Almost as big around as an oversize meatball, Paseo's lamb burger comes with a fried egg on top and more, much more.

Have a (disco) ball at Paseo

By Robin Garr

When was the day the disco died? Surely the dance and the surrounding culture were already fading by the late 1970s. But historians trace its ultimate demise to July 12, 1979, when a wacky “Disco Demolition” night at Chicago’s Comiskey Park boiled into a riot that caused at least nine injuries, 39 arrests, and the forfeit of that night’s Major League Baseball game between the Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers.

It was a momentous occasion, I’m sure. But riddle me this: Why am I recalling this sad event to introduce this week’s restaurant review? Stay with me. I’ll get there as fast as I can.

This may seem counterintuitive, but Kentucky has a long and tangled history with disco, or more specifically the shiny, mirror-surfaced disco ball. According to NBC News the disco ball was invented in Kentucky in 1917, which seems odd when we consider that the disco craze itself didn’t come along for another 45 years or so.

What’s more, Louisville’s Omega National Products was one of the largest disco ball factories in the U.S., and eventually became the last one standing. We proudly claimed our status as Disco Ball City, even as production dropped with declining demand to only a few glittering balls weekly.

All this eventually had to end, and this is where we finally dance around to the point: So long, Omega National and your disco balls. Welcome, Myriad Hotel and its upscale Mediterranean restaurant, Paseo. The restaurant actually opened a month or so before the hotel did, but it’s all in operation now, including Myriad’s more casual restaurant, Switchboard; an extensive patio, meeting spaces, and even a swimming pool.

The hotel reportedly works disco balls into its decor, but I didn’t see any disco action in Paseo’s dining room, other than a pair of towering bright-orange industrial tanks that rise just outside. Built as collectors for glass dust from cutting mirrors, they now form a striking industrial-chic display.

Paseo self-describes as a “metropolitan-style restaurant bursting with Mediterranean spice and scenery,” and that seems fair, if we think of the full scope of the Med from Spain to the Levant.

I had had my eye on Paseo for a while, based on positive review from friends, but delayed while I saved up a little cash: Chef Jeremy Frederiksen’s goodies like a $56 seafood paella and many paella and pasta dishes and entrees priced in the $28-$48 range made it feel like a special-occasion kind of place.

Paseo recently launched a Saturday and Sunday brunch menu, though, and the lure of more affordable midday dishes drew me right in. The menu is less extensive, but feels more accessible with prices from $10 to $14 for a quartet of starters and – with the exception of a $48 strip steak and egg plate – $14 to $22 for the remaining seven brunch entrees./

You haven’t tasted hummus until you’ve tried Paseo’s thick, rich hummus brulee with crisp toasted lavash for dipping.

If the idea of hummus makes you go ho, hummus, you haven’t tried Pasoe’s hummus brulée ($13). Thick and rich, it was topped with Bharat sunflower seeds, snipped chives, and embered onion jam, broiled over a wood fire just long enough to impart a tasty smoky character. Alongside came a pile of thin, very crisp toasted, seeded lavash flatbread.

The grilled lamb burger ($22, pictured at the top of the page) was generously portioned, perhaps a half-pound, so tall that it looked like a meatball. It was perfectly cooked to a dark, crunchy exterior surrounding warm pink lamb meat. It was topped with a soft sunny-side egg sprinkled with chopped chives and red-pepper flakes, and served on a quality bun.

Accompanying the burger on the plate was a football-shaped serving of creamy mahón cheese with a complex flavor. Paseo’s Mediterranean character recurred in all three of our dishes in a complex, cumin-dominated flavor, each similar but distinctly different and very good. Four gently smashed roasted new potatoes came alongside, soft and creamy within their crispy oiled skins.  The burger bun had been buttered and grilled on its open sides; the bottom half was coated with the sweet onion jam with its smoky chipotle flavoring.

Popular throughout the eastern Mediterranean, shakshuka pops poached eggs atop a bed of spicy, coarsely textured tomato stew.

Shakshuka ($20) is increasingly popular these days, and I’m glad. A popular treat around the eastern rim of the Mediterranean from Egypt through Israel to Syria and Lebanon, and in Italy where a similar dish goes by Uova In Purgatorio (Eggs in Purgatory), it’s basically a spicy tomato stew with poached eggs on top. Paseo’s version was tasty and very filling, with coarse-textured, spice-scented tomatoes topped with two pretty but problematic eggs. I like runny eggs, preferably pastured eggs from local farms, but these went beyond: The yolks were cool and portions of the whites remained uncooked, clear and glistening. I didn’t complain. In fact I ate them, grudgingly. But in retrospect I should have asked for a re-do, and in a similar case, you should, too.

With two big mugs of sustainably sourced Counter Culture brand coffee ($3 each), brunch for two came to $64.66, plus a $14 tip.

Paseo Restaurant
Myriad Hotel
900 Baxter Ave.

Noise Level: We had a room largely to ourselves for Saturday midday brunch, so conversation was easy at a moderate 64.2dB sound level.

Accessibility: The entrance and dining area appear to be accessible to wheelchair users.