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Posts Tagged ‘o’bryonville’

old habits die hard, and we may always best love the coffee emporium — its two existing locations (one in east hyde park, one downtown) as well as its soon-to-be-third (in the xu union) — but it now faces some competition for the coffee-space in our hearts from the coffee shop on madison, in o’bryonville.

the space is small but has an open feel. when you enter you are bombarded, as you should be, with the sights and smells of the coffee-and-delectables counter. but you can head toward the back and up a few shallow stairs into a cozy reading and drinking nook, or turn left into a larger but still comfy seating area, where you can choose to snuggle up on the couches and browse the coffee-table books (like this one), or you can sit and actually, you know, work at one of the tables. the light is wonderful, since the full-size storefront windows get more or less southern exposure, and the walls host rotating local art. there is a puzzling sign at the back that invites you to explore their secret garden, but it’s either a joke or it requires exiting through a door, which so far has been far too adventuresome for me.

the coffee is not locally roasted, but it is fair trade and mighty yummy. and the bakery treats are scrumptious and generously portioned. on one trip there i ordered a slice of banana bread and the cashier forgot to ring it up. since i didn’t have any cash on hand i decided to forego the treat rather than ring up another $2.95 on my debit card. “no worries,” he said. “just pay us next time you’re in.”

it’s a risky business strategy, but it worked. the banana bread was warm and satisfying, and it made me very willing to return another day to pay for it. (and to sample the sour cream coffee cake.)

add to that the fun window- and actual-shopping that this little stretch of madison road offers, and the coffee shop on madison has become a regular stopping point for us. it’s on my way to work, it’s near my pharmacy, and it’s just up the road from a local yarn store. good excuses reasons, all, to stop in for a cuppa joe.

–oh! and the waffles! how could i forget the waffles?! on weekends they make fresh belgian waffles courtesy of the waffle slinger, whose recipe, techniques and equipment they use even when the master himself does not appear. you can buy the waffles other days, too, but they will have been cooked on a previous day and stored in the freezer. still good, i’m told, but better i think to make a weekend trip of it for the real fresh thing.

(and apparently the mayor, whom we saw with our very own eyes at the coffee emporium on central parkway, likes the coffee shop on madison as well. just in case you were worried that you wouldn’t see him anywhere other than downtown.)

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last night i made a quick stop in o’bryonville to find this year’s obligatory coworker christmas gifts. i plugged the meter (giving myself 38 minutes even though i only needed 32 — you know, just to be safe — and reminding myself in the process that CHEAP PARKING METERS is reason #312 why we love cincinnati) and proceeded to browse the local shops. i was finally successful in margot madison’s creative stationery store, where i found packages of clever post-it notes that were alternately sassy, gripey and just plain fun. voila: the perfect gifts for desk-jockeys.

after returning to the car and driving a bit i noticed a bit of flapping paper on the passenger-side windshield. my first thought was that it was a flyer, so i ignored it. then, when paused at a red light, i read the heading (backwards though it was) and identified the word “police.” merry effing christmas to me, i thought: a parking ticket. lovely.

it wasn’t until getting home that i realized what the piece of paper actually was: a friendly, very nicely-mannered warning from the local patrol that leaving a box for a cd player sitting in the back seat of my car could be construed by the criminally-inclined as an invitation to theft. never mind that the box was empty. my local constabulary was simply concerned that my car not be broken into, that my christmas goodies not be stolen.

the cynic in me is searching for all the hidden racial messages here. obviously only non-locals would drive to o’bryonville, for starters, and o’bryonville is pretty close to walnut hills (is it actually in walnut hills?), and, well, we all know what that means. the police are giving nice messages to wide-eyed suburban-types who come into town to shop and who aren’t savvy enough to protect themselves against the city’s unsavory element.

but the color-blind naif in me thinks it’s just really nice that somebody is looking out for cincy’s citizens.

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for those fun-loving girl-types (of all ages) on your list — you know, the ones with such fab-u-lous taste — head to cincy’s favorite trio of shops: pangaea, kismet, and toko baru.

sibling stores, these three eclecto-funk locations will share returns (don’t like what you got from pangaea? return it to kismet!) and carry a terrifically colorful cross-selection of similar items. yet each store has its own sense of self and carries items you won’t find at the others. start at pangaea on ludlow in clifton’s gaslight district, where you can make your girlfriend’s blah-gray season by surprising her with a pair of mid-calf, holly-berry red boots with buttons up the side. or warm her up with an all-cotton nepalese hoody with very now, extra-long-a-line sleeves (this is not your 1970s blanket-style pullover). if she’s been very, very good, take her for a spin ’round the dance floor in the perfect crimson holiday dress with sweet chiffon cap sleeves and a lustrous gold ribbon cinching the waist. is she a little more daring? try the olive-green backless velvet number. yum. (the best part? treat her and your pocketbook to any of these for 35-70 (not-so) big ones.)

not her style? in that case, exit pangaea and head across the street to toko baru, where you can pick her up a set of translucent nesting boxes that will store her favorite little things and look good while doing it. or glom onto the glamor of a sequin-studded picture frame. not yummy-smelling enough? grab an organic soy candle. not funny enough? don’t pass by the crazy cat lady action figure.

still not tickling your fancy? skedaddle out of the gaslight and head to kismet in o’bryonville, where you can choose from an eye-catching array of oversized gemstone jewelry, and even find an oversized crocheted beret to match. if that’s too close to hippie, check out the smart red corduory blazer near the front of the store. if that’s not warm enough, browse the unusual coat selection in the back, where you can find everything from a swingin’ tweed car coat to an elegant knee-length coat in dark wool with embroidered sleeves and neck. for the price of a coat from target, your girl can wear something original and stylish and, um, lasting.

for those last-minute stocking stuffers, grab the stockings themselves: brightly-striped knee socks from chinese laundry and jewel-patterned tights are yours for the asking.

if your bff is a little one or has little ones of her own, don’t miss toko kidz back on ludlow. you’ll find happenin’ mary janes and zippy tennies from pediped and see kai run, a nice selection of zutano clothing, and all the right brain-building toys. they’re hosting a special shopping night this thursday, when they’ll stay open late and you can shop for everyone all in one fell swoop.

if you’ve ended your shopping spree on ludlow, stop by sitwell’s coffee house for a late-night warm up. if you wind up your adventures in o’bryonville, stop to relax at the coffee shop on madison ave. either way, enjoy your goodies — and the local-shop-supporting feel-good buzz you’ll take home with you.

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