Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bourbons Bistro

This Louisville original restaurant is located in a historic building off Frankfort Avenue in the quaint and charming Clifton area. With 130 or so different bourbons to choose from, including several that are very rare and unique, and a seasonally changing "bourbon inspired" menu, you cannot help but feel the owner's Kentucky pride. About four years ago, an old friend and I wandered into this casually elegant setting for drinks in the bar area. I recall being highly impressed by the bar and the embience of the place but also disappointed that we didn't get to eat there. Since then, I have heard nothing but great things about the food. So when my friend Kristen aka "The Groupon Queen", mentioned she had purchased a groupon for Bourbons, you better believe I was all over it!! We arrived around 9 on Friday night, passing through the lovely patio area which features a fireplace, we entered through the side door. I immediately noticed how chilly it was but was smitten by the cozy aroma of cinnamon. We were quickly greeted by a hostess, who gave us a choice of where to sit and then led us through the bar, towards a sidewalk table for two.

To kick off our big night out, we decided to share a few bourbon cocktails including the "Cobbler" with vanilla, turbinado simple syrup, lemon juice, and soda; and the "Fleur de Leis" with rasberry liquor and cranberry. They were both a great treat however we preferred and highly suggest the Cobbler between the two. Kristen and I adored every inch of our appetizer, the Duck Confit Strudel...that's right, duck strudel. We are fancy ladies. It was a little spicy, which you know I like, with chilis and carmelized onions mixed among delicious goat cheese and shredded duck that was stuffed into a pastry along with baby arugala. We felt the arugala added a wonderful contrasting crunch to the soft texture of the other ingredients, all drizzled with a sherry cream sauce. I would order this app again in a heartbeat. We shared the Bourbons Baked Salmon for an entree and were both more than satisfied. It was rubbed with a bourbon orange molasses glaze that added a great citrus flavor to the dijon mustard and pecans, served with a roasted asparagus risotto. This chef was not messing around.

We really enjoyed sitting outside and noted there was a pretty good bar crowd arriving between 10 and 11. Our only complaint was that our server seemed disinterested, as if we were his last table of the night and he was not eager to please. He didn't care to entice us with lavish descriptions or any upsales. However he did suggest the Cobbler as a favorite after we practically pinned him up against the wall with questions on cocktails. Frankly, he just seemed to be a bit of an odd guy. Fortunately, there were a few servers who happened to be outside and checked on us a few times. So overall, service was not bad. Everything arrived in a timely manner which is always a plus. We wouldn't let one server's lack of interest deter anyone from enjoying this amazing Louisville original.

So the next time you are in the mood for a bourbon cocktail or duck strudel or you simply want to share a delicious meal with your groupon addicted friend, I suggest you head over to Bourbons Bistro....because who doesn't love a good bourbon inspired platter? Until next time, Live to eat!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Rich O's Public House and Sportstime Pizza / New Albanian Brewing Company

Michael and I recently ventured over the bridge to meet some friends in New Albany, Indiana for great pizza and brews at Rich O's public house and Sportstime Pizza. This establishment is also home to the well-known New Albanian Brewing Company which was once rated sixth best microbrewery in the world, according to There are about 650 beers to choose from including it's own brews such as "Hoptimus". This beer is wildly popular among beer-drinkers like Michael, who prefer insane amounts of hops. To give you some idea of just how "hoppy" Michael likes it, the amount of hops in a beer is usually indicated by the IBU or International Bitterness Unit of which Hoptimus has IBU 100. I don't like my beer incredibly hoppy, so I usually look for one with an IBU in the 24-45 range or even lower. I went with one of the guest beers, the St. Bernardus Abt 12, a dark Belgian that has an aroma of malt and caramel and tastes of plum, raisins, caramel, and dried fruits. I normally go for a stout but in the middle of the Summer heat, it was nice to lighten things up with the fruity flavor. I had this St. Bernardus once before at Sergios World Beers, located on Story Avenue in Louisville  which is another great establishment intent on serving quality beer. New Albanian prides itself on brewing "real beer." You won't find any mass-marketed, domestic, and light beer here. Some beer snobs (clearing my throat, Michael) might joke that if you order a Bud Light, the server might as well bring you a water or show you immediately to the restroom!! HaHa. All joking aside, this brewery considers its work to be a form of art and beer to be "the mysterious, glorious union, of grain, hops, water, and yeast". And the Holladays consider it to be quite a glorious union indeed!

When it came to service, we found our experience to be a bit mysterious, wondering from time to time where our server had ran off too. Unfortunately, service was on the slow side, however she was accommodating when it came to check separation, which can be a headache in a large group. We were super pumped to be dining among another food blogger, Claire,
and we can only hope our testimonies in the world of food and dining are half as amazing as hers. We shared queso and stuffed mushrooms which were both crowd-pleasers. I particularly enjoyed the fresh spinach and tomatoes that were mixed throughout the queso. Michael, Claire, and I all commented on the amazingly creamy and cheesy stuffed mushrooms. These shrooms definitely hit the spot as we all enjoyed our beers with delightful conversation while waiting for the pizza to arrive. Michael and I ordered an "Upside Down" style pizza. I adored the crispy crust, along with the crazy good banana peppers, and spinach that was scattered about quite nicely. The cheese was pretty good too. My only complaint was that the sauce, which was served on top of the cheese, seemed to be sort of bland. Obviously the sauce was good enough considering that we devoured every single piece! Michael was not driving so he decided to order a second beer, this time opting for the Jaxon. It was delightfully hoppy for a Barleywine with citrusy hops balanced nicely with hints of cherry and chocolate. And, the mouthfeel was surprisingly syrupy, allowing the flavors to linger on the palate. After finishing this beer, everyone decided to call it a night. I can't wait to venture here again, perhaps with Michael as my designated driver.

So the next time you wanna get your buzz on quality beer, food, and friends; the Holladays suggest you venture to New Albanian Brewing Company at Rich O's. You will find it to be a glorious union indeed!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Selenas at Willow Lake Tavern

Fresh fish and seafood are flown in daily from the East Coast to this delightful restaurant that resides in the legendary Willow Lake Tavern building in Anchorage, KY. Serving up a fusion of Creole and Sicilian cuisine, Selenas creates many original seafood platters that will leave you begging for more. As a huge fan of anything cajun and any kind of seafood, I requested to eat here for my family birthday dinner and was particularly excited that our brother, Matt Holladay, was in town and able to join us. I had a wonderful dining experience at Selenas almost a year ago when a friend suggested it for a girls night dinner. The girls and I were able to sit outside on the gorgeous patio that features a coy fish pond and attractive tree lights, providing a quaint and cozy atmosphere. I recall everyone raving about the Praline Brie appetizer which includes pecan praline sauce, drizzled over creamy danish brie that was served with apples and grapes. I also enjoyed a refreshing yet spicy Shrimp Remoulade salad. I highly suggest both of these options if you are wanting to keep it on the light side. However, on my birthday dinner night, I was more than ready to splurge on a rich and sinfully decadent meal. I met my family for dinner around 6pm on a Thursday and we were sat immediately, as "Holladay, party of five". We opted for indoor seating due to the extreme heat. I am a July birthday baby and my mom likes to remind me almost every year that "It was 100 degrees the day you were born!"...what can I say, I guess I like it hot! 

I was hoping the Fried Green Tomatoes we ordered for an appetizer would have a hot and spicy kick, unfortunately the sauce served along with them was bland for my taste. Otherwise, I thought they were pretty good with just enough breading. The Spinach and Artichoke appetizer did not let me down. It was super creamy and I just adored the bite-sized toasted cheesy breads that accompained. I swear I thought dad might lick the platter clean! For my entree, I chose the Seafood Scampi. It was just what I was hoping for, rich and decadent with lots of flavor including mucho garlic, butter, and lemon, topped with a layer of bread crumbs. The seafood was very tasty and plentiful and my only complaint was that it was too "peppery" or as my grandmother might say "The chef stumped his toe on the pepper" The rest of the family feasted on their favorite seafood. Mom always goes for fish, so she chose one of the daily specials including grouper fish that was served in a light wine sauce with dirty rice and veggies. Dad always like to mix things up so he chose the NOLA medley with the classic red beans and rice, jambalaya, and the shrimp and crawfish etoufee. I was utterly jealous of his choice, particularly the spicy jambalaya that had everything but the kitchen sink thrown in...sausage, chicken, ham, crawfish, and shrimp. Michael and I both adored the robust flavoring and plumpy shrimp and crawfish included in the etoufee, which he chose as an entree. Our brother Matt went with the fried shrimp platter and chose sweet potato fries that I was more than happy to help him devour. 

We were pleased with our service that was prompt and gracious and we all left with full hearts and stomachs, taking note of Selenas special events for future dining or drinking adventures. There are $3 Margarita Mondays, half price on any bottle of wine on Tuesdays and Sundays, not one but TWO daily happy hours in the casual bar area, as well as a Sunday brunch and even a weekly crawfish and shrimp boil. You can contact Selenas for catering or private party dining that allows you to create a specific menu for your lovely guests.

So remember, the next time you are feeling a bit jazzy and want to let the good times roll, just roll into Selenas at Willow Lake tavern for some tasty creole cuisine and scrumptuous seafood platters. It's a Holladay family favorite for sure!!