Category Archives: QuickBytes

Short, conversational mini-reviews that report on new sightings, updates on previously reviewed restaurants or other restaurant reports that may not fit the full-scale review format.

La Rosita: A second bouquet

La Rosita

For some time now, since a growing number of Latino immigrants has joined the tide of diversity that adds a healthy variety of ethnic accents to our region, it has become necessary for serious lovers of South-of-the-Border cuisine to subdivide this dining niche into categories.

No longer can we define “Mexican” in terms of Tumbleweed and Chi-Chi’s; not when we can choose among a delicious array of Latino eateries that range across the stylistic spectrum from upscale sit-down dining rooms to lovable “hole-in-the-wall” taquerias where English-speaking monophones are welcome but may be well advised to bring along a Spanish dictionary.

Now something new and delicious has been added: Just over the bridge in New Albany, Israel and Lidia Landin, the proud owners of La Rosita on Charlestown Road, one of the newest and best of the taquerias, have opened a second location in the Southern Indiana suburb. This one’s no mere taqueria, though. Call it “crossover” or “breakout” Mexican, it brings the Landins’ fully authentic (and delicious) native cuisine out of the taqueria category and presents it, in fluent if slightly accented English, in the bistro-style setting of a prettily renovated New Albany building that once housed a 19th century general store.

Continue reading La Rosita: A second bouquet

Tube steak extraordinaire

Zap's

I have a new favorite steak house. That’s tube steak, I mean, a.k.a. the humble hot dog. For perfection in the art of the dog, you just can’t beat Zap’s Gourmet Hotdogs, 423 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd., (502) 587-0251.

This delightful new downtown lunch spot specializes in this simple fare, and does so with a flair that has made it a midday attraction for growing hordes of downtown workers, along with a few gourmands like me who can’t resist making the trek in from Crescent Hill and other places to catch a Zapernak Dog and a mound of the world’s crispiest homemade potato chips.

Housed in the storefront quarters in the old Molee Building that briefly was home to Chutnee’s, a short-lived Indian buffet, Zap’s management has pretty much got the curry scent out of the fixtures. Continue reading Tube steak extraordinaire

Saffron’s, Part Deux

Saffron's

Springing back into action after way too long a break (forced by the demands of my WineLoversPage.com website and wine-related travel to Portugal early in the holiday season), I resume this journal with excellent news for local fanciers of good things to eat: Saffron’s, veteran restaurateur Majid Ghavami’s classy Persian spot that I rank among the city’s best places to dine, is about to open a second downtown location.

Saffron’s Buffet will open soon in the space at 558 S. Fifth St., just north of Chestnut Street, that had housed Manoosh’s until the latter put up the shutters last autumn. (It was originally scheduled for opening in January, but significant renovation needs have prompted some delay. Watch this space for more news.)

Saffron’s Buffet will feature many of Saffron’s popular Persian dishes, styled for buffet service and priced to enjoy at $7.95 for all you can eat. Continue reading Saffron’s, Part Deux

Jay’s is back, better than ever

Jay's

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

The deep, dark secret of Danish

Danish Express

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, [502] 895-2863).
Continue reading The deep, dark secret of Danish

A bouquet for La Rosita

La Rosita

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, [812] 948-0401), which jumps into a dead heat with, Rosticeria Luna (5213B Preston Highway, [502] 962-8898), as my favorite 100 percent authentic Mexican eatery in town.
Continue reading A bouquet for La Rosita