Tuesday, March 13, 2018

A Review of BrewRiver GastroPub – Sunday, March 4th

To cap off an already awesome weekend (last weekend), my boyfriend’s cousin invited us to dine at BrewRiver GastroPub, another place I had never been. This time I pulled out my phone to get some pictures because I can’t keep having these boring, wordy blog posts or no one will ever come back!

BrewRiver opened in 2012 off Riverside Drive in Cincinnati (the East End). Their menu features classic New Orleans-style recipes, such as Shrimp Po’boys, plus your standard pub food, like burgers. They also carry 23 different craft beers on draft, but strangely, we ended up ordering a couple of beers they serve in cans, including the Monk’s CafĂ© Sour Ale (pictured) and the Abita Purple Haze. Both were very good.

The interior features exposed ductwork, and the walls old, black and white photos of Cincinnati, specifically of our riverboat heritage. The bar is setup impressively appearing to be the focal point inside an otherwise smallish space.
We started the meal portion of our night with appetizers. We ordered two: the Smoked Gouda Pimento Cheese and the Crispy Cilantro Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms. The Smoked Gouda Pimento Cheese is served with sourdough crostini’s, but they also brought the untoasted bread, which I thought was terrific. It offered differing textures. The cheese blend was good, especially spread along the toasty bread. The Crispy Cilantro Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms were tasty as well, but I wouldn’t say they stood apart from other stuffed mushrooms I’ve tried.

I’m not sure why I decided against something New Orleans-inspired, but I wish I hadn't. I wasn’t overly impressed with my burger. I ordered the Natchez, which is considered a customer favorite, and it was a bit overcooked for my taste (they only offer “pink or “no pink” as cooking options). It really wasn’t much to look at either. I tend to like burgers piled high with fun! I wouldn’t call it terrible, just not a burger I could recommend based on this experience alone. The fries we ordered; however, were interesting and flavorsome. You can’t find truffle oil-infused fries just anywhere, and I love all things mushroom.
When I go back, I will definitely try something Cajun, like the Shrimp Po’boy. My friend ended up ordering one, and it came out looking very great (I believe she approved).
I’ve recently read that BrewRiver is having some financial difficulties due to construction that took place along Riverside Drive. Apparently, one of Cincinnati’s main downtown waterlines started leaking in 2017, and while the city immediately took action to avoid a major landslide, BrewRiver saw their business decrease significantly as access to the restaurant was interrupted. The restaurant itself also saw some damage.

If you’re so inclined, they currently have a GoFundMe page setup to help with the associated costs: https://www.gofundme.com/brewrivergastropub-com

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Drake's Florence

Drake’s Florence – Saturday, March 3rd 

My birthday! The evening started out at a friend’s house. They fixed me dinner (bless their hearts) consisting of steaks, fried potatoes, and a vegetable medley, plus a few mixed drinks. We had MMA on in the background. I was prepared for a relaxing evening, but the topic of dancing came up amongst the ladies in the room, mainly about how they hadn’t been out for a while, and we ultimately decided to go to Drake’s in Florence, KY, on Houston Road.

Drake’s is another one of those strip mall bar and restaurants. I don’t say that as a negative, it just doesn’t look fancy from the outside. Apparently, they have multiple locations regionally, throughout Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, and Alabama. The most interesting thing about the place is that they serve typical bar food, like burgers and sandwiches, but they also offer a fairly extensive selection of fresh sushi. I didn’t get to try anything this time, but I would go back. I would definitely like to try the Elderflower Mule if I return.

We arrived around 10, and things were slow, so we sat and talked over drinks for a while (I selected the Taft’s Cherrywood Amber again). We were beginning to wonder if we picked the right place, but around 11, a DJ finally got things going. He played a lot of the typical pop-rap songs, like Drop it Like It’s Hot and Back That Azz Up. A lot of people were on and off the dance floor. We had a good time! Props to my man for picking us up when we were ready to go home.

Taft's Ale House

Taft’s Ale House – Friday, March 2nd 

I’d heard a lot of good things about Taft’s, so when I was trying to decide where to go for my birthday it came up as an option and ended up winning. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of going on the night of the annual Bockfest Parade, so parking was difficult (and expensive) to find, and it took us nearly an hour and a half to get a table! It’s a really neat place, though.

Taft’s opened in 2015 in what’s considered the Over-the Rhine neighborhood. It’s a brewery, bar, and restaurant that apparently has three levels to it, but on this night we stayed on the 2nd level, which has the look of your typical beer hall, including large picnic-style tables, a bar right down the center, and a few TV’s. When you walk in, you immediately notice the classical, dramatic ceilings of an old-style church, which makes sense, as it’s located inside the former St. Paul’s German Evangelical Protestant Church on Race Street (built in 1850).

While we were waiting, we grabbed a round of beers from the bar. I tried the Cherrywood Amber, a red ale. It was smooth and had a just hint of smokiness. Once seated, service was very good and our meals arrived quickly. Their menu focuses on Tri-Tip Steak, so I chose something featuring it, the Cherrywood Tri-Tip Tacos (which went well with my beer since they marinate the sirloin in it). They were priced just right at $9.50 for 3, and I enjoyed them, especially the essence of cumin in the sour cream. I topped it off by trying their Maverick Chocolate Porter. The flavor of the cacao really stood out, but wasn’t overpowering. It was dark, but still went down very smoothly, much like the Amber.

It was a fun night with a few of my friends!

Dropkick Muphy's & Agnostic Front at Old National Centre

I’m doing a few posts to catch up on my past week of adventure!

Dropkick Murphy’s and Agnostic Front at the Old National Centre (Egyptian Room) - Wednesday, February 28th 

Driving two hours out of town during the workweek is never fun, but sometimes events come along and they’re worth that extra weariness you know you’ll feel the next day.

I was 18 years old back in 1998 when Agnostic Front invited Dropkick Murphy’s out on tour. Dropkick Murphy’s were relatively new to the scene back then, having formed around 1997, and Agnostic Front had recently reformed after a 5-year or so hiatus. I idolized their singer, Roger Miret, and I considered them one to be one of my favorite bands, so to be able to see them perform after believing they were done for good was exciting. Of course, I also fell in love with Dropkick Murphy’s on that tour.

Flash forward twenty years, and Dropkick have obviously grown in popularity and taken over the pop-punk/Celtic scene. I've seen them countless time since their early days, and I've never been disappointed. This tour, they returned the favor to Agnostic Front by inviting them out, and both bands were phenomenal. Agnostic Front hadn’t toured in this area for quite some time (aside from their show in Newport, KY last year), so it was great to see them play some older hits they don’t always do anymore, like New York Police State and Pauly the Dog. I think their set was actually longer at this show than when they headlined in Newport.

Dropkick Murphy’s also played a few songs I hadn’t heard on at least their past couple of tours, including a couple of sing-a-long favorites, Forever and Curse of a Fallen Soul. And of course, they played the customary hits, like the State of Massachusetts and Johnny, I hardly Knew Ya.

I was a little bit disappointed with the audience’s overall energy at this one, but I’m still so glad I went.