Each day, from the lunch hour until 10 p.m., the chefs at Zazou Grill & Pub keep the ovens hot. Preparing a menu of pub-style food, they plate up pairs of soft, warm pretzel pillows with a zesty queso blanco sauce for dipping?or dress half-pound cheeseburgers with bacon and a fried egg and serve them alongside tater tots, sweet potato fries, and other sides. The bar is also home to a handful of games, such as bar bowling and Golden Tee, and frequently hosts karaoke night, during which visitors can belt out their best renditions of "Ave Maria."
Smoke scented with flavors such as mango, pineapple, and cherry wafts through Aladdin Restaurant and Hookah Bar as patrons linger over waterpipes as late as 3 a.m. Besides Al Fakher and Starbuzz tobacco, skilled staffers also blend house mixes with names such as Bubble Yum and Candy Drop, and can even fit hookahs with heads made from hollowed-out pineapples, watermelons, and other fruits. The kitchen also crafts a full menu of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern fare, including kebabs, gyros, and Turkish coffee.
The independently-owned Mayday offers a variety of unique burgers, made from turkey, black bean, or beef patties with toppings such as Korea-style kimchi and cilantro chili sauce. Patrons pair the burgers with oven-baked fries and draft beer at this hub of the Northside neighborhood, along with trivia, comedy, and live rock and roll, and a two-tiered patio provides a fun atmosphere for the whole family.
The boldness of burgers isn't all Mayday specializes in, however. The subtle flavors of fine whiskey and charcuterie reward more ambitious palates, while a full array of hotdogs?served on homemade pretzel buns?add an upscale spin to comfort food. To top it off, customers can add a fried egg to anything on the menu, just like when we were kids, frying eggs on the sidewalk to top off our summer ice cream cones.
The culinary wizards at Mount Adams Pavilion conjure up hearty platters of pub grub in an eatery flanked by four patio decks with views of the Cincinnati skyline. Oil rusty jaw hinges with appetizers such as potato skins ($8.95), which bundle up melted cheddar cheese and bacon in a spud-skin sleeping bag. Sandwiches, such as the Aloha burger ($8.95) with its sweet and savory duo of pineapple and barbecue sauce, offer fistfuls of hunger-pang annexation, and the pulled-pork barbecue sandwich ($7.95) and the philly steak ($7.95) employ their hearty helpings of protein to silence boisterous stomachs before they blurt out Social Security numbers.
Bartini's libation luminaries concoct 20 types of flavorful martinis, which beckon revelers from a mouthwatering menu stocked with tasty tapas and gourmet flatbreads. Savor the tropical Cuban flavors and cool mint aromatics of the mojito martini ($12), or roust up recollections of campfires past by savoring the s'mores martini, garnished with a graham-cracker rim and a skewer of marshmallows ($12). The classic cosmopolitan pleases palates with a time-honored blend of Grey Goose, Cointreau, fresh lime, and cranberry ($12), making sippers feel more elegant than a night on the town with Frank Sinatra and his personal balloon artist. In between sipping potables and jiving to hip tunes, customers quell hunger pangs with flavorful eats such as the Kobe beef bites ($11).
Mixologist Molly Wellman and chef Dan Wells combine their expertise at Japp's Cocktails and Candy Classes, where they teach groups to concoct their own cocktails and candies. In classes that are half hands-on learning and half demonstration, students twist handmade candy canes or make sheets of nutty peanut brittle. Glasses brim with virgin cocktails mixed with ingredients such as plum cider or root beer bitters; for an additional fee, a bartender will splash in shots of liquor. After classes have ended, students leave with their own printouts of the day's recipes.