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Posts Tagged ‘mt. lookout’

finally…

…it’s time to talk about zip’s. we like zip’s. we like how it smells — a little like 80-plus years of burgers, tapped kegs (except during prohibition, i guess), and decades of cigarette smoke embedded in the wood grain. we like how it looks — dark, with dark wood paneling and dim light rarely penetrated by conditions outdoors; at zip’s, it always feels like it’s time for a cold beer. we like how it’s set up, with the restaurant in front and the bar in back, through swinging doors. the set-up makes me think of old-time speakeasies, of passwords to enter the “back area,” of the separation of families eating and men drinking , of conversations political and profane that i shouldn’t hear but wished i could. as a young kid, for years i thought the restaurant was it — i had no idea there was a bar in back. i still remember the realization, sheepish but filled with wonder, that zip’s had a whole secret area in back! where kid’s can’t go!

growing up, my family would go to zip’s on special occasions. well, they seemed special, but looking back, i think they were more along the lines of: mom didn’t want to cook tonight, so we’re going to zip’s. hooray! i loved it for all the above reasons plus the train chugging around the perimeter of the ceiling. (the train, by the way, was a huge hit with our little one on a recent visit — it’s still got that magic.) but i didn’t know until i left cincinnati, saw the world, ate a bunch of hamburgers of wildly varying quality, and came back, that the real reason to love zip’s is the zipburger.

oh, man. locally butchered meat, fresh, seasoned perfectly, served on an unintrusive white bun with your choice of garnish, this is a truly great burger. so many restaurant burgers these days hide inferior beef behind bacon, or hot sauce, or guacamole, or some other culinary sleight of hand. with the zipburger, the burger is the star. so don’t over-ketchup it! it doesn’t need hiding, or over-embellishment, it just needs you to eat it. So do.

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My earliest idea of a beautiful park was Golden Gate Park, where my family spent frequent Saturdays playing frisbee and making daisy chains out of clover and dandelions. (I was terrible at both.) Later I came to love the mountainous parks with creeks and lakes that surround the Salt Lake City valley, then the rolling parks with ocean water, inlets, or lakes sprinkled across Seattle, and eventually the many city parks with ped-friendly paths around lakes that dot the Twin Cities. So it has seemed only right that we explore Cincinnati parks to discover their own particular brand of geography-cool.

A quick drive from our neighborhood — and frankly, a manageable walk if only I were less lazy — Ault Park sits in tony Hyde Park, Mt. Lookout, entered easily at the east end of Observatory Avenue, or a little further south from Principio Ave. Like many of Cincy’s parks this one sits atop a hill, which makes for some spectacular look-out points. Ault Park also has walking trails (and trail guides to learn about the fauna you’re not trampling), a kids’ playground with picnic areas, lots of spots for lounging, reading, and summer-sunbathing, and an elegant pavilion complete with fountain and gardens. Our most recent trip to the park was to visit the gardens and check out the fall color.

It was a cool enough day that few folks were out, so we had the gardens mostly to ourselves. We meandered through the adopt-a-plot gardens, where I scribbled notes for ideas for our humble back yard next year while Mairin toddled around making happy-happy sounds at birds and bugs and dirt. We paused at the rock garden and the children’s peek-a-boo garden, where the textures have special toddler-appeal, and at various colorful and texture-rich spots along the path. We wandered across the central grassy plot where, I am told, the most fabulous fourth-of-July party is held every year (it’s on our calendar for 2008) and made our way to Cascade Fountain, where on past visits we’ve witnessed everything from elegant wedding photos to cheesy high-school-senior-type shots. Today the fountain was isolated, and in the park’s quiet the roar of the water was too much for even an intrepid, bug-and-dirt-loving 14-month-old.

But I got more of my fall-color-fix. (More of those fix-pix here.)

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