One of the Cincinnati area’s next breweries, Braxton Brewing Company, launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to build their taproom of the future. Some of the plans include:

  • Multi-functional co-working space – If you’re going to spend the morning at a coffee shop, why not spend the afternoon at the brewery? They’ll have the space that allows you to do just that.
  • They’ll be the first microbrewery in the U.S. with Gigabit Internet – Never wait on a web page again! Feel free to use their speeds to change the world.
  • The freshest growler fills available provided by their 20 tap Pegas Growler Filler!
  • Fully-custom Mobile Application – Redefining how you interact with us in their taproom.
  • Private Events Space - Want to host a team off-site, Fantasy Football draft, or neighborhood movie night? They’ll have the perfect room for you. With 8 metered taps, they won’t even interrupt while you use the space!

Sounds like I may have a new spot to check out while working remotely! For more information on Braxton Brewing Company check out the Brew Professor’s post from April.

This past Saturday was the University of Cincinnati homecoming football game against Miami University. It all kicked off with a parade across downtown. Normally the parade would take place up on campus, but as I mentioned earlier the on-campus stadium is being renovated this season and all games are taking place downtown instead.

The Bearcat and Cheerleaders

The Bearcat and Cheerleaders

The UC Band is Damn Good

The UC Band is Damn Good

President Santa Ono

President Santa Ono

This weekend was also Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, America’s largest Oktoberfest with more than 500,000 people attending every year. So the parade and other weekend activities took on the Homecoming Zinzinnati theme.

Alumni Association

Alumni Association

Maypole Float

Maypole Float

After the parade was over we spent some time tailgating in one of the large lots surrounding the stadium before heading in for the 119th Battle for the Victory Bell.

Kim and Paige at the Tailgate

Kim and Paige at the Tailgate

A record 41,926 people turned out to watch the Battle for the Victory Bell. The game started off a slow for the Cats but they eventually took control of the game and brought home the Victory Bell for the ninth straight year, 31-24.

Ring of Red

Ring of Red

Next up for the Bearcats is an away game at Ohio State this weekend before returning back to town October 4th to take on Memphis.

Previous reviews that I’ve read of J & W Sandwich Shoppe have all been 100% positive and I finally made the short drive over to Norwood to give it a try. The shoppe is located on Worth Avenue, a mostly vacant commercial street in a predominately residential neighborhood. The outside of their building and the surrounding ones are in desperate need of maintenance, as if nothing has changed in the 23 years they have been in business.

Outside

Outside

Inside J & W offers just two tables and a handful of chairs, so I’m assuming the majority of their customers come in for carry out orders, just as I did. Printed menus can be found at the counter. In addition to a wide variety of cold and hot sandwiches, various soup and salad selections are also available.

Double Decker BLT

Double Decker BLT

I ordered the very highly reviewed double-decker BLT with chips and a pickle ($4.75). This is a massive sandwich about four inches tall and it was packed full with plenty of bacon. It was a little messy to eat due to the size, but it was a very good sandwich. I’d like to give some of the other sandwiches a try, but this BLT will be hard to pass up in the future.

J & W offers delivery to a pretty wide area of town and charges just $1 for the service (minimum order of $10). They also offer party trays with 24 hour notification and those can be delivered as well. J & W Sandwich Shoppe is a hidden gem that is very affordable and quite delicious.

J & W Sandwich Shoppe on Urbanspoon

The UC Bearcats football season finally kicked off this past weekend, two weeks after most other schools. All of this year’s home games are taking place down at the Bengals’ Paul Brown Stadium, while the on campus Nippert Stadium goes through some renovations. I’m not the biggest fan of PBS but I rarely miss a Bearcat game.

White Out

White Out

The Cats welcomed the Toledo Rockets to town for the annual “white out” game. The student section was jam-packed and the total attendance was 31,912, which is pretty great for a non-conference game. The team did not disappoint at all with a huge 58-34 victory and a couple of new figures for the record book, including quarterback Gunner Kiel’s impressive debut. The action continues with homecoming taking place this coming weekend and the 119th Battle for the Victory Bell with Miami University. Go Cats!

While attending Covington’s MainStrasse Oktoberfest over the weekend, we stopped into Piper’s Cafe for ice cream. They have a walk up window and feature 24 flavors of soft serve ice cream in addition to hot dogs, burgers, and breakfast served all day.

Outside

Outside

All of their flavors start out as vanilla, flavor extracts are added and mixed in, then the newly flavored ice cream is pressed out into a cone. You can combine up to three flavors, or we found that the $1 kid’s cone was a great way to give multiple flavors a try without mixing.

Kid's Cone

Kid’s Cone

Piper’s is located near Goebel Park and with so many festivals taking place in the MainStrasse Village I’m sure we will be back for more.

Piper's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Other than lounging by the pool, playing on the beach, going out for lunch and dinner, and the occasional bike ride we didn’t do much during our recent trip to Hilton Head. One exception was a quick trip to the Audubon Newhall Preserve. A very short hike from a small parking lot leads to a scenic pond and a pocosin (the Indian word for bog).

Pond

Pond

The hiking trail is lined by a diverse variety of trees and plants and many of them are labeled. Our three-year-old loved this and was inquisitive about all the different species and what made them all different. The pocosin was really dry and not as full of life as I had hoped other than some passing birds, but we spotted both turtles and an alligator at the picturesque pond.

I don’t think the preserve is worthy of its own trip by car, but it makes a wonderful and quick addition to a trip out for dinner or could be a nice destination for a bike ride.

For our last meal on Hilton Head Island, my family and I headed to Skull Creek Boathouse, a place my parents couldn’t say enough great things about. The restaurant sits cleverly on the shores of the Skull Creek at the northern end of the island. The views are pretty nice, but keep in mind that it does not sit on the ocean side of the island.

Skull Creek Overlook

Skull Creek Overlook

Upon our arrival at 6 PM we were told it would be a twenty-minute wait for a table inside for our party of four, but we could have a table outside immediately. We all agreed to go ahead and sit outside.

Inside

Inside

The outside dining space is much larger than what is available inside. It was a little hot throughout our visit, but large oscillating fans helped to cool us down a bit. The majority of the outdoor dining are is uncovered, but there is a fairly large covered bar area with some tables undercover.

Outside

Outside

There are numerous games throughout the outdoor area that make for a great way to pass the time while waiting for a table, waiting for your food, etc. My three-year-old ran from giant jenga to connect four to sidewalk chalk and finally to the elevated sandbox. I wish more restaurants had these, I’m sure adults wouldn’t mind playing some of the games too.

Games

Games

For dinner I had the Cajun chicken past with andouille sausage, bell peppers, Cajun cream sauce over linguine ($16.75). This was one of a pretty good selection for the non seafood eaters. The pasta dish was filled with plenty of chicken and sausage but I thought the sauce could have used a bit more spice. But perhaps I should be thankful it wasn’t too spicy as the weather outside was hot enough.

Cajun Chicken Pasta

Cajun Chicken Pasta

My wife went with the crab, artichoke, and hearts of palm stuffed flounder with Savannah red rice and season vegetables ($18.75). I did not try a bite but I think she was happy with her choice. The sides were okay, but I wish she would have skipped the rice and tried the Yukon gold smashed potatoes instead.

Stuffed Flounder

Stuffed Flounder

The kids menu is lengthy and affordable. The corn dog we ordered was served with fries ($5.50), and after the meal was over the server gave each of our kids a token that they could exchange inside for a small toy of their choice. It was a very nice touch to make the kids’ dinning experience way more memorable than others. Skull Creek Boathouse is truly one of the most family friendly dining establishments I’ve visited, and the food is good too.

Skull Creek Boathouse on Urbanspoon

My biggest surprise meal of our recent trip to Hilton Head Island came from an unplanned visit to the Reilley’s Grill & Bar. My family’s plan was to grab dinner at The Lodge, which is in the same plaza, but we moved on after a beer as we didn’t think The Lodge was very family friendly. The menu posted outside of Reilley’s looked good so we decided to give it a try.

Outside Patio

Outside Patio

There was a very minimal wait for our table of eight and we were seated out on their awesome patio. From the front of the building it is hard to tell that this outdoor oasis is just around the corner. The outside bar area has plenty of TV’s and during our visit a two-man band was entertaining the crowd.

Roasted Garlic Chicken & Italian Sausage Pasta

Roasted Garlic Chicken & Italian Sausage Pasta

For dinner I had the roasted garlic chicken and Italian sausage pasta, which is tossed with mushrooms in a roasted garlic cream sauce and served over penne ($15.99). The sauce was excellent and the pasta was filled with big chunks of both meat and mushrooms.

Broiled Seafood Platter

Broiled Seafood Platter

Another in our group had the broiled seafood platter with shrimp, scallops, and tilapia in a white win butter sauce served with rice and sautéed vegetables ($16.99) and she was very happy with this choice. Two others split the seafood trio of crab cake over fried green tomato topped with Cajun mayo, bacon wrapped shrimp over red pepper risotto, and ahi sashimi served on a seaweed salad with sautéed spinach ($18.99), which also received high marks.

Seafood Trio

Seafood Trio

Despite the location of Reilley’s, which is a bit out-of-the-way for most staying on the beach, the food, atmosphere, and service were all excellent. I’m glad we accidentally ended up here and would gladly go back again in the future.

Reilley's Grill and Bar on Urbanspoon

I think my favorite meal of our recent trip to Hilton Head Island came courtesy of The Porch – Southern Kitchen & Bar. This relatively new restaurant sits ocean front as part of the Beach House complex, next to the Tiki Hut Barefoot Beach Bar. There are a couple of large tables inside as well as a handful of smaller ones, and large garage doors open to the spacious patio. Out on the patio, which sits next to a swimming pool, tables can be grouped together to accommodate parties of any size.

Inside

Inside

To start the evening our large group split a couple orders of fried green tomatoes, which were just about the best I’ve had.

Fried Green Tomato

Fried Green Tomato

For dinner I thoroughly enjoyed the red brick chicken with black-eyed pea and house sausage ragu, grit fries, charred broccolini, and pan gravy ($20). The flavor combination of this dish was amazing and the chicken was cooked perfectly. I also really enjoyed the grit fries on the side, which were like nothing I’ve ever had before, and something I wish I could eat regularly.

Red Brick Chicken

Red Brick Chicken

The Porch specializes in wholesome comfort food and this shows even on the kids menu. The spaghetti and meatballs ($8) appeared to be prepared from scratch and was presented in a cast iron serving dish. This also included a choice of sliced apples, green beans, or french fries.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Others in our group enjoyed the corn bread encrusted flounder ($26), the shrimp and grits ($24), St. Louis hog ribs ($16), and backyard burger ($14), just to name a few. The menu offers three choices each of chicken, beef, pork, and seafood, as well as a handful of salads. Breakfast and lunch are also offered and drink specials can be had all day long.

Corn Bread Encrusted Flounder

Corn Bread Encrusted Flounder

The food I tasted at The Porch was all outstanding and it is served in one of the best atmospheres I have seen on the island. I look forward to making a return visit on our next trip to Hilton Head.

The Porch Kitchen & Bar on Urbanspoon

My wife and I were glad to leave the kids with their grandparents for lunch one day during our recent vacation on Hilton Head Island. We rode our rented bikes from our condo near Coligny Circle toward The Lodge Beer & Burger Bar but soon realized they were not open for lunch. We spotted the nearby Hilton Head Brewing Company and decided to give it a try instead.

Inside

Inside

I was surprised to have never heard anything about this place before, especially after realizing that they have been making beer for twenty years. On tap was a double IPA in celebration of their 20th anniversary, which I ordered, along with three other of their own brews and a handful from other breweries. The double IPA was actually pretty good, not one of my favorites, but it was definitely good enough to drink another glass.

20th Anniversary Double IPA

20th Anniversary Double IPA

My wife enjoyed their Burning Man Red Ale, which was much darker than expected and seemed to be more of a porter. It was actually pretty good but not true to style at all. The beers rotate seasonally but at best I think a half-dozen are offered at a time.

Blackened Grouper Sandwich

Blackened Grouper Sandwich

We wife ordered the blackened grouper sandwich, which surprisingly came with no toppings, but was served with hand cut fries ($10). The fish was cooked well but the sandwich overall felt too dry in the mouth and needed something extra added to it, such as tartar sauce that my wife requested.

Brew Pub BLT

Brew Pub BLT

I went with the brew pub BLT with fried green tomatoes, applewood smoked bacon, and crisp romaine leaves, also served with fries ($8.50). I remembered a similar sandwich that I had last year at the nearby A Lowcountry Backyard, but unfortunately this was nowhere close to being as good. Like my wife’s group, this sandwich was served dry, but even a little added mayonnaise couldn’t have helped with the stale and over-toasted bread. The tomatoes themselves were pretty good, but that alone could not save the sandwich.

The Hilton Head Brewing Company is not a bad place for a beer or two, but the food was below average. With so many other great places to eat, I doubt I will be back unless it is for a quick afternoon drink.

Hilton Head Brewing Co on Urbanspoon