Category Archives: Coffee Shops & Desserts

Breakfast at Blue Dog

Pugliese "Pug" roll at Blue Dog Bakery. on Twitpic

Pugliese “Pug” roll at Blue Dog Bakery, a great stop for morning breads, pastries and coffee. There’s a full lunch menu, and it goes without saying that Baker Bob Hancock’s artisan breads are the best in the region. But it’s generally the “pug” roll and lattes that bring us out just about every Saturday morning.

Blue Dog Café and Bakery
2868 Frankfort Ave.
(502) 899-9800

The eponymous pastry seals the deal at Danish Express

Brown Derby eggs

LEO’s Eats with LouisvilleHotBytes

You can, and probably do, call it a Danish pastry, but its roots lie in Vienna. Nevertheless, the Danes have made this rich and delicious pastry their own, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better one in the Old Country than you can enjoy right here in Louisville at Danish Express.

This quaint St. Matthews storefront occupies a cozy space with big plate-glass windows that make up the entire front wall, facing east to bring in bright sunlight in the morning.

It’s open from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. daily (except Sunday), offering breakfast throughout and lunch at midday. The breakfast menu – including but not limited to the rich, oversize Danish – makes it one of the city’s top spots to break a fast. At lunchtime, it’s still a decent place for a quick meal, but facing much sterner competition, it’s not quite as close to the front of the pack.

Continue reading The eponymous pastry seals the deal at Danish Express

Don’t dismiss little ol’ Jeff

Our Best
Our Best Restaurant in Jeffersonville is a family-owned business that started as a single eatery in Smithfield, Ky. Photos by Robin Garr

LEO’s Eats with
(Our Best Restaurant, Perkfection Café; Z’s Fusion opening report)

It would be easy to dismiss the dining options in little ol’ Jeffersonville, especially when you look across the majestic Ohio River and see … Hooters. But there are some rich and varied dining choices over yonder, from the delicious and affordable Mai’s Thai to the old favorite Come Back Inn.

Reporter Kevin Gibson tried a couple of Jeffersonville’s choices recently – Our Best Restaurant, located just off Ind. 62, and Perkfection Café & Bar – and found good things at both.
Continue reading Don’t dismiss little ol’ Jeff

Recession-busting dining, cheap but fine

Fish tacos at Bazo's
Bazo’s, which recently moved to new quarters off Dupont Circle, serves one of the city’s best fish tacos. Photo by Robin Garr

LEO’s Eats with
(Bazo’s, Caffe Classico, J. Gumbo’s, Stan’s)

OK, everybody listen up. I’ve told you this before, and chances are you’re going to hear it again: There’s a recession on.

Yes, a recession, and a lot of us are hurting. We’re cutting back on luxuries and hoping we won’t have to cut back on necessities.

For those of us who love food and drink and dining out, we’re whipsawed: It’s harder to justify dropping a pile of bucks on a big evening out, so fine dining may be one of the first indulgences to drop off the budget. But this decision puts a hurtin’ on Louisville’s local, independent restaurant community, the Louisville Originals and Keep Louisville Weirds that make our city an exceptional place to dine for its size.
Continue reading Recession-busting dining, cheap but fine

Lunch and antiques, not necessarily in that order

Goss Avenue Antique Mall
Lunch Lady Land: Exteriors of two Antique Malls each containing a new lunch spot – the new mall at Jackson and Broadway that has the resurrected Colonnade Café inside (below), and Olivia’s in the Goss Avenue Antique Mall. Photos by Robin Garr

LEO’s Eats with

Ladies who lunch and go antique shopping (and men who do the same) have an unprecedented wealth of options these days, as a series of moves and changes has expanded the antique mall circuit from one popular eatery to three.

Let’s summarize: When the Louisville Antique Mall on Goss Avenue announced plans last year to move from its hulking 19th century brick industrial building to a different hulking 19th century brick industrial building on East Broadway, its critically acclaimed lunch spot, The Café, went off on its own to open a free-standing restaurant just east of downtown.

Then, not long after the Louisville Antique Mall made its move to East Broadway, a new luncheon establishment on its fifth floor revived the name of the old Colonnade cafeteria downtown. The move didn’t leave the old building on Goss vacant for long: Soon the Goss Avenue Antique Mall opened in slightly different but overlapping quarters. And sure enough, it has a lunch spot, too, dubbed Olivia’s Restaurant.
Continue reading Lunch and antiques, not necessarily in that order

Q&A Sweet Treats: Outrageously good

Following up on last week’s report on Cake Flour, the yummy new organic bakery on East Market: LouisvilleHotBytes forumite Andrea Essenpreiss is building quite a reputation for herself in La Grange and Oldham County – and quickly spilling over into Louisville – with her recently established business, Q&A Sweet Treats.
Continue reading Q&A Sweet Treats: Outrageously good

Things are looking bright on the Sunny Side

The Speakeasy in New Albany was modeled after Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London. The idea originated from proprietors and local musicians Lori (pictured above) and Brad Tharp. Photo by Nicole Pullen.

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes
(Treet’s Bakery Cafe, Speakeasy, Connor’s Place)

With three interesting new restaurants recently joining Bistro New Albany, Federal Hill, La Rosita and others in historic downtown New Albany, Louisville’s Sunny Side is looking mighty bright these days.

I’ve been eager to get over and check it out, but the scare stories about miles-long traffic backups during the recent I-64 construction had me so nervous that I wimped out and asked a Hoosier buddy, GREG GAPSIS, to pick up his knife and fork and tell us what’s going on over there.
Continue reading Things are looking bright on the Sunny Side

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

Coffee buzz

If we get many more coffee shops around this town, Louisville might just take over New York City’s reputation as the city that never sleeps, and the most audible Thunder Over Louisville may become a caffeine buzz.
The two latest entries – Blue Mountain Coffee House and Jackson’s Organic Coffee – both offer a truly splendid cuppa, but they differ dramatically in style.

Chris Stockton
Christopher Stockton is co-proprietor of Jackson’s Organic Coffee, a drive-through located next to the Sav-A-Step on Lexington Road near Payne Street. Photo by Robin Garr.

Jackson’s Organic Coffee is not even a coffee shop. There’s no sit-down or table service, only a drive-through window, at this little pumpkin-color building next door to the Sav-A-Step on Lexington Road near Payne Street.

Co-proprietor Christopher Stockton, an expatriate Brit, is an aggressive perfectionist about organic, sustainable and fair-trade coffees, sold through the drive-up window or canned on the premises for sale by upscale vendors like, so far, Rainbow Blossom, two of the Valu Markets and Mayan Café.

Coffee and espresso drinks range in price from $1.75 for a small drip coffee to $3.75 for a large cappuccino or latte. The drive-up window is open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays except holidays; closed weekends.

The other recent and welcome arrival is Blue Mountain Coffee House Wine & Tapas Bar (400 E. Main St., 582-3220), where host Nicholas Arno adds a Jamaican accent as he vends Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee in sleek, sophisticated new quarters. Eat ‘N’ Blog correspondent LEAH STEWART declares it her favorite caffeine dispensary, and files this report:

Blue Mountain is a treat to the senses. A curved saltwater fish tank inset into the bar greets guests with colorful fish; tempered glass countertops are the color of island waters, and artfully contemporary tables and chairs look as though they leapt from the pages of a magazine. Jamaican art adorns walls painted in a sun-kissed gold and sapphire blue.

Blue Mountain coffee is some of the most expensive in the world, and there’s a good reason for that. The Blue Mountains of Jamaica have the perfect climate, terrain and rainfall to produce coffee. It’s as if the coffee gods touched the earth at this one spot and said, “Here!”

I tried it in a drink combined with cocoa and chunks of chocolate. It was smooth, unbelievably rich and pleasantly not sweet. Some mocha coffees are sweet enough to make your teeth hurt, but Blue Mountain’s coffee drinks are decidedly adult. Our daughter’s Submarino, a sophisticated hot chocolate, was a decadent, silky chocolate experience created for sipping, not guzzling. For lunch, a Blue Mountain Cheese Platter ($9.95) consisted of three finely crafted cheeses, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, grapes and two kinds of crackers. Friends enjoyed the Southwest chicken paninis ($6.95), declaring them crispy on the outside and chock full of savory chicken on the inside.

An evening visit proved that there are people downtown at night! Several groups of friends were discussing work, sampling and choosing wine at the wine bar and enjoying coffee and tea. A basic espresso drink, a decaf latte, was dark and rich, topped by a generous head of foam. A chai tea was deliciously different: Not sweet, and without any overpowering notes of clove and cardamom, the peppery chai was spiced delicately and perfectly.

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?