Food and good stories complement one another like Nutella and pretzels (just try it if you don’t believe me). And later this month, the first-ever Louisville Storytellers event will turn the spotlight on this entertaining combination.
Louisville Storytellers is a quarterly event from the Courier-Journalthat will showcase people telling stories around a particular theme. It’s reminiscent of The Moth StorySlam, a monthly storytelling competition that I host ever other month at Headliners Music Hall. But rather than randomly drawing participants from an NPR-friendly tote bag, the Louisville Storytellers show will feature pre-selected storytellers.
Anyhoodles, the first Louisville Storytellers will take place Nov. 16 at Actors Theatre of Louisville. The theme of the night is “Confessions from the Kitchen: Stories from the world of restaurants and food.” It’s an exciting bunch of storytellers:
I’m excited about the diverse lineup for Louisville Storytellers. It’s good to see a group of restaurant owners, chefs and cooks that isn’t just made up of folks from white-tablecloth establishments. I’m also super-pumped to see Miss Shirley Mae Beard, who I interviewed for Louisville Diners. If her story is anything like our interview, everyone will be in for a good night.
When: 7 p.m. Nov. 16 (refreshments and cash bar available at 6 p.m.)
I’ve become a creature of habit when it comes to eating out at Louisville-area restaurants. Part of this stagnation is because of (shameless plug alert) my book, Louisville Diners. I was doing nothing but eating at new-to-me restaurants ALL THE TIME while I wrote it last year. When I finally turned in that manuscript at the end of 2014, I happily settled into a restaurant rotation that I haven’t strayed from in what feels like forever.
I also blame my own laziness for my lack of restaurant exploration (and, consequently, a lack of $10 Challenge posts). With grad school and a new job at CNET and a husband and a Roscoe, it’s just easier to pick a restaurant that doesn’t require much planning and anticipation. I think a lot about a restaurant before my first visit, and I’ve just let my daily life tire me out so much that I haven’t had much mental energy to devote to finding new eating places. Is their menu online? How big are their entrees? Is it worth the trip? It takes a lot of work to love food as much as I do.
I know, I know, excuses that I’ve made before. But my new role at CNET has given me a perk I didn’t anticipate: a new work location with new neighborhood restaurants to try. My awesome co-workers have introduced me to some great restaurants in the area, and Thai Noodles on Preston Highway has quickly become one of my favorites.
The family-owned restaurant provides quick service, hearty portions and vibrant flavors at low prices. Thai Noodles is in the space that once housed Thai Smile 5, according to the Courier-Journal. The building isn’t much to look at — just a little red building across the street from a shopping complex. Don’t let the modest accommodations fool you because there’s a lot to love once you get inside. The dining room is a nice open space with booths and tables around the perimeter and more tables in the middle. Despite the open floor plan (I’ve been watching too much HGTV), the dining area is calm and quiet because of the muted lighting and soft music piping through the speakers. I want to talk softly while I’m eating my meal just to match the atmosphere.
The menu offers a nice variety of Thai food. There are plenty of five types of curries, four types of fried rice and more than a dozen noodle dishes. I’ve only visited Thai Noodles during lunch time, and the midday menu is a bounty. Each of the 26 entrees range in cost from $6.95 to $10.95 depending on your choice of meat. The meal also comes with a bowl of soup. Customers can also add a spring roll, steamed dumpling, fried wonton or gyoza for an extra $1.50. It’s almost too easy to keep a big lunch under $10.
The broth-based soup has some tiny pieces of chicken, white rice and scallions and serves as a nice introduction to your meal. It doesn’t hurt that the server brings the soup shortly after you receive your beverage. (And speaking of beverages, save a couple of bucks for the Thai iced tea/lemonade combo. It’s refreshing and creamy with a little citrus kick.)
The dish that made me want to be a regular Thai Noodles patron was the first one I tried: L3, the Pad Kee Mao. This is a stir-fried rice noodle entree with egg, basil, broccoli, carrot, tomato, onions and bamboo shoots in a basil sauce. I chose shrimp to go with my noodles, an option that only cost $7.95. I also sprung for an order of dumplings for $1.50 since the lunch special was such a great deal. With every entree, you pick the level of heat you’d like on a scale of one red pepper (low) to five red peppers (Thai Hot). I picked one pepper because I wanted to be able to live with myself for the next 24 hours.
Just a few minutes after I had slurped up my soup, the waitress brought the steamed dumplings. They were filled with balls of ground chicken that poked out from the open dumpling exterior. The two dumplings were the perfect size for an appetizer in that they aren’t super huge and won’t fill you up too much before your meal. They had a subtle salty, savory flavor, but nothing too bold.
The Pad Kee Mao was a big plate full of vegetables, flat noodles and several plump shrimp. The basil sauce was pretty sneaky because it starts off as sweet, then hits you with some spiciness on the back end of the bite. However, my one-pepper heat level was the right choice for me — just enough spiciness to perk me up, but not enough to prevent me from truly enjoying this delicious meal.
I’ve been happy with my lunches at Thai Noodles, so happy that I’m back here writing a $10 Challenge. It just took a work location change and a tasty plate of noodles to get my groove back.
Blogger’s note: Y’ALL. I have been buried in the delightful terror that is grad school. I’ll have to tell you about it one day. I’m blogging while I’m up for air.
Louisville loves Liz and Jesse Huot. How do I know? I linked to a story about the pair behind Grind food truck opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant, and it’s the most read post EVER on the Ashlee Eats Facebook page. The couple plans to open a restaurant in the building that used to house Oasis Sushi on Preston Highway. Congratulations, you crazy kids. (Courier-Journal)
Gelato Gilberto, a gelato shop in Norton Commons, will head to Portland (Louisville, not Oregon) for wholesale production of its sweet, sweet deliciousness. (Business First of Louisville)
Boombozz Pizza will open a new location in the planned Middletown Commons, a shopping outlet that is being built on Shelbyville Road near the Gene Snyder Freeway. The restaurant plans to open in late 2014. (Business First of Louisville)
We’re in the middle of The Comfy Cow’s fourth annual Chocopalooza. The ice cream shop is offering 10 flavors of chocolate ice cream at its three locations, and 10 percent of the proceeds will benefit the Make a Wish Foundation. I’ve got my eye on the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie. (Comfy Cow website)
Tomorrow is National Drink Wine Day, which begs the question, “What day isn’t National Drink Wine Day?” But anyway, Eddie Merlot’s is celebrating with half priced pours of the restaurant’s vintages from 4 to 11 p.m. Feb. 18 in the lounge and bar area. The restaurant is at 455 South Fourth Street in downtown Louisville. (Eddie Merlot’s news release)
Here’s a fun little tidbit about Kentucky’s most famous native son, Abraham Lincoln (sorry, George Clooney): he knew his way around a kitchen. A new book called Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen: A Culinary View of Lincoln’s Life and Times, “looks at our 16th president’s life through the extraordinary stories of what he ate, cooked and served, along with recipes modified for the modern kitchen.” (NPR)
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.
The owner of the Old Louisville diner (and $10 Challenge subject) Burger Boy plans to turn the Tavern Bar & Grill at Fourth and Gaulbert streets into an upscale restaurant. My husband used to do a lot of karaoke at the Tavern, so I’m pretty curious to see how this pans out. (Insider Louisville)
You still have one day to pledge your financial support to the Louisville Public Media spring membership drive. Technically, you can donate any time, but you get cool stuff during the fund drive. I was lucky enough to be a part of a volunteer group that Melissa, aka Loueyville, organized to work the phones Thursday night. Find out more about making a donation here.
Louisville Originals, a local-restaurant coalition, has filed a lawsuit against Asiatique co-owner Pabs Sembillo for alleged embezzlement. (Insider Louisville)
“Cunningham’s, a popular Fourth Street restaurant known primarily for oversized fish sandwiches, is listed for sale for $675,000, but the son of the owners says he may take over the store’s operation and remove it from the market.” Well, that’s clear as mud. (Courier-Journal)
Erika Chavez-Graziano, the owner of Cellar Door Chocolates, plans to open a restaurant in Butchertown Market called Jackknife. The restaurant, set to open in July, will serve brunch and lunch. (Insider Louisville)
The scuttlebutt about Lynn’s Paradise Café just keeps churning.
The latest news about this now-defunct Louisville restaurant staple is that the owner, Lynn Winter, wants to sell the restaurant, the Courier-Journal reports (click here for more background on the closing).
Winter said she is “going to be really picky” about who she sells the café to. Fortunately, I’m not picky. Nor do I have a stake in this fight. That means I can spout off a list of what I would like to see go into this prime real estate at 984 Barret Avenue:
Guaca Mole. This restaurant has become my new favorite place to eat.
Fortunately for me, this Mexican restaurant is located in the East End. Unfortunately for everyone else, it’s only located in the East End. A Guaca Mole outpost in the Highlands would fare well.
Wild Eggs. My love of this breakfast/lunch spot runs deep. Putting a Wild Eggs branch in this location would give post-Derby revelers an affordable, great place to brunch.
A soul food restaurant. And not one of those fancy soul food restaurants where a plate of grits costs $12. I’m talking about a place with a Kool-Aid of the Day (a real item at a Las Vegas restaurant I visited once), cornbread made in cast iron skillets, collared greens cooked in pork fat, and a “meat and three” special that only costs about $8.
A barbecue joint. Because you can never go wrong with barbecue. Scientists have proven it. Give me some pulled pork, crispy coleslaw and baked beans, and I’m in heaven.
A 24-hour bakery with delivery services to the greater Louisville area. A woman can dream, can’t she?
What restaurant (real or imagined) do you think should replace Lynn’s Paradise Café?
John E’s Restaurant and Lounge closed abruptly last week. (WHAS 11)
“Louisville residents currently spend $100 million annually on local foods and are interested in purchasing an additional $158 million each year, for a total demand of $258 million.” Noted. (Business First of Louisville)
Dragon King’s Daughter, a sushi fusion restaurant on Bardstown Road, will open a new location in New Albany. DKD New Albany will be open for lunch Feb. 6. (DKD Facebook)
Chef Edward Lee of 610 Magnolia and Top Cheffame will open a restaurant called Milkwood at Actor’s Theatre. Milkwood will open Feb. 8 and serve “comfort bar food with an Asian pantry.” (Consuming Louisville)
The family who opened Guaca Mole restaurant last year will open their second restaurant, Mussel & Burger Bar, on Feb. 4. The restaurant, an upscale take on American bistro, is located at 9200 Taylorsville Road in Jeffersontown. (Insider Louisville)
A new Qdoba opened in Middletown at 13006 Shelbyville Road. (Qdobaemail)
Blogger’s note: Am I the only one who still hasn’t gotten back into the swing of a regular work week? Lagging after a long vacation = first world problem
Earth Friends Cafe will move its main location from New Albany to East Market in Louisville in the former Bodega location. (Consuming Louisville)
Burger’s Market on Grinstead Drive will close in March. The same family has run the grocery store since 1958. (WFPL)
The Great Harvest Bread Co. location in New Albany closed at the end of December. (News and Tribune)
Chef Maria’s Greek Deli, a carry-out “Mediterranean cuisine to go” spot, recently opened in St. Matthews. Creator Maria Bell was previously with Greek Paradise Cafe and It’s All Greek to Me, and she the chef behind the Gyros Express food truck. (Courier-Journal)
Havana Rumba will open a fast-casual restaurant location called Havana Rumba Express. The location is still to be determined, but lots of fans have left comments on the restaurant’s Facebook page. (Consuming Louisville)
There’s a kerfuffle on the Louisville interwebs that involves Lynn’s Paradise Cafe and a former waitress. Yikes. (Eater Louisville)