The Foodie Report
Ruminations on food, cooking in and eating out in our area.

It's entirely possible to be a vegetarian in Porkopolis. Pop culture reporter Lauren Bishop blogs about products, recipes and restaurants she's tried for others who eat meat-free. E-mail her at lbishop@enquirer.com.

Nicci King is an unabashed foodie and the Lifestyle/Food editor in The Enquirer's features department. She loves to discover new food faves, and she's on a daily quest to answer one burning question: What's for dinner? E-mail her at nking@enquirer.com.

Enquirer Weekend editor Julie Gaw tends to order the same dish every time she eats at a restaurant, but periodically ventures out to discover something new and fabulous. After living in China, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Thailand for more than 8 years, she craves tasty Asian food. E-mail her at jgaw@enquirer.com.

Food/dining writer Polly Campbell loves every quirk and secret of Cincinnati's food personality, and is on a constant lookout for something good to eat. Keep an eye out for her restaurant picks, or see how she's progressing toward becoming famous for her apple pie. E-mail her at pcampbell@enquirer.com.

Communities reporter Rachel Richardson is on a mission to prove vegetarians eat more than lettuce. She shares both her graduate work on American food culture and food-related news.. E-mail her at rrichardson@enquirer.com.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

An ode to the independent coffee house

CIN Weekly has a special this week on the new wave of post-Starbucks generation of coffee houses. These cozier, often independent, establishments aren’t brewing to become the next McCoffee; they’re smaller in scale and tend to place their emphasis squarely on the coffee.

I’m a big fan of independent coffee houses, although ironically, I dislike coffee and many coffee-inspired specialty drinks - give me a steamed soy milk or a cup of Earl Gray any day. Rather what draws me to indie coffee houses is the atmosphere.

The coffee shops I frequent feature a blend of old architecture and modern, comfortable furniture and artsy décor. The works of local artists adorn the walls and the not-too-loud music is alternative and soothing. The seating is cozy, with a mix of tables and comfy armchairs you can just sink into and sip away your troubles. And of course, the shop must offer free wireless internet access.

I wiled away many a late night during my undergraduate years at UC at The Buzz in Clifton. The Jack Kerouac of the coffee shop world, The Buzz offered a Bohemian, laid-back atmosphere. When it closed in January of 2004, many Buzz regulars were left coffee shop-less and out in the cold.

The Buzz remained empty for the next three years, but now a new coffee shop promises to reopen its doors there as Taza. Both the website and a sign promise the shop will open soon, with the hours of 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. I’ve contacted the owners for a specific opening date, but no word back yet.

The Buzz’s closing forced me to find a new coffee shop home and for the past several years, I’ve made it at Sitwell’s. The Clifton shop offers free internet access and an eclectic atmosphere, not to mention a mean bowl of homemade vegetarian mushroom soup. And Sitwell’s occupies a fond place in the memories of my husband and I – it was the place where we first met in person after meeting online.

Most recently, I’ve discovered Mammoth Café at 505 Monmouth St. in Newport. Not only does the shop offer a well-lit, comfortable atmosphere and free internet access, it also offers lots of vegetarian breakfast and lunch offerings. Owner Linda Marshall, who has degrees in both business and culinary school, bought the shop in 2006. She formerly managed Joseph Beth’s Bronte Bistro. Mammoth’s only drawback is its limited hours – the shop closes at 3 p.m. weekdays and is closed on Monday.

My co- Hometown reporter Shauna Steigerwald recently wrote about a popular Westside dig, College Hill Coffee. The shop’s fame recently spread after it was featured in the nationally syndicated comic strip "The Dinette Set," which runs in The Enquirer.

What are some of your favorite local coffee houses? What makes a coffee house truly great?


at 2:18 PM Blogger Mary said...

Well, I could tell you, but then I'm afraid I would have to kill you. (Kidding. Sort of.) No, I would like for my coffee shop to remain a closely guarded secret.

at 7:37 PM Blogger Kelly said...

FYI - BuyCincy is reporting that Taza opens tomorrow at 7 a.m.

at 9:28 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

nothing beats the Front Porch Coffee House in Price Hill

at 2:29 PM Blogger Julie said...

Like you, I spent my undergrad at the Buzz and from high school through (part of) college at the old Sitwell's. I'm still a Sitwellian, though far less than I used to be. I also like Kaldi's, Lookout Joe's, and I liked Zen and Now, but haven't been there in years. I think someone else owns it now.

at 3:41 PM Anonymous Chad Edward said...

Reality Tuesday's on Dixie Highway in Park Hills, KY. Best homemade pastries in the area.

at 5:42 PM Anonymous FoodieToo said...

Sitwell's is where I "lived" during college - back in the days when they were in the basement of that apartment building.

They have the best Salami, cucumber and cream cheese sandwhiches.

at 2:34 PM Blogger CafeHunt.com - Independent Coffee Shops on Earth said...

Checkout my version of the list of Independent Coffee Shops on the earth: http://www.cafehunt.com/browse/

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