Birthday Weekend in Cincinnati

            “If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati. Everything comes there ten years later.”—Mark Twain


“Steph, would you be interested in going out-of-town for your birthday? I was thinking we could go somewhere that has an Apple Store. You could talk to them in person about the best product for you and your blog-work.” John, my husband of 28 years, was making this suggestion with great sincerity.


Hmm . . . that was certainly a thought! My laptop had been limping along for the past two years. It needed plugged-in at all times, and I spent more time watching the spinning beach ball of death, than I did actually typing.   One thing was certain, it taught me patience; however, portability and increased speed would be exceptionally nice. Plus, what’s not to love about a weekend trip?


Thus, after debating the pros and cons of the few nearby cities that had an Apple Store, we finally settled on Cincinnati. It was a great decision! The weather could not have been more perfect, and we were able to combine business with pleasure.


We left for Cincinnati around 3:30. John drove along OH 73 and OH 32 as we zoomed past the beautiful countryside in transition from summer to fall. Golden and purple flowers/weeds dotted the landscape as the evening sunshine glinted.


Arriving at the Kenwood Hampton Inn, mere minutes from the Kenwood Town Center, which housed the Apple Store, around 6:30, John suggested we head to dinner. Thus, when asked, Amber, the affable and thoughtful Hampton employee, suggested a restaurant within walking distance, Cooper’s Hawk. She shared that a plethora of Hampton clients reported positive dining experiences. As she described the varied menu, we were sold.

Unfortunately, it was Friday evening in Cincinnati and nearly 7:00. Walking toward the restaurant, we could espy copious customers walking into this sleek winery and restaurant. Entering, we encountered wall-to-wall customers. Ultimately, this restaurant was booked with numerous reservations, and we would be facing an hour and half wait. We were too tired for this length of wait, so we decided to trek elsewhere.


Ultimately, we walked a tad bit farther to a funky, Austin-based Tex-Mex restaurant, Chuy’s. It ended up being a serendipitous choice! Despite the waiting crowd, we were immediately able to find seats at the bar—which worked for us as we have learned that whether consuming a favorite adult beverage or water, the bar is typically the best place to receive attentive service.

Excellent service was indeed part of our dinner experience at Chuy’s. The vibe was full-on positive energy, especially for dog-lovers as the eclectic décor was filled with framed paintings and photos of all varieties of dogs! Thin, salty, and crispy tortilla chips were served with fresh tasting salsa alongside a tasty white sauce.

John ordered a warm, creamy cheese dip as an appetizer as we sipped our drinks and washed away the road dirt. For dinner, John noshed on a combination platter in order to sample a wide variety of Chuy’s dishes. Meanwhile, I enjoyed a vegetarian combination dinner served with a side of creamy refried beans and Mexican rice—all of which was topped with a delicious ranchero sauce. Needless to say, we walked back to the Hampton feeling quite full.

The next day, we arrived at the Kenwood Town Center not long after it opened.   I was feeling both excited and hopeful. Arriving this early would ensure prompt service and attention, right? Wrong! This was the first weekend after the launch of the Apple 8 phone. Therefore, it took 45-minutes before I could talk with an employee.


In spite of the wait, a delightful young man named, Kuyuh, helped me.  Apple employees do not work on commission; thus, Kuyuh asked specific questions to help me narrow down my choice to determine the best product for me. Another employee, Rachel, in addition to Kuyuh, helped John and me thoroughly! I cannot say enough about them as they walked me through how to transfer all information from my old laptop to the new one.   We had such an overall positive experience, I would most certainly return to this store for any future Apple products.


My new laptop is much thinner, lighter, and cleaner than my “vintage” 2005/2006 version, it does not have to be plugged in at all times, and no 10+ minutes of the spinning beach ball of death!

In the meantime, John had been in contact with one of his lifelong friends, Steve, who happened to live fairly close to the Hampton in which we were staying. Thus, for dinner, Steve, and his wife, Lila, gave us a lift to one of their local favorite eateries, 50 West, a brewpub about 15-20 minutes away.

We arrived around 7:00, and the place was hopping with customers, mostly family groups. Nonetheless, we were immediately seated in the room just off of the tasting room. Our waitress, Nicole, was attentive and effusive. We started off with delicious appetizers: Pretzels served with Dijon cheddar dip and Pork Belly French Fries. Due to my celiac disease, I was not able to try the pretzels, but they looked amazing, and I was assured they tasted scrumptious. The fries turned out to be new potatoes, topped with Dijon-molasses glazed pork belly, thin slices of pickled granny smith apples, and finished with cheese fondue. As odd of a combination as this sounded, Nicole assured us they were good, and she was right! I especially loved the apple slices!

All four of us had different dishes. Steve devoured the Doom Pedal Sausage served on a heaping pile of polenta. John enjoyed a hot chicken sandwich—which was spicy! Lila dined on the Ham and Cheese sandwich, while I enjoyed Tex-Mex Wedge Salad! Once again, John and I did not go hungry! (Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending upon one’s perspective, we became so engrossed in our conversation that we forgot to take pictures of our entrees!)


All in all, I experienced a wonderful birthday weekend-get away! The Hampton Inn in which we stayed was comfortable, clean, and staffed with incredibly friendly and attentive people. It was perfectly situated within walking distance of a wide-variety of restaurants, and only a five to ten minute drive away from the Kenwood Town Center! I would highly recommend this area to anyone looking for a weekend getaway!  And, if you decide to visit any of these fine establishments, tell them Steph simply sent you!



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