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Mar 29

Local News: OTR Goes Upscale

UPDATE 01/10/2008: I never made it to Jardin, but recently heard
that it closed. I think that corner is cursed. Vinyl, another property
owned by the same folks, also closed. I have unused gift certificates
to Vinyl and Jardin barely took a breath before closing its doors.
But fear not, as of 01/08, we have two new wine bars in town. In Covington, there is Bouquet, and in Milford (nifty, downtown Milford), we have 20 Brix. Try those out when you get a craving for a wine bar.

When I first moved back to Cincinnati from DC, in the mid 90s, I spent a lot of time downtown. I was a swing dancer (okay, still am) and The Place To Be and Be Seen was The Swing Lounge on Thurs – Sat nights. Across the street was Jefferson Hall, which was where we spent our Wednesday nights. Unfortunately, the Swing Lounge couldn’t hold on. The best acts, usually from the New York area, were expensive to book. Many dancers (not me) refused to drink and dance. We all took dancing seriously and drinking could muck with the dancing. I swear, there were about 5 of us who kept that bar alive by paying for alcoholic drinks. When the Swing Lounge closed, they opened Jump Cafe in it’s place. OTR was not quite ready for upscale, hip and trendy dining. It was, and has remained for quite some time, a bar & club area. We’ve had our share of upscale nightclubs in the area, but they tend to close as fast as they open.

It turns out there are some new ideas and new players. And just maybe, a new approach and the time might finally be right. The owners of Neon’s and Vinyl (which used to be The Diner on Sycamore) are joining together to convert Neon’s into Jardin Wine & Tapas Bar. The establishment will feature an outdoor wine garden, tapas, skewered meats, imported cheeses and other foods. The prices will range from  from $4 to $24 per glass for wine. Dishes will range in price from $1 to $18 (for the Iberico ham). My biggest complaint about The Argentine Bean, a similar concept, is that the drinks and tapas are overpriced. It’s not worth my money. I hope Jardin doesn’t fall into the same trap.

It’s not a bad idea, and certainly not a bad location, as it’s not directly on Main, but located on 12th Street. It’s also very close to Vinyl, which is more upscale than your average club and features Ladies Only Wine Tastings once a month.

Michael Spalding, co-owner of Vinyl and now Jardin, is also in the midst of opening another club, this time in the Jump Cafe/Swing Lounge location, close to the intersection of 12th and Main. Ultra Mixx Lounge will be a sushi bar and private lounge. Finally, sushi downtown at some place other than Benihana.

Neon’s will close April 21 and reopen on Memorial Day as Jardin. Ultra Mixx is set to open this summer. It sounds like OTR is growing up. Those of us who hit the club scene in the 90s are looking for something a little more refined now. I’m glad the area is reaching for an additional demographic. With the opening of Jardin and UltraMixx added to Vinyl and old standby Kaldi’s, I might actually return to OTR for an evening out. It’s a good move for Cincinnati, and I look forward to Jardin.

From The Business Courier

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Posted by Michelle at 4:19 pm in Cincinnati, Local, News, Restaurants | Permalink | Comments ()

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