Category Archives: Commentary

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

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

Jade Palace’s dim sum makes great takeout

I’ve been a big fan of Jade Palace’s dim sum ever since the late 1980s, when this popular eatery in what is now Westport Village introduced Louisville to these tasty, bite-size Chinese snacks.

But the other day I had a pandemic-related revelation: In these days when many of us are wary about dining indoors at a crowded restaurant: Dim sum makes a great takeout alternative. In fact, Jade Palace is closed to dining in during the pandemic, but it does offer takeout, curbside pickup, and delivery. Continue reading Jade Palace’s dim sum makes great takeout

Morels smokes serious ‘que … without meat

Following on his success with vegan takes on popular fast-food dishes like the Farby, an Arby’s knockoff made without a molecule of meat, Morels Cafe’s proprietor Stanley Chase has now turned his attention to a seemingly even more impossible task.

Behold, Morels Vegan BBQ Smokehouse, where Chase is creating vegetarian barbecued pulled “pork” and meat-free sausages that one could easily mistake for the real thing. Chase says vegetarian barbecue is a new concept, with similar restaurants in only two other places in the U.S. that he knows of, both very popular on their home ground: Homegrown Smoker in Portland, Oregon, and Monk’s Vegan Smokehouse in Brooklyn. Continue reading Morels smokes serious ‘que … without meat