First Watch Key West Crepeggs

First Watch – Harrison Green

Oddly enough, I’ve never been to ANY First Watch. My breakfast of choice is usually coffee. Just coffee. We’re not really the wake up early on a Saturday morning, get a big breakfast, type of family. We’re the “hey, let’s go to Servatti’s and grab some donuts” people. So, breakfast isn’t my thing. Hence, no First Watch.

I’ve heard awesome things about it. Everyone raves about how amazing the food is.  My initial thought response? It’s eggs, people – calm down. ;)

The boy and I were going to see Antman (surprisingly, a REALLY funny movie!) and we swung by the new First Watch for a late morning breakfast.

It is beautiful inside. Love the set-up. The tables are pretty. And, we got right in (since there were only 2 of us, the odds were in our favor). I did notice that we were the youngest people eating that day.

Our server was awesome – she was helpful, on top of things and had a smile on her face.  As we looked over the menu, we got a coffee (well, I did) and a hot chocolate (the boy).

First Watch Hot Chocolate

First Watch Drinks

REALLY delicious coffee. I liked that they had nice creamers too (not that I consume hazelnut but…) AND, I got the whole pot. Woohoo!

And, because I love him…

First Watch Mikey with cup

 

I think we studied the menu way too long but we ended up with The Trifecta (chocolate chip pancake, scrambled eggs, bacon)

First Watch Trifecta

Mikey was impressed with the attractive syrup bottle.

First Watch Syrup

He loved his chocolate chip pancake!

I got the Key West Crepeggs

First Watch Key West Crepeggs

And, the other side of the plate.

 

First Watch Mine 2

 

After such a great first visual impression, I really wanted to be in love with it. I wasn’t. It was good. The potatoes were pretty boring – I wish they were shredded or have some spice or something. My english muffin was a little hard. BUT – I loved the details (the side of strawberry jelly, ketchup without asking, the choice of chalula as the hot sauce…) My eggs were okay – a good amount of avocado (which is rare!) But, I can’t say that I was overwhelmed by any of the food.

First Watch had a lot of positives – this being one of them.

First Watch Napkin Holder

It’s beautiful. I like the open kitchen. Service was fantastic and fast! I love the details – everything given without asking. Coffee was delicious. Water bottle on the table. Pretty syrup. Awesome hot sauce. Price point, $24, was good.  (I was warned that it was pricey – and I have issues paying lots of money for EGGS. Perspective.) For me, the food was the one “eh”.

I’m sure I’ll be back but it wasn’t love at first bite.

 

 

Mellow Mushroom – Hyde Park

I have been to Mellow Mushroom 2 times before this trip (once in Destin and once at this location). I’ve thought it was average but I seem to be in the minority with my thinking – that happens a LOT of the time.

Book Club (yah! Love my fellow nerdy girls!) was at Mellow Mushroom this month so I decided to give it an actual review. You know – make it official and all.

Although the parking lot was packed, Mellow Mushroom wasn’t busy at all. Our party of 10 got in immediately.

I can’t say that I love the decor/theme. The whole “hippy, shrooms, peace” thing really doesn’t appeal to me. In fact, it annoys the piss right out of me.

Menu – ugh. Not a single Mellow Mushroom created pizza sounded good to me. Not one. The salad choices suck, too. Take a look at the house salad – yeah, thanks for the lettuce, carrots, cabbage and mushrooms. Puke.

Last time I was there (2 months ago), I got a Calzone. Gross. Way too much dough. Toppings were still raw. Not enough cheese. And, I don’t really like their sauce.

 

Calzone

 

This time, I got a pizza with pepperoni and bacon. 

Mellow Mushroom

 

Eh. Not impressed. Way too much dough space. Not enough sauce. Not cheesy enough. And, really, just not good.

I love my book club so I will always go wherever – but, I wouldn’t choose Mellow Mushroom EVER for just a dinner out.

My advice – go to Fireside Pizza, go to Dewey’s. Leave the hippies to their crappy pizza. ;)

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Jag’s – West Chester

I turned 40 a few weeks ago. Boo. (it does beat the alternative, however) My husband threw an awesome (superhero themed) party for me but, before the festivities began, we went to Jag’s for my birthday dinner.

I’m always up for new (and delicious) steak! Plus, I had awesome hair and makeup, for the evening = a win situation all around!

Jag’s is beautiful – I’m going to put it in the trendy, non-pretentious category, too. Attractive hostesses (but, with appropriate level skirts…), friendly staff and a cozy dining atmosphere. And, there’s a very cool elevated piano for when the music hours begin. I can totally dig that.

Squirrel here – Check out their awesome Dinner for 2 meal on Friday nights! Great price of $99!

Getting this out of the way right now…I’m going to compare Jag’s to Eddie Merlot’s, which is my ultimate steak place so…just be prepared!

Jag’s has a great menu – lots of classic AND trendy choices. Prices are very nice, too. At most high-end steak houses, everything is a la carte. At Jag’s you actually get a side, a vegetable AND a salad with your entree. I know – crazy!

We decided to forgo any appetizer – the husband was too nervous about my party, anyway. We went straight for the goods! I was pretty excited that I could add a piece of sea bass on to my entree – um, hello! I love that I can be indecisive and still win.

Around the horn…

My bestie (yes, I can still say that at 40 – shut up) ordered off of the special menu. A Filet with some sort of garlic butter and sauce – whippy potatoes in the background.

Jag's Marita Steak

 

She, also, started with a Strawberry Salad.

Jag's Strawberry Salad

I apologize for the pictures – you know those fancy restaurants like their low lighting!

My male BF got the same thing I did. He cheats so he can eat immediately and not have to have a camera in his food! (He’s, actually, a fast learner)

The husband got a boring old house salad ;)

Jag's House Salad

 

Yes, it’s sad. And, he was insanely jealous of my delicious Caesar Salad.

Jag's Caesar Salad

Although the picture sucks, it was the best Caesar salad that I’ve ever had. Ever – yes, that’s my whole life of eating caesar salads! The dressing was perfect. The croutons were awesome – good amount of parm. Plus, they give you this fabulous parmesan crisp to the side. Hells yah. I want to go back just for the Caesar salad – it was THAT good! And, it’s true that the husband was so jealous of my salad. I was kind and gave him some. SOME.

The husband got The Big Oscar (filet, topped with lots of seafood and lobster hollandaise)

Jag's Oscar

He was in love. I think he’s still talking about it.

I got a simple filet, paired with an added piece of sea bass and a side of bearnaise, of course.

Jag's me

I did enjoy the crispy fried onions on top. The whipped potatoes were very good, too. I wasn’t in love with the bearnaise (Eddie Merlot’s is better). The sea bass, while good, needed something – a little spicing up? But, it was cooked perfectly – delicate and flaky. And, the filet – well, it wasn’t Eddie Merlot’s. When you get a filet at EM’s, your knife SLIDES through it like butter. This, while still good (I mean, it’s a filet!), just wasn’t as tender and melt in my mouth worthy. I just did some looking around and Jag’s uses Certified Angus Beef Steaks – EM’s uses Prime Beef (aged for 21 days). It makes a difference. Of course, your pricing is better at Jag’s but quality of steak is better at EM’s.

With that said, I would totally go back to Jag’s – it was a fabulous dining experience. Our server was AMAZING. The manager came and chatted with us for a few minutes (I’m always impressed with that and just think it’s a nice touch). I like the menu. I like the decor. I would, absolutely, recommend it for someone looking for a fine dining experience.

And, I’m still craving that damn Caesar salad!

Jag's Steak & Seafood/Piano Bar on Urbanspoon

 

Trinity Gastro Pub – West Chester

I think my husband is obsessed with burgers. Of course, after eating only advocare approved items for a year now, that will do that to a person. Upon hearing about the delicious burgers at Trinity Gastro Pub, that’s where we landed last Saturday for dinner. I was just happy that I didn’t have to order a burger. ;)

We made reservations so we could get right in. A couple of people have remarked about parking and yes, the lot is teeny for as big as Trinity’s is. The building is beautiful. About 3 hostesses greeted us to make sure we were being taken care of. There was a nice patio/outside area (of course, it was a smidgen too cold that night) with a fireplace. A pretty good set-up there. :)

We all came with big appetites – I guess we were working hard that day!

For appetizers, we ordered the Cheese Fries

Trinity Cheese Fries

While I can appreciate the design of the curly cut fry, it just didn’t work here. They were way too thick and weren’t done all the way. No one likes a hard fry. Plus – lack of toppings. Please, give me some cheese with those cheese fries.

My friend got some chips and Guacamole

Trinity Guac

I realize that I’m uber hard to please in the guacamole category – this was an average guacamole. Being as my friend wasn’t gushing over it either, I think she felt the same way. So, I wasn’t being too picky. Not enough lime, not enough salt, ditch the tomatoes, needed to be chunkier.

My friend TRIED to order the Chicken and Waffle sliders but we were told that they didn’t have the equipment to make them yet? So, she had to scramble for idea #2. Which was…

Corned Beef (just call it a Reuben) Sliders

Trinity Reuben Sliders

I’ll hold off for mine, for last – other items ordered…

Onion Rings

Trinity Onion Rings

Kids Cheeseburger

Trinity Kids Cheeseburger

Pretzel Nuggets 

Trinity Pretzel Nuggets

New York Strip (sorry that the strip isn’t facing you – I didn’t want to force him to flip the plate around)

Trinity Steak

The Over Easy Burger (same deal as above – the hungry bears get angry if you ask for a different food angle)

Trinity Burger

My husband, of course, loved his – he thought it was better than the last burger he ate (Chandler’s). I think he’s nuts – but, of course, I didn’t try this burger. ;)

And, finally, my choice. I was going back and forth between a flatbread and Fish’n’Chips. I wasn’t crazy about any of the flatbread choices AND I was afraid it was denser, like pita bread, versus crispy and thin. So, I went with Fish’n’Chips.

Trinity Fish'n'Chips

I DID like these curly cut fries better alone than I did with the cheese fries – they were way crisper. But, I was so full, I didn’t need any more fries.

The breading on the ends was good. The middle was a smidgen soggy. The tartar sauce was horrible (definitely from a tub somewhere).  I should have gone with the flatbread – pita bread crust be damned.

I will say this – I am probably on an island by myself with being underwhelmed with Trinity’s. Everyone else really liked it – my friend was irritated that they didn’t have what she wanted but she’s easy-going and enjoyed what she got. The boys, of course, loved it. I’m not sure if they’re allowed to have an opinion anymore though. (They love EVERY fry that they come in contact with…)

It was fine. I won’t have to go back.

Trinity Gastro Pub on Urbanspoon

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dewey's Green Lantern

Shout out to Dewey’s! Newport on the Levee

I’ve already reviewed Dewey’s so this is just really a “yah, Dewey’s” post. Those delicious cupcakes that I posted about last week? Well, we had pizza leading up to those cupcakes for the hubby’s b-day.

The Dewey’s staff was awesome – they volunteered to keep the cupcakes in the cooler. Our server was on top of everything. We sat in a very sunny area and the manager was doing everything possible to make sure that we weren’t burning our booties off. Before we left, we gave our server a cupcake and he gave my husband a Dewey’s glass! Out of this world customer service!

Food!

Mike and I shared the Peppercorn Ranch Salad

Dewey's Salad

Yum!

Because it was Mike’s b-day AND cheat day, he didn’t want to share with me. Plus, our topping likes are vastly different.

He got the Bronx Bomber (with no peppers)

Dewey's Bronx Bomber

I got the Green Lantern (no surprise there – that’s what I always get). AND, it was awesome, as usual!!!!

Dewey's Green Lantern

It is so frickin’ delicious. Really, some of the best pizza around.

My advice – step away from the Larosa’s and get yourself some Dewey’s!

Cakes and Pastries by George – Westside

I wanted to get my husband some really delicious cupcakes for his birthday and I was running out of cake places. Yes, I can make cupcakes but my love for baking is at a bare minimum. Okay, it’s zero. Once something gets in my head, I get a little obsessed with it. I’ve heard (and read!) awesome things about Cakes and Pastries by George (the Greek Baker!) and yes, it stuck in my mind.

I walked in to order the cupcakes and holy cupcakes everywhere! I was overwhelmed by their beauty and the different types. I had some hard decisions to make. I also had to keep in mind that it was HIS birthday and not mine. ;)

Also, after eyeballing the chocolate baklava, in the case, I became a little obsessed (okay, a lot obsessed) with that. It pained me that I would have to wait 3 days.

But, I was a good girl and waited for a cheat day. :)

Insert gorgeous cupcakes below.

George's cupcakes

Beautiful! They’re like mini bundles of cake art.

Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself. Before I talk cupcakes, let me talk about the chocolate baklava.

George's Chocolate Baklava

I realize it’s not traditional (and I love the traditional kind too – I’m not a hater) but it is oh, so right. Instead of layers of nuts, it’s layered with chocolate and the sweet honey syrup. (yes, one of those was for the hubby) It was like a piece of chocolate heaven. And, extremely dangerous for us dieting folks. When my husband bit into his, he gave me the “seriously? this is the best thing ever” look.

Back to cupcakes. Yes, beautiful but delicious?

I got Chocolate Caramel

George's chocolate caramel

And, Chocolate Peanut Butter

George's chocolate peanut butter

Lastly, Red Velvet

George's red velvet

I’m, typically, not a fan of over the top decoration (meaning, I don’t like big old chunks of things on or in my items) but this edible decor was perfect. Just enough without being overbearing.

Each individual cupcake was like a mini cake – there’s a layer of icing in the middle of each cupcake! They were perfect cupcakes. I said it.

I had the red velvet =  perfection in every aspect and way. Cake was moist (deal with it) and the cream cheese icing was divine.

And, I might have stolen a bite (or 2) of the chocolate peanut butter. Um, yeah. Utter bliss.

In addition to delivering a delicious birthday for my husband, I’m just so happy that I no longer have to search for the perfect cupcake.

George, the Greek Baker, you have nailed the art of cupcakes.

Last minute photo op!

Cupcakes with candles

Cakes & Pastries by George on Urbanspoon

Chandler’s Burger Bistro – Delhi

The husband and I are suckers for burgers. If it weren’t for burgers and bacon, I could probably be a sort of vegetarian (I’d still eat fish). I don’t know that there are many food items, in American life, that will beat a perfect burger. Chandler’s  already starts off as a win because 1. they use Bridgetown Finer Meats ground chuck and 2. Servatti’s buns. Seriously, 2 of my favorite places in Cincinnati!

After dropping the boy off (yes, he missed burger night), we got to Chandler’s around 6:30 on a Saturday – I’ve heard some complaints about parking…the parking lot is huge? Chandler’s is busy. It’s Saturday night during prime eating time. Chances are that you’re not going to get a spot right in front. It might mean walking about 15 spaces.

Our quote for 2 people was 35 minutes – not bad! I did hear some grumbling next to me – but, keep in mind that they were a party of 10. Did they think it was going to be easy getting into ANY restaurant?

The inside is huge – lots of TVs, large bar, very retro trendy.

The menu is short and sweet – you know I love that!

Since we were being indecisive, we started off with both the…

Fried Pickles

Fried pickles 2

You know I love me some fried pickles. These were good – not perfect, not the best I’ve ever had…but pretty solid fried pickles. (The homemade ranch was nice, too)

…and the Macaroni Gouda Bites

Gouda bites

Gouda bite close 2

Um, YUM! Typically, macaroni bites can get a little bland but these were awesome. A lot of gouda which gave the cheese some bite. My only complaint is the dipping sauce – COLD marinara = WRONG. A spicy pizza sauce. A southwest ranch. Even a tangy, hot mustard. All better choices.

I liked the Gouda Bites. The husband liked the pickles better. Go figure. It was backwards night.

I knew, going in, what burger the husband was going to pick. Being married to someone for 15 years, you get good at that game. ;)

He got the Big Chandler

 

The Chandler

Underneath all of that bacon and burger goodness is goetta and fried egg, too! The husband kept talking about the bun (yes, insert all sorts of jokes here) and how good it was. See? Servatti’s wins every time!

Since I have issues with a lot of toppings on my burger (I prefer to stay as lady-like as possible while shoving a burger down my piehole…), I got a Bacon Cheeseburger.

Bacon Cheeseburger

It was a delicious burger – I like that the burger itself was simple. Ground Chuck, some salt and pepper, no fillers or added craziness. And, a perfect bun. ;)

Note that I switched out my fries for onion rings. The husband wanted both but didn’t want to commit to giving up his fries. So, I became the onion ring guinea pig. Good thing because I liked the onion rings much better than the fries. The fries were okay – but, I’m so hard to please in the fry category. The husband’s idea of a perfect fry is the crinkle fry. Enough said. He’ll always like the fries.

Our service was really great, too – she was always right around and right on time. :)

I did have to laugh at the amount of people who tried to sit at the tables without being on a wait. “Oh, they said I could sit AT the bar and eat…does that include these tables?” Seriously, it happened 3 times while we were there. Um, ALL the tables are around the bar. Sitting AT the bar and sitting in the bar AREA are 2 different things. Don’t try to make your own rules people. Go sit in the wait area like all the other nice patrons. ;)

I really liked Chandler’s. I wouldn’t hesitate to suggest it to anyone that wanted a casual dining experience and an awesome burger. It also looks like a fun place to hang around football season. It makes my heart happy that a good restaurant has arrived in the west side.

Chandler's Burger Bistro on Urbanspoon

 

 

Fireside Pizza – Walnut Hills

I had Fireside once, many moons ago, when they came to a Farmer’s Market near me. Since then, I’ve been dying to try it again! Really, there’s almost nothing better than pizza done right. (And, no Larosa’s is NOT pizza done right…) It’s tough getting delicious pizza in Cincinnati.

My 2 boys (that would be the husband and son) and I went last Saturday to get some wood-fired pizza. It’s never a struggle to convince my boys to go for pizza.

I’ll admit – the neighborhood is a little shady. However, parking is ample and convenient. I love that Fireside is in an old fire station – makes for very cool structures and lines.

The pizza menu is on a board behind the bar – a very simple menu…pizza and salads. The woman taking our order was very helpful, knowledgeable and acted like she wanted to be there (love that!)

We paid for our food, got a cool food holder…

Fireside table holder

I mean, I could do without the Simon and Garfunkel but I did dig the vinyl.

There are cafeteria style tables – if anything, I wasn’t crazy about the set up. I’d prefer separate tables. I kept wondering if they were a bar that happens to serve pizza or a pizza place that has a bar?

Our food took a while – like 30-40 minutes for pizza.

Mikey got Cheese Pizza, of course.

Fireside cheese

The hubby’s pizza – Sausage and Pepperoni

Fireside Mike better

And, mine…the Redlegger (Pepperoni, Red Peppers and Onions)

Fireside mine

The pizza was really, REALLY delicious. Nice and crispy thin crust. (I even ate the edges – that NEVER happens!) Sauce was perfect – I loved my toppings and cheese amount. I drizzled some hot oil on it and it was a damn good pizza!

I tried a bite of the husband’s because I’m super picky about sausage. I love that it was crumbly (that’s one of my pizza sausage stipulations). However, I still liked mine better. ;)

The boys loved it. I loved it. It made me happy for my pizza future in the Cincinnati area. We’ll be back, Fireside.

Fireside Pizza on Urbanspoon

Bonomini Bakery – Northside

I went cake tasting with my sister a couple of weeks ago – Bonomini Bakery (in Northside, Blue Rock Street) was on her short list. Upon entering the bakery, my nose was immediately filled with amazingly delicious and sweet smells. Donuts! Donuts everywhere! Seriously, it was like being in donut heaven. Coffee cakes and cookies and danish and cakes of all types – and did I mention donuts? Sheer sugar craziness.

Since I knew that I had cakes to taste that day, I sadly left the bakery, without any sweet treats.

Although Bonomini didn’t win the wedding cake (the icing was awesome but we found a perfect, more modern cake, elsewhere –> that would be another bakery that I’m, now, in love with!), I was bound and determined to make it back for donuts.

The next Saturday, I had a lot of stops to make…so I decided that a short trip to Northside was doable. I mean, a few minutes out of my way for donuts? No brainer.

Again, walking in, just deliciousness assaulting me. So many choices! Along with being one of the oldest bakeries around (the Bonominis took over in 1976), they also have been voted #1 for the best Paczkis (that is pronounced “PUNCH-KEY” or “POONCH-KEY”) in Cincinnati. We’ll see about that… ;)

Even though my eyes were roaming, I stuck with donuts. Just donuts.

Bonomini donuts all

They have these little (okay, not so little) donuts, called Klunkers. They’re like fried danish but baby knot fried danish.

Bonomini klunker

Dense, perfect glaze, sweet perfection – seriously, delicious.

Got some chocolate glazed

Bonomini chocolate glazed

Okay, ran into some issues here – Servatti’s chocolate is 100X better. These were not a winner.

Please keep in mind, I didn’t consume FULL donuts in my quest for awesomeness – I was taking bites. (minus the klunker – I ate that whole damn thing)

Chocolate coated cream filled

Bonomini Cream Filled

 

Again, Servatti’s won this – while I liked the cream filling…the chocolate just wasn’t cutting it.

And, the award-winning Paczkis? They’re available in Glazed, Powdered Sugar and Cinnamon Sugar – I got a Lemon, blueberry and raspberry. Traditionally, they’re only available from Mardi Gras until Lent’s over. Not sure if Bonomini has them all year round.

Bonomini Paczki

I ate a bite of the Lemon one – holy crap weasels, it was amazing. The dough was perfect – fried to complete deliciousness. The lemon filling was amazing – light but tart. A sensory masterpiece.

While there were some major HITS and a couple misses – definitely swing by for some Klunkers and Paczkis! It’s worth the trip. (And the treat)

Bonomini Bakery on Urbanspoon

 

 

Django Western Taco – Northside

You know I love my Mexican. I’ve heard great things about Django‘s Shrimp Taco. Hey, I’m always down for shrimp tacos. (or ANY taco) Right before Christmas, I got a cincysavers email for Django = score!

Now that the husband and I are able to have a normal life again, Saturday night date nights may commence once more.

I liked the ambiance of Django – it was simple yet still slightly trendy. Open kitchen. Friendly servers (seriously, she was awesome!). Lots of smiles. Big open window so you can see what’s going on in the neighborhood.

I loved the simple menu – I hate when restaurants have a big book full of choices.  But, with having a simple menu, you better bring it.

We were brought some Chips and 2 sauces (green and smoky habanero)

Django chips

The chips had a dusting of seasonings – at first, it was fine. But, after the first few, it was just ick. The green sauce was pretty good. I wasn’t a fan of the red – I can’t handle things if the smokiness takes over.

But, I did wash those down with a YUMMY (and it was!) Honey Margarita.

Django Honey Margarita

And, you know that I was getting Guacamole!

Django guacamole

It needed to be chunkier. Needed more lime and more salt. Take those damn radishes out of it, too. But, they did give me a ton of guacamole. Which is rare.

The husband got the Queso Chorizo

Django Queso

Okay, I’m a huge fan of queso (who isn’t?). I’m a huge fan of chorizo. This was just awful. Some chorizo. A sprinkle of queso. And, potatoes (yes, we read the description). The taste was very off-putting. They really need to revamp that stuff.

Husband’s tacos – Shrimp and Pork tacos

Django pork and shrimp tacos

The tacos on the left and right are the 2 shrimp. The middle is the pork. He loved the shrimp – like, couldn’t get enough of it, regretted getting the pork, loved it. He did like the pork. He was just that in love with the shrimp.

I got a Shrimp Taco and a Beef Taco

Django shrimp and beef taco

I ate the beef first, just in case the shrimp spoiled it for me. I really liked the beef – it had great flavor. I do wish that the horseradish sauce was a little stronger. The sizes and the corn tortillas were perfect. The shrimp taco was awesome – super crispy fried shrimp combined with the sweet chili sauce and the smooth goat cheese was just a fabulous combination.

We, also, split a piece of Jalapeno-Bacon Cornbread

Django cornbread

It was okay. I know this is going to sound ridiculous but I would have enjoyed it more if there wasn’t bacon in it. The bacon didn’t add anything to the taste or texture.

I was so full I was going to die.

Which is why we got dessert.

Django dessert

The cinnamon chips were fantastic – the chocolate dipping sauce was super rich. Could only handle a tiny dab on each chip. (I would have preferred a raspberry sauce but realize that I’d be seriously out-voted on that choice)

As a whole, I would rate our dinner as average. I wasn’t overwhelmed and wow-ed. The best things were the margarita and the beef and shrimp taco. Would I choose Django over Nada or Bakersfield? Hells, no! But, I wouldn’t turn it down if someone asked if I’d like to go there.

Django Western Taco on Urbanspoon