro around town to your favorite bars and take advantage of drink specials offered by partnering venues. The best part: you get unlimited rides on all Metro Entertainment Buses for only $5 with prepaid registration or purchase one the night-of at any of the designated bus stops.





Buses will be running every 30 minutes; the perfect time to grab a drink, chat with friends, and be ready to travel onward to your next venue. An added bonus: you don't have to start riding Downtown. Just want to be shuttled between Oakley and Mt. Lookout? It can be done! Riders are free to pick up the Metro Entertainment Bus from any location on the route. Download a bus schedule and check out the drink specials:

MT. LOOKOUT (Bus Stop at Linwood and Delta)
  • MLT- $4 well drinks until 9pm, 5 for $12 domestic buckets all night long
  • Millions- $4 well drinks until 9pm, 5 for $12 domestic buckets all night long
HYDE PARK  (Bus Stop at Edwards and Erie)
  • Cock N' Bull- $1 draft beers, $1 off cocktails,  half price apps
  • Unwind Bar-  $5 house red, $5 house white, $1 off all beers
HYDE PARK  (Bus Stop at Erie and Marburg)
  • Keystone- Half price drafts
OAKLEY (Bus Stop at Madison and Gilmore)
  • Animations- $2.25 domestics, $2 Orloff shots, $3 Fireball shots
  • The Oak- $12 domestic buckets, $1 off craft drafts
O'BRYONVILLE (Bus Stop at Madison and Cinnamon)
  • O'Bryon's Bar & Grill- $8 Budweiser pitchers, $5 car bombs
  • Art of Entertaining (open until 10pm)-  $5 wines, $5 beers, Live culinary demonstrations
OVER THE RHINE (Bus stop at Main St. and 13th)
  • The Drinkery- $3 well drinks, $4 16oz domestics and $5 drafts  
  • MOTR- Free live music

This bus is ready to party!

Not into the bar scene but still want to participate? There are plenty of restaurants, entertainment and relaxing patios nearby each of the stops.

MT. LOOKOUT SQUARE (Bus stop at Linwood and Delta)
Mt. Lookout Coffee Roasters, UDF, Buona Terra Gelato & Crepes, Lucy Blue Pizza, Zip's Cafe, Cloud 9 Sushi, Ruthai's Thai Kitchen

HYDE PARK SQUARE (Bus stop at Edwards and Erie)
Graeter's, Awakenings Coffee & Tea, Unwind Wine Bar, Indigo Cafe, Arthur's

EAST HYDE PARK (Bus stop at Erie and Marburg)

Hyde Park Pizzeria, UDF, Dutch's Bottle Shop, Bangkok Bistro, Hap's Irish Pub, M Woodfired Pizza. There's also a park across the street.

OAKLEY (Bus stop at Madison and Gilmore) 

Baba India, Skyline Chili, Aglemesis Ice Cream Parlour, Habits Cafe, Dewey's Pizza, 20th Century Theatre, Yat Ka Mein

O'BRYONVILLE (Bus stop at Madison and Cinnamon)

Enoteca Emilia, Owls Nest Park, plus a variety of boutique shops earlier in the evening.

OVER THE RHINE (Bus stop at Main St. and 13th)
Washington Park, Ensemble Theatre, Music Hall, Taste of Belgium, Quan Hapa, Senate, Bakersfield, Lucy Blue Pizza, Gomez Taco Window, A Tavola, The Eagle, Holtman's Donuts, Venice on Vine, 1215 Wine and Coffee Bar, Kaze. Basically, this stop drops off in the heart of the Over the Rhine Entertainment District, perfect for if you've been craving trying out any of  the popular restaurants.

DOWNTOWN (Government Square at Walnut and 5th)
Fountain Square, Smale Riverfront Park, Scotti's Italian Restaurant, Nada, Graeters, FUSIAN, Via Vite, Shanghai Mamas, Mr. Sushi, Rock Bottom, Palomino, Metropole, Boca, Akash India, Taqueria Mercado, Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse

Note that with the restaurants, that you check closing times before heading out. Most close at 9PM or 10PM, with the exception of Over The Rhine restaurants.



If you're having the bus ride of a life time, take note. The Metro Entertainment Bus is traveling the same path of Route 11, a bus which you can catch any day of the week. If you enjoy the ease of transit hopping venues on the weekend, consider getting a $10 or $20 stored value card to use the rest of the year. With bus fare costing $1.75 per ride, it's a safe and affordable way for groups of friends to get around town.

BREAKING BREAD WITH LA BREA BAKERY

Have you ever tried La Brea Bakery? If not, you're in luck! To celebrate 25 years of dedication to the craft of artisan baking, La Brea Bakery is bringing their fresh-baked bread to Cincinnati for a four-day sampling. Founded in 1989, the bakery has been continually ranked as the premier artisan bread brand in the country.

Image provided by Dave Estep Photography

Image provided by Dave Estep Photography


On Thursday, September 11, you can get your taste of over-fresh goodness at Fountain Square starting at 8:30AM, or on Saturday, September 13 at 12:30PM at Newport on the Levee. Keep an eye out around town for unannounced sampling opportunities. Plus, if you catch a glimpse of the breadmasters, snap a photo and tag it on Instagram or Twitter as #BreakingBread for a chance to win prizes.

ONE LAST TASTE: MYRA'S DIONYSUS

"Oh yeah, Myra's! We should go eat there sometime."


Friends, that time is now. Like many of my neighbors, I am guilty of mentioning the above phrase as we pass by the restaurant while circling Uptown for our regular consumption of pizza, burritos, or cheese coneys. Several years had passed since I first learned about Myra's, but for whatever reason, I never thought of Greek food when hungry in Clifton. Maybe it had to do with Cincinnati's abundance of Greek-style chili overshadowing the craving for traditional Mediterranean fare. Maybe it goes back to the age-old local question: "Where'd you go to school?"

My partner and I both attended university out-of-state, but for the legions of students who passed through University of Cincinnati in the last four decades, Myra's Dionysus was a staple for off-campus dining. A mecca for vegetarians and vegans, it was also one of the first restaurants in the city to offer a variety of delicious meat-free options; a rarity in the 1970s and 80s.


The hole-in-the-wall eatery seats 20 customers and features a small open kitchen where Myra Griffin cooked an endless assortment of scratch-made meals. From common Mediterranean dishes like falafel, pitas, and baba ganouj to the more eccentric imam bialdi, pulao, or gado gado, the Dionysus was the perfect place to eat healthy at an affordable price. Most entrees average between $6-$8.




What piqued everyone's interest were the soups. On a daily basis, eight soups would rotate on a display board, selected from over 30 different recipes. More than just your cup of tomato, Myra's specialized in extraordinary combinations such as curry peanut or watermelon gazpacho.

One week before closing, we made it to Myra's Dionysus and decided to try a little bit of everything. We started with a sampler plate of baba ganouj, dolmades (grape leaves stuffed with rice), and imam bialdi (a Turkish dish of eggplant, tomato, and currants) with garlic pita bread and a piece of corn bread.



Next came a cup of Avgolemono (a creamy Greek soup made with chicken broth, rice, lemon and eggs.) The soup exceeded its tasty hype and led me to order a second flavor for takeaway, the Thai Pumpkin, which was as equally impressive when reheated for lunch the next day.



For an entree, my partner selected Gado Gado, a spicy Indonesian sauce of peanuts and fresh ginger served over brown rice with tomatoes, cucumbers, raisins, and sunflower seeds. I kept it simple and ordered a falafel sandwich drizzled with tahini lemon sauce. Both were mesmerizingly scrumptious as we barely conversed through our meal other than the occasional "Mmmmm!" sounds.




By this point, we were stuffed to the brim, but decided to order a slice of key lime pie for dessert. Not only was the pie naturally made and arrived without a speck of bright green coloring, but it was one of the best key lime pies I've tasted. And I've been around the pie block a few too many times.




From infused teas to carefully crafted plates, Myra's will certainly be missed by customers new and old. If her tastes have yet to grace your palate, there's still time. Myra's last day of business will be August 30. While the restaurant's finale ends on a triumphant note (it's closing due to Myra's retirement; she's in her 80s) we can't help but wonder what's next for the building. The restaurant is on the market for $100,000, or investors can purchase the entire building for $400,000. Could one of Cincinnati's many restauranteurs secure the restaurant and keep the legend going? Time may tell. For now, we know we can at least expect a cookbook as Myra and her store manager work to share the long-time favorite recipes from her kitchen to ours.