Sunday, August 30, 2009

Louisville - Lynn's Paradise Cafe

If you watch the Food Network like I do, youmay have seen Lynn's Paradise Cafe featured on Bobby Flay's Throwdown. I won't deny the fact that is the reason we visited Lynn's for brunch this week. Located in the Highlands, Lynn's is a kitschy, down-home style restaurant known for its breakfast foods. The decor is over the top, just the way Lynn wants it. Every year she sponsors the "Ugly Lamp Contest" at the Kentucky State Fair, which we happened to view the day before eating at this establishment. Because of all the press Lynn has gotten, this restaurant fills up quickly on the weekend, so visitors beware. On a Wednesday at 11:30 am it wasn't too bad though.

Though nearing lunchtime, my group and I decided to go for all brunch. Looking over the menu you will notice her "classics" including the bourbon ball french toast, which sounded amazing but would probably send me into diabetic shock. Instead I chose the Wild Mushroom Scramble ($11) which was filled with mushrooms, spinach, cheddar cheese and bacon and topped with (the best part) a horseradish sour cream sauce. My husband and friend both go the Kentucky Farmhouse Scramble ($14) which included red peppers, Jarlsburg cheese, ham and topped with crispy tobacco onions. (Note to Lynn's, if you are going to use an asterisk on your menu to describe what these tobacco onions are, actually use it properly because no where does it explain what these are!) Having tried both we all agreed the Wild Mushroom scramble tasted better, but the fried green tomatoes were awesome.

The Farmhouse was served alongside three fried green tomatoes with a house tartar sauce. Both scrambles came with a choice of bread (biscuit, toast, English muffin) and the Wild
Mushroom also came with a choice of side (cheese grits, fruit, a few others). I decided to go with the the cheese grits and everyone got the biscuits. The cheese grits were fairly good, but not as good as they tried too claim. The biscuits were incredible though and huge at that, coming with fresh sorghum butter and strawberry jam.

Overall the food at Lynn's was pretty good brunch food. There was nothing original or new, but it was all good comfort brunch food. However, I think the press and fame have gone to the owner's head because the prices were outrageous. For $14 the meal should include either something more original or more food than the Kentucky Scramble did. For $11, the Wild Mushroom Scramble should automatically come with a side of fruit in addition to the bread and side item. The coffee they served was mediocre at best and the bloody mary's (though we didn't indulge in, but have heard are quite tasty) are expensive at around $8. Compare this to my review of The Publican in Chicago and you'll see we spent the same amount for an all around better meal at the same price.

Lynn's Paradise Cafe

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Louisville - Bearno's

A few nights ago we were out drinking, and decided to grab some dinner. Everyone of course wanted pizza, so we ventured to Bearno's which was the closest pizza place relative to our location on Bardstown Road. I hadn't heard anyone mention Bearno's had good pizza for this neighborhood, and there's a reason why. It's not that great, though it's not the worst I've ever had either.

We decided to go with the Mama Bearno's special (read "supreme" style) and the barbecue chicken. My biggest complaint about both was the abundance of cheese. Obviously cheese is essential on a pizza, but this was not the right ratio. I could barely taste the pizza sauce on the Mama B's special or the crust on either. Which brings me to the crust...if you like thin crust, I guess you'd like this. However for me, I like to taste the crust so it wasn't enough. I will say I preferred the barbecue chicken over the Mama B's special, probably because I could taste all the flavors better while the Mama B's somewhat ran together. For the price, I think I'll keep searching for something better on Bardstown Road.

What I will say good about Bearno's is the fun and laid back atmosphere. We ventured to the back porch (up top) where we had a great view of the band playing. There was cornhole and darts up there as well. There was a decent enough selection of draft beer (available by the pitcher) which was good.

Overall, I'll happily return to Bearno's for fun, but not for food.

Bearno's of Bardstown

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Louisville - Cumberland Brews

Unfortunately I ate at Cumberland a few weeks ago but never wrote on it. However, last night we went back for drinks and remembered I needed to comment on my experience there, so I'll push through the haziness of my memory created by their delicious beer...

Lucky for me Cumberland Brewery is about 100 yards from where I live. Not so lucky for my liver. Let's start with the beer since that's what they're all about. They have 5 brews always available including an pale ale, porter, red, meade, and cream ale. They also have a variety of seasonals and change these frequently. So far I have had the standard pale ale (4 stars), a delicious seasonal called Yerbeer (awesome at 5 stars) and the seasonal honey wheat (3 stars, very light). All were very good and I hope to try more:) Normally the beer is $4.50 a pint. However, they do great deals every day of the week (except Saturday I think). Tuesday happens to be the best day of the week with $2.75 pints all day long. Sunday they do $3.25 pints all day, and during the week pints are $3.25 from either 12-7pm or 4-7pm. Can't beat that!

The food at Cumberland is also very good. When we went for dinner we all ordered off the regular dinner menu. I decided to go with the KY Bison burger and it was delicious. My husband went for the BBQ sandwich, which he said was good but had a lot of sauce. (Note: we're used to NC style BBQ and they do more of a Memphis style here in Louisville, so it's been an adjustment!) Our friend ordered the fried bologna sandwich, which he was so happy to see on the menu, and said it was delicious. They also have a lot of dinner specials, including a lot of seasonal stuff; on my most recent and non-eating visit, specials included grilled chicken with fresh vegetables and a feta cheese sauce that looked awesome and squash soup (plus many others I can't recall).

Cumberland Brewery is great and I would definitely recommend it to anyone coming to eat a casual dinner on Bardstown Road. The food is good, the prices are reasonable, and the beer is delicious. I have a sneaking suspicion this will be our new go to place for dinner and beer!

Cumberland Brews

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Chicago - Publican

When going to Chicago, The Publican has to be on your list of places to eat. It's simply that good. On our recent trip around the Midwest, my one request in Chicago was this restaurant because I had seen it on Food Network for their homemade spicy pork rinds. We decided to go for brunch because it best fit our schedule.

First let's discuss the theme and atmosphere. A publican, according to, is "The keeper of a public house or tavern." Translated into a restaurant, The Publican has a large open room with long tables, creating a public house feel. In the center of the room near the bar are several high tables perfect for drinks or appetizers. The bathroom too keeps up this feel which a communal sink shared by each the his and her stalls.

The food centers around beer, as the dictionary definition lends, and proteins. There is an amazing beer selection, but for brunch they also had a few specials for recommended pairing. The brunch menu was a nice size and variety. I decided to go towards breakfast and my husband towards lunch. They greeted us with complimentary coffee, at least it appeared so on the bill. When out to brunch a really good cup of coffee is important to me, and this was just that. Back to the "communal" theme, the milk and sugar were shared on the table. My husband opted for a bloody mary ($7), served with a sidecar of beer; I'm not one for bloody mary, but this is the first I have ever actually enjoyed.

Knowing of the famed spicy pork rinds ($5) we had to get an order. I hate to admit this, but they were delicious. Yes, I said it. I liked the spicy fried pork skin. The entree options are seasonal and therefore always changing, but here's an idea of what they have to offer. For an entree I had an egg scramble with house bresaola (a cured pork product), baby squash, zucchini, and goat cheese, accompanied by sourdough toast. ($10) My husband enjoyed a pork shoulder sandwich topped with a fried egg and cole slaw and french fries on the side. ($14)

As I said when I started this post. This was an amazing meal. The restaurant is in Fulton Market which is kind of off the regular tourist path, but I recommend anyone make the effort to get there. The prices aren't overly high, which seems hard to come by in this city and the atmosphere is sure to bring out the jovial pub lover in everyone.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Minneapolis - The Wienery

I love Food Network. I don't love hot dogs. But, in trying to reconnect with my midwest roots I figured I need to eat a hot dog and brat, or three. So, when we went to Minneapolis and decided to try one of Guy Fieri's Dive locations, I opted for The Wienery instead of Talk of the Town Diner. Needless to say, my husband was quite ecstatic.

The Wienery is just outside of downtown Minneapolis in what I would refer to as the Somalian neighborhood. I say this being as PC as possible, but truly the street and shops could have been found in Mogadishu as easily as Minneapolis. It was very safe and we parked our car on the street at a meter. The inside of the Wienery was quite a different place. Formerly a hippie hangout in the 1960's where people brought in whatever they could share a la potluck style, this diner had its original bar with barstools and a few tables. It is fairly small (probably 20 seats total) but there was no wait at noon on a Wednesday.

As you can see from the menu (linked above) there are a million ways to eat their hot dogs. I decided to take the waitress's suggestion and had the Mr. Sunshine and it was delish. I actually made it a combo and shared the single potato fry with my husband. He had a Red Dago (a mixed beef and sausage burger topped with onions and mushrooms) which was awesome and as messy as one would hope for in such an establishment.

Don't go to The Wienery for fine dining. Go to The Wienery because its so genuine. And it's cheap. And it's something you can't find everyday.