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

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?

Asian “fusion” at Kimis


(Kimis Asian Bistro, Voice-Tribune, Sept. 13, 2006)

In physics, “fusion” refers to the nuclear process that occurs within stars, where atoms are forced together under high temperature and pressure until they merge, releasing a tremendous amount of energy.

In jazz, fusion is a genre that merges the music with other styles, from rock to rhythm and blues.

And in dining out, fusion represents a creative blend of cuisines that aren’t usually seen on the same plate. At its best, fusion cuisine can be a delight, as pretty as a jazz riff and as energetic as sunlight.

Now restaurateur John Chung brings his gentle brand of fusion to the far East End with Kimis Asian Bistro, offering an easy blend of Japanese dishes accented with Korean and Thai flavors.

Kimis, pronounced “Kim-eez,” represents two Chinese characters that mean “Abundant purity.” It’s independent and locally owned, although stylish modern graphics – and displays of sample bottles of sauces bearing the Kimis brand name, still under development – hint at larger dreams for a chain-to-be.
Continue reading Asian “fusion” at Kimis

Attack of the killer chains

P F Chang'sPardon me if I seem dense, but I’m still having a hard time figuring out just why so many people are willingly lining up for a wait of two to three hours to dine at the two hottest new spots in suburbia – P. F. Chang’s and The Cheesecake Factory.

We’ve checked them both out now – Chang’s twice – and while I’ll grant that they’re both well designed, staffed with competent people and serving food that ranks well above the median for corporate chain fare, still … three hours? Give me a break!
Continue reading Attack of the killer chains

Earlier reviews of restaurants priced in the $20-$40 range

The links below go to earlier reviews:

August Moon
Los Aztecas
Baxter Station
Behar Cafe
Bluegrass Brewing Co.
Brandon’s Barbecue
Bristol Bar & Grille
Café Lou Lou
California Pizza Kitchen
El Caporal
Cardinal Hall of Fame
Carolina Shrimp & Seafood
Cheddar’s Casual Cafe
Come Back Inn
Cottage Inn
Cumberland Brews
Ditto’s Grill
Double Dragon Buffet
El Mundo
Emperor/Empress of China
Ernesto’s Mexican
The Fish House
Goose Creek Diner
Joe Huber’s
The Irish Rover
Jack’s Lounge
Jade Palace
Joe’s Crab House
Joe’s OK Bayou
John E’s
Kentucky State Fair
Kim’s Asian Grill
King Buffet
Lee’s Korean
Lemongrass Cafe
Lone Star Steakhouse
Louisville Slugger Field
Lynn’s Paradise Cafe
Mai’s Thai
Maido Essential Japanese
Mama Rosa
Mark’s Feed Store
Mike Linnig’s
Cafe Mimosa
Molly Malone’s
The Monkey Wrench
El Nopal
North End Cafe
Old Spaghetti Factory
Oriental Express
Ray Parrella’s
Ramsi’s Cafe
Red Lounge
Rick’s Ferrari Grille
Rocky’s Italian Grill
Rudyard Kipling
Sala Thai
Sesame Chinese
Shogun Japanese Steakhouse
Sichuan Garden
Thai Cafe
Third Avenue Cafe
Uptown Cafe
Wick’s Pizza Parlor
Yaching’s East West Cuisine
Yang Kee Noodle
Za’s Pizza Pub
Zen Garden