Category Archives: Commentary

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

Oriental House returns, just as good as ever

By Robin Garr

When Oriental House posted the news of its reopening on social media earlier this month, it made me so happy that I wanted to “Like” it twice!

“We just want to thank everybody for the patience, love, and support throughout this journey,” the owners wrote. “This will be our first time opening our dining rooms to the public since the pandemic, so please continue to stay patient with us! Takeout will still be available as well.”

This was huge for me. I’ve been a fan of Chinese cuisine since, well, most of my life. Continue reading Oriental House returns, just as good as ever

As winter nears, restaurant stress is about more than Covid

By Robin Garr

Here comes another winter, the third since the global pandemic started early in 2020, and – talking mostly about the restaurant, food and drink scene here – where in the heck are we?

For a lot of us, things are feeling pretty good. Sure, quite a few of us have at least one Covid encounter for ourselves or a friend or loved one to spin tales about, But things are looking better now, right? Continue reading As winter nears, restaurant stress is about more than Covid

Best restaurant eats when you’re bouncing back from Covid

These three short features published in LEO Weekly today are my contribution to LEO’s 2022 Best in Louisville Staffpicks in LEO’s annual Readers’ Choice Awards. Be sure to check them out at the links!

By Robin Garr

Why, yes, I did get Covid last month, after 2 1/2 years of artfully avoiding the pandemic. And no, I am not recommending this to you as one of Louisville’s best things to do in 2022.

But Covid did teach me some useful things about eating. I didn’t have a lot of appetite while recovering, but a man’s got to eat, so I treated myself to local restaurant fare to fascinate my appetite. In this and the following two reports, I’d like to share with you my nominees for the best breakfast, lunch, and dinner (for me), when recovering from Covid. Continue reading Best restaurant eats when you’re bouncing back from Covid

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

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

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

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