Señora Arepa serves delicious Venezuelan street food

By Robin Garr

Covid-19 has been rough for NuLu restaurants. The pandemic has taken at least partial blame for the loss of Harvest, Rye, and most recently, Decca.

For the Martinez family’s Olé restaurant group, though, challenges create opportunities. They opened the Cuban restaurant La Bodeguita de Mamá in July 2020, early in the pandemic, in the former headquarters of Creation Gardens at 725 E. Market St.

Señora Arepa came next, opening in the spring of 2021, serving Venezuelan street food in the smaller building behind Bodeguita at 721 E. Market St., once the home of Ghislain on Market. Continue reading Señora Arepa serves delicious Venezuelan street food

Dining trends come and sometimes go

By Robin Garr

How can you tell when a trend has run its course? Yogi Berra had the right idea with his memorable observation, “Nobody goes there any more. It’s too crowded.”

Restaurant and culinary trends are sort of like that, too. A great new concept takes hold, catches fire, and before long everyone is doing it, some in slavish imitation, others adding their own riffs. And then everyone tires of the idea and we move on.

Except when we don’t. Continue reading Dining trends come and sometimes go

Barn 8 delivers culinary treats in a delightful farm setting

By Robin Garr

If you haven’t made your way out to Barn 8 Restaurant at Hermitage Farm in Goshen, take my advice: You ought to give it a try soon. You’ll be glad you did.

Walk in the front door of the black, red-trimmed former horse barn on U.S. 42, and one of the first things you see will be a small painting of local art enthusiast and 21c hotel founder Steve Wilson, showing a big smile and his trademark red glasses.

Yep, Barn 8 is related by family to Proof on Main, 21c’s much-lauded downtown eatery. I might not call Barn 8 “Proof East” or “Proof in the countryside,” but it’s fair to point out the similarities, and there are plenty of them. Continue reading Barn 8 delivers culinary treats in a delightful farm setting

A stroll down restaurant Memory Lane

By Robin Garr

Covid, Delta, Omicron, BA.5, bah! Sometimes it seems as if the pandemic will never end. In fact, the experts say, it’s more likely to shift from pandemic to endemic status, which isn’t much better since it’s essentially acknowledging that it will always be around, like the flu or common cold.

While in some ways the pandemic has shown the resilience of the restaurant business, I sometimes wonder, too, how long that can last. We’ve lost too many favorite places, and those that remain are struggling with rising costs and shortages of both labor and food. Everyone is tired of Covid. Hardly anybody wants to wear a mask any more.

And yet, with the latest variants pushing Louisville back into the scary red zone, it’s all too tempting to skip dining out for a while, or at best to grab takeout or have something delivered to the relative safety of our homes. Continue reading A stroll down restaurant Memory Lane

Tandoori Fusion offers artistic Indian creations

By Robin Garr

Thoughts inspired by a recent meal at Louisville’s Tandoori Fusion restaurant: Fusion cuisine has been around for centuries, going back as far as Chinese restaurateurs coming up with chop suey to please western consumers in 1850s California, and maybe even to Marco Polo and his noodles.

But the concept didn’t get a name until the 1980s, when chefs like Roy Yamaguchi and Wolfgang Puck began to intentionally combine flavors from different cultures. Before long, just about everyone was chowing down on Pacific Rim cuisine and Thai pizza, and calling it “fusion.” Continue reading Tandoori Fusion offers artistic Indian creations

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should: Menu edition

By Robin Garr

When a new friend or neighbor finds out that one of my jobs involves writing restaurant reviews, their first response is usually something like this: “Wow! You get to eat out at a different restaurant every week? That must be great!”

Why yes! Yes it is! It’s fun to try new eateries, and the older ones too. We’re fortunate in this food-loving city to have a restaurant culture that understands what diners want and knows how to deliver it.

I can hardly remember a place that really disappointed me. No, wait, now that I mention it I can remember a few, but let’s set that aside for now. Continue reading Just because you can doesn’t mean you should: Menu edition

We enjoy the chicken and the egg at Chik’n & Mi

By Robin Garr

I’m not going to say I’ve solved the ancient riddle about whether the chicken or the egg came first, but I can tell you that we enjoyed both those good things and more in a delicious brunch at Chik’n & Mi.

It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that the fare is excellent at Chik’n & Mi, as it’s the only local eatery I know of where both owners/chefs – the husband-and-wife team of Jason McCollum and Aenith Sananikone McCollum – are graduates of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Continue reading We enjoy the chicken and the egg at Chik’n & Mi

Napa wine maker comes to town to make bourbon

By Robin Garr

I’ve often joked that Louisville’s effort to build bourbon tourism as a gigantic revenue source looks like a plan to turn Louisville into an urban version of the Napa Valley.

Since the late 1800s, Napa has lured tourists to come visit wineries, learn about wine, taste the stuff, and not incidentally, spend time and money at local eateries, taverns, and hotels. Who could blame our city government and business leaders for wanting to do something like that too, only with bourbon?

Great concept. But is it working? I wasn’t sure until I met Mark Joseph Carter, owner of California’s Carter Cellars at Envy Winery. Carter is a Napa wine maker who came to Kentucky to make bourbon. Continue reading Napa wine maker comes to town to make bourbon

MozzaPi’s pizza remains near and dear to my heart

By Robin Garr

I’m pretty sure I’ve told you before that pizza is one of my favorite foods. I can’t think of a one of Louisville’s 60-some pizzerias that I would flatly reject. Well, possibly some of the national chains, unless I was really hungry.

I mean, what’s not to like about pizza? It’s relatively healthy, a thin base of bread that, excepting the occasional deep-dish pie, imparts barely enough carbs to bother anyone. A layer of delicious tomato sauce, a layer of delicious cheese, some tasty meats or veggies of your liking on top … why, you’ve got all of the food groups on your plate! Continue reading MozzaPi’s pizza remains near and dear to my heart

Like food? Learn about food justice. This form can help

By Robin Garr

I’ve liked food for a long time. Coming of age in the time of Julia Child and James Beard and culinary stars like that, it didn’t take me long as a young adult to get interested in cooking and dining out.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the restaurant critic’s mic: The more interested I became in food and cooking, the more I wanted to learn about food. Where does it come from? How does it grow? How is it distributed? And maybe most of all, why is it that some people on this green Earth have so much food that they can throw it away, while others might want to fight for those scraps? Continue reading Like food? Learn about food justice. This form can help

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