2 Henry VI (sort of) at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company

It had been far too long since I had seen a play at the Race Street home of the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company (though I’ve since enjoyed many Shakespeare in the Park productions). So this past Christmas I told my family that all I really wanted was a ticket or two, which led to a wonderful and memorable evening with my daughter last Friday for the CSC performance of Henry VI, Part 2 . . .  (read the rest of the post here on The Bard and the Bible website).

Jean-Robert's Table, Cincinnati, OH

I have long said (well, since 2013) I wanted my daughter to experience a meal at Jean-Robert's Table in Cincinnati. So, since last Friday was the long-awaited fulfillment of her (and her husband Kevin's) Christmas gift to me--a Cincinnati Shakespeare Company performance of 2 Henry VI with her--I decided to take advantage of the occasion. 
The location, at 713 Vine Street in downtown Cincinnati, would be easy to overlook. But you shouldn't. It's not a huge restaurant, and everything about it is confidently understated. 
We shared a lobster-and-scallops appetizer (above), which was predictably perfect. 
I had to ask what the Trio Concho was (above), and when our very helpful server explained that it was three different pork cuts, I jumped in with both feet. Wow, was it good. And Aubrey said her filet was exceptional, too. 
We shared a crème brûlée (above). I wasn't about to let that opportunity pass, although my date did manage to dig in before I could snap a picture. And then she had more bites than she said she would, but I will keep that to myself. And the interwebs. 

Dinner at Jean-Robert's Table is a unique and delectable pleasure. It's not cheap, but it's memorable. And it's only two blocks from the current home of the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. 

Bob's Audio/Video and Appliances

On the way home from a lovely ministry weekend last Sunday, the lovely Robin forced me--er, encouraged me--to stop briefly at the Tanger Outlets near Washington Courthouse, Ohio. I did, without complaining (much), and my heart was strangely warmed by the sight of my name on the side of a truck in the parking lot. 

I waved but no one waved back. Still deciding whether to report them. 

Bay Presbyterian Church, Bay Village OH

The lovely Robin and I enjoyed a joyful weekend of ministry and worship last weekend at Bay Presbyterian Church in Bay Village, Ohio (west of Cleveland). What a blessing it was to partner with the fine people of this church. We fell in love with them all.
After our ministry concluded, we stayed for the 11 a.m. service in BPC's main sanctuary, which features contemporary music and a casual environment. I love that they host a simultaneous traditional service in the smaller Auburn Hall chapel, and that the 9 a.m. settings for each service are reversed (traditional in the main sanctuary, contemporary in Auburn Hall). My only regret about our BPC visit was that we couldn't experience both, since we presented to a responsive group of marriage coaches (we had conducted a marriage seminar the day before) during the 9 a.m. hour.
That's my friend John, above (he's such a rock star), leading the prayer period in the service. We were greeted and hosted so warmly and were blessed by the worship music, prayer, preaching, and more. Bay Pres is located at 25415 Lake Road in Bay Village, Ohio. 

Mitchell's Ice Cream, Cleveland OH

A Cincinnati native like myself can be a tad snooty and stubborn about ice cream shops (or shoppes, if you prefer), given my hometown's ice creameries of Graeter's, Aglamesis Brothers, and--yes, I said it, UDF. And rightly so. But last Friday the lovely Robin and I thoroughly our visit to Cleveland's Mitchell's Homemade Ice Cream (in operation since 1999).
Our friends John and Kristine treated us to Mitchell's after a wonderful dinner (see here) in the area.
I could not risk a pause in eating my caramel fudge brownie ice cream cone to take a photo, so I snapped a shot of John's (I think) sundae instead.

Suffice it to say: we like Mitchell's and we have the extra pounds now to prove it. Well, I do.

Mitchell's has eight locations in the Cleveland area. I think we were at the 1867 West 25th Street location in Cleveland, but truth be told, John got me so turned around I can't be sure about it--and me, at my age. Shame on him.

Heck's Cafe, Cleveland OH

Last Friday evening, the lovely Robin and I had the joy of reuniting with a couple old friends (though much younger than us; weird how that works) and supping together at Heck's Cafe, housed in a 120-year-old red brick townhouse in the heart of Ohio City, just across the river from downtown Cleveland. Or so they say (The Cleveland Plain Dealer calls Heck's Café "A Cleveland Classic," so there you go).
Heck's is apparently the place to be; we had no trouble getting a table, but it is obviously a popular and beloved eatery.
Since they bill themselves as "the undisputed crowned royal of gourmet burgerdom" (I'd never previously even been to Burgerdom), the lovely Robin jumped right into a "Heckburger" (above), which she enjoyed.
I had the Orange & Beet Salad (spinach, balsamic candied walnuts, goat cheese, and apricot vinaigrette), with grilled chicken. Different and delicious.

Though the best part of the meal was the company, as it should be, our visit to Heck's was a heckuva good time (see what I did th--oh, you did? Okay, good).

Heck's is located at 2927 Bridge Ave. in Cleveland; a second location is found at 35514 Detroit Rd. in Avon, Ohio (west of Cleveland).

Lodge Wood Fired Grill, Mason, OH

Usually the restaurants in a hotel or resort offer fair-to-middlin' fare for unfair prices (see what I did there?). I was pleasantly surprised that such was not the case at the Lodge Wood Fired Grill in the Great Wolf Lodge resort at Mason, Ohio.
The lovely Robin and I ate there last Friday evening with our family, and the St. Louis-style ribs, cole slaw, and brussels sprouts she and I enjoyed were first-rate, and the price was fairly reasonable (we spent just over $40, including the tip, for the two of us). And the rest of the family pronounced their meals satisfactory as well (see top photo, for example). Even the youngest ate well, which is unusual.

The Lodge Wood Fired Grill is located just off the lobby of the Great Wolf Lodge, 2501 Great Wolf Drive in Mason, Ohio.

Bucket Bob

You know you're at a classy joint when you can ask "Bucket Bob" about "bucket drinks." I think.

Great Wolf Lodge, Mason, OH

Having lived in the area for decades, my family and I have known about Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, Ohio, since it first opened. But we had never visited. Until this past weekend.
Thanks to the generosity of some dear friends, the lovely Robin and I, our daughter and son-in-law, and three youngest grandchildren got to visit Great Wolf overnight and enjoy some of the amenities and activities there. It would have taken a much longer visit to sample everything.
We were pleased at the quality and cleanliness of the accommodations (though we did have to call to get a working remote control for the television, the response was immediate and effective).
The grandkids were thrilled with the "Wolf Den" bunkbed room in their suite (above). The white wolf ears (we think) were complimentary.
We miniature-golfed, miniature-bowled, maximum-water-parked, and had a great wolf time (see what I did there?).

The Great Wolf Lodge is located at 2501 Great Wolf Drive in Mason, Ohio, next door to Kings Island Amusement Park.

Crab Apple Books, Middletown, OH

For Christmas, the lovely Robin gave me several Shakespeare-related books that she bought at a new (to her, anyway) bookstore in Middletown. I am always on the lookout for local, independent bookstores, so she told me all about Crab Apple Books on Central Avenue in Middletown, how delightful the store and its contents were, how helpful the proprietor was, and so on. So I grabbed the first opportunity to pay a visit, which happened to be today.
It turns out Braydon Soale opened Crab Apple Books two years ago! Why had no one told me? I enjoyed a $1 cup of coffee and a leisurely tour of this wonderful store. It turns out Mr. Soale is not only a knowledgeable bookstore owner but also a collector of Hemingway first editions and other fine books. He sells both new and used books, and devotes a bookcase to local authors as well (always a good idea); I left a few of my books with him, and he promised to sell them like hotcakes and make me rich--at last!
I wish it were roomier, but I love it when a bookstore is obviously run by someone who loves books (see below for a closeup of the motto on the wall in the photo above) and knows the community. That's Crab Apple Books. I plan to return often.
Crab Apple Books is located at 1385 Central Avenue in Middletown, Ohio.