Category Archives: Hurstbourne, Middletown, Jeffersontown

Eating for two (or more) at Buca di Beppo

Buca di Beppo
Buca di Beppo is notorious for its zany, tongue-in-cheek New Jersey-style Italian-restaurant décor and its huge portions of Italian-American dishes. The restaurant recently launched a new “Buca Mio” (“My Buca”) menu that features smaller portions meant to feed a single diner. LEO Photo by Nicole Pullen.

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes

My friends know me as the un-chained guy, an obligate foodie with a strong preferential option for locally owned and operated eateries, where you’ll find a distinct local flavor, and where you’ll find the host on the premises, working without strings being pulled by accountants and lawyers in a distant corporate office.

My reasoning should be obvious: While chains may provide consistency and a predictable experience, the heavy hand of the bean counter and the cold reality of the quarterly balance sheet almost invariably inspire corner-cutting, and this is as true in the restaurant industry as it is in, well, the newspaper business.

Still, it wouldn’t make sense to avoid chain dining entirely – heaven knows, it’s popular – and I might miss some good eats. Here and there around the Metro, and particularly in the chain-rich environment of the East End, there’s decent dining to be found in at least a few of the big-name brands.

One of the best bets, in my experience, is Buca di Beppo, Continue reading Eating for two (or more) at Buca di Beppo

On wings of fire

Wings
Back Door wings are legendary. Have them mild, medium, hot or “Burner.” LEO Photo by Nicole Pullen.

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes
(Nine fine spots for wings)

The calendar says it’s September, and just about everybody in town is fired up for the Cards vs. Cats weekend. So where are the colorful leaves, that hint of wood smoke in the air and the crisp, hazy autumn afternoons that define “football weather”?

OK, so it’s a little early for that, with temperatures still hitting the 90s and few signs of autumn around. But one constant of the season remains: Whether you’re tailgating at the stadium or planning a hearty repast for an afternoon of football on TV, it’s hard to imagine a better football snack than a mess of spicy, crispy Buffalo-style chicken wings.
Continue reading On wings of fire

Chef Dan seeks out the little donkey

Salsarita's
Salsarita’s chicken burrito with black beans, medium salsa, guacamole, lettuce, cilantro, red onions and cheese. Photo by Robin Garr.

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes
(Qdoba, Moe’s, Salsarita’s)

When a top chef takes a break from cooking for other people and ventures out to dine on someone else’s fare, what goodies is he likely to choose? Ethereally trendy foams and smears and other cutting-edge num-nums of molecular gastronomy?

Well, maybe.

But if you ask Chef Dan Thomas, sous chef at Big Spring Country Club and late of City Café, Café Metro and Equus, about the casual snack that smacks his piñata, a fond, distant look comes into his eyes and he literally licks his chops.

“Burritos,” he said. Continue reading Chef Dan seeks out the little donkey

Amerigo discovers Louisville

Amerigo

(Amerigo Italian Restaurant, Voice-Tribune, Aug. 9, 2007)

Amerigo Vespucci, a minor mapmaker of fifteenth century Italy, may have visited the New World briefly a decade or so after Christopher Columbus set foot ashore in 1492.

Yet, thanks to another mapmaker who named the new continents after his cartographic colleague, the Americas are forever known by Vespucci’s slightly altered first name; while Columbus’s moniker attaches only to such relatively little-known patriotic hymns as “Hail Columbia” and, well, the capital of Ohio.

Now Amerigo gains a 21st century connection on the sign over the door of a six-unit, Nashville-based Italian-style restaurant chain that recently opened its first Louisville property. Housed in the building that was formerly home to Harper’s, Amerigo Italian Restaurant has built a substantial word-of-mouth buzz since its opening last month.

We’ve found a lot to like on early visits: Continue reading Amerigo discovers Louisville

Butterburger better?

Some pals with roots in Wisconsin (let’s not call them “cheeseheads”) were all but agog with delight when the Culver’s Butterburger chain came to town early this year, and I have to confess that the very idea of a butterburger intrigued me, too. Butter … burger … fat cooked in fat! What’s not to like?

It’s a pretty little fast-food place, too, a sizable cottage in blue and white, neat as a pin, with little square-paned windows that give it a sort of corporate faux-Colonial style.

The signature Deluxe Butterburger was thin and irregularly handformed, not unlike the burgers my mother used to make when we were young. It had a good beefy flavor but was too thin to make rare or juicy, and if there was any butter in it, I sure couldn’t tell by tasting it. The “deluxe” model came with a thin layer of bland yellow cheese, iceberg lettuce and pale tomato and pickle chips, perched on a large, boring white bun that dwarfed the burger.

A side of “cheese curds,” a Wisconsin specialty, proved to be balls of bland cheese, breaded and greasily fried. Frozen custard was the hit of the meal, properly creamy and smooth, although the chocolate flavor was very mild, more like cocoa than dark chocolate. Hmm … Butterburger, breaded-and-fried cheese and rich custard … I don’t think I should get my cholesterol checked today.

My wife’s choice, the Wisconsin Swiss Melt, was an even thinner burger topped with a paper-thin slice of bland white cheese and a ration of limp, greasy fried onions, grilled on rye until the rye was crunchy (and greasy, too). It came with limp and uninteresting fries.

With two soft drinks, all this came to $19.06, a bit spendy for a fast-food burger. I’d certainly choose it over Mickey D’s or Burger King, but it’s not worth a return trip to its suburban locale for me. Next time I want a burger, I’ll get the real thing at Granville Inn or maybe W.W. Cousin’s.

Culver’s of Louisville
4630 Hurstbourne Pkwy.
671-2001
http://www.culvers.com/
(There’s also a Culver’s in Corydon, Ind., at 240 Federal Drive, 812-738-6464.)

Cravin’ Asian at Shah’s Mongolian

Shalimar
Two build-your-own stir-fries at Shah’s Mongolian Grill. Photo by Robin Garr

(Voice-Tribune, April 12, 2006)

I love Italian food and wine and sometimes feel that I can’t get enough of it. But after spending over two weeks in Northern Italy, enjoying the real thing for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I came home last week just about ready for a change of pace.

But what, exactly, would fill the bill? Instinctively, I emulated the Italian nobleman Marco Polo, who headed for the exotic East in 1266 and found all manner of good things: I headed for Louisville’s East End to check out a favorite Asian eatery that I was overdue to visit because of ownership changes and new offerings since my last review.
Continue reading Cravin’ Asian at Shah’s Mongolian