Out and About

Best of the City 2008

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New Bar

Outside, it’s Fourth Street, a regular Cincinnati Friday night. Inside Twist Lounge & Bar, it’s somewhere else entirely, even though you’re still right next to Jean-Robert at Pigall’s. The intimate furniture groupings suggest an ultra-hip rec room. The curvy bar brings more people into the conversation (and a quirk of acoustics enabled by the barrel vaulted walls allows you to hear the conversation at the opposite end). The service is friendly, even nurturing—one patron, desperate to charge his BlackBerry, was soothed with a charger and a cocktail. As the guy sitting next to us said, “This is a fancy place. I like fancy places.” Indeed. 121 W. Fourth St., downtown, (513) 721-1345

Fencing Studio

Ohio still has a law on its books outlawing duels, but that doesn’t stop Salle du Lion from teaching hordes of kids and adults how to fence on its 6,000 square feet of hardwood floors. There’s a lot more to the sport than simply putting on a helmet and jabbing an opponent. Ask the instructors to show you modern and historical fencing styles, including Medieval and Renaissance. And just for fun, they’ll choreograph fights for theatrical productions. 3385 Creek Rd., Sharonville, (513) 733-9840, salledulion.org

Fitness Trend

Whether it’s a golf tournament at the Deupree House Retirement Homes or bowling at UC’s Catskeller Game Room and Sports Lounge, the Wii video game console has everyone getting physical. Now if only Nintendo made a cornhole game. www.wii.com

Clogging Lessons

If you’re looking for an aerobic exercise that’s more artsy than athletic, clogging could be the answer. The Studio of Dance in Blue Ash is the place to learn. Owner Shari Poff and her staff have been teaching this type of Appalachian dance (the American cousin of Irish step dancing) for 24 years. “We start as young as 3 and our adult classes usually contain seniors,” Poff says. There’s even a group, The Cincinnati Studio Cloggers, who have performed annually with the Pops for the past 20 years. “Most of our students just clog for the fun of it,” Poff says. No doubt for the killer calf muscles, too. 10831 Millington Court, Blue Ash, (513) 984-3311

Cheap Date

Play the ponies without breaking the bank during Turfway Park’s Dollar Fridays. Admission is free, and hot dogs, beer, and bets are a buck apiece; there’s live music; and oh yeah, there are horse races, too. The crowd is varied—families with young kids; dressed up college kids; and the handicappers, who come to bet. Our hot tip? However you pick your winner, be sure to be standing at the rail when the horses come in—there’s nothing like it. 7500 Turfway Rd., Florence, (859) 371-0200

Natural Thrill Ride

Adventure seekers don’t have to travel to Costa Rica to fly through the forest like Tarzan. Hocking Hills Canopy Tours offers a three-hour treetop zipline excursion where you’ll speed along a network of cables as gravity pulls you from one platform to the next (some as high as 70 feet above the ground!). True, you won’t see any monkeys or exotic birds, but who cares when you can take this trip in a single day. 10714 Jackson St., Rockbridge, (740) 385-9477, www.hockinghillscanopytours.com

Sports Team

Talk about comeback kids. In 2004, the Cincinnati Cyclones posted the lowest attendance numbers in their league and took a voluntary suspension. Two years later, the team reformed, and this year, for the first time in 35 years, the Cyclones brought a professional hockey championship home to Cincinnati when they won the Kelley Cup. In a championship-hungry town (are you listening, Reds and Bengals?), that is something we can all cheer about. For tickets, call (513) 562-4949

Shortcut

You’re downtown. You’ve got to get to the airport, and I-75 is a parking lot. Just head west on River Road and take the Anderson Ferry. It’s been in operation since 1817, and it runs 364 days a year (they take Christmas Day off), schlepping cars between Ohio and the Bluegrass. Take in the hills and the curve of the river as you cross. Once you hit the Commonwealth, it’s a quick zip up the hill to Mineola Pike and CVG. With the added bonus that your stress has been melted away. 4030 River Rd., Constance, Kentucky, (859) 586-5007

Avant Garde Jazz Spot

From Chicago flutist Nicole Mitchell’s Black Earth Ensemble to trumpeter Wallace Roney’s turntable-tinged sound, The Loft Society’s Al “Bug” Williams brings in the brightest stars. www.myspace.com/loftsociety

Discount Theater Tickets

When Know Theatre of Cincinnati announced in August that support from the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation would allow it to sell tickets this season for $12, the economy hadn’t yet suffered a total meltdown. Now that we’re all microsoping every discretionary dollar we spend, the thought of professional theater at yesteryear prices is too good to pass up. Besides, the edgy characters Know presents lead far more complicated or bizarre lives than most of us. You’re likely to leave the theater thankful you don’t have their problems. 1120 Jackson St., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 300-KNOW (5669)

Novelty Cocktail

The potency of a mixed drink is often foretold in its name. Exhibit A: the Shark Tank at O’Bryon’s Irish Pub. Equal parts lemonade and vodka, this cocktail comes with two ounces of grenadine (a sweet red syrup), delivered via a tiny rubber great white shark. Remove the shark from your cup, turn it tail up, and watch the “blood” drip from its mouth all over the ice cubes for a nice, gruesome effect. Trust us, this is way better than Jaws. 1998 Madison Rd., O’Bryonville, (513) 321-5525, www.obryonsirishpub.com

Way Home

For the masses who typically ring in New Year’s Day with ringing ears and a hangover, this year take advantage of one of the most generous programs this city has to offer: free cab rides home through Care Cab. From 6 p.m. on New Year’s Eve until midnight the next day (30 hours later), you can call from any public establishment (like, say, a bar) and a cab from Town Taxi will drive you to your home anywhere inside the 275 loop, including Kentucky. So this New Year’s, do yourself and everyone else on the roads a favor, and take a free ride. Call (513) 768-FREE (3733)

Downtown Break

Humans who work in cubicles need to get outdoors and experience the world now and again. For downtown workers this has long been a relatively staid affair. Then came the Strauss & Troy Market on the Square—a once-a-week open-air market that features an array of vendors, including Taste of Belgium, The Coffee Emporium, Nay Nay’s breads and cookies, Madison’s produce, and Wildey Flower Farm. The market is just one event within a year-round series on the revamped Square. Visit www.myfountainsquare.com for more info

Place for a Nightcap

“Saturday night is the loneliest night of the week,” goes the old standard. While that is sometimes true, it hurts less to hear it sung—beautifully—by Lynn Scott as you glide across the intimate dance floor of the Incline Lounge at The Celestial Steakhouse. Yes, the room is filled with card-carrying AARP members, but don’t let that stop you, Mr. Hipper Than Thou. Settle into one of the couches around the gorgeous circular bar, make friends with Shane the bartender, and gaze out at the city lights below as Ms. Scott and the Frank Vincent Trio lay some class on you. 1071 Celestial St., Mt. Adams, (513) 241-4455, www.thecelestial.com

Hip-Hop Group

Hip-hop acts have emerged from this town before. The best in a long while is Tanya Morgan—a trio made up of Brooklyn’s Von Pea and Cincinnati’s Donwill and Ilyas. Their full-length 2006 album Moonlighting, produced by local beat maker David Gray (a.k.a. Brickbeat) and Von Pea, garnered praise and comparisons to De La Soul. This year’s The Bridge, on Interdependent Media, with the sunny-day anthem “Be You,” is their breakthrough. www.myspace.com/tanyamorgan

Supper Club

Since April, foodies have been singing the praises of Cincinnati E.A.T.S., which stands for Epicureans About Town Society. Held quarterly at independently owned restaurants on typically slow nights, the meals come at a fixed—and reduced—price: an outing at Daveed’s was $37.30 for a four-course meal. “A city’s cultural make-up is defined in part by the quantity and quality of its independent restaurants,” says E.A.T.S. president Clint Watson. We couldn’t agree more. www.cincinnatieats.org

Health Club

Lifetime Fitness has removed nearly every possible excuse for skipping a workout. The massive facility appointed with a spa, indoor and outdoor pools, restaurant, climbing wall, childcare center, camps, trainers, basketball courts, indoor soccer field, and Yoga and Pilates studios is more like a resort than a gym. 8310 Wilkens Blvd., Mason, (513) 234-0660

Morning News Trend

Every Friday at 5:45 a.m., if Good Morning Cincinnati anchor/reporter Bob Herzog has no traffic accidents to report, he hosts Dance Party Friday. You don’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn to catch the action; watch DPF on Channel 12’s Web site. Go, Bob, go! www.local12.com

Picnic with a View

The Weston Shelter, at the southwestern end of Woodland Mound Park, comes with a panoramic view of the Ohio River and Kentucky shore. The open-sided shelter has picnic tables for 140 as well as electric, water, and a nearby horseshoe pit and playfield. Make it your private outdoor party spot for $135 by contacting the Hamilton County Park District (cut the price in half if you schedule Monday through Friday). Tip: It’s popular, so book early. You can always send out the invites later. 8250 Old Kellogg Rd., Anderson Twp. To reserve, call (513) 521-PARK (7275)

Swing Dancing

Hepcats unite to jump, jive, and wail at York Street Café’s Swing Dance Night. Head past the leg lamp and up the stairs to the second floor where swing enthusiasts strut their stuff. Held the first and third Saturday of each month, participants can Lindy Hop and Jitterbug to renditions of Glenn Miller’s “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” Duke Ellington’s “It Don’t Mean a Thing,” and other tunes served up by local bands, including the Swingtime Big Band. (Poodle skirts not required.) 738 York St., Newport, (859) 261-9675

 


Team Sports Bars

OSU: Blue Goose Sports Café

Pull into the parking lot of this Sharonville sports bar on Buckeyes game days, and you’ll spot more than a few OSU license plates. Inside, local OSU alumni crowd the bar to cheer on the Scarlet and Gray. 11060 Reading Rd., Sharonville, (513) 769-5700

XU: Dana Gardens

This mainstay draws plenty of students and alumni before, during, and after Musketeers games. Arrive early to nab a seat at the graffitti-scarred bar, but if you’re forced to head upstairs, don’t fret. There’s a bar and TVs up there, too. 1832 Dana Ave., Evanston, (513) 631-BEER

UC: Holy Grail Tavern & Grille

A quick hop away from the Shoe and Nippert, this cats’ den rocks. They’re serious fans: There’s a framed Ole Miss schedule poster behind the bar—autographed by former UC basketball coach Andy Kennedy, natch. 13 W. Charlton St., Corryville, (513) 961-2200

BENGALS: Dickmann’s Kentucky Sports Café

It’s hard to muster up enough enthusiasm to watch the Bungles. Give your misery a little company and commiserate with other diehards as you watch the orange and black. 479 Orphanage Rd., Ft. Wright, (859) 331-8076

REDS: The In Between

If you can’t be at the park, be at The In Between Tavern. Hang out on the patio with the pre-game crowd, then watch the game from the bar. You’ll even be able to see the fireworks. Who doesn’t love fireworks? 307 Sycamore St., downtown, (513) 621-7009

* Please note that the information listed in this section was accurate at the time the issue went to print in 2008 and that addresses, menu items, company status, etc., may have changed. Please contact the companies to confirm details.

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