Category Archives: $$$ Upscale ( $50 – $80)

80/20 @ Kaelin’s makes the old tradition new again

Kaelin’s is back, and it’s got cheeseburgers!

Well, let’s parse that a little: Meet the new 80/20@Kaelin’s. It’s not like the old Kaelin’s, but it’s certainly rooted in the mystique of the beloved old eatery at Speed Avenue and Newburg Road.

The original Kaelin’s was a Louisville favorite for most of the past century, family-owned from 1934 until its family owners sold the business in 2004. Owner Carl Kaelin was allegedly inspired to invent the cheeseburger on a brisk October day in 1935. Continue reading 80/20 @ Kaelin’s makes the old tradition new again

Ikebana fills long-vacant Red Pepper space

I still mourn the 2010 departure of Red Pepper, Louisville’s best Chinese restaurant ever. As good as it was, Red Pepper owner Yuan Hua told me when it closed, the combination of a $5,000 monthly lease payment and a respected Sichuan chef who required fair payment for his skills, sent it on to restaurant Nirvana after a short, bright two-year tenure.

Now, eight years later, the exotic-looking building on Lower Brownsboro is lighted up again: Ikebana Japanese Restaurant & Sushi has come to fill the space. Continue reading Ikebana fills long-vacant Red Pepper space

Artesano bounces back from spring flood

Certainly no one expected the monsoon-like rain storm and hail that smashed across Westport Road in February, dealing Artesano Vino Tapas y Mas a damaged roof and flooded dining room. The repair job took about two months, and the occasion for a reboot prompted a new look, some new dishes, and a new executive chef, Brian Curry, who came over from Napa River Grill to tweak the menu and oversee Artesano’s April reopening.

We dropped in the other night with a group of friends, and I’m delighted to report that the new Artesano is just as good as ever, maybe even a small step up the evolutionary ladder. Continue reading Artesano bounces back from spring flood

Appealing Sarino carries Vincenzo’s DNA, but it’s no clone

Vincenzo and Agostino Gabriele reinvented the Louisville dining scene a generation ago. Now Agostino’s sons, Carmelo and Michael Gabriele, have opened their own Italian restaurant in Germantown, named Sarino after the family nickname for another uncle, Rosario.

Will Sarino be something like Vincenzo’s Jr., then? I’m going to say no. But that’s no slam. Sarino is delightful in its own right, but it is as different from Vincenzo’s as millennials are different from baby boomers and as different as downtown is from Germantown. Continue reading Appealing Sarino carries Vincenzo’s DNA, but it’s no clone

Porcini’s landmark status is well and fully earned

It seems as if Porcini just got here. It seems as if Porcini has been here forever. The truth, as usual, lies between these extremes, but one thing is certain: The years have flown since I first sat down to a fine Italian dinner at this comfortable Frankfort Avenue landmark. Continue reading Porcini’s landmark status is well and fully earned

bar Vetti lights up 800 Building

Who knew that a hot new eatery would bring Louisville rushing back to the old 800 Building? Old-timers might consider this unlikely, but the delightful bar Vetti (management prefers the lowercase “bar”) fits nicely in the renovated turquoise tower. Continue reading bar Vetti lights up 800 Building

Hull & High Water’s oysters inspire hymns of praise

When we headed over to the new Hull & High Water the other evening, our friend Don said he was afraid he would be a pretty tough judge. Just back home from a conference in Boston, he had taken advantage of the opportunity to sample some of Beantown’s finest oysters and fish.

A half-hour later, though, he was singing a different tune, and Mary and I and our friend Anne were joining the hymn of praise in four-part harmony. Continue reading Hull & High Water’s oysters inspire hymns of praise

Lupo’s pizza and pasta sing a fine Italian song

Whatever might prompt two members of an indie rock band with a 17-year record and three songs on the Billboard 200 to leap from the world of music to the hard work of opening Lupo, an Italian restaurant that features pizza and pasta?

That’s just what vocalist and guitar player Adam Turla and cellist-keyboardist Sarah Balliet of the band Murder by Death have done, though. In August they joined Sarah’s brother Max Balliet, owner of the popular Holy Molé taco truck, to open Lupo, a fine, casual eatery in a nicely restored 19th century red-brick house on the far inner end of Frankfort Avenue where Clifton meets Butchertown. Continue reading Lupo’s pizza and pasta sing a fine Italian song