1. Review: Premium meat from Mattingly worth the investment

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    December 3, 2013 by Ashlee Clark Thompson

    A box of meat from Mattingly. Christmas came early?

    Let’s get the tough part out of the way. This blog post is going to feature expensive meats firmly settled in Treat Yo’ Self territory.
    Yet, I was torn. The selection of meat from Mattingly is of premium quality with prices that reflect that commitment. Of the meat I sampled, the New York Strip is $13.75 a pound, pork chops are $5.50 per pound, and the hamburger patties are $3.50 per pound.

    We’re all regular folks, here. You know and I know that the prices made us gulp. But if you’re going to go big, go with Mattingly.

    Bringing home Mattingly Meat was like sneaking into the kitchen of my favorite steakhouse, clunking the chef over the head, and stealing slabs of beef from the fridge. My galley kitchen was instantly upgraded when I cooked a New York strip.

  2. Last-minute event alert: March of Dimes to celebrate good food to help babies

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    November 14, 2013 by Ashlee Clark Thompson

    This is SUPERSONIC last minute, but the March of Dimes will host a foodie event tonight to raise money for the non-profit’s efforts to fund research to find the causes of premature birth and developing strategies to prevent it.

    The March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction will take place today, Nov. 14 at 6 p.m. at the Marriott Louisville Downtown. Here’s a rundown of the event, courtesy of the March of Dimes:

    • Guests sample culinary creations from 25 of Louisville’s finest white tablecloth restaurants followed by an exciting live auction featuring experiential dining packages and unique items. The Lead chef is Josh Moore of Volare Italian Ristorante.
    • Participating restaurants include: August Moon Chinese Bistro, Bistro 1860 Wine Bar, Bourbons Bistro, Buck’s Restaurant and Bar, Corbett’s, Jack Fry’s, Lilly’s Bistro, Napa River Grill, Rivue and Varanese.
    • To reserve your table or seat, contact Kim Ulrich at kulrich@marchofdimes.com or 502-473-6683.
    • Want to help March of Dimes? Make a donation (https://www.marchofdimes.com/kentucky/support_giving.html) or call March of Dimes Ohio Valley Division at (800) 255-5857 for volunteer opportunities.

     

  3. Stevens and Stevens Deli serves up local, lunchtime realness

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    November 13, 2013 by Ashlee Clark Thompson

    Chicken noodle soup.

    Sometimes, I get by with a little help from my friends. These are friends who love food as much as I do and introduce me to their favorite places to eat in the city.

    I have Jay and Renee Valentine, fellow bloggers/podcasters and past guests on Deliciously Louisville, to thank for introducing me to Stevens and Stevens Deli, a hidden gem of a lunch spot on Bardstown Road. The Valentines raved about this restaurants wide selection of sandwiches, tasty toppings and good prices and invited me to join them for an early weekday lunch. They had me at sandwiches.

    I’ve driven or walked by Stevens and Stevens dozens of times without noticing this restaurant. I blame the odd restaurant/roommate situation. The deli shares a space with Ditto’s Grill near the busy intersection of Bardstown Road and Grinstead Drive. The Ditto’s whimsical sign eclipses the simple Stevens and Stevens masthead on the front of the building. And the entrance to Stevens and Stevens is down a narrow parking lot toward the rear of the building’s left side. The relationship between these two restaurants gets even cozier inside. To my right, I had a clear view of the staff preparing the dining room of Dittos for the approaching lunchtime crowd. To the left, customers had started to pop in and order from the Stevens and Stevens counter and sit in the deli’s smaller dining area.

    The selection at Stevens and Stevens is worthy of front-of-the-house attention. There are more than 50 types of sandwiches, which are all made to order right at the counter. There is a sandwich for everyone, and a quirky name to go with it. I’m a sucker for a fun menu. Here are some of my favorites:

    • Mr Ziegfeld Mr. Ziegfeld: rueben with corned beef, sauerkraut, Jarlsburg swiss cheese and Russian dressing
    • Hogs and Heffers: hot honey ham, applewood bacon and warmed pimento cheese
    • Arc de Fromage: grilled challah bread with Jarlsburg, cheddar, applewood bacon and tomato
    • Sleeps with the Fishes: hand-sliced lox from New York City, arugula, garden tomatoes, red onions, capers and mayo on toasted challah bread

    Don’t worry, picky eaters — you can get plain ol’ sandwiches, too. But who wants a turkey on white when you can get a Dr. Zhivago (turkey, Russian slaw, and Jarlsburg swiss cheese)?

    Stevens and Stevens also makes a variety of pasta and green salads and soups that you can pair with a sandwich, but are hearty enough to eat on their own.

    The pick two options at the deli are wonderful for trying a little bit of everything they have to offer. Customers can two half portions of soup, salad or sandwich for $6.50 ($7.50 if you pick half of a specialty sandwiches, aka the ones with the fancy names). After much studying and fretting, I picked the Benowitz When in Doubt, a turkey sandwich with Chinese slaw, melted provolone, lettuce, tomatoes, and honeycup mustard on challah bread. I made it a pick two and paired my half sandwich with a bowl of chicken noodle soup.

    Half the reason I ordered the sandwich was the name; I was, after all, in doubt. But I was also intrigued by the addition of an allegedly crazy slaw to a turkey sandwich. The cabbage slaw, trapped under the melted provolone, was sweet and crunchy. The honey mustard slathered on top was tangy and matched the slight spicy kick from slaw perfectly. The stack of turkey was large enough to tango with these medley of flavors. And the challah bread? Dense, soft and heavenly.
    The soup was full of chopped carrots, hunks of chicken and tender noodles. If I had a cup of this for every cold day, I would be a happy woman.

    I owe the Valentines big time for introducing me to Stevens and Stevens. This deli quickly became one of my favorite places to grab a sandwich in Louisville. Now, I just need some friends to help me get through that sandwich selection.

    Stevens and Stevens Deli

    1114 Bardstown Road

    Louisville, Ky.

    www.stevensandstevensdeli.com

  4. Speaking of openings, Papalinos to debut second location in Springhurst this month

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    November 7, 2013 by Ashlee Clark Thompson

    A slice from Papalinos.

    Papalinos Pizza serves some of the best New York-style pizza in the city with a bevy of house-made toppings.

    The pizzeria’s first location on Baxter Avenue has  thrived since it opened in 2010, and I’ve rooted for Papalinos to open another storefront since I wrote about the closing of their second location in Cardinal Towne adjacent to U of L’s campus.

    Did someone hear all my cheerleading for this restaurant?

    Papalinos plans to open a location sometime this month near Springhurst Towne Center in the East End, Business First of Louisville reports. The restaurant, which will operate at 3598 Springhurst Blvd., will be different than the Baxter Avenue store. From Business First:

    The restaurant will offer table service and will have a bar and expanded menu, including more salads and appetizers than the first store.

    For more information on the Springhurst opening, keep an eye on Papalinos’ Facebook page and Twitter feed.

  5. As a couple of restaurant doors close, many more open in Louisville

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    November 4, 2013 by Ashlee Clark Thompson

    El Camino. Photo courtesy of ConsumingLouisville.com.

    I feel like I’m missing something.

    Restaurants are opening up around town like gangbusters, and I can’t figure out why. Is this a sign of the economy bouncing back? Has Louisville’s appetite for eating out reached epic proportions? Am I just noticing this uptick more because I write about food? WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

    I’m going to take a Dayquil and ponder this. In the meantime, here is a round-up of some notable openings (and a closing or two). Click the source links for more info.

    Butchertown

     

    Douglass Loop/Highlands

     

    Downtown/River Road

    • Open: Atlantic No. 5 (Ashlee Eats)
    • Opening: Unnamed restaurant from the same management company behind Doc Crow’s Southern Smokehouse and Raw Bar and La Coop: Bistro a Vins (Business First of Louisville)

     

    Fourth Street

     

    Outer Loop

  6. I ate an $8 grilled cheese sandwich at Atlantic No. 5. Was it worth it?

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    October 29, 2013 by Ashlee Clark Thompson

    Employees assemble orders at Atlantic No. 5.

    Cold weather and a long line outside of The Main Eatery prompted my first visit to Atlantic No. 5, a new restaurant on Main Street in downtown Louisville.

    Last Friday, I had my heart set on a tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich from The Main Eatery. It was the first cold Friday of the fall, so the line for other seekers of that legendary soup-and-sandwich combo was out the door and to the corner of the block.

    It was 12:15. I didn’t have time for that.

    Atlantic No. 5 was just a few doors down. I glanced inside and saw that the line was contained to the warm interior of the bistro. Customers hovered over cups of soup as they skimmed newspapers. A server walked around the counter with something that could pass for a grilled cheese. That was enough for me to give this restaurant a try.

  7. The $10 Challenge: Mussel & Burger Bar

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    October 21, 2013 by Ashlee Clark Thompson

    MusselBurgertaquitos2

    (Here’s the first winner of the Readers’ Choice $10 Challenge poll. Since there was a tie for first place, the second location will be featured in two weeks.)

    I’ve thrown in a couple of extra bucks when a $10 Challenge isn’t going my way. Sometimes, the food is just so good, and the prices teeter just a smidge above my self-imposed limit, that I’ll fail a Challenge on purpose.

    In returning to my frugal roots, I decided to adhere more closely to the terms of the $10 Challenge with one of my favorite restaurants, Mussel & Burger Bar.

    Man, was that tough.

    Mussel & Burger Bar has been open for less than a year. Yet the same folks who have injected flavor into the Louisville dining scene (think Guaca Mole Cocina Mexicana, Mojito and Havana Rumba) have created a concept around its titular offerings that have garnered much-deserved praise for this Jefferstown restaurant. The mussels are served in sauces such as curry cream or blue cheese beer pancetta that make this seafood more interesting than I thought possible. And the burgers would make the Hamburglar rip off his mask and weep tears of joy. The combinations of toppings transport me across the world and back again:

    • Spanish Blue: La Peral Spanish blue cheese and fig marmalade
    • Mediterranean: Ground lamb, quince marmalade, tzatziki sauce
    • Argentinean: Chorizo Argentino, provaletta, chimichurri sauce
    • Southern Bell: Fried green tomatoes, pimento cheese

    These are masterpieces presented on wooden cutting boards and wax paper.

    The ingredients are house-made and high quality, and the prices reflect these premium ingredients. An appetizer portion of mussels is $9, and an entrée size is $12. And the burgers, including one vegetarian option, start at about $11 (includes fries). For me, this has been fine and dandy. I expect to spend at least $20 on an entrée and cocktail when I visit Mussel & Burger Bar, and I’m treated to a meal and experience well worth the price.

    When I limited myself to just spending 10 bucks, I was in a pickle. I had to take to the robust appetizer and side items menus to craft a meal that would fall beneath my price threshold. I had my mind set on the sweet potato fries ($4), but I made a mental note to try the duck fat potatoes (also $4) during my next visit. Choosing an accompaniment to the fries was tricky. Sliders made of either chorizo, Angus beef or soft crab were $8 and would have catapulted me past $10. At that point, it would have made more sense to just order an entrée that would have been about the same price. I also considered the short rib nachos ($8), an appetizer I’ve shared on date night. This dish, served in a small cast iron skillet, is made up of a layer of house-cut, crisp potato chips topped with slow-cooked beef short rib, cheese and guacamole. It’s a little bit of heaven that, unfortunately, would be a little too much money if I paired it with the sweet potato fries.

    Since I was sticking to my guns about those fries, I only had two options to fit my budget – beef ($5 for five) or salmon tartare ($6 for five) taquitos. I went with the beef.

    Did I squeal with glee when I saw this cute little presentation? YES. I love tiny versions of anything.

    The taquitoes are bite-sized, hard-shelled tacos filled (well, as much as you can fill a tiny taco) with ground beef and black bean puree and sprinkled with queso fresco and pickled sweet peppers. The shells were nice and crisp even though a little beef grease had trickled out of the filling. The beef and bean combination was mild and slightly smoky.

    I knew that the sweet potato fries would be fantastic, and Mussel & Burger Bar didn’t let me down. Each fry is crisp and peppery on the outside with a healthy filling of sweet potato on the inside. And the accompanying smoky pineapple dipping sauce made me wonder why we, as a nation, haven’t explored more pineapple and sweet potato pairings.

    Even though I didn’t have mussels or a burger, I was satisfied with my meal — until I watched my husband, Rob, enjoy his order. I had some extreme burger envy as Rob ate his BBB (Bacon Breakfast Burger, $14), an Angus beef patty topped with white cheddar, caramelized onions, pork belly, a fried egg, and maple-infused aioli. My taquitos seemed abysmal in comparison to that work of culinary art dripping on the butcher’s paper that served as the tablecloth.

    It’s possible to finagle the appetizer and side menus to create a few combinations that will leave you with a $10 tab at Mussel & Burger Bar. The entrees, however, are well worth breaking this Challenge’s threshold. Control your spending by ordering just an entrée without an appetizer (portions are generous enough to keep you satisfied) or finding a few friends with whom you can split some dishes. Just don’t leave without at least trying a slider.

    Mussel & Burger Bar, 9200 Taylorsville Road, Louisville

    Five beef taquitos: $5

    Sweet potato fries: $4

    Total (without tax and tip): $9

    Mission: Accomplished

  8. Got six bucks? La Que has a lunch for you.

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    October 18, 2013 by Ashlee Clark Thompson

    Chicken lo mein from La Que.

    By 3:30 p.m., the paltry lunch I ate at noon had vanished from my system. A snack just wasn’t going to hold me over until dinner.

    I walked into La Que ready for an early-bird special. I stumbled into the tail-end of the Asian restaurant’s lunch hours and received a meal that not only filled my belly for the rest of the day, but cost less than $6.

    At many restaurants, lunch menus are less expensive, adapted versions of dinner entrees. But La Que, a tiny restaurant next to Wild and Woolly Video on Bardstown Road, is almost giving the food away. La Que’s main menu is filled with Thai and Vietnamese dishes, but the lunch deal lies in the Chinese dishes. For $5.95, you get the following:

    1. A beverage
    2. Soup, an egg roll or another similar side dish
    3. An entree with choice of rice on the side

    The entrees are similar to what you would find at Chinese restaurants (General Tso, chicken and broccoli, etc.). The portion you receive is generous and will hold you through your next meal. And it doesn’t hurt that the food is pretty darn good. I’ve been on a lo mein kick lately, and I recommend the shrimp version La Que offers.

    La Que

    1019 Bardstown Road

    Louisville, Ky.

  9. Listen to this week’s Deliciously Louisville podcast with Bourbon Built’s Katie Kelty

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    October 17, 2013 by Ashlee Clark Thompson

    Katie Kelty knows her bourbon. The co-founder of the company Bourbon Built is a big fan of this Kentucky beverage, and I talked to her about it on this week’s episode of Deliciously Louisville with Ashlee Eats, my podcast at Louisville.am.

    Bourbon Built sells Kentucky-inspired T-shirts, coozies and other goods with a Southern flair. My new favorite shirt, a grey tee with “Bless Her Heart” on the front, is a Bourbon Built product.

    I had a lot of fun talking bourbon, business and food with Katie. Best quote of the interview:

    “It tastes like angels.” Katie describing the doughnut/croissant hybrid at Wiltshire Pantry Bakery and Café

    Good news — you can now download this episode of Deliciously Louisville and others on iTunes.

    Better news — you can listen to the episode right here.

  10. Help me pick the next $10 Challenge restaurant

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    October 14, 2013 by Ashlee Clark Thompson

    The Spanish Blue.

    I’m in a pickle. I don’t know what restaurant to visit for the next $10 Challenge. Granted, this is a wonderful problem to have — there are so many good, interesting and/or new restaurants around Louisville that it’s hard to pick which one to focus on.

    So I’ll let you guys make the tough choice for me.

    Ashlee Eats readers will pick the next $10 Challenge restaurant. I have some suggestions, and I want you to vote on the one you want to read about. Vote in the poll below through 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 16. I’ll tally the votes and post the $10 Challenge about the winning restaurant Monday, Oct. 21.

    Here are the contenders for the first crowd-sourced $10 Challenge:

    1. Mussel and Burger Bar: This is one of my favorite newer restaurants in the area, but it is indeed a challenge to only spend 10 bucks for hand-crafted deliciousness on a bun (or in a bowl if you get the mussels).
    2. Proof on Main: I’m not gonna lie — some of the menu descriptions are a little scary (charred octupus?). But this restaurant inside the 21c Museum Hotel has gotten a lot of attention nationwide for its cuisine. Could I find something delicious and inexpensive?
    3. Simply Thai: I love Thai food, but I’ve yet to make it out to this often-recommended eatery in the East End.
    4. KFC Eleven: OK, it’s a “concept” dining experience from a corporate fast-food behemoth, so this pushes the boundaries of keeping the $10 Challenge local. But I’m curious to see fried chicken turned fast casual at Baxter Avenue and Bardstown Road.
    5. Bonnie & Clyde’s Pizza Parlor: I’ve gotta throw in a South-end option. A co-worker was disappointed I hadn’t tried what she called some of the best pizza in town. Should I be the judge of that?

    Ready? Let’s do this!

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