Cry Havoc and let slip the Hot Browns of War

For hospitality workers, Derby means war.

It’s not a contest against the sea of festive diners. It’s a battle against time and against mistakes, against anything that tries to keep us from the summit of a perfect service. After weeks of preparation, it’s a brief war, lasting at most two days; but a crucial one on a couple of fronts. Continue reading Cry Havoc and let slip the Hot Browns of War

Louisville Cafe India brings Indian delights

Once upon a time, not all that many years ago, the closest Indian restaurant to Louisville was in Cincinnati. I know, because I used to make that trip as often as I could. Indeed, as recently as the turn of the millennium there were still only about three Indian eateries in town.

But those days of deprivation are past! The recent arrival of Louisville Cafe India, popped up in the Middletown quarters abruptly vacated by Peking City Bistro last winter, pushes the metro’s count of Indian restaurants past a dozen, all of them on the Kentucky side of the river. Get with it, Hoosiers!

I was already feeling pumped by the arrival of Shreeji Indian Vegetarian Street Food on Hurstbourne last winter, so when I learned that Louisville Cafe India also features a substantial selection of Indian street fare – and more substantial entrees from many Indian regions as well – it didn’t take me long to race over there. Continue reading Louisville Cafe India brings Indian delights

El Mariachi is so good that even the chips excel

Let me tell you why I love El Mariachi so hard: Even the chips and salsa that drop on your table the moment you take a seat are exceptional. These thick, deeply corn-flavored treats, fashioned on the premises from fresh-made tortillas, are positively addictive. They’re so crunchy that I had to look twice to persuade myself that they weren’t lightly breaded before they were fried.

Yes, the salsa is first-rate, too, a finely mashed reddish-brown puree of red chiles, tomatoes, and herbs, just spicy enough. But those chips? Perhaps the best I ever ate, I really could make a meal of them, if that didn’t involve missing out on the rest of the menu. But I can’t do that. It’s too good to skip. Continue reading El Mariachi is so good that even the chips excel

Come to Sal’s for the pizza, stay for the fish

I must have passed by Sal’s Pizza & Sports Pub in Lyndon a hundred times without ever being motivated to stop in. This was a mistake. In retrospect I really miss all the good meals that I might have enjoyed there.

Don’t be like me. Go, soon. You’ll like it. Continue reading Come to Sal’s for the pizza, stay for the fish

Grassa Gramma is the next best thing to dinner in Italy

I think Grassa Gramma is more than ready for prime time. Every single thing I’ve had to eat there in two visits (so far) has been really good, and the service was fine in that not-quite obsequious hovering style that’s been a hallmark of fine Italian dining in Louisville since Casa Grisanti went upscale in the 1970s.

But, even two months after Grassa Gramma opened its oversize front doors in Holiday Manor and with crowds trooping in, owner Kevin Grangier and General Manager Tarek Hamada are still striving for perfection. Continue reading Grassa Gramma is the next best thing to dinner in Italy

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