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December 6, 2013 by Ashlee Clark Thompson
- RIP Grasshoppers Distribution. This local service that provided produce from area farmers to Louisville customers will shut down today. (WDRB)
- Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer created a super-official work group to figure out how to make a hot spot for good food and spirits. The 34-member group includes local chefs and restaurateurs, local distillers and bourbon aficionados, and tourism officials. I assume my invitation got lost in the mail, Greg… (Insider Louisville)
- Tacos are having their moment in Louisville right now.
- El Taco Luchador, from the genius minds behind Guaca Mole and Mussel and Burger Bar, will open at 938 Baxter Avenue sometime in December. The restaurant in a particularly bad-luck spot, the same building the once housed the former Lil’ Cheezers restaurant and 14K Cupcakes. (Consuming Louisville)
- Wild Rita’s will open in the former location of Mozz at 445 East Market Street. This restaurant bills itself as a “modern Mexican and tequila bar” and is the latest creation from the Wild Eggs people (if you couldn’t tell by the logo). (Megabites Louisville)
- In non-taco news, Big Four Burgers + Beer has opened in downtown Jeffersonville. Once the Indiana side of the Big Four Bridge is open, I’d be tempted to walk over for a gourmet burger. But isn’t that defeating the purpose? (News and Tribune)
November 13, 2013 by Ashlee Clark Thompson
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
November 7, 2013 by Ashlee Clark Thompson
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.
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November 4, 2013 by Ashlee Clark Thompson
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.
- Open: El Camino (Consuming Louisville)
- Opening: Loop 22 Rotisserie and Grill (The Courier-Journal); Great Flood Brewing Company (Consuming Louisville)
- 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)
- Closed: Ri Ra Irish Pub and Restaurant (Insider Louisville)
- Opening: Two Brazilian restaurants — Boi Na Braza and Brazeiros Churrascaria (Business First of Louisville); Tavern on Fourth (Business First of Louisville)
- Opening: Second location of W.W. Cousins (Business First of Louisville)
October 29, 2013 by Ashlee Clark Thompson
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.
October 21, 2013 by Ashlee Clark Thompson
(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
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October 18, 2013 by Ashlee Clark Thompson
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:
- A beverage
- Soup, an egg roll or another similar side dish
- 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.
1019 Bardstown Road
October 14, 2013 by Ashlee Clark Thompson
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:
- 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).
- 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?
- Simply Thai: I love Thai food, but I’ve yet to make it out to this often-recommended eatery in the East End.
- 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.
- 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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October 11, 2013 by Ashlee Clark Thompson
LEO Weekly released its annual list of Readers’ Choice Award winners in this week’s issue of the local alt-weekly. The issue highlights the best in arts, goods, and business in the Louisville area. This is all great information, but I read this edition strictly for the food picks.
I’m happy that I’ve tried a healthy portion of restaurants that got top honors among LEO readers. Unfortunately, I haven’t made it out to every food joint in town.
These restaurants I must visit based on all the superlatives they raked in this year:
- The Village Anchor Pub and Roost — Best Fine Dining, third place; Best Outdoor Dining, first place; Best Place for a Romantic Dinner, first place; Best Restaurant (Louisville), first place; Best Wine list, first place
- Feast BBQ — Best BBQ, third place; Best Restaurant (Southern Indiana), first place
- Selena’s at Willow Lake Tavern — Best Cajun/Creole Restaurant, first place; Best Restaurant (Louisville), third place
And these are restaurants that I’m ashamed that I still haven’t visited:
- Jack Fry’s — Best Fine Dining, first place; Best Place for a Romantic Dinner, first place; Best Place to Eat When Someone Else is Buying, second place; Best Restaurant (Louisville), second place
- Mayan Café — Best Latin Restaurant, third place
- Stevens & Stevens Deli — Best Deli/Sandwich Shop, first place
October 8, 2013 by Ashlee Clark Thompson
I thought I had made it. I had a secure job at a huge company. I could pay my bills on time. I bought Rice Krispies instead of Crispy Rice.
For the past few months, I’ve visited more upscale restaurants high on the fumes of financial security. My budget has upgraded from dollar menu to value meal.
Then I received an $80 dinner bill that kicked me in the pants. I blame the
one twothree cocktails for my lapse in fiscal responsibility during a birthday dinner at a delicious restaurant that shall remain nameless (I’m protecting the innocent; it’s not the restaurant’s fault I balled so hard).
I felt all the feelings after that splurge:
- I felt full (seriously, that food was delicious)
- I was thankful that I could afford that meal
- I was guilty that I had abandoned this blog’s original pledge of eating frugally and had wiled out in the name of YOLO*
- I was sad that there are still folks in my city who can’t afford a meal anywhere, let alone an $80 one
- I felt motivated to refocus Ashlee Eats around the four tenets of my food philosophy: buy local, be green, eat frugally, and fight hunger.
I’ve eaten some delicious food since I started calling myself a food blogger. And sometimes, great food comes with an even greater tab. I’m not saying that I or anyone who can afford it should refrain from treating ourselves sometimes. I’m also not saying that I’m anywhere within spitting distance of rich, or even being able to regularly throw down almost 100 bucks for dinner.
But for me, that $80 ticket reminded me of how long it had been since I followed my own advice about eating on the cheap. It reminded me that I had stopped writing so much about hunger and frugality in exchange for the more upscale dining I’ve encountered. I stopped being a good steward of my own food philosophy, on this blog and in real life.
I’ll write more about good deals around town, either at fancy places or just regular ol’ spots. I’ll share more recipes, since you can save so much money by staying in a few nights a week. And I’ll broadcast more events that provide an opportunity to give back to our community so we collectively kick hunger’s behind.
Oh, and I’ve gone back to Crispy Rice.
*YOLO — You Only Live Once; an urban version of carpe diem; my motto for the past few months; an outdated term I refuse to abandon