I’ve been eager to get back to Alwatan ever since I heard that this lovable little Eastern Mediterranean eatery had outgrown the small space it shared with its sibling Palestinian bakery and moved into larger quarters next door. We wheeled in and grabbed the last parking spot. Suddenly, a scream shattered the wintry silence.
“GAAAAH!” Mary was staring at the door. No, she was staring at a placard on the door.
“GAAAAH!,” she repeated, pointing at a large, scarlet letter. “THEY GOT A ‘C’!”
D’oh! Yet, while this may surprise some of you, we went right in, enjoyed a fine Mediterranean meal and survived to tell the tale. Continue reading →
If there was ever any doubt that pizza has truly become an all-American treat, it was surely put to rest with Pizzagate this week, when New York City’s new mayor Bill de Blasio provoked screams of outrage when he attacked a gooey pie at a Gotham pizzeria with – the horror – a knife and fork. “Blasphemy! No one would ever do such a thing in Italy,” the angry hordes shrieked.
Just imagine what it would be like if you had a good friend who was Indian, and he invited you over for dinner while his grandmother was visiting from Mumbai. If you enjoyed Indian food at all, much less loved it as much as I do, you would surely look forward to these authentic goodies with great anticipation. Continue reading →
“Born in a log cabin.” In not-so-distant American history, this status – a symbol of humble, honest origins, was just about mandatory for those who wanted to run for president.
It’s likely that seven of America’s chief executives, and possibly as many as 10 drew their first breath in a rustic log abode. Which ones? Cabin-born prexies certainly included Abraham Lincoln, whose birthplace is now a National Historical Park in Hodgenville, Ky. Zachary Taylor, born in a log cabin in Virginia, grew up in Louisville in decidedly more elegant quarters at Locust Grove.
Others, some subject to debate among historians, included Andrew Jackson, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, James Garfield and Chester A. Arthur.
And then there’s John E’s Restaurant & Lounge. It never ran for president, although if it ever did, there are surely hungry folks in Louisville who would consider voting for it. But it was indisputably born in a log cabin, and what’s more, no mere rude shack of felled trees but a log structure of significant historic worth, now designated a Kentucky Landmark.
It was the home of the Hikes family, descendants of the pioneer Louisville settler George Hikes, who received land grants in Kentucky for his Revolutionary War service. The existing four-room, two-story structure that still forms the core of John E’s was built around 1851 on the site of an earlier house. Hikes Lane and the Hikes Point neighborhood still keep the family’s historic name alive.
The building has been a popular restaurant for half a century – originally Bill Boland’s, and since the 1980s John E’s. The space has been expanded substantially, including four dining rooms, a bar and a fully enclosed Patio Room, but I still like best the small dining room that reveals parts of the original cabin. Much of the walls are covered with large, antique-print wallpaper, but the original logs still show through in places, as does the beamed ceiling.
John E’s dinner menu offers standard American fare, with emphasis on steakhouse delights. It begins at $9 (for beef or veggie burgers) and $19 (for several items including chicken breast dishes, Boston scrod, or a full pound of pork chops). Most main course are under $30, with a hefty two-pound T-bone priced at $38 if you eat it all by yourself, or $45 divided for two.
My brother and sister were in town, so we got together with them, a cousin and an aunt for a big country-style dinner, and I can’t say we had a thing we didn’t enjoy. We started with a shared app, a big plate of green chili won tons ($7), which were a lot like the Bristol’s. I won’t speculate who had the idea first, but John E’s presents a good version.
A burger ($9) did its job well, juicy and hot, dressed with a slice of melted cheddar (50 cents extra) and the traditional lettuce, tomato and mayo. The rib eye pepper steak ($28) was a splendid piece of this flavorful cut, cooked medium-rare as ordered. It was crusted in so much coarsely cracked black pepper that it almost seemed hot, but it was tender and the flavors worked well. A stuffed twice-baked potato ($2) was first-rate, and there were no complaints about a standard, fresh house salad.
With glasses of California Apothic red ($8) and Gaston Argentine Malbec ($7.50), our share of dinner came to $64.66 for two, plus a $14 tip for friendly, attentive service.
If you’re trying to save on fuel during a summer that makes the case for global warming and when gasoline prices flirt with $4 per gallon, there’s a lot to like about a friendly food truck operator who brings lunch to your neighborhood. Across the country, a veritable food truck race is under way, with food truck “pods” growing in with-it towns like Austin, Texas, and Portland, Ore. Continue reading →
Ahh, the cuisines of Peru. Some of my most memorable food experiences occurred in this hospitable South American land.
Like the time we stayed over in Cuzco, high in the Andes, after a trip to Machu Picchu. Bored by our hotel’s American-style dining room, we went in search of something more authentic: pollo a la brasa — charcoal-roasted chicken, that is, modern Peru’s people’s fare. We soon found a cozy spot with a sign that read, simply, “Pollo” (“Chicken”). Continue reading →
I’d like to tell you about a cozy new place where dining is much like being invited into an Indian family’s home for dinner.
Pop bustles about while Junior sets the table and keeps up a stream of friendly chatter. Mom’s in the kitchen with a clatter of pans and spoons, and wonderful smells come wafting out. Plates bearing aromatic, home-cooked Indian goodies soon start appearing on the table, and the whole family smiles, awaiting your thumbs-up.