Bobby who? Here are the celeb chefs I want to see open a restaurant in Louisville

Bobby Flay. (Photo courtesy of Food Network)
Bobby Flay, bein’ all cool. (Photo courtesy of Food Network)

It’s a good thing I’ve settled my imaginary beef with Bobby Flay. It looks like this celebrity chef is making serious googly eyes at Louisville.

The Courier-Journal reported back in September that Flay was scouting possible locations to open a restaurant in Louisville. And Insider Louisville is hearing some buzz that Flay’s going to set up in the former Burger’s Market on Grinstead Drive.

I used to have an unreasonable dislike for Flay. I didn’t like how he rolled into town with his Food Network show, Throwdown with Bobby Flay, like he owned the joint and challenged chefs. Quit showing off, Flay. Then I met him in person when I was a reporter on the red carpet at the Barnstable Brown party. He was actually pretty nice, which completely squashed the rivalry I had built in my head.

So, I’m cool with Flay coming to Louisville. It’s just that there are a few other celebrity chefs and TV personalities that I would like to see make a restaurant home in Louisville. Come along with me as I play pretend with folks I’d like to see in our city:

You better WERQ, Ree Drummond. (Photo courtesy Food Network)
You better WERQ, Ree Drummond. (Photo courtesy Food Network)

I love me some Ree Drummond. The woman cooks, writes and takes beautiful pictures on her blog, The Pioneer Woman. Her approachable demeanor and hearty meals fit for life on the ranch make her a wonderful addition to the Food Network lineup. I’d welcome Ree’s downhome charm in a Louisville restaurant. Picture it: Ree greeting guests, her husband stopping in from the ranch with some kind of carcass he killed himself, and lots of wood paneling.

Not your most crisp collar, Ina. (Photo courtesy of Food Network)
Not your most crisp collar, Ina. (Photo courtesy of Food Network)

One of the loftier goals of my life is to become the black Ina Garten. My closet will be filled with crisp button-down shirts. I will pop collar of said shirts. And I will whip up meals that include lots of lemon zest for the wonderful moments when my Jeffrey pops in to see what I’m up to. I imagine that Ms. Garten’s restaurant could fill the shoes that La Coop in NuLu will leave. Ms. Garten would serve food of the French countryside in a candlelit dining room with citrus centerpieces. And she would never spill ratatouille on her fresh shirt.

Oh, Alton. You slay me. (Photo courtesy of Food Network)
Oh, Alton. You slay me. (Photo courtesy of Food Network)

Alton Brown is a great teacher on the show, Good Eats. You get a little history, a little science and a lot of fun in each episode. Why not show off his teaching skills with a lot of science in an open-concept kitchen? I see foam garnishes, dry ice and lots of sous vide.


What celebrity chef or food personality would you like to see open a restaurant in Louisville?

Got 10 bucks? Check out the Tuesday chicken-and-grits special at the Monkey Wrench

 

Fried chicken and grits. Photo courtesy Alexander + Hughes Advertising & Marketing
Fried chicken and grits. Photo courtesy Alexander + Hughes Advertising & Marketing

The Monkey Wrench has changed its game up this year. A new chef and new outlook means this bar, once known mostly for burgers, is putting more of a Southern flair into its menu.

This month, the restaurant/bar has started to offer chicken and grits for $10 on Tuesdays from 4 to 10 p.m. From their fine PR folks:

This isn’t just any friend chicken & grits though; this is butter and flour basted, cast-iron fried chicken and Kenny’s White Cheddar Weisenberger grits.

Ten bucks for a plate full of chicken and grits? Sounds pretty good to me.

The Monkey Wrench

1025 Barret Avenue, Louisville

More info: The Monkey Wrench’s Facebook page

Hillbilly Tea heads to Portland and West End. What other Louisville neighborhoods need more local restaurants?

A flashback to lunch at Hillbilly Tea in 2010.
A flashback to lunch at Hillbilly Tea in 2010.

First things first. I’m talking about Portland in Louisville, not Oregon or Maine.

And a lot of business owners are starting to point their eyes at this neighborhood as the next frontier in fancy redevelopment à la NuLu on East Market Street.

Hillbilly Tea (which I reviewed back in the day — four years ago!) will open a location at 2425 Portland Ave. and a West End location at 1023 Dixie Highway, according to the Courier-Journal. The restaurant will join the good folks at Gelato Gilberto, who are setting up a wholesale operation in Portland.

Kudos to these local eateries for looking past Ninth Street to operate new outposts. It makes my heart happy to see Louisville business owners taking a chance on an area that’s not Bardstown Road or Frankfort Avenue (no shade to these areas, just sayin’ that they already have a lot).

What Louisville restaurant do you think needs more local restaurants/coffee shops/eateries?

I ate all the tacos so you don’t have to (unless you’re really into that)

A sampling of tacos from El Taco Luchador on Baxter Avenue.
A sampling of tacos from El Taco Luchador on Baxter Avenue.

It was an assignment not for the weak of stomach: write about the burgeoning Louisville taco scene.

Journalism school taught me that a good reporter must do his or her research, so I embarked on a two-week taco taste test across the city. I documented some lessons learned and some stand-out taquerias in a story I wrote for the WFPL news blog. Here’s an excerpt:

The components of a taco sound simple enough—a tortilla, some meat, a few veggies, a sauce, and a wedge of lime on the side. But the best tacos in the city are thoughtfully crafted by chefs willing to explore flavor combinations that call on tradition yet seem refreshing and new. The tortilla should be soft, warm, made of corn and sturdy. The meat is best when it’s marinated and slow cooked, as evidenced by tender strips that fall apart as you chew your way through. The veggies should be crisp and handled with a light hand to not overwhelm aforementioned tortilla. And the sauce can make or break this little handheld dish—too much, and it’s sloppy and overbearing, too little, and the dish is  dry. And don’t forget to squeeze that lime, for it adds a final citrusy pop to make the tastes come alive.

Read the rest of the article here. Gluttony jokes aside, I had a fun time writing this one. Louisville has turned into a great place for tacos.

Where do you go when you need a taco fix?

Bits and Pieces: Grind food truck, Gelato Gilberto and other Louisville food news from the web, 2.17.14

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.

News

  • 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)
Picture courtesy of Kristin Gilbert.
Picture courtesy of Kristin Gilbert.
  • 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)
The Chicken Peppadew pizza at Boombozz in Westport Village.
The Chicken Peppadew pizza at Boombozz in Westport Village.
  • 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)

 

Events

  • 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)

 

Etc.

  • 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)

It’s cold. We’re cranky. Bring on the delivery guys and gals.

Dressing for this winter weather makes me as miserable as the little squirt from “A Christmas Story.”

Courtesy of moots.com
Courtesy of moots.com

There are tights, socks, pants (preferably corduroy). A tank top, a long-sleeved blouse, a cardigan. Boots, down-feather coat, hat, scarf. Maybe another scarf for good measure. I look like a stuffed sausage by the time I’m fully clothed.

This routine makes me hesitate to venture outside, even to go out to eat. There are new restaurants I still haven’t tried (looking at you, El Camino) and favorite restaurants that I’ve missed (oh, Mussels & Burger Bar, I’ll be back as soon as I thaw) all because the cold brings out my inner curmudgeon.

God bless delivery people.

These folks take it to the streets to deliver the goods to weather wusses like me. I have a genuine admiration for the work they do to bring home a paycheck.

If you hate the cold like me, here are some places to consider for your next night in:

 

Bearno’s/Spinelli’s/Wick’s

Wick's.
A pie from Wick’s.

Oh, pizza. How I love you so. With all those toppings, you dominate the food groups. Bearno’s Pizza and Wick’s Pizza Parlor pile on the toppings Louisville-style with a layer of cheese on top. Depending on your choice of toppings, you might be tempted to eat a slice with a fork and knife (hint: don’t). Spinelli’s Pizzeria operates well through the night and into the morning (delivery until 4:30 a.m.!), should your cravings strike at odd hours.

 

Café Lou Lou

A meatball sandwich with a side of Cajun crisps from Cafe Lou Lou.
A meatball sandwich with a side of Cajun crisps from Cafe Lou Lou.

Maybe the guy who answered the phone that day didn’t realize that my apartment is just slightly out of the delivery area for the Café Lou Lou in St. Matthews. Maybe he took pity on me. Either way, nothing beats a hot meatball sandwich at the door.

    • Café Lou Lou has a location in the Highlands along with the St. Matthews restaurant. Click here for information on delivery.

 

Baby D’s Bagel and Deli/Jimmy John’s

A happy message, courtesy babydsdeli.com.
A happy message, courtesy babydsdeli.com.

Baby D’s “will gladly deliver” its bagel sammiches to Downtown, UofL/Bellarmine Campus, St. Matthews, Clifton, Germantown, Butchertown, and of course, the Highlands,” where the deli is located. I’m not sure how glad Jimmy John’s is to deliver sandwiches, but they’re freaky fast about it.

 

Manhattan Grill

I’ve never visited this downtown eatery. But the dedication of the older gentleman I see delivering breakfast AND lunch to folks in my building makes me want to give this place a try.

    • See a Manhattan Grill menu and order online here.

 

What restaurant do you turn to for delivery?

Take it to the comments!

Five bowls to thaw the Polar Vortex off your bones

Thank you, Louisville, for not asking, “Is it cold enough for you?” during this Polar Vortex madness. 

ecard

Fortunately, this cold snap will be gone by the end of the week. Now, it’s time to shake the ice off and get back to school and work. What better way to warm up than a nice, hot bowl of soup or chili?

Here are a few of my favorite cold-weather foods that will make this week bearable. Added bonus: not only does soup magically warm the insides, all of these bowls are less than eight bucks and hearty enough to be their own meals.

1. Tomato bisque soup, The Main Eatery, 643 W. Main Street, Louisville

Grilled cheese and tomato bisque from The Main Eatery.
Grilled cheese and tomato bisque from The Main Eatery.

This downtown lunch spot has a rotating medley of soups, but the tomato bisque is by far the best. The creamy concoction is dotted with hunts of tomato, but still manages to go down smooth. This soup is only available on Fridays, and it would be a shame if you don’t order it with the other Friday special — a grilled cheese sandwich. Make sure you get to the Main Eatery a little before noon, or you’ll face a line out the door.

2. Hot and sour soup, Annie Café, 308 W. Woodlawn Avenue, Louisville

Don't stare too closely. The heat might singe your eyebrows.
Don’t stare too closely. The heat might singe your eyebrows.

This soup should come with a warning label. The bowl from this Vietnamese restaurant in South Louisville is filled with vegetables, tofu, and the hottest broth I’ve ever tried. Have a tissue or two ready, because this is bound to clear the nostrils.

3. Chili con Frijoles, The Silver Dollar, 1761 Frankfort Ave., Louisville

A coaster at The Silver Dollar.
A coaster at The Silver Dollar.

I don’t have a picture of the bowl of chili at The Silver Dollar. Why? Because I DEMOLISHED that bowl before I could take photographic evidence. Take my word for it, this is a meal fit for a cowboy — meat, beans, no noodles, all business. And you can’t beat a big bowl of that for only $6.

4. Chicken noodle soup, Wagner’s Pharmacy, 3113 S. Fourth Street, Louisville

That's a mighty big noodle.
That’s a mighty big noodle.

Wagner’s Pharmacy, located right across the street from Churchill Downs, has served the horse industry and the rest of Louisville since 1922. Decades of experience has made this lunch counter a hot spot for a down-home breakfast and lunch. Slide into this often crowded diner and pray that you made it in there when the chicken noodle is the soup of the day.

5. Black beans, Havana Rumba, multiple locations, Louisville

Forget the main dish, I'm talking about the side.
Forget the main dish, I’m talking about the side.

Everything is delicious at Havana Rumba, but the side dish of black beans never gets enough play as the restaurant’s more exciting entrees. You can get a whole bowl of black beans, simmered to a perfect consistency that’s not quite a soup, and leave more than satisfied.

What are some of your favorite soups, stews and chili bowls in the Louisville area?

Forget recaps. Here are 10 ways I will rock my foodie life in 2014.

Is 2013 already over? 

There’s so much food I didn’t get to. So many recipes I didn’t try. So many things I didn’t write about.

As this blog post title indicates, I’m not going to spend my time recapping. I like to take the occasion of a New Year to look forward, not back. I like having things to look forward to — new goals, new adventures, new restaurants.

Here’s a collection of some of the things I’d like to accomplish in life and on this blog in 2014. Let’s not call this a list of “resolutions” — I’m allergic to that word because it sets me up for failure by March. How about this handy dandy headline:

10 Ways I Will Rock the Glasses off 2014

1. I will not be such a beast before I’ve had my first cup of coffee. 

English: A photo of a cup of coffee. Esperanto...
My life blood. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To those mighty giants who can operate without a hot splash of caffeine, I salute you. I have an addiction, and I can be pretty mean if coffee doesn’t hit my lips before 9 a.m.

2. I will finally complete my $10 Challenge on Simply Thai

Short rib nachos.
Short rib nachos at Mussel & Burger Bar. Now if only I can get to Simply Thai…

Remember when I had the reader’s choice Challenge? I sampled one restaurant, Mussel & Burger Bar, that you guys selected. The other, Simply Thai, has been outside my grasp lately, because of a busy schedule and long waits. That ends in 2014, friends. I’m going to make this happen.

3. I will make an edible batch of biscuits. 

One of my unsuccessful batches of biscuits that was transformed into stuffing.
One of my unsuccessful batches of biscuits that was transformed into stuffing.

I consider myself a pretty good cook and a decent baker. I can’t, however, make biscuits if my life depended on it.

4. I will accept the fact that pizza, no matter how many vegetables I pile on top, does not count as a well-rounded meal.

The Chicken Peppadew pizza at Boombozz in Westport Village.
The Chicken Peppadew pizza at Boombozz in Westport Village.

This is going to be a tough one. I will, however, eat pizza at Loui Loui’s Authentic Detroit Style Pizza, Bonnie & Clyde’s Pizza Parlor and Angilo’s Pizza. These places need some more love and attention, and I’m the lady to give it.

5. I will become more efficient at using chopsticks.

I'm this close to eating these with my hands.
I’m this close to eating these with my hands.

Also, I will eat more sushi because IT IS DELICIOUS.

6. I will stop giving my dog, Roscoe, so many table scraps.

He's very food motivated, especially when it comes to Moby Dick.
He’s very food motivated, especially when it comes to Moby Dick.

I know, I know, this is bad news bears, and I don’t recommend it. But if you see these puppy eyes looking up at you, it’s hard to resist sliding Roscoe a bit of pork chop.

7. I will wait to eat long enough to post more pictures on Instagram and Facebook.

Ahh, the wonders of Instagram. Doesn't the app make this corn dog look delicious?
Ahh, the wonders of Instagram. Doesn’t the app make this corn dog look delicious?

This feels counterintuitive. I know that most people make fun of folks like me who take pictures of my meal and plaster them all over social media. But I’m a food blogger, darn it. I gotta show you what I’m eating. I just have to pause long enough to snap a pic. When a full plate is put before me, I lose my mind and dig in.

8. I will take pictures using my good camera, not the crappy one on my phone.

Taquitos and sweet potato fries at Mussel & Burger Bar.
Taquitos and sweet potato fries at Mussel & Burger Bar.

Let this picture speak 1,000 words.

9. I will eat correct portion sizes.

The meatloaf special at The Irish Rover.
The meatloaf special at The Irish Rover.

For example, not eating all of the plate above in one sitting.

10. I will keep my commitment to exploring good, inexpensive food in Louisville.

Cheers to a New Year.
Cheers to a New Year.

Happy New Year, y’all.

Bits and Pieces: Grasshoppers, tacos and other Louisville food news from the web, 12.6.13

Closing

  • RIP Grasshoppers Distribution. This local service that provided produce from area farmers to Louisville customers will shut down today. (WDRB)

News

  • 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)

Openings

Photo courtesy Wild Rita's Facebook page.
Photo courtesy Wild Rita’s Facebook page.
  • 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)

Stevens and Stevens Deli serves up local, lunchtime realness

Benowitz When in Doubt and chicken noodle soup at Stevens and Stevens Deli.
Benowitz When in Doubt sandwich and chicken noodle soup at Stevens and Stevens Deli.

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.

The Benowitz When in Doubt.
The Benowitz When in Doubt.

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.

Chicken noodle soup.
Chicken noodle soup.

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