Kevin Nelson, the new executive chef at the just-reopened Jay’s Cafeteria, got a few chuckles when he told a Courier-Journal business reporter, “My goal here is to make it the African-American Vincenzo’s.”
I’ve got news, folks: Based on the polished and professional service we received when we dined here at midday today, Vincenzo’s might just want to start thinking about trying to be the Italian-American Jay’s. The food was excellent, too: Urban soul food, served cafeteria-style – at least for now, it’s an all-you-can-eat deal at $10.99 a person for adults and teen-agers on Sundays – very well prepared by skilled chefs, several of whom I noticed proudly wear the Sullivan University culinary school logo on their whites.
Continue reading Jay’s is back, better than ever
Here’s one of those dark secrets that culinary experts usually speak of only in muted tones: You know the classic Danish pastry, the delight of pastry lovers and brunch fanciers for nearly two centuries? Listen close, I’m going to whisper: It isn’t really Danish. It’s Viennese.
Depending on which story you prefer, it’s either a matter of corporate spying (Danish Royal baker Christian Ludvig Olsen “borrowed” the recipe from an Austrian baker he met in Germany in 1834 and brought it home), or of management union-busting (the Danish King summoned “replacement workers” from Vienna when his bakers went out on strike, and the strike-breakers brought the secret of this tasty delight along).
Either way, the Danes have made this succulent pastry their own, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better model in the Old Country today than you can have right here in the Derby City at Danish Express, (102½ Cannons Lane,  895-2863).
Continue reading The deep, dark secret of Danish
Again today I forge into Southern Indiana, following where a fellow foodie has led. This time I’m indebted to LEO’s erudite Marty Rosen for the published pointer to La Rosita Taqueria (2535 Charlestown Road in New Albany,  948-0401), which jumps into a dead heat with, Rosticeria Luna (5213B Preston Highway,  962-8898), as my favorite 100 percent authentic Mexican eatery in town.
Continue reading A bouquet for La Rosita
I have to give the credit to Lisa Hornung of Gannett’s Velocity weekly for blazing the trail to this funny little roadside spot in rural Southern Indiana with its sign that proudly proclaims “4,081 GYROS SOLD” (as of Oct. 18, 2005), but I headed on over to A.J.’s Coffee ‘n’ Cream as soon as I found out about it, and the short journey led to a memorable lunch.
Just a couple of miles from the landmark Polly’s Freeze (in fact, it’s at the same I-64 exit, going the other way), A.J’s bears a marked resemblance to Polly’s. It’s a small, free-standing white cottage just large enough to hold a kitchen and a couple of people working inside, with hand-written menus plastered all across the sides and front of the building. Walk up, call your order through the screen window, and hang around. Continue reading A.J.’s coffee, cream and gyros
Look, don’t make the same stupid mistake that I did. For months I’ve been putting off an evening trip out to Westport General Store for no particularly good reason. “It’s too far,” I whined. “It’s way out in the country. Takes forever to get there.”
Yesterday afternoon, as we drew toward the close of one of those achingly beautiful early-autumn days with blue October skies as brilliant as a sapphire and foliage popping against it like a postcard with colors too bright to be real, we finally packed the car with provisions for a long trip and hit the road to Westport. Huh. It’s just 20 miles out US42 from the Watterson, a 25-minute trip out one of the most scenic highways in the region … and that’s before the leaves start to turn.
Less than a half-hour. One-sixth of the time you’d have to wait for a table at P.F. Chang’s on a Saturday night. And when we got there, we found a cozy spot in a pleasant setting, where proprietors Will and Laura Crawford and their crew provide a comfortably sophisticated bill of fare that would in no way be out of place in the fanciest bistro on Bardstown Road or Frankfort Avenue.
Continue reading Westport General Store
Sometimes it seems like there’s no better way to start a long, lazy Saturday than a hearty breakfast. And when I talk about breakfast, I don’t mean brunch. Eggs, bacon and toast, not your quiche and salad bar. A steaming cup of strong coffee works for me, save the Champagne and the bloody Mary for later in the day, thanks.
I’ve been enjoying dining out for breakfast quite a bit lately, discovering a number of recent restaurant arrivals that either specialize in breakfast or at least make it a serious part of their bill of fare. Let’s celebrate this sunny Saturday with a quick look at a half-dozen of them.
I have to confess that I was a little shy at first about checking out Logos Coffee House (2250 Frankfort Ave,  897-2272), pictured above.
Continue reading Breakfast!