I spent most of yesterday afternoon evening out and about. My afternoon started with a late lunch, or very later breakfast depending upon your perspective, at a local BBQ joint called Pit To Plate. Instead of the beef brisket or chicken I'd had before, I order the turkey breast, with mashed potatoes and green beans and piece of their delicious jalapeno cornbread. It was rather like an early Thanksgiving meal, without the family or the desserts. The lack of dessert was due to discretion on my part, not because their Reeses pie isn't awesome.
Afterwards I took a short walk, then met a friend and went hiking for a bit. Despite several days of rain a few days earlier, the trails in the park were almost entirely dry. Whether that was due to the weather, good drainage along the trail, or a combination, I do not know, but I was glad that torrential downpours only two days earlier had few muddy spots on the trail. The weather was a bit cooler than seasonal, but perfectly comfortable with a light jacket.
Somehow we then ended up spending the rest of the afternoon stopping at little pumpkin festivals at what seemed like every little farmers market along the lower Great Miami River. I enjoyed some nice spiced cider and saw more pumpkins than I can every recall seeing before.
Finally, heading back toward the northwestern suburbs of Cincinnati, we saw a sign for winery and restaurant down a side road. Neither of us are big fans of alcohol, but food sounded very inviting just about then, and the road ahead was home almost exclusively to chain restaurants.
If you do enjoy wine, the meal the Vinoklet Winery may be a good deal for you. If you don't, it may be a pricey option you might still enjoy once in a rare while. For about $40 they offer a wine tasting, a bottle of wine per couple, and the meal. The meal consists of an all-you-can-eat buffet of soup, salad, vegetables, potatoes, rolls, and dessert.
For the main course, they offer a number of meat and seafood options, but the catch is that it's grill your own. They have large indoor grilling area, with a charcoal grill and a (mostly-effective) ventilation system. You season your meat or fish, toss it on the grill, wait, flip it, grill it some more, then take it back to your table. That's the only part of the food that isn't all-you-can-eat, but the portion size is reasonable - and if you're still hungry there's always the option of more soup, salad, veggies, or dessert. Alas, my grilling skills are a bit rusty, and I while intending to grill my steak to medium I ended up with marts of it ranging from medium-rare to just shy of well done.
I expect I'll visit again periodically, but not often. Its rather pricey for the non-drinker, and a lot of work compared to a normal restaurant or buffet meal, but the food was good and the whole environment is neat.
The restaurant sits atop a hill, and the vineyard stretches down the hillside until it reaches a wooded area. Beyond the woods ultimately lies the valley of the Great Miami River, not quite visible due to the wooded nature of most of the hills, and the hills across the valley. The view roughly faces west-by-southwest, and as the sun began to sink the sky was lit in shades of orange and bright red. There's little major development visible in the valley or the hills, so as the light faded further the only signs of civilization beyond the vineyard were the blinking red lights atop a few antennas and water towers.
After I dropped my friend at her house, I returned home. I was full but not stuffed. And I sat down at my computer and went back to the work at hand. I hope to post more on that in the near future.