LEO’s Eats with LouisvilleHotBytes
(LEO photo by Ron Jasin)
Early in August, Chef Amber McCool announced “a new path” for the popular Patron Restaurant, involving a move to a still-undisclosed location at an uncertain time. In the meantime, the restaurant at the corner of Frankfort Avenue and Cannons Lane would continue catering and wholesale operations as well as “calendared events.”
That calendar, it seems, has been full, with food and music events on Wednesdays (Kim Sorise’s “Wax on Wednesdays,” with 12-inch LPs and 12-inch pizzas), many Fridays (“Burger Night” with music, burgers and brews), and a tasty menu-based brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.
My wife and I didn’t really have food in mind when we drove past the Patron early on a recent Sunday afternoon, but the sight of a jammed parking lot lured us in. Sure enough, the place was slammed with happy brunchers, but it took a minute or two for us to be seated.
The dining room is small, a longish rectangle two tables wide, with a few simple art works on dark green walls under an industrial-style ceiling painted such a dark blue that it’s almost black.
Ice water comes in handsome tumblers resembling the trendy, stemless Riedel “O” glasses, each garnished with a cool cucumber slice. Black cloth napkins are held with small radiator hose clamps as napkin rings.
Brunch is served from a menu, not an all-you-can-eat buffet. It offers more than a dozen items, ranging from $7 (for eggs any style or a yellow-watermelon salad) to $15 (for crab and eggs or prosciutto angelhair pasta). A “veggie scramble” with bell peppers, onions, squash, mozzarella and tomato is market rate. A couple of Latino-style goodies include huevos rancheros ($13) and a Foxhollow beef tostada ($11). Biscuits and gravy or a fried-egg sandwich with Applewood smoked bacon both go for $10.
Coffee, tea or watermelon aqua fresca? Don’t mind if I do. This refreshing Latino drink made from fresh watermelon blended in water and strained clear made a cool touch for one of the last hot days of late summer. For a brunch-style amuse-bouche, they brought around bites of vegan coconut pound cake and a crumb cake made with local berries.
Soups of the day were both impressive. Smoked tomato lima bean soup ($4) was a thick potion of roughly chopped fresh tomatoes with tiny lima beans and a distinct, smoky back note of hot chipotle peppers.
Local roasted corn soup ($4) was a pretty, spicy puree of fresh corn garnished with two basil leaves, a floating streak of pepper and basil-infused oils and a dab of sour cream. It was a delicious distillation of fresh corn flavors in an intense, aromatic soup.
Both soups were accompanied by crispy bits of the Patron’s signature seeded lavash crackerbread.
As so often occurs in this litigious era, my wife wasn’t asked about doneness when she requested the Kentucky bison burger ($10), and she was served a good-size patty that was almost well-done, with only a hint of pink at the center. Fortunately, it remained moist and tender. It was served on a good-looking whole wheat bun and dressed with pimento cheese made from Kenny Mattingly’s Kentucky White Cheddar, leaf lettuce and tomato — an appetizing combination but one so juicy it proved more of a knife-and-fork meal than a traditional sandwich.
It came with a small side dish of pasta salad with locally grown cranberry beans, a creative switch from the usual red, white and green corkscrew pasta.
The crab and eggs ($15) consisted of eggs lightly scrambled with fresh corn niblets and well picked-over crab, with creamed spinach folded in. It was topped with chopped fresh tomato and a bunch of fresh mint with tiny lavender mint flowers. A surprisingly rich dish, it looked like a moderate-sized portion, but the more I ate, the more I realized there’d be no need for dinner this evening. It carried a sharp edge of hot peppers, an innovation that was fine by me but, left unmentioned on the menu, might have been a problem for people who don’t like it hot.
A good and filling afternoon for two came to $34.98, plus a $7.02 tip.
The Patron Restaurant
3400 Frankfort Ave.
Robin Garr’s brunch rating: 88 points