West Cincinnati’s CD Warehouse store is not easy to get to at all, but it is the city’s best place to buy rap and hip-hop discs, and it has been for some years now. Once located on Crookshank Road, the store has moved across the parking lot to an address that now says Anderson Ferry Road, but it’s still pretty much close to where it was. CD Warehouse Cincinnati sells new and used CD’s of course, used electronics and games, and even corn-hole sets. Although it’s out of the way, it’s definitely worth a visit.
Cincinnati’s Sugar N Spice Restaurant is not a place you can easily ignore as you drive past. Brilliant, tropical colors and unusual statues and decorations suggest a sort of bizarre food-themed amusement park, and in that regard, the place reminds me of Louisville’s Lynn Paradise Cafe. But, Sugar N Spice has been around for 70 years, satisfying Cincinnati’s desire for great breakfasts and their signature wispy-thin pancakes. Although the place seems crowded, there wasn’t much of a wait the day I went, and service was attentive. I didn’t try the wispy-thin pancakes, but my bacon-cheese omelette was delicious, and so big that it was almost too much to eat. Definitely recommended.
After breakfast at the Bluebird Restaurant, I headed around to a number of Cincinnati record stores, dropping off posters for the new Lil Wyte and Jelly Roll album No Filter which was coming out on the 16th. Fortunately, the weather was pretty and not particularly hot, although the streets were strangely empty in places, and some of the stores I tried to visit were closed due to it being Sunday.
From the Jazz Club at Schwartz’s Point, I made my way over to the Greenwich on Gilbert Avenue, which is a historic-looking supper club in a rough-and-tumble neighborhood on Cincinnati’s eastside. Unlike my previous stop, this place was packed to the rafters, and there was absolutely no seating anywhere near the stage. The large band on stage was playing a version of John Coltrane’s “Afro-Blue” as I entered, and they were soon joined on stage by a female vocalist who performed a few standards followed by some blues. When it got to be about midnight, I decided to head back to my hotel in Middletown.
After dinner, I made my way to the Jazz at Schwartz’s Point night club, since it appeared that the legendary Blue Wisp was having a group that was more along the lines of neo-soul or smooth jazz. There weren’t many cars around the establishment, nor were there many people inside. But the small group of patrons were cheerful, and were enjoying the music of a piano and soprano sax duo. I enjoyed a cup of Cuban coffee while listening to them for awhile, and then decided to leave at their break, noticing the two resident cats that hang around the premises.
I am invariably attracted to restaurant that mention wood-fired grills or ovens in their name, even more so when they are pizza restaurants, because in my opinion, there’s simply no better way to bake a pizza. So, needless to say, I was eager to try Cincinnati’s relatively-new M Wood Fired Oven in Hyde Park. The relatively small place is dark, warm and inviting, with the ambiance dominated by the large wood-burning oven. The menu, however, is somewhat limited and rather strange. The pizzas definitely lean toward the gourmet and New American end of things, although I learned that they will make a more traditional pizza out of ingredients that they list on their regular menu options. And the pizzas are definitely a hit. The menu also features a burger, and a few other entrees and sandwiches. So although I’d like to see more traditional pizza offerings like pepperoni, M Wood Fired Oven satisfied me. When in Cincinnati, I’ll be back.
In the middle of Over-The-Rhine is the Findlay Market, Ohio’s oldest public market. Although it superficially resembles New Orleans’ French Market, it is more food oriented, and features everything from the expected- meats, fish, fruits and vegetables- to the unexpected- ethnic cuisines, gelato, gourmet coffee and Belgian waffles. On Saturdays, street musicians perform amid the bustling crowds of people.
Cincinnati’s Over-The-Rhine neighborhood, despite its historic architecture, has been a troubled place for much of the city’s recent history. In fact, it was the focal point of the 2001 Cincinnati riots. But in the last several years, new restaurants, shops and night clubs have begun to open in the neighborhood, particularly along Main Street north of Central Parkway.
Despite the morning rain, which was heavy enough to cause flooding in some areas, I headed out to the Northside neighborhood of Cincinnati to visit Shake It Records, one of two popular independent record stores in the city. Shake It is not only a retail store, but also an indie label, with a small catalogue consisting mostly of local punk and indie bands, as well as a few CD reissues built around the city’s soul and country music scenes. The store is truly awesome, with a music book selection and plenty of new and used CD’s upstairs, then a really cool basement downstairs full of new and used vinyl. Down the block and across the street is Sidewinder Coffee, a local Cincinnati coffee bar with some sweets and a limited food menu, which makes a great place to sit down with a latte after an hour of record shopping.