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A Queen City Field Guide

#gallery-1 { margin: auto; } #gallery-1 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 33%; } #gallery-1 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-1 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */ Opening Day. It’s a proper noun. For Cincinnatians it’s recognized as a “city” holiday. Kids get the day [...]
Kevin J. Elliott

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Opening Day. It’s a proper noun. For Cincinnatians it’s recognized as a “city” holiday. Kids get the day off of school to head down to Fountain Square to see the elephants and former Reds heroes lead the Findlay Market Parade. Office workers skip the afternoon meetings to sip Bud Light on a patio somewhere in what is usually spring’s initial awakening. As the league’s oldest franchise, the tradition of Opening Day in Cincinnati dates back to 1882. And though in recent years the MLB has bastardized that trend by scheduling international games and prime-time cash grabs the night before, baseball fans the world over look to Cincinnati that first Monday in April for the official rebirth of the season.

Part of the fervor is that the day serves as the highest point of enthusiasm for Reds fans. They’re in first place and there’s nowhere left to go but down in the standings. It makes attending Opening Day a pilgrimage of paramount importance. Whether it’s your maiden voyage to Opening Day, or, like me, your 15th consecutive year, Cincinnati on Opening Day can be daunting if you don’t know what to expect. Should you choose to make the journey, anticipate a full day of adventure that can be thoroughly enjoyed whether you have box seats or not. The following is by no means a definitive list, consider it more an “insider’s” guide to mapping your trip.

Leave early. Though the games now have a 4 p.m. first pitch, you’ll want to allow plenty of time to navigate and participate in the pre-game festivities. My brother and I usually depart Columbus at 9 a.m., imperative should you want to take in the Findlay Market Parade, but mostly because we need a proper lunch when we arrive. Ballpark hot dogs and peanuts will no doubt be a part of the routine later in the day, but I prefer a Cincinnati classic like Zip’s Cafe (1036 Delta Ave.) to start. The unassuming little pub sits in the picturesque hills of the Mt. Lookout neighborhood, and though it looks like any number of casual diners throughout Cincinnati, head to the back bar and you’re instantly inside a saloon atmosphere that likely hasn’t changed since 1926. Order the Zip Burger, one of the city’s finest, or if  you’re feeling extra empty, you can go for the Girth Burger, which sports a grilled and split Mettwurst on top. Make sure to cap it with a hometown Hudepohl on draft, as it’s only right and natural.

Park in Kentucky. Though it’s tempting to land somewhere in downtown in the heart of the action, trust me, you’re better off crossing the border. I-71 will guide you right into historic Newport, Kentucky, where there are a number of convenient and much cheaper places to gather your wits and tailgate should that be your thing. The payoff comes with the walk over the mighty Ohio River on either the Taylor-Stephenson or the majestic Roebling Bridge. With a perfect view of the skyline and Great American Ballpark in the distance, it will get you adequately pumped for the day ahead.

Avoid the Crowds. In the wake of constructing Great American Ballpark (now in its 12th season) the city has done an admirable job of building up the riverfront adjacent to the park. These days it’s where most people gather for pre-game revelry. Should you not wish to wander too far, there are many beer halls within the block, from the Moerlein Lager House to Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grille (worth a stop for the novelty alone). Sadly though, the usual clientele is composed of amateur boozers and fair-weather drunks, so I prefer to venture further north into downtown to escape the throngs. Arnold’s, Japp’s, and Knockbat Nats all provide the experience of historic tavern life in Cincinnati and are all worthy suggestions, but one place I always return is O’Malley’s in the Alley (25 Ogden Place). The charming dive has the size and feel of a troll’s hovel (peanut shells litter the floor) and on Opening Day fans spill out into the titular “alley” to consume cheap tall boys and Jello shots, and harass any motorists who unsuspectingly choose to use the street party as a shortcut.

Eat Chili. Like sausage and sauerkraut on New Year’s, Cincinnati chili on Opening Day is ritual. After the game I either celebrate a Reds win or drown my sorrows in one of the city’s many chili parlors. You have a lot of options. There’s Dixie in Newport (the oldest and most traditional), Price Hill to the west (the best, should you find yourself in that part of town), Camp Washington (directly off of the interstate), and Blue Ash (9565 Kenwood Road) on the outskirts. I prefer the latter as it’s far enough that you’ve already tackled the post-game traffic and can treat it as a last stop in what was likely an epic day of magical baseball.

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Food & Drink

Brewery District bakery to close after 10 years

614now Staff

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The Brewery District will be sans a bakery in just a few short days.

After 10 years, Kolache Republic will be serving its last pastry on Saturday, February 8.

"We are truly grateful to our community of customers, friends, family and staff who have supported us in our pursuit to bring a unique food experience to this vibrant city as Columbus’ first and only kolache bakery," wrote Kolache Republic on Facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/Kolacherepublic/posts/3438844786142628

Other than deciding it was "time to hang up our oven mitts and start a new chapter," the Czech pastry shop did not provide a reason for the closure.

If you're planning on showing a lot of love for Kolache Republic before it closes, Kolache recommends calling ahead for any orders of a dozen or more.

Kolache Republic is located at 730 S High St.

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Food & Drink

Hilliard looking to tap into its first brewery soon

614now Staff

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Orlando-based Crooked Can Brewing is targeting a February launch for their new taproom and brewery space in Hilliard, according to Drink Up Columbus.

The 4,000-square-foot taproom will be joined by a 7,000-square-foot patio, which will provide outdoor seating for the brewery as well as Hilliard's Center Street Market, which is expected to open in March.

The taproom will also feature large viewing windows where patrons can get a behind-the-scenes look at Crooked Can's new 16,000 square foot brewing operation.

Once open, Crooked Can Brewing will be located at 5354 Center Street in Hilliard. For more info, visit Drink Up Columbus.

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Food & Drink

Restaurant Week: High Bank’s $20 deluxe comfort food menu doesn’t disappoint

Regina Fox

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If you've sequestered High Bank into strictly a booze category, you're missing out on one of the most well-executed comfort food menus in Columbus, especially during Restaurant Week.

Weighing in at a mere $20 per person, High Bank's three-course menu is so tantalizing, you'll struggle to pick just one dish from each. Believe me, I certainly did.

Course 1: Choice of Garden Salad, Nacho Fries, Loaded Baked Potato, Five Ways Spaghetti

With great power (being tasked with choosing just one starter) comes great responsibility (making sure I pick the best). Luckily, there really is no wrong move.

Ever had Taco Bell's Nacho Fries? High Bank's are better. Crispy, battered fries smothered in melty queso, seasoned beef, refried beans, and a generous heap of sour cream make for an elevated, indulgent, heavyweight starter. The portion is definitely big enough to share, but I wouldn't blame you if you didn't.

Course 2: Choice of High Bank Bacon Cheeseburger, Queso-Rito, Spicy Chicken Sandwich, High Bank Bowl

Since stick-to-your-bones food is officially back in season, you have to get down to High Bank for their fried chicken menu items. The chicken is battered using an incredibly light and crunchy buttermilk, fried, then dusted with cayenne that leaves a warm glow on your palate—not too hot, not too mild.

Restaurant Week features two chicken entrees: the Spicy Chicken Sandwich and the High Bank Bowl.

The sandwich is an instant comfort food classic, but the High Bank Bowl is like the designer version of KFC's Famous Bowl. The mashed potatoes are perfectly salted and buttered, the sweet corn adds just the right amount of sweetness and pop, and the cheese and gravy culminate into a savory sauce. Colonel Sanders would be impressed.

Course 3: Choice of Mint Chocolate Sandwich, Snickerdoodle Sandwich, Oreo Sandwich

At this point, I was almost too full to function, but I had to press on. To absolutely no one's surprise, High Bank's third course did not disappoint.

The Snickerdoodle Sandwich came with two perfectly under-baked snickerdoodle cookies bookending a lump of hard-dip butter pecan ice cream. Drizzles of white chocolate over top sent this dessert into the winner's circle.

I can't remember the last time I felt so repleted, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat, and so should you. At just $20 a head, this is a deal you can't afford to miss.

Click here to check out High Bank's Restaurant Week menu. To learn more about Restaurant Week January 20-25, visit eat614.com.

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