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

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

QuickBytes: Konnichi-wa at Caviar

Caviar

Komban wa,” I told the sushi chef, bowing politely and doing the best I could to get out the Japanese words for “good evening” with at least marginal fluency.

He gave me a friendly but very puzzled look.

“I guess I just can’t speak Japanese,” I said, switching back to English.

“No,” he said. “I can’t speak Japanese. I’m from Korea.”

Whatever. He was a heck of a nice guy, and over the course of our first dinner at Caviar, the sleek new Japanese spot next door to the Seelbach on Muhammad Ali, he would fashion us more than $50 worth of sushi, all of it creditable and much of it splendid.
Continue reading QuickBytes: Konnichi-wa at Caviar

Lentini’s is back, again, and it’s better than ever

Three pastas
Lentini’s tris di pasta sampler: risotto con asparagi, thin and dense lasagna and wide tagliatelle in a light cream sauce with Portobello mushroom slices. Photo by Robin Garr.

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes

The red neon sign out front of this Highlands landmark isn’t retro, it’s real. It takes us right back to the ’60s, still luring us in to Lentini’s “Little Italy” just as it did when it opened 45 years ago when JFK was president, Elvis was King and girls wore beehive hairdos and poodle skirts.

When the last Lentini (“Sonny”) retired in 2001, a partnership with a Vietnamese entrepreneur followed and we got banh mi and pho alongside lasagna and pizza. This strange experiment didn’t last long. Lentini’s closed, reopened under new management in 2003, then closed again. New owners tried again and promptly went bankrupt. Now it’s ba-aa-ack for a third try, or is it a fourth?

This time, though, the signs look good. Continue reading Lentini’s is back, again, and it’s better than ever

Westport General Store cuts the cheese, but it’s no Cracker Barrel

Westport General Store
Westport General Store: about 30 minutes from Louisville, is down-home, innovative and urbane. Photos by Robin Garr.

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes

A rustic country store in a tiny rural village, it boasts a breezy veranda, an oversize wheel of fine cheddar cheese, and a down-home bill of fare that includes such goodies as stone-ground grits and country-fried pork chops and even, occasionally, fried bologna.

Why, it sounds just like Cracker Barrel.

Not!
Continue reading Westport General Store cuts the cheese, but it’s no Cracker Barrel

Brunch at the Prospect Bristol

Bristol - Prospect

(Bristol – Prospect, Voice-Tribune, Nov. 9, 2006)

Louisville old-timers fondly recognize the Bristol Bar & Grille as the great-grandpappy of just about all the popular eateries that now virtually line Bardstown Road and Frankfort Avenues.

When the original Bristol opened at 1321 Bardstown Road in 1977, the idea of an upscale urban bistro seemed a little strange, but the idea quickly caught on, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Over the years, the Bristol became well-known for its casual gourmet-style signature dishes, from the Bristol Burger (served on an English muffin, what a concept), to the beloved Green Chile Won Tons. But when I look back over all the years that I’ve been a fan and happy customer, one Bristol tradition stands out: Sunday brunch!

A few branches around town have joined the original location, sharing similar menus but each with its own mood. The downtown branch (614 W. Main St.), fits in beautifully with its 19th century storefront surroundings, and the Hurstbourne Bristol (300 N. Hurstbourne Pkwy.) seems just as compatible a fit with the suburbs.

And now there’s a Prospect Bristol, opened this past summer in shopping-center space that had housed a Max’n’Erma’s. Continue reading Brunch at the Prospect Bristol

Chains – Was Mr. Marx right?

P.F. Chang's
Long waits were common when P.F. Chang’s opened in Louisville last year. Photo by Robin Garr

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes
(P.F. Chang’s, Cheesecake Factory)

“Unite,” Karl Marx urged the workers of the world. “You have nothing to lose but your chains.” And speaking of chains, my experiences with dining at the franchised variety too often remind me of another Marx – Groucho – who famously said, “I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn’t it.”

Please note that I’m not simply bashing all chains, sight unseen. I’ve had splendid meals at quite a few, and published glowing reviews. But whether you’re looking at a restaurant chain like Cheddar’s or a newspaper chain like Gannett, simple logic argues that when corporate bean counters rule spending, corner-cutting and diminished quality are likely to follow. Chains simply operate under different constraints than an independent local business run by an owner-chef whose passion drives him or her to excel regardless of costs.

This seems to work, most of the time. Consider the popularity of the Louisville Originals restaurants and similar locally owned eateries: You’ll find few chains knocking the locals out of any critic’s list of Top 10 places to dine.

And yet … some chains clearly do something right, because hungry crowds fairly knock down their doors. Take the suburban culinary meccas P.F. Chang’s and Cheesecake Factory. The three-hour waits of the early days may have diminished a little since they opened last autumn, but eager diners still line up hungrily at dinner time.

What is their secret? Continue reading Chains – Was Mr. Marx right?