Category Archives: Bistros

Veggie pizza at Harvest. LEO photo by Frankie Steele.

Harvest inspires our critic’s rant

For a change of pace this week, let’s start with a rant. A political rant! A rant about food politics!

I don’t want to say Michael Pollan or Mark Bittman are latecomers to the party. But I’m sure I’m not the only Boomer who woke up to the issues of food justice a generation earlier when I read Frankie Moore Lappé’s “Diet for a Small Planet” and “Food First” back in the ’70s, when being a “foodie” -a name not yet invented -was just becoming a thing.

The idea that there was a connection between stuffing our faces, feeding hungry people locally, fighting hunger around the world and pushing back against the food industry’s excesses from Frankenfood chemistry to horrific concentrated animal feeding operations came as a new and exciting notion back then.
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Seared snapper at The Brewery. LEO photo by Frankie Steele.

We study Reinheitsgebot and good eats at The Brewery

I like to think I’m a bit of a beer geek, but our friend Don puts me in the shade when it comes to knowledge of things malty and hoppy. I’ll bet he could recite the rules of the ancient Reinheitsgebot beer laws forwards and backwards, and our multilingual pal Anne could help us do it in the original German.
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Veggie pot pie at La Coop.

You Don’t Have To Speak French To Love La Coop

You don’t need to know nearly as much French as you used to do in order to enjoy dinner without assistance at La Coop. Well, you don’t need a French dictionary much, anyway, once you translate the moniker “Bistro à Vins” to discover that it means something like “unpretentious eatery and wines.” Continue reading

Rotisserie duck at Loop 22. LEO photo by Frankie Steele.

Loop 22 is a fine addition to the Highlands restaurant scene

When baby boomers were kids, our parents overcooked our veggies until they were mushy and bland. A generation later, baby millennials got their veggies crisp and barely cooked, reflecting the then-trendy restaurant style. You’d think that by 2014, some kind of balance might have been achieved between the extremes of ’70s mush and ’90s crunch, but noooo … Continue reading

Acorn squash risotto at Proof.

It’s an eatery! It’s an art show! It’s Proof on Main!

What the Flock?! No, that’s not a question. It’s a title, the moniker artist Johnston Foster bestowed on the “site-specific installation” (you or I might call it a “sculpture show”) that, since 2012, has filled the overhead space in Proof on Main with a squadron of exploding seagulls.

Let’s face it, Proof on Main is that kind of place. It’s housed in the trendy confines of Louisville’s much applauded 21c Museum Hotel, which includes the word “museum” in its name with good reason: The place is loaded with wacky yet meaningful art that incorporates everything from its signature red penguins to the giant golden replica of Michelangelo’s “David” out front to, well, exploding gulls. Continue reading

Polenta and black-beanfritters at Exchange Pub + Kitchen.

Exchange Pub + Kitchen, a Pillar of Its Community

How good is Exchange Pub + Kitchen? Why, it’s a Pillar of its community.

I mean that literally: This month the popular spot in New Albany’s buzzing downtown dining scene won one of the city’s Pillar Awards, which recognize contributors to downtown restoration and renovation. Exchange Pub won the Horizon Award, honoring co-owners Ian and Nikki Hall for their 2012 move from the Grant Line Road area into the historic 1875-era Shrader Stables building downtown, the New Albany Tribune reported.
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Brunch and a bloody mary at Napa River Grill.

Napa River Grill’s Sunday brunch is eggs-actly delicious

Today, let us consider the incredible egg: a gift of nature that’s supremely edible when we handle it right, but when it’s raw or overcooked, not so much.

You see, eggs coagulate, a process the American Egg Board explains as “the denaturation of protein, which is when proteins lose their native, water-soluble structure and become insoluble. … The change of state — from liquid to solid or semi-solid, known as coagulation or gelation — results when the egg protein structure is altered from its native form by whipping or heating, or both.”

Yeah, right, OK, so what? Well, as it happens, this process can be both a blessing and a curse for those who love eggs and the chefs who cook them. Continue reading

Grilled cheese at Atlantic No. 5

Make Mine Grilled Cheese, Pleese!

Ahh, it finally feels like autumn, and I’m thinking of comfort food.

This nostalgic meme rarely attaches itself to the light, low-calorie and cooling dishes of summer. “Comfort” means stews and hearty soups, spaghetti and meatballs or maybe a thick pan of lasagna – the kinds of warming, stick-to-your-ribs dishes that Mom used to make, or at least you wish she had. Nor need comfort food be complicated or hard to cook.
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Fillet de merou et coquilles St. Jacques at Brasserie Provence. LEO photo by Frankie Steele.

Brasserie Provence shows grace and good eats in dinner rush

Je vais avoir le canard,” said my friend Anne, summoning a French teacher and one-time expat’s easy fluency.

Our server looked puzzled, though. “Maybe you could point it out on the menu,” he said, blushing a little. “I’m still learning the dishes.”

I’m not picking on the guy, though. He showed Hemingway-esque grace under fire as our party of four spent the evening on a lavish meal at Brasserie Provence. We enjoyed his service, a fine Loire Cabernet Franc and an excellent, mostly authentic Provencal meal while allowing plenty of slack for a kitchen slammed by capacity crowds on its first full weekend. Continue reading

Korean roasted brussels sprouts and an Absinthe Old Fashioned at Rye. LEO photo by Frankie Steele.

Rye will make you eat your brussels sprouts and beg for more

Somewhere out there in this wonderfully diverse world, there is bound to be at least one human who truly loves, loves, loves brussels sprouts.

I have not yet met this person. Let’s face it, a brussels sprout is nothing but a tiny cabbage, with all of the faults that its bigger sibling is heir to, but – in my opinion, at least, and apparently that of many others – few of the virtues. Overcook them and they get stenchy. Undercook them and they stay hard, without the saving grace of crunch. And no matter what you do with them, it seems, they remain, well, tiny cabbages.
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Fried chicken at the Coach Lamp

Food Network loves The Coach Lamp, but who loves Food Network?

Okay, I am just going to come right out and say it: I am so over Food Network. Have been for years, really.

She’s like an old flame, full of bad memories of a romance that I try to suppress now that I’m no longer quite so young and stupid. Oh, I loved her back then, I truly did. It was late coming to Louisville, and I lusted after it in my heart when I read my friends’ stories online about her seductive wiles. And when she finally came to town, sometime around the turn of the millennium, as I recall, I was smitten, so smitten. Continue reading