While researching Cincinnati’s scene, I came across an article from Cincinnati’s travel site telling me about 5 things to do for under $5. They included observation towers, castles and conservatories but I was particularly interested in food related activities which included Graeter’s ice cream and Tom and Chee grilled cheese.
Graeter’s was started by the family with the same name in Cincinnati in 1870. Since then, it has grown into a 50 million dollar enterprise with around 50 stores and numerous celebrity endorsements. Since it was an above average night from a temperature perspective, the Over the Rhine location was buzzing. Normally I’m a sloth when it comes to ice cream choices but the website instructed me to indulge in the black raspberry chocolate chip, their signature and best-selling flavour. It was well worth a few bucks highlighted by big chunks of dark chocolate mixed within the rich and not sickly sweet raspberry ice cream.
Tom and Chee’s started in a tent in downtown Cincinnati. Short for Tomato and Cheese, this grilled cheese eatery has steadily grown in the Midwest boosted by endorsements from a couple of Shark Tank investors as well as a pre-weight loss Adam Richman on man versus food nation. It’s smart concept for a number of reasons. One, who doesn’t love a grilled cheese and better yet 16 different ones? Two, they have a great gimmick with their spin on this classic; using a donut instead of bread with almost 10 different filling combinations. Three, the restaurant decor is fun, fresh and clean. Bright red and yellow colours highlight the simple interior.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, I opted for the same item as Adam…the Blueberry Bleu consisting of blueberry compote, blue cheese and lemon mascarpone within a donut. It certainly removed the stigma that a grilled cheese is a simple, handheld American snack. This one needed a knife and fork. It was salty and sweet and crunchy and smooth with every bite. I loved the abundant blue cheese against the marscarpone and the blueberry compote was excellent.
I made up a few of my own cheap excursions that didn’t involve any eats. For example, I took a 6k jog and was able to hit three bridges, two states, two rivers and pass both an NFL stadium and an MLB stadium. Speaking of the latter, the Great American Ballpark is a spectacle. The outside has a recreation of an infield complete with a pitcher, catcher, batter and base runner. The entrance to the stadium bring you into the top of stadium meaning you have to walk down instead of up to get to your seat.
I’m always interested in the snack scene of a city as much as I am the James Beard nominees or triple D destinations. In the case of Cincinnati, some of the highlights include an ice cream shop nearly 150 years old and a grilled cheese joint in its infancy. Both are cheap indulges you can help burn off with a jog through a couple of states or a stroll through a modern ballpark which is the centrepiece of an interesting midwest American city.