Category Archives: A RESTAURANT LISTING…

Taking my ‘cue in LaGrange

Big R's
Big R’s, out in the middle of La Grange in Oldham County, has all the signs of a serious barbecue joint. And the pigmeat backs it up. Photo by Robin Garr.

Meanwhile, I blazed a trail out to Oldham County recently to check out Big R’s, a fine new barbecue joint. It’s located in an attractive country house right in the middle of town, surrounded by all the signals that real barbecue is sold here: a big, black smoker, lots of hickory logs and a statue of an anthropomorphic pig out front.

It’s a smallish place but clean and neat, with freshly painted walls the color of lemon ice and tasteful red-checked curtains; maybe a half-dozen tables inside and a few more on the porch. The menu is basic and functional, too: Baby-backs range from $9 for a half-slab with no sides to $18 for a full slab with two sides. Other smoked meats – pulled pork, pulled chicken and beef brisket – are mostly $5.25 for a sandwich with one side, $6 with two sides.

We chowed down on ribs and a brisket sandwich and four sides between us and were generally pleased. Let’s put it this way: Big R is a master of smoking meat, a champion BBQ artiste who “slow-smokes” pork butts and briskets over hickory for 15 hours and ribs for five; but his tastes in sauces and rubs differs from my “less is more” philosophy: He likes to use a little more.

The ribs, indeed, were as good as I ever ate: They’re very meaty, with surprisingly little fat or gristle, smoked just right so the hickory flavor is like a condiment but doesn’t conceal the natural flavors of the meat. I wish he had throttled back on the dry rub and shiny glaze, though. The aromatic spices in the rub (I think I smelled cumin) and the sweet-sticky glaze didn’t really enhance the excellent pigmeat.

The same was true of the brisket: The smoky beef was tender and delicious, but they shredded it and served it in a thick, sweet sauce like a Sloppy Joe. Why do that to good brisket? I wish they’d just offer a no-sauce option.

The sides were quite good. Baked beans were just about perfect – small and pink in a savory-salty sauce. Potato salad was devilishly good, chunks of tender potato and crisp celery in a thick sour-cream sauce with a hint of herbs, maybe dill. Wide green beans were wide beans, long-simmered country-style, decent enough, though a little bit of ham hock would have taken them to bean heaven. My wife liked her mac ‘n’ cheese despite its alarming Velveeta color.

Too full for dessert, we got away from a generous meal for a very attractive $20.14 for two, plus a $4 tip. In spite of my barbecue maven’s nitpicks, it was darn good ‘cue, some of the best around, and the ribs and pork might have made my Hall of Fame if they had just left them alone.

Big R’s Barbeque Shack
109 E. Washington Court
La Grange, Ky.
222-0058

Westport General Store cuts the cheese, but it’s no Cracker Barrel

Westport General Store
Westport General Store: about 30 minutes from Louisville, is down-home, innovative and urbane. Photos by Robin Garr.

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes

A rustic country store in a tiny rural village, it boasts a breezy veranda, an oversize wheel of fine cheddar cheese, and a down-home bill of fare that includes such goodies as stone-ground grits and country-fried pork chops and even, occasionally, fried bologna.

Why, it sounds just like Cracker Barrel.

Not!
Continue reading Westport General Store cuts the cheese, but it’s no Cracker Barrel

Big-city dining at bucolic Holly Hill

Holly Hill
Holly Hill Inn in Midway, Ky., is located in a beautiful brick structure that dates back more than 150 years. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Photo by Kim Massey.

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes
(Holly Hill Inn, Gourmet to Go’s rye bread, Oceanside Seafood)

Call me an unreconstructed urbanite, but I tend to assume that if you desire sophisticated fare in an upscale environment, you’ll want to stay close to the city.

Sure, there are exceptions, with jewels like Limestone and Ferd Grisanti in the chain-rich suburbs, and worthy dining destinations even in the outer ring of suburbs, from RockWall above New Albany to Norma Jean’s Trackside and Westport General Store out in Oldham County, just to name a few.

But who’d have thought that one of Kentucky’s most sophisticated eateries – so good that it attracts national media attention – resides in tiny Midway, a good hour’s drive east of downtown Louisville, so far out into the Bluegrass that you’ve got to drive past Waddy and Peytona to get there?

It’s true. Featured in such publications as Bon Appetit, Food & Wine and Southern Living and invited to show their stuff at James Beard House in New York City in June 2004, the husband-and-wife team of owner-restaurateurs Chris and Ouita Michel have put Midway not only on Kentucky’s culinary map but the nation’s with their Holly Hill Inn. Continue reading Big-city dining at bucolic Holly Hill

Brunch at the Prospect Bristol

Bristol - Prospect

(Bristol – Prospect, Voice-Tribune, Nov. 9, 2006)

Louisville old-timers fondly recognize the Bristol Bar & Grille as the great-grandpappy of just about all the popular eateries that now virtually line Bardstown Road and Frankfort Avenues.

When the original Bristol opened at 1321 Bardstown Road in 1977, the idea of an upscale urban bistro seemed a little strange, but the idea quickly caught on, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Over the years, the Bristol became well-known for its casual gourmet-style signature dishes, from the Bristol Burger (served on an English muffin, what a concept), to the beloved Green Chile Won Tons. But when I look back over all the years that I’ve been a fan and happy customer, one Bristol tradition stands out: Sunday brunch!

A few branches around town have joined the original location, sharing similar menus but each with its own mood. The downtown branch (614 W. Main St.), fits in beautifully with its 19th century storefront surroundings, and the Hurstbourne Bristol (300 N. Hurstbourne Pkwy.) seems just as compatible a fit with the suburbs.

And now there’s a Prospect Bristol, opened this past summer in shopping-center space that had housed a Max’n’Erma’s. Continue reading Brunch at the Prospect Bristol

Indulge your pork cravings at Pig City

Pig City
Pig City BBQ: Certain songs with food allusions may or may be what they seem, but there’s nothing ambiguous about Pig City BBQ. It’s about the pigmeat, brothers and sisters. Photo by Paige Moore-Heavin

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes
(Pig City BBQ, Fresco Southwest Grill & Pizza)

Food was never very far from the thoughts of Mississippi blues great Armenter Chatmon, better known to the world as Bo Carter. At least we assume he was thinking about food when he dreamed up blues ballads like “Banana in Your Fruit Basket” and “Your Biscuits Are Big Enough for Me.”

OK, so maybe those references are just a little ambiguous. Maybe he was thinking about food, and maybe he wasn’t. But there’s no doubt that Bo had his dinner plate in mind when he warbled the tune I love best, “Pigmeat is What I Crave.”

I’m right with him there: Meat, fish, fowl or soy protein, it’s hard to beat pork for sheer deliciousity.

Naturally when I heard about a new barbecue joint out in the East End called Pig City, I knew where I had to be. Continue reading Indulge your pork cravings at Pig City

This drink’s for Fido

Tyler Dorsett
In a rare display of common sense, Kentucky recently made it OK to take home an unfinished bottle of wine from a restaurant. Tyler Dorsett of the Bristol-Downtown shows the first step, re-corking the bottle … Photos by Robin Garr

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes
(Wine doggy-bagging, Cutting Board Café, Aldi’s)

You order an excellent wine to go with your restaurant meal, and when dinner is done, the bottle is half empty. Or half full, depending on your worldview. What do you do?

Common sense would dictate that you poke the cork back in the bottle and take it home to enjoy another day. But common sense, by and large, does not inform alcoholic-beverage-control laws. In Kentucky, restaurants are generally not licensed for “package liquor” sales and, historically, have risked a fine or loss of their drinks license if they permit customers to carry out wine.

In a rare display of common sense, however, Kentucky’s legislature this year passed a new law allowing consumers to take the partially consumed bottle home. The law requires that restaurant staff re-seal the bottle, place it in a closed bag and provide a dated receipt. The consumer must keep the bottle in the trunk, a locked glove compartment or other place “inaccessible to the driver” during the trip home, a rather bureaucratic set of requirements apparently aimed at ensuring that thirsty motorists won’t slug their Chateau Gotrocks right out of the bottle while speeding along the Watterson.
Continue reading This drink’s for Fido