Posts Tagged ‘hyde park’

and his name is sam hill.

i am a difficult woman to please. i have lived in this fair city for almost 20 months, and while this blog makes it look like i’ve spent most of that time eating out, i have actually spent most of that time scouring the city for a new hairdresser, taking friends’ recommendations and trekking as far out to kenwood to find that special someone. c’mon, girls — i know you know what i’m talkin’ about: not just someone who gives a good cut but someone you connect with. someone you want to sit down and talk to, someone who makes you feel your best when you’re in the chair and look your best when you stand up and get out of it. 

sam is that person.

i learned about sam in cincinnati magazine’s 2008 “best of” issue, where he is voted best of … for being “super nice.” you’d think i’d be drawn to kristen kuelber (at christopher george salon), who won kudos cutting short hair — but she’s out in milford, and i was looking for someone closer to home.

to say that sam wins for being “super nice” is some kind of polite understatement. he is nice, that’s true. but he’s so much more. he has a truly winning personality. he is warm and funny, genuine and edgy, hip and yet caring. the kind of guy you invite to dinner parties to help ensure that conversation is interesting and invigorating. the kind of you guy would be thrilled to take home to introduce to mom (although sam’s wife and child would not be too happy with you).

i called sam to make an appointment back in december when i decided that i just had to get myself a decent cut before the holidays. his win in the mag had brought on a rush of popularity that meant he was booked until now, but he gave me a very good recommendation to tide me over in the interim. and that cut — from rae at tanya’s wellness salon in hyde park — was quite good. but back in december i had made last thursday’s appt with sam and even though i was no longer desperate for a new ‘do, i intended to keep it.

i’m so glad i did. when i sat down, we talked about what i did (and didn’t) like about my past and current cuts, what i’m willing to do (and not do) with my hair, what my hair (by virtue of its length, texture, and general orneriness) seems inclined to do, and what i want on the top of my head. all i really wanted, i told him, was a hip cut that is easy to style and maintain but that is also, well, a little girly. i need some femininity goin’ on up there. he listened, tousling my hair as we talked about pros and cons of various choices. he moved things around, showed me options, and then gave me the hands down best haircut i’ve had since moving to cincinnati. 

no lie. hands down. and this from a girl who is hard to please.

so aside from the perfection that is an hour spent with sam hill (i could wax rhapsodic about the mirrors in his salon and the perfection with which they are strategically placed; about the great music that was playing; about everything, perhaps, except for what i think might have been a dead goldfish in a bowl in a room i only saw from a distance), my favorite thing might be that he’s in my ‘hood. right now he’s in temporary digs in hyde park above arthur’s (have a burger, get your hair cut, your day is complete), but he’s moving soon to a new location in oakley, right on madison road. look for him there this spring in the space that used to house de la art. even if oakley is not in your neck of the words, it’ll be worth the trip. i promise. just leave an appointment open for me.

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…nor is it a post about the pike, although a week ago we had high hopes of posting about both, when we had an evening planned that began in the vineyard cafe at ended with drinks & dancing at the pike. but factor in the loss of an infant-prepared babysitter and our desire not to take our now-tagging-along infant to a loud dance bar (yeah, well, maybe next month), we ended up staying closer to home.

we started the evening at a small cocktail party in the vineyard cafe’s wine room. the wine was good — something red, i think perhaps a syrah — and the eats were finger-lickin’ good finger food (quesadillas, artichoke dip, cheese & crackers), everything made nicer by being sponsored by our hosts. the space is a decent size for a wine bar — small enough to be intimate without feeling claustrophobic — and is accented on the west wall with three large, bright paintings. you know the sort: the kind you look at and think “hell, i could paint that,” while the truth (which you’ll eventually admit to yourself) is that if you tried to spatter and smear oils on a canvas it would come out looking closer to a kid’s art project than an expensive piece of art. the back of the room is decorated with low-lying stuffed chairs, a primitive-looking wine rack, and a microphone and stool clearly set up for musicians. i didn’t even know a wine bar was within walking distance rookwood: chalk one up for hyde park’s hidden treasures.

another of which is arthur’s. locals are right to extol the virtues of an arthur’s burger, which comes dripping with lots of flavor and a manageable amount of grease. the fries are hot and fresh, and while the draft beer choices are minimal they are at least diverse: saturday night we could choose from, among others, bass ale, guieness, stone ipa, and some weird blueberry beer.   most important to us tonight was not being shunned or mocked for dragging an infant around. and ours was not the only baby in the joint — a testament to the early hour, no doubt, but also perhaps to the general friendliness arthur’s brings out in folks.

so while missing a nice sushi dinner might have tonight’s lowlight, the highlight was parking once and walking to a nice wine party and then a down-home beer & burger joint. not bad for a short night out.

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it was a very summery summer day for the hyde park blast. we made our way down to the square in anticipation of the kids’ fun run, looking worriedly over our shoulders at the looming dark clouds the whole way. and sure enough, no sooner do we hit erie avenue than we’ve got to duck for cover on the front porch of a local business. the lightning was intense and the thunder was loud, but before long the skies cleared and the races were on. by the time the little ones had cleared the course and the bikes were speeding ’round the square, the crowds were back, buzzing with anticipation and maybe a little bit of christian moerlein (to say nothing of the discounted martinis red was offering).

me? didn’t win, didn’t crash, and i stayed in the whole of the category 4 race — so in all, a success.

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and i’m not just talking about the 90 degree-mark and regular afternoon thunderstorms.

it’s time to get outside, and this weekend there are ways to do it with all kinds of people.

summer festivals are getting into full swing, and this weekend it’s time for the 35th annual greek festival at holy trinity – st. nicholas greek orthodox church. it promises to be an immersion into greek culture and food, where you can “experience a taste of greece through authentic, hand-made food delicacies, while enjoying the live greek music and dances.  Immerse yourself into the spirit of the greek taverns, get to know the culture that influence the world and expose yourself to the depth of religious ethos, which shapes our identity as greek orthodox christians.”

friday and saturday, you can head down to coney island for paddlefest — a two-day celebration of canoeing, kayaking, and the river that makes this area a great place for paddlers of all ages and stripes. it’s “the largest canoe and kayak festival in the Midwest,” and there’ll be races, music, kids’ activities, and a party at the finish line (serpentine wall)! we’re also pleased to see that (like so many other gatherings and celebrations), paddlefest is making efforts to go green.

for those who like their races off the water (like me), there’s the hyde park blast — a full saturday of outdoors fun on hyde park square. the day will kick off with the run/walk events, wrap up with bike races around the square, and be anchored all day long by the block party and kids’ events. and look, they’re going green, too! plus, a portion of registration fees and money spent at the blast go toward a number of charities, so your fun can be guilt-free. someone will be making her competitive debut in the kids’ fun run (although she doesn’t really know it yet), and if you look real hard and get there before too many laps, i’ll be trying to hang on in one of the hors d’oeuvre races. if you go for the bike races, be sure to stick around for the main course: the big boys under the lights at 8:30 — they know what they’re doing, and they’re fast at it.

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if, say, you were a jealous lover, and suspected your beloved of stepping out with another, and, say, were hoping to follow your beloved of an evening in the hopes that you could catch said beloved whispering sweet nothings to that other, and you saw your beloved head into Arthur’s Cafe and request a seat in their garden patio…well, what then?

first, i would tell you to find a healthier relationship with someone you could trust, if that was at all possible. but that’s not my purpose here.

second, i would say, “you’re in luck!” since you could find a perfect bird’s eye view of Arthur’s patio by heading up to Teller’s patio.

That’s right, two of the best outdoor gathering, eating, and watering places on the east side are within spitting (or spying) distance of each other.

they do offer different amenities: Arthur’s is more down-to-earth, serving great burgers and other pub fare (including an excellent award-winning fish sandwich), a decent selection of beer, and (if the couple to our right one recent lunch hour was any indication) bloody marys good enough to while away a sunny weekday afternoon.

Teller’s fashions itself a little more upscale, and does it pretty well, with appetizers like buffalo chicken egg rolls, stag fries, and tomato and roasted corn bruschetta, as well as a wickedly delicious kobe beef burger and a wide-ranging selection of draft beers (special props for having fuller’s esb on tap). for the heliophiles among us, Teller’s 2nd-floor patio is more exposed, while Arthur’s has an overgrown, shaded feel that should welcome the fairest of the fair.

so if you should find yourself in a jealous pickle, here’s hoping you can at least take advantage of the outdoor dining scene — and who knows? maybe a kobe beef burger with a pint or two of fuller’s esb will make you forget the sad circumstances that ever brought you to Teller’s patio in the first place.

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Bathed in a cool blue neon that, for just one instant, nudged me toward an exotic martini (do they even have a full liquor license? I don’t know, but with that setting, they should) instead of the warming green tea I’d been looking forward to, Amarin’s new location in East Hyde Park occupies the space recently vacated by Cafe de Paris. The interior is more downtown than staid HP, and walking in from the cold of Erie Avenue recently, I felt transported to an urban oasis. With Cumin sporting a similar vibe just a few doors down, this corner of the East Side better watch out, or it’ll wake up and find itself, um, hip.

Of course, for that to happen, a place like Amarin will have to stick around long enough to generate and maintain buzz, and that means the food has to be good — and based on a limited sampling, Amarin’s doing all right there. The miso soup on my box lunch was a little over-salted but had a nice oceanic undertone just the same, the coconut-milk and lime soup — the star of the meal — was a tangy revelation for a cold day, and the main dishes — one Thai and one Japanese, of course, and no sushi today, thank you very much (did I mention it was a cold day?) — were beautifully presented and quickly and happily dispatched.

As we bundled up to brave the blustery outdoors, I pondered our next visit — surely a good sign. While an excellent option for lunch, Amarin really merits a return in the evening, when the cool blue neon can take over and imbue the setting with a real sense of cosmopolitan excursion.

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nestled in a the corner where erie and victoria avenues meet in east hyde park, the coffee emporium is easy to miss: despite directions from two different people — “it’s around the corner from the police station…you *really* can’t miss it” — i have driven past it, actually looking for it and still not seeing it, too many times to admit. but now that i’ve found it, it’s home away from home.

hands down, this is our favorite shop for freshly-roasted beans. the selections are wide for both buzzers and dozers (i prefer the netherworld somewhere between), but the shop caters as well to tea-drinkers, chocolate-lovers, scone-munchers and sunday-brunchers of all stripes. the sunday menu features gorgeous waffles (i once watched a woman grudgingly share hers with her dog — named mr. rhett butler — who clearly did give a damn and wouldn’t take his eyes off her plate, despite the decidedly un-butler-esque quality of begging), in addition to soups from myra’s, breakfast burritos, and more. the scones and muffins can be had daily, and on a recent trip we found ourselves enjoying a pumpkin-cinnamon scone that hit the perfect fall-friendly note.

extra seating can be had upstairs on the second floor of this converted home, out back in the privacy of the shady trellised garden, at the side of the shop along victoria avenue, or even in front along erie avenue, where people-watching is at its best and seats are at a premium. weather-permitting, the best bet for my money is along the side of the shop, where there are bowls of water for visiting pups and small stumps for small fries to sit on.

this is also one of the places where i am constantly reminded just how friendly cincinnati is: almost everybody makes eye contact and says hello, the dogs are generally leashed and well-mannered, and grown ups are kid-friendly enough to engage our toddler in some version of conversation. typically her response is to stare back and keep munching on her scone. mairin-eats-a-scone.jpg

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