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.

BACK TO SCHOOL BARGAINS

It's hard to believe that the hours of summer on are the decline, with just a few weeks lingering before Labor Day. Feels like we just shared our Summer Bucket List and started our season of adventures! Soon, Greater Cincinnati students will be returning to the classroom. No matter if it's grade school or university, everyone is looking to get the best bargain for their buck when purchasing for back-to-school. While most flock to the big box stores, we rounded up a list of our favorite unique shops to find a deal:

1.) Glass Barn


Taking "bargain barn" literally, this no-frills overstock shop in Reading is an actual barn is filled with kitchenware, candles, and homegoods perfect for a college student shopping for their dorm. Dishware comes with many choices to complete a set, plus the option to buy as few or many individual plates and glasses as you need, with pricing averaging around 25 cents a piece. Bath & Body Works-esque 14oz. candles are available in a wide palate of scents, as well as bathmats, dishtowels, and decorative silk flowers, all ranging under $10. An adjoining room is filled with a selection of office supplies and doubles as a hardware store, for customers to grab any discounted large Rubbermaid bins, a spare flashlight or plunger in one simple stop.


2.) Dollar Tree


The Dollar Tree brand is one of the only chain stores that truly honors the moniker, "Everything is $1.00." With several locations around the tri-state, stock up on popular items from writing utensils, three-ring binders, notebook paper, art supplies, lunch box accessories, mailing supplies and much, much more. I easily save $3-$5 per supply by shopping here in comparison to the supermarket.


3.) Dollar Depot

via Dollar Depot Facebook

An urban oasis, Dollar Depot is an independently run dollar store in Downtown Cincinnati, located near the library at Vine and Court Street. It's perfect if you're working in the city and are in need of supplies in a pinch, but don't want the hassle of getting the car out of the parking garage and driving out to a store in the suburbs. It's also perfect to run and pick up that last minute item on your child's list after work. Highlighters, manilla folders, greeting cards and even party supplies (for that impromptu office surprise), Dollar Depot is a welcome time-saver.


4.) John R. Green Company

via John R. Green Facebook

Family-owned since 1950, this Covington shop is packed wall-to-colorful-wall of all the back-to-school essentials for younger students, from PreSchool to 8th Grade. Teachers can stock up at John R. Green as well, which carries plenty of classroom decorations and early education materials. Homeschoolers or parents looking for some supplemental materials for after school tutoring can find everything they need inside this long-time learning landmark.


5.) Community Yard Sales



A great way to stock up on dorm or home essentials is by browsing through yard sales. For shoppers with young children, there are plenty of like-new fashions for your child's back-to-school wardrobe as well. Early August hosts the World's Longest Yard Sale, which spans along Route 127 from Alabama to Michigan. Some of the best local neighborhoods to shop are Mainstrasse in Covington, Hamilton, Ohio, and Union, Kentucky. Of course, if you can't make it out for this 4-day extravaganza, there are plenty of community-wide yard sales throughout August and early September, such as the City of Southgate sale where folks find working TVs and computers for $20.

Church and school yard sales offer a flea market sized selection in one convenient location, plus anything you buy benefits the organization. Earlier this year, we found a brand new bathmat, a six-socket outlet expander, and a business card holder from Prince of Peace's sale in Covington. The best part -- all three items only cost us $1.50.


6.) Christmas Tree Shops


Whoa, we're not jumping that far ahead on the calendar! Located in Florence, Christmas Tree Shops is open year round and sells much more than the expected holiday paraphernalia. Part Hobby Lobby, part Dollar Tree, and part Whole Foods, this store carries Target-like styles of school supplies and dorm decor at a fraction of the cost. While many things are found for $1.29 or less, most items average around $5.99, with barely anything being more than $10.00.



No need for school shopping? Consider stocking up for your home office as prices and selections are optimum this time of year. You never know when you'll need more pens, folders, storage, or correction tape! For more on what particular items to put on your list, check out the Ultimate Back-To-School checklist on Organize365.com.

CREAMY WHIP TUESDAY: LOVELAND DAIRY WHIP

It was a dark and stormy summer night when the appetite for ice cream came calling. We just so happened to be in the northern suburbs of Cincinnati, a perfect opportunity to try out the legendary Loveland Dairy Whip.




Located in the center of town, this historic creamy whip first opened over the July 4th weekend in 1955. Proudly serving some of the highest quality soft serve in the tri-state, the LDW (as known by the locals) uses a blend from Dairyman's that keeps customers coming back for more. The noticably distict taste reminded us of custard, with its thick consistency and rich flavor.





Loveland Dairy Whip has a generous menu of tasty treats, but what makes them unique is the variety of parfaits. With over a dozen to choose from, each comes layered with vanilla soft serve paired with fruit, fudge, and any combination of other toppings. Finishing them off was the customary whipped cream and a cherry.




We decided to ignore the healthier fruit options and ordered a cookies n' cream parfait and a brownie parfait. Cookies n' Cream came layered with crumbled Oreos and hot fudge served in a traditional parfait cup. The Brownie Parfait came dished in a half-pound deli-container-- a tub! No complaints here -- it was decadently indulgent and the portion size exceeded what you'd expect for the price. The teenagers working the counter recommended we try the Cake Batter Dip Top for our next visit (we came back, tried it, and loved it!)




One feature came in handing during the evening downpour: the drive-thru window. Loveland Dairy Whip has ample parking for their walk-up window, but also accommodates folks with a drive-thru lane for those in a hurry (or trying to stay dry.) ProTip: Be sure to turn off your wipers so you don't splash the employees.



With one-of-a-kind texture and flavor, eccentric dip top creations and the only parfait selection in Cincinnati, I plan on visiting the LDW and their tub-sized desserts many more times this summer to get my gluttony on.


Loveland Dairy Whip is located at:
611 W. Loveland Ave., Loveland, Ohio 45140


YEAR ONE: STREETCAR CONSTRUCTION

This week marks the first anniversary of construction beginning on the Cincinnati Streetcar route as the City signed a contract with Messer/Prus/Delta Railroad Joint Venture (MPD) to complete the work. We've been documenting the development of infrastructure once a month since it began. Compare the pictures below to see how the project has evolved over the past year.


12TH & WALNUT STREET
2013


2014




12TH & VINE STREET

2013

 2014




 12TH & RACE STREET

 
2013

2014




MUSIC HALL AT
14TH & ELM STREET


2013


2014




 LIBERTY & ELM STREET

2013
 
2014




FINDLAY MARKET ON ELM

2013
 

2014

Installing the first catenary poles for the overhead wire.


  

RHINEGEIST AT
HENRY & ELM STREET


2013
 

2014
 


HENRY STREET

2013


2014



STREETCAR MAINTENANCE FACILITY
AT HENRY & RACE STREET


2013


2014

 
RACE & LIBERTY STREET

2013



2014


CENTRAL PARKWAY & WALNUT


2013

 

2014


GOVERNMENT SQUARE AT
5TH & WALNUT


2013




2014


THE BANKS ON 2ND STREET


2013



2014
 


 
4TH & MAIN

2013

 

2014


 
6TH & MAIN

2013



2014

8TH & MAIN

2013
 

2014