Category Archives: $$ Modest ($20-$40)

Soup Dumplings at The Joy Luck

Soup dumplings? Soup in dumplings wins at The Joy Luck

When I was a child, country-style chicken and dumplings wasn’t a thing in my citified family, but I wanted them to be. I would read about dumplings in children’s books and dream of tasting these succulent-sounding goodies.

“You wouldn’t like them,” my mother said, declining to make some for the family table.

Eventually I got to try some, and sure enough, Mom was right as usual. Thick rectangles of flabby dough, floating in chicken stew? Meh.

But that was before most folks in these parts knew of Chinese dumplings. Continue reading

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Stir-fry of broccoli, tofu and black beans over tender rice noodles.

Thai Cafe: Not Quite “Consummate,” But Fun

Well, hey now. What’s this? A new restaurant reviewer at The Courier-Journal? How about that! This sort of thing fascinates me because I used to occupy that pulpit myself, as dining critic for the late, great Louisville Times (and, after its death, The CJ) until I left the building in 1990.
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Seared snapper at The Brewery. LEO photo by Frankie Steele.

We study Reinheitsgebot and good eats at The Brewery

I like to think I’m a bit of a beer geek, but our friend Don puts me in the shade when it comes to knowledge of things malty and hoppy. I’ll bet he could recite the rules of the ancient Reinheitsgebot beer laws forwards and backwards, and our multilingual pal Anne could help us do it in the original German.
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Gorgonzola ravioli with beef tips at Corner Cafe.

Corner Café, dishing up comfort food for 20 years

Think of a quintessential Louisville neighborhood, and chances are your thoughts will turn to Germantown or Clifton, the Highlands or Crescent Hill.

“That stretch out past Lyndon where Whipps Mill twists around the railroad tracks and tangles with Lagrange Road,” not so much. Continue reading

Pad Thai at Thai Noodles.

Celebrate the Noble Noodle at Thai Noodles

Life as a hunter-gatherer was hard, no question about that. As the philosopher Thomas Hobbes famously put it, this life was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”

But at least paleolithic humans didn’t have to make many decisions at supper time. Knock over an animal, whack off a chunk and chow down. Cooking it was optional, once people learned to tame fire. It was only when humans settled down in agricultural societies about 10,000 years ago that culinary life got complicated. Continue reading

Tacos and a house margarita at Wild Rita's. LEO photo by Frankie Steele.

The ‘ritas are the wildest thing at Wild Rita’s

So, just how wild are the ‘ritas at Wild Rita’s?

Well, this new spot just east of downtown, within the noise penumbra and particulates shadow of the Great Bridge Boondoggle, offers 10, count ‘em 10, variations on the margarita, not to mention tequila cocktails, tequila tastings and nearly 100 fine tequilas by the bottle or drink. It would take more effort than I’m willing to expend to answer this question definitively. Continue reading

Fish and chips at the Irish Rover. LEO photo by Frankie Steele.

Irish Rover takes us to the Emerald Isle

I’ll never forget my first and only visit to Ireland. We spent a week or two driving around the country, learning wrong-side driving and stopping at every pub we could find to enjoy a pint of Guinness. Damn, it was hard to find traditional Irish music, though. Pub after pub after pub, the food and the mood were Irish, but the music was international rock. When I finally found a crew with a harp singing “Danny Boy” in a tiny pub in Killarney, it was jammed with American tourists, of course. Continue reading

Buddha's daydream at Saigon Cafe

We Meet The Buddha on The Road at Saigon Café

Does the Buddha daydream?

As the ancient story is told, more than 2,500 years ago when Siddharta Gautama experienced his awakening, his six years of meditation and study provided him with sudden vast insight into the meaning of life. Thus he became the Buddha, “The Awakened One,” and one of the world’s great religious traditions was born.

So meditate me this: Does an Awakened One sleep? Probably not. What would be the point? But surely the Buddha daydreams, for what is daydreaming, after all, but random meditation?

Buddha’s Daydream! It’s a Zen koan, and it’s a dish at Saigon Cafe in St. Matthews. Continue reading

Lentil Tagine at Andalous. LEO photo by Frankie Steele

Andalous takes us on a tasty trip to Morocco

Quick! Where’s Morocco? Can you point to it on a map? Tell us something about its history! What do you know about its culture and cuisine?

Stumped? Sorry! But if you’re not comfortable with these questions, don’t feel too bad. You’re hardly alone in the geographical illiteracy that researchers say afflicts a majority of Americans, particularly the younger set. Continue reading

Belgian waffle at Selena's

No Waffling About Selena’s Belgian Model

Selena’s has become a popular local tradition during its four-plus years in the landmark Willow Lake Tavern building. I dropped in with friends for Sunday brunch, and while I didn’t have a review in mind, I can’t help but praise the Belgian waffle ($8), a filling treat, dusted with powdered sugar and topped with a ball of pecan butter, served with choice of cheesy hash-brown casserole or creamy grits. Add a few New Orleans-style beignets ($4) and strong coffee or a Bloody Mary ($4), and you’ve got a meal fit for a king of Mardi Gras. Continue reading

Phò gà chicken soup at NamNam Cafe. LEO photo by Frankie Steele.

NamNam’s chicken soup feeds the soul

“Hack-hack! Ker-CHOO! Cough! Snort!” Aw, kee-rap! Mary’s got a cold, and it sounds like a monster. This can’t be good. Not only do I wish no ill on my dear bride, but also let’s face it: When Momma’s not happy, ain’t nobody happy.

What to do? What to do? I know! Chicken noodle soup!
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Lechon al horno at Riviera Maya.

Can Riviera Maya exorcise a haunted venue?

This may seem a topic better suited for Halloween than the dead of icy winter coming up on Fat Tuesday, but hey, let’s talk about “haunted” restaurant locations. Local foodies quickly learn about these venues that seem to labor under a curse, housing one short-lived restaurant failure after another. Continue reading