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

Pho Phi gives your money’s worth

You say “pho,” I say “fuh.” Which is the right way to say it, anyway? Inspired by a couple of bowls of pho, er, fuh, at Phi Pho (“Fee Fuh”), a new, fast-casual pho shop in St. Matthews, I dug into the roots of pho, and – somewhat to my surprise, since I thought I already knew this stuff – I learned a thing or two. Continue reading Pho Phi gives your money’s worth

Milantoni offers fine Italian, the old-fashioned way

Once upon a time, within living memory for many of us, Italian dining meant hearty, red-sauced pasta, garlic bread, maybe a little lasagna, and fake ivy on the ceiling.

Then, just like that, back in the ‘70s, Italian went upscale. Before we knew it we were all gaga about what we called Northern Italian cuisine, with nary a drop of marinara in sight.

But in our hearts we know we still crave the comforting old-school family-style Italian-American fare, don’t we? If you’re suddenly craving some ravioli or chicken parm – and pizza of course – then here’s my advice: Head for Milantoni Italian Restaurant and mangia, mangia, mangia! Continue reading Milantoni offers fine Italian, the old-fashioned way

Simply Thai comforts us with flavor and spice

When you need comfort food, nothing else will do. When you’re feeling down, pulling up to a plate full of comfort may be the best thing you can do for yourself. So it was for me last week when I had to say good-bye to my beloved cat Spike, a ginger-color furball buddy who’d been my special friend and constant companion for more than 17 years. It was either ugly-cry or fill up on comfort food, so I decided to do both.

But here’s the funny thing: When I needed comfort food, I realized that comfort for me does not come from the nurturing culinary memories of a Louisville childhood. No, my culinary comfort needs are filled with the bright, potent flavors of Southern and Southeastern Asia. Make mine Indian, Vietnamese, Indonesian or Thai, and I can feel the tension and sadness quietly draining away.

I hadn’t been to Simply Thai in St. Matthews for quite a while, so it felt like the perfect destination for a bittersweet yet consoling dinner in memory of Spike. Continue reading Simply Thai comforts us with flavor and spice

We are Hooked on Frankfort

For many decades before the first pizza came to Louisville in the 1950s or the first real taquerias arrived in the 1990s, this town has had a love affair with seafood and fish.

It wasn’t long after the Civil War when Mazzoni’s started shipping fresh oysters up from the Gulf in railroad cars filled with ice; fried fish couldn’t have taken much longer in a city with a large Catholic population expected to consume fish on Fridays. Mike Linnig and his family were selling fish sandwiches out of their produce stand on Cane Run Road as early as the late 1920s; the first Kingfish restaurant greeted the dawn of the Baby Boom in 1948.

Nowadays there’s a source of fried fish just about everywhere you look, and the latest entry is a good one, too: Please say hello to Hooked on Frankfort. Continue reading We are Hooked on Frankfort

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