Category Archives: Hurstbourne, Middletown, Jeffersontown

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

Mimi’s: Popular chain lands on Hurstbourne

Mimi's
Mimi’s occupies the renovated former quarters of Don Pablo’s on Hurstbourne. Photo by Robin Garr

(Voice-Tribune, March 8, 2007)

When it comes to dining out, I’m usually inclined to look for a well-run locally owned and operated eatery, where the chances are that the person who has to meet the payroll is the same individual who cooks your dinner or greets you at the door.

In the practical reality of today’s corporate world, however, franchise and chain restaurants abound; in the suburbs, it’s fair to say that chain eateries significantly outnumber the locals. Drive the length of Hurstbourne, for instance, and once you’re past Tony Boombozz, the elegant Limestone and the Bristol, you’ve pretty much exhausted your independent-owner options.

But let’s face it: Bean counters and quarterly balance sheets to the contrary notwithstanding, the chains must be doing something right, as these eateries generally pack in crowds of seemingly happy customers. Continue reading Mimi’s: Popular chain lands on Hurstbourne

Fat Tuesday Valentine at Joe’s OK Bayou

Joe's OK Bayou
Nothing says “I love you”: like a plate of gumbo, jambalaya and fried crawfish tails from Joe’s OK Bayou. Dig in! Photo by Robin Garr.

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes
(Joe’s OK Bayou, Ramsi’s Cafe on the World)

It’s a long way from the Louisiana bayou country to the shopping centers that are rapidly replacing forests and fields on New Albany’s far north side, but once you step into Joe’s OK Bayou, the distance seems to disappear. Or some of it, anyway.

Like its Kentucky-side counterpart in Plainview, this relatively new edition of Joe’s (it opened the autumn before last) turns bland shopping-center space into a modest replica of a Cajun-country saloon. The walls are painted to resemble a fishing shack surrounded by cypress trees and subtropical birds. Zydeco music in the background and glowing Abita beer signs complete the Acadian ambience, and the food does a reasonably good job of evoking the bayou country, too. Continue reading Fat Tuesday Valentine at Joe’s OK Bayou