Each week CityBeat staffers and dining writers tell you what they ate this weekend. We're not always proud — or trendy — but we definitely spend at least some money on food.
Mike Breen: I’m 74 years late to the party, but I had a late breakfast at the wonderful Sugar n’ Spice restaurant (which opened in 1941) in Bond Hill on Saturday morning. When we got there, my claustrophobia/social anxiety kicked in and I got a little grouchy because there was going to be a 30 minute wait for a table and the place is so tiny the “waiting area” is basically just standing or sitting smushed up against the walls near the entry door. But I’m glad I waited. It’s a really great place that has a lot of character, with its wild, playful murals and decor. The staff is remarkably friendly, the clientele is incredibly diverse and the food was delicious.
I had a giant Greek omelette and it was one of the best I’ve ever had. Usually some of the flavors are lost when others attempt a Greek omelette, but in Sugar n’ Spice’s version my tastebuds could pick out every black olive, chunk of feta and piece of spinach. I also had a side of biscuits and gravy that were very fresh and delicious. (They also serve lunch and are open daily 7 a.m.-3 p.m.)
I found out why it is my 10-year-old daughter’s favorite restaurant (her mom takes her often): the ducks (the waitresses bring around a bucket of various types of small rubber duckies for kids/adults to pick from) and the sweet treats (my daughter was presented with a tiny strawberry milkshake toward the end of our meal). The owner also walks around and offers little appetizer bites — the day I was there he had little nuggets of fried macaroni and cheese that were quite good. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend it. Great experience and great food. Because of this, it’s very popular, so expect a little bit of a wait. It’s worth it.
Ilene Ross: Last Thursday found me eating an incredibly interesting lineup given my incredibly interesting schedule. I began the day by teaching a cooking class at Cooks’ Wares in Montgomery. The title of the class was entitled, “All About . . . Chicken,” and we covered the gamut from making stock to roasting a whole bird to creating tasty dishes with the stock and roasted chicken. That evening I was also honored to have been asked to be one of the restaurant judges at Cincinnati’s Finest Event for Cystic Fibrosis. Eleven restaurants participated, delivering delicious dishes, all in the name of a great charity. Two of my very favorite dishes were the celery root apple and clam bisque with a clam and cheddar arancini from chef Paul Barraco of 20 Brix in Milford, and wood-grilled lamb ribs with pomegranate and black pepper glaze and chopped edamame-herb salad with a yogurt-honey dressing from chef Jimmy Gibson of Jimmy G’s.
After a quick bourbon in one of my favorite rooms in town — The bar at The Presidents Room in The Phoenix downtown — I headed to my second event of the evening, a party at the Pure Romance pop-up shop, hosted by my friend Pam Kravetz. Now, hold on, I know you’re thinking — that there isn’t much to eat there — but Pure Romance does offer flavored enhancement creams, and yes, we did get to sample them.
On Wednesday night, my son and I had dinner at The Eagle OTR, and since we always order all the food at Eagle, I had plenty of leftovers for Friday dinner. On Saturday night my daughter, who was in town for a bit of wedding planning, and I headed to Le Bar a Boeuf for dinner. Now that the official opening has been announced for Tuesday this week, we wanted to make sure that everything was completely ready, and it. is. perfect. We dined on snails in parchment, beef tartare, both the lamb and beef burgers and of course french fries. For dessert we shared a pot de crème, which is so large, it’s more like a divine bathtub de crème.
On Sunday we attended a bridal show at Memorial Hall. Caterers wooed us with nibbles and cake bakers wooed us with cake. A complete standout was Patricia’s Weddings and Custom Cakes Unlimited. The cake was super moist, and there were lots of flavors to choose from. Of course we had to sample all of them. Sunday night dinner was Bar a Boeuf leftovers while watching SPOILER ALERT Mr. Carson propose to Mrs. Hughes on Downton Abbey. FINALLY!
Danny Cross: I met my buddy Luke at Keystone in Clifton to watch the Bearcats dunk on Tulane from 2-4 p.m. on Saturday. A little hungover and having not eaten to that point, I was very hungry. I got there in time to catch a glimpse of the brunch menu and almost ordered the breakfast tacos (three flour tortillas, scrambled eggs, chorizo, jalapeños, red onion, pico, Sriracha-lime sour cream) but a blueberry-vodka lemonade quickly appeared before me (yea, I ordered it), along with the lunch menu, which had about 10 more things on it I wanted to eat at once. I ended up playing it pretty straight — classic burger, bacon, fries. Luke ordered the hot wings, which caused me to consider flip-flopping, but I needed a lot of food. He ended up giving me three of them so it all worked out.
We sat at the bar in front of two TVs with our game on, and the dude bartender was quite friendly, after a few minutes popping back over with a second blueberry-vodka drink — his own version ("You like blueberry vodka, huh?" "I mean, I'm no expert..." Luke: "Who is?"). It was pretty good — a little lighter than the lemonade version. He encouraged Luke to try about five beers in tiny glasses since for some reason my friend was feeling indecisive (just pick the one with the coolest tap handle, dumbass).
We enjoyed our food and UC's thrashing of Tulane with little disturbance from the college kids sauntering about. We started discussing how shitty the neighborhood was when we went to UC and how bartenders were never nice to us back then, eventually concluding that we didn't know how to treat nice things during college and that throwing rocks at the rats in Hardee's parking lot was probably best for our psychological development during those days.
Keystone is a solid place to watch sports. Two weeks ago there were so many Kentucky fans at Rock Bottom we could barely get our game on TV. "You don't live in Kentucky! You live in Cincinnati!"
Jac Kern: I went to Westside landmark Price Hill Chili on Saturday. Obviously the longtime neighborhood chili parlor is known for its take on coneys and three (or more)-ways, but I almost always order off their all-day breakfast menu. PHC's goetta and cheese omelet comes loaded with the savory breakfast meat and cheddar cheese, all folded in a super-thin eggy blanket with a side of toast and home fries. Super simple, but always a treat. I'm pretty sure if you visit PHC and order that, you're automatically a Cincinnati citizen, regardless of your actual residence.
Brandi Case (CityBeat Office Manager): Saturday I made chicken and dumplings with a chicken stock I made myself, from scratch. Southern cookin’ is so comforting; a perfect dish for winter evenings at home. We also had 7 and 7s to wash it all down. Seagram's is surprisingly very tasty.
Sunday we ate at Uno’s Anderson location and had their signature deep dish pizza. Create your own with chicken, spinach, mushrooms, onions and goat cheese. So good, so filling! And for dessert we had a fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie with ice cream and whipped cream. Really heavenly. We also drank a lot of pints of Fat Tire amber ale.