Category Archives: Commentary

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

All’s fare at the Fair

Corn dog
Ever seen a more artistic corn dog? Photos by Robin Garr

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes
(Food at the State Fair, Benedict’s Garden Café)

Ahh, the State Fair. Marking the fullness of summer and the golden harvest to come, this annual celebration of nature’s bounty opens a virtual cornucopia. Kentucky’s farmers all but bust their galluses in pride as they show off the Commonwealth’s finest farm animals and agricultural produce, and of course it’s all good, healthy and natural.

And then there’s the food. What could be more healthy or natural than corndogs, elephant ears and funnel cakes? Um. Well, at least it’s good. Up and down the Midway, around the exhibition halls, hundreds of vendor booths offer a bewildering variety of tempting fare, much of it breaded, sweetened, sugared and, best of all, sizzling hot from the deep-fat fryer. One of my favorite Midway food booths, somewhere down near the Tilt-A-Whirl and the Headless Woman (“Still Alive!“) puts it right out front in big red letters: “Ryan’s FRIED DOUGH.”
Continue reading All’s fare at the Fair

Kayrouz family tradition, Part III

(Kayrouz Cafe, Voice-Tribune, Aug. 16, 2006)


As far back as most of us can remember, the name “Kayrouz” has been synonymous with quality family dining in Louisville. J.P. Kayrouz Restaurant on St. Matthews Avenue, operated by Joseph Paul Kayrouz and his wife Norma, was one of the city’s most popular family restaurants for more than a quarter of a century, and J.P.’s father ran Kayrouz Cafe at Preston and Fehr streets downtown as far back as the 1920s.

So there was great wailing and hungry gnashing of teeth when J.P. Kayrouz closed in June 2003 and its building was demolished, giving way to the new Wilson & Muir Bank & Trust Co. building.

But everyone who misses the Kayrouz commitment to quality cooking and attentive service may now rejoice: J.P.’s son, Christopher, has brought the family name back to the local dining scene in a small but charming little spot in St. Matthews, just a few blocks from his father’s longtime dining destination.

The little building had housed a series of “concept” restaurants, tested here before moving out to new locations, including the original Tony Boombozz, Thatsa Wrapp, the first Bazo’s and the short-lived Benny B’s sandwich shop. Now thoroughly and attractively renovated by Mr. Kayrouz, it appears the latest occupant is here to stay.
Continue reading Kayrouz family tradition, Part III

You’re Toast, and that’s good

Lunch at Toast
Toast on Market chef George Morris has crafted an inventive menu based on comfort food, such as a meatloaf sandwich, a garlic cheddar grilled cheese and roasted garlic tomato soup. Photos by Robin Garr

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes
(Toast on Market, and Kim’s ethnic fish tour)

Some of the wits on the LouisvilleHotBytes Restaurants Forum have taken to calling the growing cluster of eateries and watering holes on East Market and Main streets “Clay Street Live.”

From the BBC Tap Room to Jenicca’s Wine Bar, Artemisia and Kim’s and Melillo’s, Felice Winery and the Bodega and more, this unorganized collection of funky, independent local spots in the gentrifying zone east of I-65 boasts a lot more local character than Fourth Street Live, as far as we’re concerned. We love its distinctly Louisville accent, shorn of franchise logos and plastic.

The latest arrival, Toast on Market, makes a good thing even better. Continue reading You’re Toast, and that’s good

Four-star fish at Seafood Connection

Chef Mike Hungerford
Mike Hungerford cooks up fish tacos and more at the Seafood Connection in St. Matthews. Photos by Robin Garr

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes
(Seafood Connection in St. Matthews, and six worthy plates of hummus)

I’ve never taken the position that an eatery must boast white tablecloths or tux-clad servers to qualify for four-star status. Upscale or down-home, if a restaurant takes on a specific challenge and does everything as well as it can possibly be done, then it earns my top rating, whether it’s a luxury dining destination, barbecue joint or neighborhood saloon.

Award a stellar galaxy, then, to what may be one of the smallest and least pretentious restaurants in the Metro.
Continue reading Four-star fish at Seafood Connection

Cynical critic checks out chain burgers

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes
(Red Robin, Chicago Gyros, Order’s Up! and Ned’s Excellent Adventure at Norma Jean’s Trackside)

Red Robin

OK, let’s get this clear up front: I’m suspicious of corporate restaurant chains, and I don’t have high expectations for much of anything in the suburbs.

So why did I rush out in such a big hurry to check out Red Robin Gourmet Burgers & Spirits in Brownsboro Crossing, an East End commercial development so new that the restaurant’s street address shows up as “Not Found” on my Blackberry?

It’s the buzz, man! The arrival of this outfit, a 350-unit Boulder-based enterprise, seems to have created more of a stir than any corporate arrival since the dynamic duo of P.F. Chang’s and Cheesecake Factory came to town. Big crowds were reportedly slamming the place, and I couldn’t see any way around heading for the ‘burbs to check it out.
Continue reading Cynical critic checks out chain burgers

Happy lunch-time at Sari Sari

Sari Sari

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes
(Sari Sari, Queen of Sheba, and Kim’s Curry Tour)

In addition to the customary greetings that all languages share for “Good morning,” “Good afternoon,” “Good evening” and “Good night,” folks in the Philippines greet other at midday with a happy “Magandang tanghali.” Loosely translated, the term means “Happy lunch-time!” This cultural note suggests an affection for the midday meal that’s borne out in the warmly comforting nature of home-cooked Filipino cuisine.

Louisville hasn’t had a lot of exposure to the food of this 7,000-island Southeast Asian nation, but the Sari Sari restaurant in Crescent Hill may soon change that with its tasty and affordable Filipino delights. (“Sari Sari,” by the way, means something like “various” or “sundry” in Tagalog, the national language of the Philippines. A sari-sari store is a cross between an unchained 7-11 and a community center, where you can get just about anything you really need, and the latest neighborhood gossip, too.)
Continue reading Happy lunch-time at Sari Sari