Sunday, April 18, 2010


Cornhole at a bar, I had to check it out.  Unfortunately, that is about all that this place has going for it.  Basically, Mulligan's is a giant space that is mainly a sports bar.  The cornhole is in a covered outdoor area that is also huge.  Mulligan's is cheap looking inside and feels like it was a popular college hangout 10-15 years ago.  I am actually surprised it is in business considering I was there on a Saturday night and the place had about 30 people in it.  It was almost all guys, and was not a very lively scene.  The corn hole was fun, and they also have pool tables, but otherwise, this place is totally skip-able.  They have decent draft beer selection with Stone, Great Lakes, Rogue, Bell's, Sierra Nevada, Red Hook, and other interesting beers to compliment the full domestic selection.  But in a boring, outdated, un-inspiring sports bar setting, even the best beer list couldn't help.  Unless you really feel like playing cornhole at a bar, I would not recommend this place.

Mulligan's Hyde Park Pub on Urbanspoon

Vacancies in Oakley and Hyde Park Squares

Can anyone tell me what is going on with all the vacant restaurant and shop space in Oakley and Hyde Park Squares?

Oakley has had the Kona Bistro spot vacant for at least a year, Oakley Cycles just moved out, the Arby's is out of business ... At least the square is under renovation which will hopefully help revive it and
fill the vacant space.

But the same seems to be happening to Hyde Park Square. Vineyard Cafe, a prime corner location with outdoor seating went out of business a couple months ago. The overpriced Red steakhouse just closed it's doors, and it looks like the English Traditions antiques store is moving soon. Oh, and of course the Persian rug store perpetually says it is having a closing/clearance sale. Maybe this time they are actually telling the truth.

Can anyone help explain what is going on?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Nada, Nada, Nada...

Who doesn't like Nada?  Right in the heart of the downtown Cincinnati nightlife, a night out that begins with or includes Nada is most likely to be a pretty fun night.  How can you argue with top notch margaritas, Caipirhinas, and other fine tropical cocktails?  And then guacamole and chips, everyone loves those.  This place is always crowded and reservations are pretty important if you plan to go on a Friday or Saturday night (last Friday night at 8pm, I heard the hostess tell a party of 2 that they would wait for an hour and 45 minutes!).

I have been to Nada several times and as mentioned, always have a good time.  As far as the food goes, the appetizers are excellent.  The guacamole has massive chunks of avocado in it, and you know it is very fresh.  The chips are fried to order and are deliciously greasy and salty.  Their sliders are delicious and the mac and cheese is wonderful.  I am not really sure how sliders and mac and cheese fit into the mexican theme, but they are satisfying the tastebuds of their diners.

When it comes to the main courses, they are good, but not great.  It is hard to be bad in the mexican food arena, so I am not giving them a ton of credit for being good.  They have nice selection of gourmet tacos, some main meat entrees, and cazuelas (iron pots with sort of mexican style curry).  I have had the tacos on numerous occasions and have sampled all of the cazuelas.  The tacos just fall a bit short for me.  The tortillas aren't that great, and the combinations don't seem to taste as good as their descriptions.  The iron pots are good, but a little on the sweet side and seeming to lack some texture in the dishes.  Prices are reasonable but on the high side (taco plates from $12-$16, and cazuelas from $19 to $26).

The service can be a tad bit slow.

Overall, this is a great place to start a night out in downtown Cincinnati.  The theme is fun, it is always crowded, and the drinks will kick start any night.  It is right in the heart of downtown Cincinnati, so plenty of fun spots to go before and after.  Just don't expect the that the food is going to wow you.

Nada on Urbanspoon

Dilly Deli in Mariemont

A good friend of mine invited me out for a beer at Dilly Deli in Mariemont.  I must say, I was a big skeptic, and thought maybe he had lost his mind.  He is a city dweller, and we usually meet downtown at cool places like Grammers.  First off, this place is called Dilly Deli, what kind of a name is that for a place to grab a beer with a friend?  Secondly, it is in Mariemont.  Mariemont is nice if you want to live in perfect-ville, but I didn't even know they drank in Mariemont. But, he is a good friend, and I trust him.

Dilly Deli is actually a little gem.  It was a nice evening so the outdoor seating was in full effect.  We opted to sit at the bar which is small, but colorful.  There was a man playing the guitar nicely, and a welcoming character named Peanut behind the bar sporting a huge handlebar mustache.  We had come for a specific beer that they had on tap, The Maharaja, a double IPA from the Avery Brewing Company in Boulder, CO .  It was strong and delicious.  We continued, and sampled a few other of the rare and delicious beers they had on tap.  Fantastic selection.  Peanut was an expert and just seemed to love new beer.  We nibbled on their beer cheese appetizer which was the perfect companion to the strong beers.

That is all we ate, but the menu and food that people were eating around me looked great.  The place is an upscale casual deli/cafe/bar which seems to be a perfect local everyday type of place for those Mariemont Pleasantville folks.   They have a counter with gourmet cheese selections, and a small beer and wine store in the back.  Apparently they don't charge a corkage fee on their wine Monday through Wednesday.  I would like to go back and try more of the food, and of course more of the beer.

Is it worth trekking out to Mariemont for if you don't live close?  I would say no.  But if you happen to be in the area, you should probably stop in and check it out.

Dilly Deli Wines & Gourmet on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 12, 2010

Via Vite

Via Vite, great restaurant in the best location in Cincinnati.

My first visit to Via Vite was a 30th birthday party I organized for my wife.  Phenomenal visit.  I was raving about Via Vite for weeks.  It has to be the best venue I have been to in Cincinnati for a fancy large group dinner party.  We had their biggest of 3 private rooms (holds 30 people, the two others hold about 15 each).  The entire second floor of the restaurant is reserved for private parties in these three rooms.  The largest of the 3 has a bar and bar service.  We almost maxed the place out with 29 people and it was still very comfortable.  We had access to the balcony which overlooks the action of fountain square.  I was amazed when they gave us the option of ordering a la carte with such a large party and also running tabs for everyone.  Extremely accommodating.  The service was a tad bit slow, but I expected that with 30 people ordering at once.  The wait staff was very nice, professional, and attentive.  The cocktails and bar service were great, and the food was terrific.  I had a pork chop which was very memorable.  I chose the place for the group party due to the wide range of prices on the menu, allowing some guests to order pizzas and pastas on the low end ($11 to $20), and others to splurge on $25+ entrees and multiple courses.  It served everyone very well.

I recently returned for a special night out to thank my mother in law for watching our kids for a few days.  Again, another great night.  Not as magical as having 30 of your best friends in a private room, but very fun nonetheless.  The bar here is very cool, and the dining room is fancy with great views of fountain square all around you through the large floor to ceiling windows.  The menu is a bit on the expensive side, but there are cheaper options (pizzas and pastas from $11 to $20), though you feel cheap if that's all you order.  If I had one complaint, it is that we were constantly being offered the trade-up options (first the Pellegrino, then the multiple appetizers, desert, and coffee).  The starters and salads are NOT cheap, with an average price of about $10.  Don't get me wrong though, it is not overpriced, just be prepared for an expensive night out.  The food is great and the location spectacular, all things worth paying for.

I started with a special appetizer which was little cherry peppers stuffed with tuna and sold per individual stuffed pepper for $2 each.  They were small but fantastic.  I went for a carbonara pasta from the specials menu for my main course.  It was good, but a bit over the top with the cream sauce.  I thought something was up when it said "carbonara sauce".  In my book, carbonara is an almost sauceless pasta with its moisture from eggs and oil.  This was a real sauce, and heavy on the cheese and egg yolk.  Good, but very rich and a bit too much for a whole big bowl of pasta.  The ladies I was with had the eggplant parmesan to start, which they both enjoyed, and two other pastas for main courses.  We all enjoyed our meals and then indulged in the chocolate mouse for desert.  Again, delicious.   The wine list is great.

I will go again and again on the right occasions.  Great place, unbeatable location, and a launching pad for any type of downtown activity you might want to do.  It would be an excellent date spot place to impress out of town guests.

Here is are the peppers stuffed with tuna.
And here is the carbonara.

Via Vite on Urbanspoon