Category Archives: Outside the city

Village Anchor Pub takes roost

fried chicken on plate

Got milk? Or a Nike swoosh? How about “comfort food with a twist”?

Indeed, what kind of wacky restaurant concept might we expect from one of the nation’s top corporate-relations experts — a man who’s run campaigns for such iconic enterprises as the American dairy industry and Nike — when he comes back home and turns restaurateur?

That would be Anchorage resident Kevin Grangier, former sole owner of award-winning CarryOn Communications Inc. of Los Angeles, New York and … St. Matthews.
Continue reading Village Anchor Pub takes roost

We follow the yellow brick road to Arbor Ridge

crab cakes
Arbor Ridge’s crab cakes

LEO’s Eats with LouisvilleHotBytes

Arbor Ridge’s menu is extensive and, management attests, “serves a fresh, flavorful and healthy cuisine with Californian and Mediterranean flair.” It is certainly a giant step beyond boring, although I wouldn’t rate it adventurous.
Continue reading We follow the yellow brick road to Arbor Ridge

Q&A Sweet Treats: Outrageously good

Following up on last week’s report on Cake Flour, the yummy new organic bakery on East Market: LouisvilleHotBytes forumite Andrea Essenpreiss is building quite a reputation for herself in La Grange and Oldham County – and quickly spilling over into Louisville – with her recently established business, Q&A Sweet Treats.
Continue reading Q&A Sweet Treats: Outrageously good

Taking my ‘cue in LaGrange

Big R's
Big R’s, out in the middle of La Grange in Oldham County, has all the signs of a serious barbecue joint. And the pigmeat backs it up. Photo by Robin Garr.

Meanwhile, I blazed a trail out to Oldham County recently to check out Big R’s, a fine new barbecue joint. It’s located in an attractive country house right in the middle of town, surrounded by all the signals that real barbecue is sold here: a big, black smoker, lots of hickory logs and a statue of an anthropomorphic pig out front.

It’s a smallish place but clean and neat, with freshly painted walls the color of lemon ice and tasteful red-checked curtains; maybe a half-dozen tables inside and a few more on the porch. The menu is basic and functional, too: Baby-backs range from $9 for a half-slab with no sides to $18 for a full slab with two sides. Other smoked meats – pulled pork, pulled chicken and beef brisket – are mostly $5.25 for a sandwich with one side, $6 with two sides.

We chowed down on ribs and a brisket sandwich and four sides between us and were generally pleased. Let’s put it this way: Big R is a master of smoking meat, a champion BBQ artiste who “slow-smokes” pork butts and briskets over hickory for 15 hours and ribs for five; but his tastes in sauces and rubs differs from my “less is more” philosophy: He likes to use a little more.

The ribs, indeed, were as good as I ever ate: They’re very meaty, with surprisingly little fat or gristle, smoked just right so the hickory flavor is like a condiment but doesn’t conceal the natural flavors of the meat. I wish he had throttled back on the dry rub and shiny glaze, though. The aromatic spices in the rub (I think I smelled cumin) and the sweet-sticky glaze didn’t really enhance the excellent pigmeat.

The same was true of the brisket: The smoky beef was tender and delicious, but they shredded it and served it in a thick, sweet sauce like a Sloppy Joe. Why do that to good brisket? I wish they’d just offer a no-sauce option.

The sides were quite good. Baked beans were just about perfect – small and pink in a savory-salty sauce. Potato salad was devilishly good, chunks of tender potato and crisp celery in a thick sour-cream sauce with a hint of herbs, maybe dill. Wide green beans were wide beans, long-simmered country-style, decent enough, though a little bit of ham hock would have taken them to bean heaven. My wife liked her mac ‘n’ cheese despite its alarming Velveeta color.

Too full for dessert, we got away from a generous meal for a very attractive $20.14 for two, plus a $4 tip. In spite of my barbecue maven’s nitpicks, it was darn good ‘cue, some of the best around, and the ribs and pork might have made my Hall of Fame if they had just left them alone.

Big R’s Barbeque Shack
109 E. Washington Court
La Grange, Ky.
222-0058

Westport General Store cuts the cheese, but it’s no Cracker Barrel

Westport General Store
Westport General Store: about 30 minutes from Louisville, is down-home, innovative and urbane. Photos by Robin Garr.

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes

A rustic country store in a tiny rural village, it boasts a breezy veranda, an oversize wheel of fine cheddar cheese, and a down-home bill of fare that includes such goodies as stone-ground grits and country-fried pork chops and even, occasionally, fried bologna.

Why, it sounds just like Cracker Barrel.

Not!
Continue reading Westport General Store cuts the cheese, but it’s no Cracker Barrel

Big-city dining at bucolic Holly Hill

Holly Hill
Holly Hill Inn in Midway, Ky., is located in a beautiful brick structure that dates back more than 150 years. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Photo by Kim Massey.

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes
(Holly Hill Inn, Gourmet to Go’s rye bread, Oceanside Seafood)

Call me an unreconstructed urbanite, but I tend to assume that if you desire sophisticated fare in an upscale environment, you’ll want to stay close to the city.

Sure, there are exceptions, with jewels like Limestone and Ferd Grisanti in the chain-rich suburbs, and worthy dining destinations even in the outer ring of suburbs, from RockWall above New Albany to Norma Jean’s Trackside and Westport General Store out in Oldham County, just to name a few.

But who’d have thought that one of Kentucky’s most sophisticated eateries – so good that it attracts national media attention – resides in tiny Midway, a good hour’s drive east of downtown Louisville, so far out into the Bluegrass that you’ve got to drive past Waddy and Peytona to get there?

It’s true. Featured in such publications as Bon Appetit, Food & Wine and Southern Living and invited to show their stuff at James Beard House in New York City in June 2004, the husband-and-wife team of owner-restaurateurs Chris and Ouita Michel have put Midway not only on Kentucky’s culinary map but the nation’s with their Holly Hill Inn. Continue reading Big-city dining at bucolic Holly Hill

Brunch at the Prospect Bristol

Bristol - Prospect

(Bristol – Prospect, Voice-Tribune, Nov. 9, 2006)

Louisville old-timers fondly recognize the Bristol Bar & Grille as the great-grandpappy of just about all the popular eateries that now virtually line Bardstown Road and Frankfort Avenues.

When the original Bristol opened at 1321 Bardstown Road in 1977, the idea of an upscale urban bistro seemed a little strange, but the idea quickly caught on, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Over the years, the Bristol became well-known for its casual gourmet-style signature dishes, from the Bristol Burger (served on an English muffin, what a concept), to the beloved Green Chile Won Tons. But when I look back over all the years that I’ve been a fan and happy customer, one Bristol tradition stands out: Sunday brunch!

A few branches around town have joined the original location, sharing similar menus but each with its own mood. The downtown branch (614 W. Main St.), fits in beautifully with its 19th century storefront surroundings, and the Hurstbourne Bristol (300 N. Hurstbourne Pkwy.) seems just as compatible a fit with the suburbs.

And now there’s a Prospect Bristol, opened this past summer in shopping-center space that had housed a Max’n’Erma’s. Continue reading Brunch at the Prospect Bristol

Frosting the Hoosier pumpkin

Huber's
Server Dacqueri Mahar shows off Huber’s finest, the country platter dish of fried chicken and ham. Photos by Sara Havens

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes
(Stumler’s, Joe Huber’s)

When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin’ turkey-cock …
And the rooster’s hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence …
O, it’s then the time a feller is a-feelin’ at his best.

Ahh, autumn, time of harvest and nippy nights, hearty cider and cozy fireplaces. Autumn doesn’t get any better than it does in rural Indiana, and it’s no surprise that the poet who penned those words in 1883, Indiana’s own James Whitcomb Riley, was a Hoosier through and through.

Riley, who’s been a hero of mine ever since I learned that he started out as a newspaper reporter and was once fired from the Anderson Democrat for being a little too creative with his prose, knew a good thing when he saw it, and so do we.

The leaves are getting serious about turning colors now, and any random pumpkin is likely to wake up in the morning sporting a touch of frost. Let’s celebrate Riley’s memory with a leaf-peeping, eating and drinking expedition to the tourist farms of Starlight, Ind. Continue reading Frosting the Hoosier pumpkin