Category Archives: Commentary

Robin Garr’s musings about food and restaurant matters that don’t fit neatly into the “review” category.

2020, we hardly knew ye. Now get out of here!

Happy New Year! Anybody out there who isn’t happy to see 2020 go, raise your hand!

[Looking around]

I didn’t think so. This has been a strange, tumultuous, and downright scary year. Sure, it’s had some high spots. We’re looking at you, Joe and Kamala! But the arrival of a pandemic that none of us saw coming at this time last year turned 2020 into a swirling black whirlpool that didn’t make anyone happy. Continue reading 2020, we hardly knew ye. Now get out of here!

Support our local restaurants: This week, Royals Hot Chicken

The Louisville dining scene is facing a grim scenario as I write this, and we’ll be looking down the barrel of a disturbing deadline when you read this. Let’s talk about this, but first, as I’ve told you before: Get out there and order as much takeout food from local restaurants as you can, and tip ‘em as if you’re Scrooge McDuck. They need all we can do for them right now.

Here’s the heart of the problem: Restaurants and bars are perceived as potential pandemic hotspots, with reason: Even with social distancing, they attract people to gather indoors in crowds, and to make matters worse, it’s impossible to mask up for others’ protection while you’re eating and drinking.

That’s why restaurants and bars have borne a disproportionate share of regulation since Covid-19 came to town last winter. Continue reading Support our local restaurants: This week, Royals Hot Chicken

Support your local restaurants: Now more than ever

If you’re the least bit interested in the Louisville dining scene, you know how many of our vibrant local restaurants have been struggling since the Covid-19 pandemic brought strict, but necessary, restrictions starting last March.

Things may have looked a little better during the summer when good weather invited patio dining and improving case rates fostered slightly loosened restrictions including resumed dining in with limited, socially distanced seating.

But the expected autumn Covid spike brought about the return of strict rules. Continue reading Support your local restaurants: Now more than ever

No ghosties, no ghoulies: Hillcrest Tavern offers pure comfort

Halloween has come and gone, taking with it another piece of collateral damage from the pandemic: There was no Hillcrest Avenue halloween decoration extravaganza this year.

But there is still a doggone good reason to go to Hillcrest – or to be more exact, to cross the railroad tracks, turn left onto Frankfort Avenue, and drive a few blocks past Louisville Water Co. to Hillcrest Tavern.

You won’t be sorry. Continue reading No ghosties, no ghoulies: Hillcrest Tavern offers pure comfort

Big Momma’s Soul Food Kitchen lures us West

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, we interrupt our dining review for this public-service announcement: Have you voted yet? Good! Wait, you over there! You haven’t voted? Please vote on Election Day, Nov. 3, or vote early in person at one of Louisville’s convenient early polls. But vote! Vote as if your life depends on it, because just possibly it does.
 
There! I’m glad to get that off my chest. We voted last week. It was easy. It really felt good. And best of all, it led us toward this week’s exceptionally tasty food report.

Here’s how it went down: We voted early at the Kentucky Center for African-American Heritage, then decided to grab a delicious soul-food meal from a Black-owned West End restaurant: Big Momma’s Soul Food Kitchen. Continue reading Big Momma’s Soul Food Kitchen lures us West

Cochinita pibil at Mayan Cafe takes us straight to Yucatán

Cochinita pibil. These two Spanish words – one common, the other not so much – shine a bright light on both the Mayan cuisine of Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula and neighboring Guatemala and into one of Louisville’s favorite South-of-the-Border restaurants, Mayan Cafe.

So what’s a cochinita pibil? A little pig – that’s the easy part – long and slowly roasted in a tart, flavorful marinade of sour oranges and Mayan spices, housed in a large metal box and lowered into a pib, the traditional Mayan fire pit.

Mayan Cafe doesn’t have a giant fire-in-the-hole in the tiny kitchen of its NuLu home, but I can testify that Chef Bruce Ucán’s oven-roasted rendition is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen done to pork. Continue reading Cochinita pibil at Mayan Cafe takes us straight to Yucatán