Category Archives: Commentary

Robin Garr’s musings about food and restaurant matters that don’t fit neatly into the “review” category.

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

By Robin Garr
LouisvilleHotBytes.com

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

Everything – well, some things – you wanted to know about appetizers

By Robin Garr
LouisvilleHotBytes.com

Appetizers! There’s something about simply hearing the name that gets your taste buds working, or mine, anyway. It even sounds so much more appealing than the hoity-toity French “hors d’oeuvres,” am I right?

So what is an appetizer, anyway, and where did this idea of offering a small, tasty bit before the main course come from? Continue reading Everything – well, some things – you wanted to know about appetizers

Half-price wine, what a deal!

By Robin Garr
LouisvilleHotBytes.com

It may be true that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, or at least that a free lunch rarely comes without a quid pro quo. But half-price wine? Now, that is a thing!

Locally and around the nation, a surprising number of restaurants choose at least one evening per week to offer all or part of its wine list at half-price, usually with the purchase of a meal. A few, like Louisville’s Volare Ristorante, go a step further with half-price wine seven days a week for patrons dining at the bar. Continue reading Half-price wine, what a deal!

It’s not your grandma’s church supper when Chef Lamas is in the house

By Robin Garr
LouisvilleHotBytes.com

Chef Anthony Lamas wrapped a towel around the handle of a screeching hot black iron skillet, swung around and showed off a dozen beautifully seared fresh-caught dry scallops the size of baseballs to an eager crowd.

“This is how you do it,” he said with a smile. “Dry scallops, never stored in liquid. Season them, slap them in a dry skillet as hot as you can get it, and don’t turn them until they come loose.” Continue reading It’s not your grandma’s church supper when Chef Lamas is in the house

Inflation poses tough pricing choices for chefs and owners

By Robin Garr
LouisvilleHotBytes.com

Dan McMahon sat with a Sharpie and an extra copy of his restaurant’s trifold menu and pondered a difficult decision.

McMahon, general manager of Danny Mac’s Pizza in the Mellwood Art Center, knew he would have to raise prices. With grocery prices rising fast, gasoline prices topping $4 a gallon locally, and inflation the United States hitting the highest levels seen in decades, that was a done deal.

“We just went through all of our invoices and found out that lots of our business supplies went up about 20 percent in the last month,” he said. “All food and packing supplies went up. Twenty percent can put you out of business fast if you don’t change your prices.” Continue reading Inflation poses tough pricing choices for chefs and owners

Some like it hot: Our favorite fiery fare

By Robin Garr
LouisvilleHotBytes.com

The hottest, fieriest, most palate-scorching dish I ever ate at a local restaurant was not Indian, nor any other cuisine traditionally associated with culinary fire.. Nope. It was a down-home entree – a simple grilled cheese sandwich – served up at the currently closed New Albany branch of Toast on Market.

Yeah, it was a chipotle grilled cheese sandwich, but still. As I wrote in my 2014 review, I didn’t quite expect flames to come shooting out my mouth while my endorphins took off in a wild and crazy rush around my brain. Wooee! That sandwich is HOT!” Continue reading Some like it hot: Our favorite fiery fare

Struggling restaurants fight for federal fund boost

By Robin Garr
LouisvilleHotBytes.com

The pandemic hasn’t been kind to small businesses, and that certainly includes local restaurants and food-service ventures. Just ask Chase Barmore, who had spent more than nine years building his Lifebar smoothie bar concept.

Barmore’s healthy, hand-crafted all-organic smoothies had earned Life Bar deserved popularity through sales in three regional Rainbow Blossom stores, and business was looking better … until Covid came. Continue reading Struggling restaurants fight for federal fund boost

Lessons from history for this restaurant economy

By Robin Garr
LouisvilleHotBytes.com

If you’ve been fretting about high gasoline prices and skyrocketing grocery costs lately, you are certainly not alone.

And if you own a restaurant or work in one, already wrestling with well-publicized supply chain and staffing issues driven by the pandemic, you’re looking down the barrel of scary times ahead as inflation and a possible economic recession join the mix. Continue reading Lessons from history for this restaurant economy

Hyderabad House brings the biryani

By Robin Garr
LouisvilleHotBytes.com

Biryani: India’s mouth-watering rice dish, a meal in itself, stands tall against other national rice-based competitors such as Spain’s paella, Italy’s risotto, Nigeria’s jollof rice, Indonesia’s nasi goreng, Louisiana’s jambalaya, or Persia’s pilaf.

What is biryani, anyway? It’s a hearty rice dish layered with lamb, chicken, fish, or vegetables, scented with saffron and aromatic Indian spices, sauced with a thick gravy, and roasted in a covered pot until the flavors join in a resounding gustatory chorus. Continue reading Hyderabad House brings the biryani

The fish just keep on coming

Louisville is well into Lenten fish season now. Hungry supplicants are reportedly lining up at Friday church fish fries and local fish eateries too. And I’m not embarrassed to say that my fish fry report last month went locally viral enough to fill up my email and direct messages for a while.

Most of your comments were kind and grateful. A few were kind and constructively critical, politely telling me what more I could have done. I can live with that, as long as kindness is part of the equation.

So here’s the story: I didn’t do wrong in my report of Louisville-area church fish fries and a handful of personal favorite restaurants where fried fish is a year-round speciality.

But, some of you say, I could have done more. Continue reading The fish just keep on coming