Cincinnati got some great new dining options this May, from an East Walnut Hills coffee shop and wine bar that serves up ‘American tapas’ to a new cafe and market Downtown and a vintage-gas-station-inspired burger spot. While we did say goodbye to a couple of beloved Queen City eateries, Cincinnati's culinary scene also experienced some wins throughout the month. The Queen City is set to get a Roy Roger’s location soon, plus, a local brewery released the world’s most expensive beer.
A new cafe and grab-and-go market has opened downtown. Ignite Entertainment, the team behind The View at Shires' Garden — the drinking and dining destination on the rooftop of the City Club Apartments downtown — hosted the grand opening of Shires' Cafe May 14, located on the ground floor of the same building. The cafe offers everything from housemade baked goods, cocktails and kombucha to local Pneuma Coffee, sandwiches and take-and-bake Che's empanadas (Ignite also operates Che). The market portion features snacks, drinks and even T-shirts for purchase, along with assorted sundries — things like Tylenol and toothpaste. A lounge area adjacent to the cafe lets guests enjoy "the selections at their own pace, work outside of the office, or relax and have a drink.” 309 Vine St., Downtown. shirescafe.com.
Wine Bar and Cafe Symposium Serves Up ‘American Tapas’ in East Walnut Hills
Symposium had a soft opening May 6 only to be closed down days later due to a leaky sink. The wine bar and cafe finally hosted its grand opening on May 11, and according to co-owner J. Matt Nickels, they have been going strong ever since. The East Walnut Hills spot brings a relaxed Hemingway cafe-style atmosphere. The space features a main dining room with a lounge known as The Nest, a private dining and event space called the Rumpus Room, an outdoor patio and Symposium’s three bars. Each bar offers up something different — one serves up coffee (that features a shockingly cheap $3 latte), and the other has drinks and the last, snacks. Their cocktails, known as “Birdtails,” are delicious, imaginative and avian-inspired, like the Magpie Gin and Tonic, Macaw Mojito and Bird on a Wire espresso martini. Symposium currently serves breakfast and dinner, and the owners hope to add lunch soon. Their menu, created by co-owner and chef Aaron Owen, currently features croissants, overnight oats and ricotta toast for breakfast and for dinner, small plates and charcuterie they call “American tapas.” 2835 Woodburn Ave., East Walnut Hills. symposiumcincinnati.com.
A Florida-based beer-and-burger chain with a tie to Henry Ford — as in the Ford Motor Company opened in Rookwood Commons & Pavilion on May 5. Ford's Garage, based out of Fort Myers, Florida — where Henry Ford had a winter home — is an official licensee of the Ford Motor Company and plays off that aspect by channeling a "1920s service station/prohibition bar.” The 7,600-square-foot restaurant seats 270 people, serving a menu focused on black angus beef burgers. The burgers are dressed with "natural aged cheeses, fresh toppings, and sauces on artisan buns branded with the Ford’s Garage logo." 2692 Madison Road, Suite 115, Norwood. fordsgarageusa.com.
Restaurant Closings:Empanadas Aqui Food Truck Closes After Eight Years of Service
The owners of Empanadas Aqui announced in a Facebook post on May 11 that the Taste of Cincinnati festival on Memorial Day weekend will be the final day of operation for their food truck. The brick-and-mortar spot in Mason closed in January and co-owner Brett Johnson said that since then, he has made a career change and the food truck became his second job. He also wrote that the truck’s head chef and manager recently stepped down to care for family members. While Johnson said they already planned for this to be Empanadas Aqui’s last year, they moved up the closure due to these issues. “We love you all and are honored to have gotten to know you all. Thank you for your support these past 8 years. This is a bittersweet but welcomed change. We will miss being a part of your lives and families as many of you have brought us in to cater your weddings, birthday parties, grad parties, office parties, and milestones!” read the post.
Half Day Cafe will be closing its Wyoming location after 16 years. The cafe’s owners made the announcement in a video shared on Facebook, stating that they are unable to staff the location “we just can’t hire staff to work; we’ve tried.” Half Day serves up breakfast and lunch seven days a week with items like goetta hash and shrimp and grits that patrons will still be able to enjoy at their Mason location, which they say is fully staffed. The message was signed off with a “God bless you for supporting us and our business; heartfelt thanks to each of you. We look forward to seeing you soon.”
Other Cincinnati Dining News:
Western-themed fast-food chain Roy Rogers, named for the Cincinnati-born actor and cowboy, plans to open a Queen City location this year. This historic franchise, founded in 1968, is known for items like fried chicken, roast beef sandwiches and their iconic Double R Burger — a quarter-pounder topped with American cheese and ham on a Kaiser roll. It's also bringing its famed "Fixin’s bar" to the local restaurant, allowing customers to top their burgers with their choice of condiments and veggies. The new spot is set to open in Cleves in the winter of 2022. This opening is part of a 10-unit restaurant deal with local restaurant franchise group One Holland Corporation.
Even though Northside brewery Urban Artifact didn't set out to create the world's most expensive beer, they have managed to do just that with their latest creation, Astronaut Food Blackberry & Blueberry. The brand new beer, described as a fruit tart, is made with over 1,000 pounds of freeze-dried blackberries and blueberries. The beer's hefty price tag — $1,100 per barrel — is attributed to the roughly 11 pounds of fresh fruit it takes to produce just one pound of the freeze-dried fruit used to create Astronaut Food. Got deep pockets? The latest batch of Urban Artifact's Astronaut Food Blackberry & Blueberry is available to purchase at the brewery's Northside location (1660 Blue Rock Street), on their online store and in select retailers. Despite the cost of each barrel, a four-pack of Astronaut Food will only set you back $30.