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La Grassa Coffee and Gelato

I love coffee and sweets.  That’s no secret.  I’d be hard pressed to pick between the two if someone made me.  Most days I can’t articulate clear thoughts (or say words) without coffee so I guess coffee wins.  Luckily, I don’t have to pick because La Grassa in Madeira serves quality coffee and homemade gelato! If you’re anything like me, you enjoy your coffee and your sweets together.  At La Grassa you can do just that.  Order one of each, or, get a little wild and try an Affogato (espresso poured on top of vanilla gelato) or some Espresso Chip Gelato! Either way, it’s a taste of sweetly caffeinated heaven.

Speaking of caffeine, La Grassa serves Intelligentsia coffee which is a well-known roaster in Chicago.  It’s direct trade, exceptionally roasted coffee that the baristas at La Grassa brew with skill. We enjoyed a few drinks on a recent visit; my husband loved his Cortado (espresso mixed with equal parts steamed milk) while I ventured into somewhat familiar territory with my Mocha.  

Now, I love my mochas.  It’s my go-to frou-frou drink.  But, I’m a real milk kind of girl; I’ve tried various kinds of nut and soy milks and I just can’t do it.  I don’t like the flavor, but even more importantly, I don’t like the texture.  I made that very clear when I was asked to try mine with oat milk.  Oat milk?! Gotta say I was hugely impressed.  The oat milk didn’t break up in the hot coffee and the consistency was super creamy and rich.  If you try to avoid dairy in your coffee drinks (regular or frou-frou), I highly recommend a coffee break at La Grassa.

Cortado

Mocha made with oat milk.

Minor Figures oat milk shipped in from Europe

Even more impressive than the coffee bar at this sweet little shop in the heart of Madeira, is the gelato which is made by hand using only the freshest ingredients by an owner who actually studied the art of making gelato in Italy! Yep, in Italy.  The secret to this gelato, in addition to the skill and knowledge of the maker, is the fresh ingredients.  Remember, I only write about places I like and we tasted every single flavor of gelato on that menu.  Each was creamy, not too sweet, and a celebration of fresh flavors in subtle ways.  From the Apple Cider to the Pistachio, from the Passion Fruit to the Salted Caramel, it was just so good and so refreshing.  I loved the slivers of rich chocolate, the taste of actual vanilla beans, and the boldness of real passion fruit. Even their chocolate and caramel sauces are made from scratch!

Cookies and Cream

Espresso Chip

After stuffing ourselves with gelato and coffee, we got a tour of the kitchen (which was clean and highly organized).  We were told that the question that drives the business is this: What are we using and how are we using it?  I have zero doubts about that.  The owner, who studied in Italy, has a manufacturing background which is reflected in his meticulous notebooks of perfectly balanced ratios.  Everything at La Grassa is thoughtful.

We ordered one of these cheesecake gelato pies for the holidays and it was delish!

So, whether you stop in for coffee, gelato, or both, I highly recommend a visit to La Grassa.  It’s a great location and an even better product.  Get your coffee and gelato to go or sit for a while with a friend.

GO THERE (La Grassa)! TRY THAT (Espresso Chip gelato, Passion Fruit sorbet, Latte, Cortado)!

ALL/ EAT (out)

Dining Outside: Cincinnati Patios (Part 1)

There’s just something special about outdoor patios.  When the weather is right, I love sitting outside with friends and family.  Stepping outside the traditional four walls of a restaurant provides a sense of freedom; it’s just easier to breathe deeply, to lean back, and to relax.  When we’re more relaxed, we tend to linger, enjoying the company of others.  Thankfully, we have plenty of wonderful outdoor dining opportunities in Cincinnati.  Some include incredible views of the city while others, the garden patios for example, offer lights strung from trees, flowers, and comfortable seating. It’s impossible to cover them all in one blog post, so I’m hoping this is the first in a series of patio posts.

Cabana On The River

Located along the Ohio River, this Westside hotspot is perfect for relaxing by the water with a great meal, drinking out by the tiki bar, or playing sand volleyball with friends.  I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to get here.  The environment reminds me more of a beach vacation spot than a Cincinnati restaurant.  A storm blew in on the night we ate at Cabana On The River and it was stunning to watch.  If the weather does turn, no worries; there’s a large covered dining area that still provides a pretty nice view.  If you want something fun and casual, this is your place.  Plus, Cabana has live music on the weekends.

Cabana On The River

Incline Public House

The first time I ate at Incline Public House, I was blown away by the panoramic view!  I think I went back four times in two weeks with various friends and family members.  Incline Public House became an obsession! Located in Price Hill, Incline Public House gets it name from one of the historic (and super steep) Cincinnati inclines operating in the late 1800’s.  Like most of these places, you can dine inside, and if you don’t like a wait, it’s an option. But, I would much rather grab a drink and wait because the view from this 1400 square foot deck is spectacular!  With an in-house smoker and a brick oven, the menu is strong too (and so are the cocktail/craft beer offerings).

Incline Public House

Kaze

A Japanese gastropub and sushi bar, Kaze, located in OTR, is a gem.  Yes, the restaurant is beautiful inside, but the patio is simply special.  It’s like an enchanted garden; even though it’s located on a busy street, the fenced in patio feels far away from the hustle and bustle of OTR.  I also appreciate the variety of seating at Kaze.  There are tall tables with benches and stools, round patio chairs with low tables, tables for two, and tables for groups.  Part of the patio is covered, but the majority is open.  Don’t miss the short rib dumplings, pork belly buns, and ramen.  Yum.

Kaze

Hofbrauhaus

Who doesn’t like a German Biergarten? With traditionally decorated rooms, live music, men wearing lederhosen, and beer brewed on-site, Hofbrauhaus is a great time whether you eat inside or out.  Located in Newport, KY, Hofbrauhaus sits across the street from Newport on the Levee.  One of the things I most enjoy about this patio is the space.  The tables are long and spread out; I never feel like I’m in somebody’s business (or vice versa).  There are plenty of trees with white lights to keep the conversation going well into the evening so there’s no need to rush!

Hofbrauhaus

Left Bank Coffeehouse

Serving up Deeper Roots coffee, Left Bank Coffeehouse is full of unique, artistic touches.   There’s a flower lined patio in front of the shop and a beautiful deck to the side.  All the outside seating at Left Bank is charming, calming, and cozy.  This is the perfect place to relax with a good book or delve into deep conversation with a friend.  This family owned coffee shop, located in Covington, KY, is a neighborhood favorite.

Left Bank Coffeehouse

MadTree

MadTree’s new location in Oakley is killer.  The exposed brick walls, open air ceiling, and colorful flowers redefine what the typical warehouse space feels like. It’s industrial and warm all at the same time.  This is great place to sip craft beer, to bring a dog, to play games, to listen to live music, and to relax in an adirondack chair.  Even the non-drinking friends will enjoy a casual afternoon or evening spent hanging out at MadTree.  This patio is great for friends, dates, and large groups alike.  Tip: Don’t miss out on Catch-a-Fire Café’s wood-fired pizzas located inside!

Mad Tree

Rhinegeist

Holy views, Batman!  When I saw a picture someone else posted of the rooftop bar at Rhinegiest, I couldn’t wait to go!  Rhinegeist, a local brewery in OTR, is known for hosting all kinds of special events from Art on Vine to Trivia Nights to charity events.  The huge, open floorpan is perfect for cornhole and ping pong matches.  But, this new addition . . . this rooftop deck . . . well, it’s astounding!  Basically, I want to live there!  Think 360 degree views of Cincinnati.  You can see downtown, Clifton, Mt. Auburn, and more.  Although no food is allowed on the roof, it does have its own bar! (Please know that my night time pic does not do it justice).  

Rhinegeist

There are so many places in and around the city with amazing patios. I could never cover them all in one post.  In fact, I’ve already got a few more incredible outside dining (and drinking) places lined up! However, I would LOVE for you, the reader, to comment on this blog post by including your favorite places for outdoor seating! Using your recommendations and discoveries, we can build a great patio resource for those of us who can’t get enough of outdoor dining.

GO THERE (A place with a nice patio)!  TRY THAT (Dining outside and sharing your experience)!

Kaze Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato