Category Archives: Seafood & Water’s Edge

No need to roll your own at Mazzoni’s

Rolled oyster
Mazzoni’s, the 125-year-old Louisville tradition, is still going strong in its new Middletown digs. The fried oysters should not be missed. Photo by Robin Garr.

Mazzoni’s, the 125-year-old Louisville tradition, moved out to Middletown from its longtime quarters on Taylorsville Road earlier this year. I wandered out the other day for a couple deep-fried delights and found its new shopping center quarters virtually indistinguishable from the old, complete with the trademark 27-foot-long walnut serving bar (which dates all the way back to its old downtown location) and gallery of old Louisville pictures on the walls.
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Unchained Macca’s delights at Westport Village

Macca’s Florida Seafood Grill & Bar holds down a prime spot in the Westport Village center. Outside seating, clean restrooms and a full bar, with plenty of scurrying employees wearing matching attire, put Macca’s squarely in the upscale-casual realm. Photo by Robin Garr.

LEO’s Eats with, with Guest Critic Kevin Gibson

If Macca’s Florida Seafood Grill & Bar, with its clean, corporate, angular design and requisite marine-centric décor, looks like it could be part of a chain, that’s probably more than coincidental – this sleek, family-friendly restaurant was originally going to be an R.J. Gator’s franchise, but corporate expansion plans by the Florida-based restaurant chain got put on the back burner, reportedly for economic reasons.
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Why did the foodie cross the river?

Market Street Fish House
Market Street Fish House in New Albany. Photo by Robin Garr.

LEO’s Eats with

I went across the Ohio to New Albany last week and had me a big old batch of fried oysters, and they were fine, even though the month of May doesn’t have an “R” in it.

Happily, the old wisdom about avoiding oysters from the end of Aprrrril through the first of Septemberrrr has pretty much been repealed, allowing aficionados of the tasty bivalve to enjoy them year-round.

What’s the story? The old R Rule stemmed from two issues, one related to health and the other to enjoyment.
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Mazzoni’s moves east

Mazzoni’s will celebrate its 125th anniversary next year in new quarters in Middletown. Inset: Chili, fish sandwich, rolled oysters. Photos by Robin Garr.

(Mazzoni’s, Voice-Tribune, Feb. 14, 2008)

Mazzoni’s, one of Louisville’s oldest restaurants, will celebrate its 125th anniversary next year. It’s also brand-new.

This seeming contradiction is easily explained: Founded in 1884 in downtown Louisville by Philip Mazzoni, a recent arrival from Genoa, Italy, Mazzoni’s remains in family hands a century-and-a-quarter later, ranking it as the city’s second-oldest eatery. (Only Cunningham’s, founded about a decade earlier around the time Aristides won the first Kentucky Derby in 1875, boasts a longer local heritage.)

But Mazzoni’s as also as new as last week, when it reopened in shopping center quarters in suburban Middletown, having moved from the spot across Taylorsville Road from Bowman Field that it had called home since the 1980s.
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Something fishy this way comes

LEO’s Eats with Louisville HotBytes
(Moby Dick, Cunningham’s, the Fish House, Uptown Café)

Last week in this space we celebrated Carnival, wrapping up the season of winter revelry with a gumbo party, tasty libations and all manner of Mardi Gras beads.

Today it’s Ash Wednesday, the music has stopped, and the repentant Lenten season is here. Even in this secular era when only the most devout observe Lent with fasting and abstinence, one religious ritual remains mighty easy to follow: fish sandwiches on rye!

To hail the season, we checked out four local spots known for fish sandwiches: the fast-food Moby Dick, historic Cunningham’s, the friendly Fish House and, for an upscale touch, Uptown Café.

Fish sandwiches
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Something’s fishy at Seafood Connection, and we like that

Seafood Connection
Seafood Connection’s salmon taco (left) is topped with peach salsa; fried capers light up the flavor of the fish taco. Neither is your grandmother’s Tex-Mex. Photo by Robin Garr

(Voice-Tribune, June 14, 2007)

Travel around the Mediterranean and through the Latin countries, from Greece past southern Italy, Provence in France, Spain and on around Gibraltar to Portugal, and you’ll find wonderful seafood and fish restaurants in just about every port.

To my mind, the best of these places are the most informal, and it just doesn’t get any better than when the “menu” is a pile of fresh fish and shellfish, still briny from the ocean, piled on ice near the entrance. Pick the fish that appeals to you, point to it, and someone will whisk it away, soon to return it sizzling on your plate.

Louisville is a long way from the Med. Indeed, we’re about 600 miles from the nearest seacoast. But you can eat like this – or a little bit like this anyway – in the heart of St. Matthews at Seafood Connection in Chenoweth Square.
Continue reading Something’s fishy at Seafood Connection, and we like that

Yummy fried fish is no penance

St. Augustine's fish dinner
St. Augustine’s Catholic Church is well known for its Friday fish fries during Lent. The fish is good – you can choose baked cod, fried cod (above), whiting or buffalo – and some of the sides are excellent. Try the cheese grits, which sub pimento cheese for cheddar. Photos by Robin Garr.

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes
(St. Augustine’s fish fry, Stan’s Fish Sandwich, KFC Fish Snacker)

It’s Lent again, the liturgical season when many people undertake modest symbolic sacrifices such as eating fish on Fridays. Crunchy, golden-brown, delicious, sizzling fried fish: You call that penance?

In Louisville, we don’t reserve fish for Lent. Most of us are crazy for seafood at any time of year, and that’s been so for generations, way back to the postwar era – post-Civil War, that is – when L&N express trains would rush fresh oysters on ice up from the Gulf to oyster bars like the still-extant Mazzoni’s.
Continue reading Yummy fried fish is no penance

More Friday fish at Seafood Connection

Play video
Click the image link to watch a 1-minute video visit to Seafood Connection on a busy Friday in Lent.

Just about every fish-sandwich spot and seafood eatery in town is jammed on Fridays during Lent, and one of my favorites, Seafood Connection in St. Matthews, is certainly no exception.

It’s a casual spot, with a small 10-seat lunch counter within a fine fish shop, but the quality of Chef Mike Hungerford’s fare makes it worth a special trip for fish sandwiches, fish tacos, lobster rolls, crab cakes, even a salmon “Reuben” and more.

We dropped by today for a fish sandwich, a bowl of clam chowder, and this quick video tour.

Craving Crustaceans

“I have yet to meet a pile of shrimp that I was not immediately on good terms with and could not devour promptly,” says Eat ‘N’ Blog correspondent KIM MASSEY. “My deep affection for these little parcels of protein is well matched with my passion for ethnic foods. It’s a fortunate thing, then, that Louisville’s ethnic restaurant community offers so many opportunities to indulge these cravings.”
Needless to say, Kim was quick to volunteer for the challenge of finding some of the region’s most delightful ethnic shrimp dishes. This is her crustacean-loving report:

Let’s start with a duo of appetizers that come dangerously close to displacing shrimp and grits as my favorite way to begin a meal.
The Banh Xeo ($5.60) at Vietnam Kitchen is an inspired creation. An eggy crepe that falls somewhere between a pancake and an omelet, Banh Xeo is pan-fried to a decidedly crispy exterior, then folded over stir-fried shrimp and bean sprouts in a simple but complementary combination of tastes and textures. The salty-sweet acidity of the soy-based sauce provides a perfect foil for the rich crepe. It’s one of those appetizers that you would gladly order in entrée-sized portion, if only you could! (One possibility: Order two.)

Vietnam Kitchen
5339 Mitscher Ave.

The Camarones de Alio ($6.99) served at Havana Rumba offer a sumptuous prelude to any meal. A half-dozen plump, tail-on shrimp are sautéed in a simple sauce of olive oil and butter with a smidgen of red pepper and lashings of minced garlic, served sizzling in their clay-pot cooking vessel. This is culinary minimalism at its finest. It’s served with warm, crusty French bread, perfect for mopping up the delightful sauce after the sweet and tender shrimp are down the hatch.

Havana Rumba
4115 Oechsli Ave.

That’s just the beginning of the diverse and delicious shrimp dishes available at the city’s ethnic eateries. Consider the shrimp tips ($13) at Queen of Sheba. This splendid dish combines shrimp, onions, tomatoes and green peppers, lightly sautéed in butter with Ethiopian spices. It is served with Kik Wot – a mound of creamy stewed split lentils that would make a satisfying vegetarian dish in itself. Both shrimp and lentils are piled atop injera, the spongy, pancake-like Ethiopian flatbread, which adds a hearty element to an otherwise light entrée. This delightfully complex dish will leave you clamoring to sample more of this wonderful cuisine.

Queen of Sheba Ethiopian
3315 Bardstown Road

Another shrimp dish, less subtle but just as satisfying, is the Camarones al Chipotle ($11.50) served at Fiesta Mexicana. A dozen plump shrimp are liberally smothered in a rich, dark sauce of tomatoes and chipotle peppers, with a sprinkling of just-melted Chihuahua cheese. Its smoky heat packs quite a punch, which can be pleasantly tempered with a dollop of sour cream. Served with a side of savory Mexican rice and salad, it’s a hearty, warming dish, a welcome respite to a cold winter evening.

Fiesta Mexicana
5414 Bardstown Road

When my crustaceous cravings unite with a desire for the familiar, I beat a hasty retreat to India Palace – a regular port of refuge for a sometimes homesick Brit. It can be so difficult to choose just one dish from the many impressive shrimp options that I frequently give up the struggle and select a contrasting duo. The volcanic, spicy, tangy, Shrimp Vindaloo ($11.95) creates a delightful reverse trajectory of creeping warmth from the back of the throat to the tip of the tongue. It partners perfectly with the mild and aromatic Shrimp Saag ($11.95), a delicate light curry that combines spices, herbs, spinach and a dash of cream. Add a side of Pilau rice, a warm fluffy round of naan flatbread, and there you have it: a culinary hug from a much loved friend!

India Palace
9424 Shelbyville Road