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

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.
Continue reading Built like a Brix House Special

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

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

A video tour of Caffè Classico

Play video
Click the image link to watch a 2-minute video tour of Caffè Classico

In a town that’s virtually awash with fine artisan coffee shops, it’s hard to declare a single favorite among so many good ones. I’m such a regular at Heine Bros. on Frankfort that the baristas all know just how I like my latte; I love the commitment to handmade quality at Sunergos in Germantown and the new Jackson’s Organic on Lexington Road and Blue Mountain on East Main; and there’s a lot to like at Day’s, Highland Coffee and many more.

But if you put together quality and mood and add a point or two for excellent food and a good wine list as a serious option for those evening hours when coffee doesn’t seem quite right but a glass of vino does, it’s hard to beat Caffe Classico on style points. Continue reading A video tour of Caffè Classico