Sunday, June 03, 2001

Diner's Journal

Where to get a meal with an outdoorsy feel

By Polly Campbell
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        There are two kinds of diners. The first group, which includes me, are outdoor diners. They will eat outside at any temperature between 55 and 95 degrees, and aren't put off by a little rain or a few bugs. The other kind might go out to the deck or patio — if it's not too sunny, cloudy, hot, cold or buggy.

        I believe the first group is gaining, because an outdoor eating area is one of the most popular options restaurants offer. If you're looking for a pleasant outdoor table, here are a few favorites.

        If you like intimate courtyards and tucked-away patios, visit Boca in Northside, Wild Flour in Covington or the York Street Cafe in Newport. (Last year the York Street garden featured old high-heel shoes as planters.)

        At the Heritage in Plainville, you can order from the pub menu or regular menu from the small patio. Daveed's in Mount Adams uses its charming patio for wine tastings, and Clough Crossings in Anderson Township has a leafy deck.

        The best courtyard, practically up to New Orleans standards, is at the Blind Lemon in Mount Adams, but only drinks are served.

        For a big patio with a party atmosphere, Watson Bros. Brewhouse in Blue Ash, overlooking a suburban man-made lake, is hard to beat, though the CourseView restaurant at the golf center in Mason is pleasant, with live music and a view of greens and fairways. Bahama Breeze in Springdale serves fancy drinks and Caribbean food outside.

        Getting a table outdoors on the river is not easy. Don Pablo's and the Chart House in Newport have pleasant views from their decks, especially at sunset. Farther west, there's the Cabana in Sayler Park, like a big outdoor party with margaritas, facing undeveloped Kentucky “hills.” It's only open in the summer.

        For the best river view, there's the upper deck of one of the B&B riverboats cruising the river. You don't eat outside, but you can pass a lovely evening there after dinner.

        For sidewalk cafes where you can people-watch, try Hyde Park. The Vineyard Cafe and Indigo, almost next door to each other at Edwards Road and Erie Avenue, have shaded outdoor seating. Mullane's on Race Street downtown, has a small but bustling sidewalk cafe, though the ultimate downtown sidewalk cafe will be Bella, when it opens downtown in August next to the Aronoff Center for the Arts at Sixth and Walnut.

        And, for a one-of-a-kind experience, have a beer and some German food in Mecklenburg Garden's vine-covered biergarten in Corryville. Or listen to live music in Arnold's courtyard, downtown.

        My nomination for a restaurant that ought to have outdoor dining: Rookwood Pottery Bistro has a parking lot on the crest of Mount Adams with a beautiful view. It would make a great patio.
       Polly Campbell by phone: 768-8376; fax: 768-8330; e-mail:


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