Updated: Feb 25
Inspiration for the Justice League's Hall of Justice
The 70s Super Friends Saturday morning cartoon had Superman, Batman, et al. working out of a strikingly colossal Art Deco designed Hall of Justice that was inspired by Cincinnati's strikingly colossal Art Deco designed Union Terminal¹. Built in 1933, it suffered the fate of most Union Terminal/Stations in that it was eventually repurposed as a food court/event space/mall/museum/etc. that now contains a very small train station. The place, now called the Cincinnati Museum Center, is overrun with children who are visiting the numerous tenant museums, so buy yourself a cup of coffee, sit down in the soaring rotunda, inspect the architecture and time permitting visit a museum or two.
TripAdvisor advises me that the #1 restaurant in Cincinnati is . . . The Melting Pot?!? Now I get the allure of dipping a crusty cube of baguette into some molten Gruyère, but the #1 restaurant in all of Cincinnati . . . sacré bleu!!!
Mrs. AAR once lived in Cincinnati and often spoke about a larger-than-life figure who is the #1 Restaurateur in Cincinnati. She met Brian Jeffrey Kranz, who goes by the nom du cuisine, Jeff Ruby, years ago when he managed his own version of a Playboy Club atop a Holiday Inn. He has led a Runyonesqe life which at one point had him in a coma after bailing out of a moving car. His name has since become synonymous with the best steak in Cincinnati, so we were off to sample one at his eponymous downtown steakhouse.
While Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse may be the best steakhouse in America, it is definitely the best-looking steakhouse in America. When I entered the place I thought I may have stumbled into an episode of Charlie's Angels, you know the one where the Angels go undercover at an upscale steakhouse serving $15 barrel-aged Manhattans - as all the employees ranged from stunning to just merely good-looking.
The Missus and I settled into the bar and started off with a shrimp cocktail that featured four of the largest (and tastiest) shrimp I've seen since I feasted on some Mozambique Tiger Prawns in Maputo (we're talking radioactive here). Next, I ordered the 16 oz. Delmonico with creamed spinach and the Missus a Ceasar Salad with anchovies. After every few bites, we did a switcheroo. This made our superb meal that much healthier and reduced the final bill from an arm and a leg to just a hand and a leg.
On the way out we noticed a large sign that said "Jeff Ruby's Since 1948". As Brian Kranz was only born in 1948, it gives you an idea of how the man thinks. He, like some others, enjoys a little truthful hyperbole.
I've always wondered; what if someone took the world's most famous neo-Gothic bridge, shrunk it, and then set it down to bridge the third largest river in North America instead of the most famous saltwater tidal estuary? Well, now I don't. The John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge bridges Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati. Opened in 1886, it actually predates the Brooklyn Bridge by 17 years, though at only 2/3 the size. Like its bigger, older brother it was designed by the eponymous John A. Roebling, when built was the longest suspension bridge in the world, and allows pedestrians to cross to the other side. There is not a prettier set of bridges in the world. An AAR Must Bridge
There are a number of places to catch a great view of the Queen City: Eden Park, Devou Park, Riverside Drive, etc. Though my favorite is . . .
I’ve visited more than my share of churches and to be honest, after a certain point they almost all blend together. There are few exceptions, though one of them is now the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Peter in Chains, which is a Roman Catholic cathedral located in downtown Cincinnati. The outside looks like the Independence Hall Spire was set atop the world's most trustworthy bank and the inside looks like the former Greek Temple of Apollo under new management. I've never seen anything like it with the modern geometric Monderianesque stain glass making it all the more strange/wonderful.
The mosaic behind the altar is both enormous and evocative as it depicts Christ literally handing St. Peter the Keys to the Kingdom. And just when you think it can't get any better, there is a replica statue of Michelangelo’s Pietà in the baptistery (so now you don't have to bother to visit the other St. Peter's Basilica).
Note: If your Basilica tastes run a little more traditional, then St. Mary's Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption in Covington, Kentucky may be more your speed. It's a petit version of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris (sans towers and fires).
To me, a statue has always meant a sculpture of a person life-size or larger, standing or sitting. So I can appreciate when a sculptor tries to change things up. In this case, Tom Tsuchiya, who goes by the nom de ciseau" Norikazu", has Pete Rose sliding into third base headfirst, which really does capture the soul of his subject. It’s justly located at Crosley Terrace, just outside of Great American Ball Park.
Note: This is a review of the artistry of a statue and not the integrity of a man.
Local Food that is Not Cincinnati chili
I’ve had some damn good turtle soup in Canton, OH and Pineville, PA, but until I visited Cincinnati I had never even heard of mock turtle soup. It made me think of similarly named products, like the mock turtle neck and the mocktail - neither of which really work. I was therefore a little reluctant to partake, but when I realized the best mock turtle soup might be located a mock turtle shell’s throw from my lodgings in Cheviot, I knew I had to give it a try.
Ron’s Roost is a 62-year-old restaurant that sells mock turtle soup and as you might surmise a significant amount of chicken. It is still owned by the original owner, Olga, a 94-year-old immigrant from Slovenia who was nice enough to give me a tour of the kitchen and provide me the recipe: chicken, beef, pork, hardboiled egg, and spices (hey, if you made the best mock turtle soup in Cincinnati you'd be a little tight-lipped too!). Now that I drank some, I wouldn't drive all the way to Cincinnati just for another bowl, but the next time I'm in town, it's a possibility.
Interested in having Cincinatti's third-best Local Food That is Not Cincinnati chili? Then while you're at the Roost, try a soup and sandwich combo with a Goetta³ Grilled Cheese Sandwich.
There may have been a time when a street mural was a legitimate attraction. That time has passed.
Located at 3475 Greenlawn Ave in Evanston is the house Doris Day was born in. The whitest woman ever born in Cincinnati was born in a house that is now in the blackest neighborhood in Cincinnati.
The first time I stayed in Cincinnati, it was at the Green Gables Motel, which Mrs. AAR and I have since called the Scoobie Doo Place (after dark weird noises, creaking floors, and screams) - it is no longer extant. Recently we have stayed at an AirBnB in Cheviot. It's about 20 minutes to downtown but is scrupulously clean, spacious, welcoming, and economical.
Endnotes: I wanted to provide some very specific details that while vaguely interesting did not contribute to the overall narrative. Perhaps just wait until the end to read.
¹ The Union Stations and Union Terminals distributed throughout the U.S. are not named for the Union Pacific Railroad. They are railway stations at which the tracks and facilities are shared by two or more separate railway companies (a union of companies), allowing passengers to connect conveniently between them.
² In the architectural sense of the word to be considered a Basilica, the central portion of a church (the nave) needs to extend one or two stories above the lateral aisles, and have upper windows. In the Catholic meaning of the word, it's any church the pope deems fit. Both St. Peter's and St. Mary's are basilicas according to the pope, but only St Mary's is a basilica according to an architect.
³ Goetta (pronounced "get-ă") is a meat-and-grain sausage or mush of German inspiration that is popular in Metro Cincinnati. It is primarily composed of ground meat (pork, or sausage and beef), pin-head oats, and spices.