Stratto’s boosts fine-dining on the Sunny Side

John McCulloch
Photo by Kelly Mackey: John McCulloch is the executive chef at Stratto’s, cooking in the 19th century mansion – now restored – where his great-great-grandmother once toiled.

(CHEF CHANGE: Chef Tony Efstratiadis, formerly with Napa River Grill and 316 Ormsby in Louisville, took over as chef at Stratto’s in September 2006, and has made some changes in the menu.)

As far back as most of us could remember, folks in Southern Indiana who wanted to enjoy a fine-dining experience were pretty much obliged to hit the bridges to Kentucky if they wanted anything more sophisticated than diner fare or a fast-food chain.

It might seem rude for a Kentuckian to say such a thing, but let the record reflect that it’s deeply rooted Hoosier John McCulloch saying this, pledging to make Stratto’s – the fine new Italian eatery where he’s executive chef – a dining destination that will raise the bar for gourmet-style dining on the Sunny Side.
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We hablamos a little Spanglish at La Perla del Pacifico

Illustration by Gina Moeller

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes

It’s a good thing to have at least one really authentic, Spanish-speaking eatery in the East End – it’s a long ride out Preston to the Metro’s more concentrated Latino-eats zone when you’ve got a hankering for something more real than Taco Bell or even the gently Anglicized Mexicano of the more bilingual Mexican eateries, as fine as they can be.

Setting aside the urbanite’s prejudice that there’s nothing of interest east of the Watterson, we recently ventured out to tract mansion country to try the new La Perla del Pacifico (“The Pearl of the Pacific”), and were so impressed by its simpatico combination of fine food, friendly service and fair prices that we’ve gone back again and again.
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Time for Thai


(Lemongrass, Thai Taste, Thai Café, Thai-Siam, Voice-Tribune, June 28, 2006)

I’ve never quite understood why lemongrass isn’t more widely popular in Western cuisines. A key ingredient in Southeast Asian cookery, this fragrant herb imparts a lovely lemony perfume with a mellow and tangy complexity that mere lemon juice can’t match.

Bold, bright and crisp flavors like lemongrass inform the delicious dishes of Vietnam and Thailand, in the tropical region that we once called “Indo-China” to signal its location between India and China. It’s no coincidence that the fare of this part of the world derives its character from both of its larger neighbors, melding the light, colorful stir-fries and rice and noodle dishes of East Asia with the spicy and aromatic flavors of South Asia.

The combination rarely fails to delight, and I’m never loath to head out to any of the region’s Vietnamese or Thai eateries when I need a culinary mood-lifter. And now we’ve got one more appetizing option with the arrival of a new branch of Lemongrass Café in the heart of St. Matthews.
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A Brown Cow for Daddy and other food weirdness

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes
(Bourbon Stout Float at Jazz Factory, Bubble Tea at TaiPei Café, and more)

Illustration by Gina Moeller

Last week, when we spent a good deal of our Eat ‘N’ Blog efforts on a wide-ranging survey of the region’s ice creams and related dairy treats, let’s face it, we did it mostly for the kids. Ice cream, after all, is for youngsters … not excluding the inner child who resides within us all.

But ice cream doesn’t have to be a kiddie treat. Consider the remarkable new summer confection that’s drawing oohs and aahs (and yes, the occasional snicker) in the friendly confines of Louisville’s Jazz Factory. The Bourbon Stout Float is a Brown Cow for grown-ups, no mere root beer float but a robust, creamy cooler that substitutes real beer – rich, dark Bourbon Barrel Stout from Browning’s – for the namby-pamby soft drink of childhood.

To embrace the concept of beer and ice cream requires a serious paradigm shift, and even some of my more adventurous foodie friends reject the very notion with a high-pitched, wailing “Eeeeuuuwwww.” Wimps! Don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it, I say; and Jazz Factory makes it easy, whipping up a Bourbon Stout Float in a hefty pint glass for $6.50, no more than you’d pay for a 32-ounce The Hulk Chocolate Smoothie at Smoothie King, where you’ll get no alcohol in your 1,300-calorie concoction.
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Stalking the Dairy Dozen

Illustration by Gina Moeller

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes
(A dozen ice-cream delights, and we beef it up at Palermo Viejo)

When summer comes and the days turn us into overheated crankpots (pun intended), says Eat ‘N’ Blog correspondent ANDREA ESSENPREIS, she knows what to do: “We need to go out for ice cream. The simple act of sharing a scoop brings back memories of laughter, sticky chins and endless possibilities – which flavor will it be tonight? Cup or cone? Sundae or scoop?”

With Independence Day coming up and July designated as National Ice Cream month, it seemed only right to take on a simple but decidedly appealing challenge: Present a creamy, ice-cold and delicious overview of many things sweet and frozen in the Metro (and a few delights beyond the city limits). Essenpreis was delighted to volunteer for the duty, and I had no qualms about pulling a share of the load. Off we went, in quest of ice cream, and in no particular order, we now present … the Dairy Dozen.
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