Restaurants & Reservations: Dining in Cincinnati

What happens when a rabbi and a lawyer walk into a bar? We'll let you know in a few years, but until then we'll do our best to share with you our favorite (and not-so-favorite) Cincinnati restaurants and hope you'll share some with us, too!

Shadowbox: Come for the Show, Come Early for the Food!

Shadowbox1 Levee Way #4101 • Newport, KY 41071 • (859) 957-7625

His Take

This venue may be a little atypical for our blog because it’s really more about the music and comedy than about the food, but seeing as we did actually eat there and we thought it’d be of interest to our readers, we decided to share our thoughts.

Shadowbox, officially a “sketch comedy and rock n’ roll club,” is located on the 4th floor of Newport on the Levee (next to the movie theater) and has shows (with food and drink) Thursday through Saturday. Each show is a combination of sketch comedy scenes and rock n’ roll cover pieces, and the format alternates back and forth between the band (stage right (i.e., your left)) and the comedy (stage left (let’s hope you can figure this one out)).

The doors to the shows open about 45 minutes before curtain call, which gives you plenty of opportunity to get comfy, order a reasonably-priced lunch/dinner, and of course start downing your drinks. In addition to a menu with a pretty decent variety, you can order your food in advance to make sure it’s ready when you arrive. Note: once the show starts you can’t order any more food because the actors/musicians do double-duty as servers (adding to the entertainment).

We went with a group of four for a lunchtime show (12–12:45pm). We were pretty hungry when we arrived, so we ordered a pizza and nachos for us to share as we enjoyed the show. The pizza was a “Shadowbox Pizza” (read: make your own) with mushrooms and onions. It was about an 8-inch pizza on a thin crust. Plus, they slice it like a grid into true individual pieces (about 2-inch sqaures), which makes it very easy to eat, especially with a group. It tasted pretty decent, too. The Nachos were about the best I’ve ever had. The cheese, onions, tomatoes, and black olives were tossed on top before baking the nachos in the oven. The nachos were much less greasy than most you find, and they came with a pico de gallo-style salsa (mild).

Alongside the great food were very personable and entertaining actors/servers, who did their best to keep everyone happy and of course let the rest of the theater know when guests were there for their first time—”Hey everyone, guess what?! There’s a couple of virgins over here!”

The food was good, the comedy was pretty funny, and the rock n’ roll was jamming. So who says your first time can’t be fun? :-)
Her Take

When we walked into Shadowbox, I was not expecting to be impressed by the food. We were going for a lunchbox show, and I figured we would get an appetizer to hold us over, and then “real food” afterwards at another restaurant on the Levee. I am happy to report that my expectations were a little low this time!

The lunchbox show is at noon, but doors open at 11:15, and they serve food until the show starts. It’s a 45 minute show including a mix of best-of-Shadowbox sketches and songs, and new material. The evening program is at dinner time, and food and drinks can be ordered before the show and at the intermission. The servers are also the actors, singers, comedians, and stagehands, so during the show itself, they’re busy—and you’ll be distracted from your hunger!

Our table of four could not agree on just one dish, and we were all hungry when we arrived. Passing on late-morning drinks (although our waiter did his best to convince us every time he came to the table), we ordered a mushroom-and-onion-pizza and nachos for the table. As I mentioned, I was pleasantly surprised! The pizza was a personal size, and the taste came mainly from the seasoning and toppings, rather than the thin crust. The middle pieces were a little soggy and difficult to hold, but still good. The nachos were impressive—not greasy at all. The creation was apparently baked, based on the slightly burnt corners on two or three chips, but otherwise done to perfection. There was a fantastic ratio of toppings-to-chips: we finished everything on the plate, with none of those sad, topping-less chips left over. A friend who had been there before said that their signature drink, “the freak,” is deliciously fruity, and not overly strong. It’s on my list to try when I’m there a little later in the day.

Seating is around tables for about 8 people, and if your party is smaller than that, they may add another party at your table. It might have been awkward, but the group that joined our party of four did not arrive until shortly before showtime, so we mainly ignored one another. One of the people in their party ordered a salad, which looked to be heaped on a standard-sized paper (plastic?) plate. It was right before the lights went down, so I didn’t get a good look, but I didn’t notice anything particularly exciting about it—although it did come with a good-sized piece of foccacia.

Suffice it to say that none of us was hungry when we left Shadowbox. We had a mid-day dose of comedy and music, and better food than any of us had been expecting. I, for one, had the reaction that they probably hope for from the Lunchbox: I am looking forward to finding a time to go to a full evening show!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I went to an evening show here, and I was as pleasantly surprised as you! I was just here last weekend, and I had the Pesto Pizza, 3 Cheese Bread, and the Mt. Shadowbox....all winners!! And when I found out that the drummer made the pizzas, and the actors made the appetizers and desserts, I was floored! And then these folks get on stage and put on a truly amazing show. I was impressed with the quality of Shadowbox on all fronts, and recommend it to everyone I've talked to this week!:)