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

We like smut. It’s good.

Bruce Ucan
After a brief hiatus, former Mayan Gypsy chef Bruce Ucan is back at it with Mayan Café, in the East Market location where Mayan Gypsy started out. LEO Photo by Nicole Pullen

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes

Smut. Corn smut. It’s a nasty name for a nasty-looking thing, a black, disgusting fungus that turns corn kernels into swollen gray blobs that look like an alien mutation, a sight so gross that the ancient Aztecs named the stuff “cuitlacoche” or, literally, well, “black turds.”

Although cuitlacoche may look like something the dog dragged in, it tastes really, really good. So, while North American farmers curse and destroy smut-afflicted corn, Mexican growers are more inclined to praise Lord Quetzalcoatl, peel off the pillowy black fungus and serve it for lunch. Or put some in cans and ship it north to savvy restaurateurs.

Selling it to Anglos can be a challenge, though, so the few eateries around the United States that serve cuitlacoche (pronounced “wheat-la-COH-chay”) generally describe it with more appetizing euphemisms. “Mexican caviar,” for instance. Or, at Louisville’s excellent Mayan Café, “exotic mushroom,” appended to the Aztec “cuitlacoche” without the literal translation.
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Indulgent brunch at classy Volare

Shrimp and grits
Shrimp and grits: This Italian-accented variation on the Low Country standard is a brunch standby at Volare. Photo by Robin Garr

(Voice-Tribune, May 31, 2007)

It’s hard to believe that Volare has been around for only three years.

In those short years, this classy Italian dining room has shed its original Chicago-based connection; brought in the savvy Majid Ghavami as general manager, and hung on to Chef Dallas McGarrity, who cooks Italian as if he had a vowel on the end of his name (and hey, he does!)

With a recent expansion increasing the seating area and kitchen, there’s more of Volare to love than ever. It’s a personal favorite, my No. 1 choice among Louisville’s Italian restaurants for food, mood and service.
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Built like a Brix House Special

Bar at Brix
Brix Wine Bar, on Lagrange Road, is an attractive, worthy addition to the suburbs. Photos by Robin Garr.

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes

(Brix Wine Bar, Diamante)

As soon as I saw the name of Brix Wine Bar, I knew I had to try it.

Brix – pronounced “bricks,” not the Frenchified “bree” – is a serious techno-wine word, a vineyard term for the level of sugar in wine grapes, a measure of ripeness at harvest. The higher the brix, the riper the grapes, the more sugar, the greater potential alcohol.

Only a real wine geek could come up with an oenophiliac name like that. It’s not like calling your wine bar “Merlot” or something.
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Critic yells ‘beer me’ as suds go upscale

Mussel soup
Bistro New Albany and New Albanian Brewing Co. teamed up for an “Extreme Belgian” dinner that paired Belgian beers with various dishes, such as this succulent mussel soup. Photos by Robin Garr.

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes
(Extreme Belgian at Bistro New Albany; CarlyRae’s)

If you don’t think there’s any class distinction between wine and beer, you might consider whether you’ve even seen a drunk slouch into a bar and yell, “Wine me!” Beer, let’s face it, owns a downscale, blue-collar image that contrasts with wine’s perceived position as the drink the beautiful people sip.

But need this be so? In an age when artisanal brewpubs and microbreweries abound and the term “quality American beer” is no longer an oxymoron, it’s arguable that beer – fine, crafted beer made in a wide variety of styles – deserves as much connoisseurish attention as wine enthusiasts are accustomed to lavishing on their grape juice.
Continue reading Critic yells ‘beer me’ as suds go upscale