recently a friend of mine breezed into town on her way to colorado from virginia. “let’s do something quintessentially cincinnatian,” she said. “um, ok,” i said, wondering what exactly that might be. so i queried a few friends and asked for places to go and things to see. the winner? an afternoon in mt. adams.
i was psyched. the plan, as laid out by my hip-german-friend k, started with a beer at the cityview, where we would enjoy the, um, view of the city. thusly fortified we should make our way to the irish monastery where we would wander around until we needed refreshment, which we would procure at the monastery wine bar. relaxed and even off-balance, our next adventure should be the famous steps at the immaculata — with or without the stations of the rosary. exercised and giddy, we should then stumble our way to daveed’s, where our table would be waiting for us because we had the foresight to make reservations, and we would eat excellent quality french food at non-jean-ro prices. should we need to cap the night, we could simply wander next door and enjoy a post-prandial concoction at the blind lemon. it sounded perfect to me: a small walking tour, lots of restaurant stops, and various views of the city. plus, i learned recently that mt. adams is considered by some to be the “napa valley before there was a napa valley,” what with its nineteenth-century history of growing catawba grapes on the hillside — so i was even more drawn to the idea of wandering around and getting to know this little bit of northern california just a few miles from my own home.
things started to go south when my friend’s arrival date was a sunday and i discovered daveed’s was closed. no biggie, though — there was plenty of food on our agenda already, and there are other (i’m told excellent) restaurants on the hill, giving us a range of options from sushi to thai to pizza to burgers.
then, when my friend got in it occurred to me that after a day in the car she might be more food-hungry than view-hungry; when i asked, she agreed that since she hadn’t eaten for six hours maybe an early stop for a meal was a good idea. so we headed to mt. adams, my list of restaurants and camera stashed in my bag. we found a place to park and started our wanderings.
and here is where i began to feel a little abashed. i’ve only ever driven through mt. adams, and my passenger-seat perception has always been that it twists and turns and goes in funky directions along funky little streets full of funky little surprises. but that wasn’t really my experience walking: we parked, had about two streets (and one turn) to walk along, and then — huh! — that seemed to be it. at first that seemed okay: the highly-recommended restaurants on my list (teak thai, the fish house, guido’s lounge, longworth’s, and the mt. adams bar & grill) were all within shouting distance of each other. i wanted to try teak thai, since several people have called it “the best thai in cincinnati.” but it didn’t open until 4. the fish house, just across the street, didn’t open until 5. daveed’s wouldn’t open until the following day. so we landed at the mt. adams bar & grill, back in the room called “the porch,” which was gloriously open-feeling and lined with tall & narrow windows that gave it a distinctly southern-style sunroom type feel. we nestled ourselves into a corner table and proceeded to spend the next several hours chatting and catching up, with nary a glance askance from our waitress, who was willing to let us barely eat or drink but still take up table space. i wasn’t overly impressed with the food, but it was so great to see my friend and the room itself was so splendid that i didn’t mind.
and that was a good thing, because it turned out to be the highlight of our adventure. we managed to walk our way up to the monastery (easy to find with this gregarious-looking fellow indicating the general direction), but there wasn’t much wandering to do, given that the building is half taken over by a property management company. i proved completely inept in my ability to find the famous immaculata steps, and so suggested we just wander the hill. unfortunately, after one or two blocks it seemed we had, indeed, fully done just that. so we hopped in the car — i thought i could salvage the afternoon with a drive through lovely eden park and its splendid view of kentucky (i know, i know, not downtown, but the best i thought i could manage) — but apparently we turned left when we should have turned right and that lovely garden spot with the duck pond and playground and river overlook remained out of reach.
the day-afternoon-trip was about as close to a bust as could come. on the bright side, i now know how to get myself to teak thai and daveed’s, and i think i might just have found the steps (do they empty out just across the street from rookwood pottery?), and i’ve got a still-unrealized and seemingly great agenda for a night on the mt. adams town, when all i want to do is sit and drink and eat. and really, when wouldn’t i want to do just that?
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