To hear the buzz emanating from the local foodie blogosphere you might think that the newborn Fontleroy’s represents the second coming of Chef Georges Auguste Escoffier or somebody.
They’ve got a point, too. There is a lot to like about Fontleroy’s. It’s Chef Allan Rosenberg’s latest venture, and he’s cheffed a string of winners with a relentless focus on food quality and creative preparation. Service is very strong. And our own Marsha (“Industry Standard”) Lynch whomps up some excellent desserts. It’s in a great Bardstown Road location, and it’s fun.
My friend Bob has a vowel on the end of his name, and he proudly hails from New Jersey, so when he told me to check out Bistro 42 in Prospect for its great Italian* food, I figure he knows what he’s talking about.
Um, what’s with that asterisk on “Italian*”?
Let’s touch down for a couple of quick hits on the metro dining scene this week. Uptown Café has been a Bardstown Road landmark for 20 years, serving always reliable fare in a friendly setting that keeps bringing people back for more.
Shandaar Indian is so new that its well-crafted Facebook page still has that new-page smell. So far out in the East End that it feels closer to downtown Shelbyville than downtown Louisville, it proved to be well worth the trek.
Even after many years of wisecracking about food, I have to doff my toque to Calvin Trillin, whose culinary scribblings in The New Yorker and elsewhere surely qualify him as the funniest food writer ever.
So, upon my recent visit to 8UP, the self-described “Elevated Drinkery and Kitchen” atop the new downtown Hilton Garden Inn, it was with great glee that I went a’Googling in search of my favorite Trillin quote about rooftop eateries.
I try hard to be open-minded. I really do.
Consider the evidence: I’m a U of L grad, but I’m willing to root for UK or even IU, assuming that they aren’t playing the home team. I’m male yet feminist, straight yet affirming. And even as a card-carrying liberal, I voted for at least one Republican on last month’s ballot. Hey, it’s something!
But all this tolerance stops when we talk about the seasons.
“Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast.” Or maybe “beast.” Everybody thinks the Bard wrote this, but it was actually William Congreve, a decidedly lesser poet who lived a century or so after Bill Shakspear trod the boards.
My breast was savage, and so was my beast, the other day. I was crabby. I’ll admit it. And I showed few signs of getting better. What was gnawing at my liver? Let me count the ways. (The Bard really did say that.)
Okay, let’s just lay this out there as a true confession: I’ve reviewed a few national corporate franchise chain eateries lately, and I’m not sorry. Well, not very sorry.
Here’s a pro tip for restaurant servers: Don’t suck up. Even if you think you’ve spotted a food critic in the house, don’t do it. It can lead to no good end.
Or maybe you don’t reserve the obsequiousness for suspected food writers. Maybe you fawn over everyone who comes in the door, thinking that bowing and scraping like a rug merchant in a Middle Eastern bazaar will prompt everyone to shower you with big tips.
Take this clue: It doesn’t work. Or it sure as hell doesn’t work for me, anyway.
We stepped into the high-ceilinged room that had housed De La Torre’s for so many years. It looks … different. And very cool. There’s wood all around, and glass and some brass, too, and a bar so long it goes back to there, backed by an awe-inspiring wall of wines housed in high-tech argon gas dispensers that keep the vino fresh.
Also, it’s loud, and by “loud,” I mean LOUD! as in “I can’t hear a frappin’ word you’re saying!”
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.
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.
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