Buck’s and Ballotin Make Tasty Collaboration

The concept of chocolate-laced fine dining isn’t something you pass on. So when Carolina Knop invited me to join a group for last night’s Five-Course Dinner at Buck’s in Old Louisville, I quickly said YES.

Chef Colter Hubsch

Chef Colter Hubsch

I’ve made maybe a half-dozen trips to Buck’s over the years, and always enjoyed the atmosphere — the ornate bar, the white flowers, traditional tables and wonderful piano music from Rick Bartlett.

The challenge for chef Colter Hubsch was to create five delectable dishes that could be made using traditional Chocolate, Caramel Turtle, Chocolate Mint and Bourbon Ball — the four Ballotin Whiskey flavors. And while my palate didn’t necessarily taste the chocolate in each dish, it was definitely present.

The evening’s festivities included an introduction of each course by Hubsch, a young chef who obviously put forth his best effort in creating dishes to pair with the chocolate whiskey and including fresh tomatoes, pecan-encrusted shrimp, Carpaccio, pork belly and even the bacon-laced ice cream at dessert.

Will Creation Gardens be kitchen labor savior with produce firm acquisition?

Here’s at least one possible solution to the cursed nationwide kitchen labor shortage: Louisville-based Creation Gardens, a foodservice distribution company, just acquired ReFresh Produce of Cincinnati. According to a news release, the firm specializes in fresh-cut processed produce offerings, which for chefs means less knife work required by their already limited staffs.

“With the restaurant industry experiencing explosive growth, increasing wages and high turnover, this addition is a valuable service for chefs to access fresh and quality fresh cut produce,” the release read. “This new line and service extension will be advantageous to foodservice operators and allow them to manage labor costs without jeopardizing quality.”

Ron Turnier, president of Creation Gardens, also said in the release that, “We spend a lot of time talking face to face with chefs on what they want, and we know this is something they really need given current and future labor shortages.”

It remains to be seen whether chefs buy those products since though they are labor saving, they’re costlier due to the labor required to prepare them. It’s an interesting balance chefs must strike in this difficult operating environment, and one we’ll discuss on this week’s Eat. Drink. Talk. podcast with Dean Corbett, chef and owner of Equus and Jack’s Lounge and Corbett’s: An American Place. Trust me, the labor shortage is a hot-button issue with this outspoken and passionate chef.

If you’re not familiar with Creation Gardens, it’s distributor of produce, butchered meats, gourmet foods, dairy, paper and bulk staple items to many of the city’s top restaurants. In other words, if you’re reading this story, you’re likely the type who’s frequented such restaurants and eaten their foodstuffs.

Be in the Know with EatDrinkTalk’s News Appetizer

Welcome to your awesome new weekly update on Louisville’s dining and drinking scene from the editors of EatDrinkTalk.net. Make it your first course as you plan your week, and be the ‘in-the-know’ person at your next dinner party or Happy Hour.

And please check out the latest EatDrinkTalk podcast. Our second trip to the Louisville.am podcast center produced some entertaining conversation about soft openings, delectable drinks and restaurant news. Plus conversations with Drew Kulsveen of Willett’s Distillery and Paul Tuell of Ballotin Whiskey. Listen here:

Prospect restaurant prospects? With Bristol Bar & Grille’s lease not being renewed after 10 years, the question remains, “What business will replace it?” All secret sources point to another restaurant coming in, and one well-placed source says it’s going to be Gustavo’s Mexican Grill, which is located in Crestwood. That place is always packed and serves food about as fast as you can order it.

Though the restaurant’s website isn’t working, one internet reviewer did write, “The best Shrimp and Cheese Bureto ever.” Does a misspelled endorsement still count?

My source is as good as any and highly believable. But my gut wonders why 1. Kroger would deny Bristol the right to stay when it’s been a good renter, and 2. why Kroger would replace a prominent local chain with a far-less-known Mexican concept—especially when the well-established Los Aztecas is just around the corner from what’s soon to be the old Bristol site?

The British (bartenders) are coming! to Meta Thursday: If you’re into cocktails, this is a big deal. Several bartenders from Punch Room, a famed, multi-operation bar line in London, will end their tour of the U.S. in Louisville Thursday night at Meta theater.

Their cocktail-making tour began in New York, moved to Chicago and stops here. That’s right, our town, a cocktail town whose reputation is sharply on the rise. Long story short, Meta owner Jeremy Johnson called this another endorsement of Louisville as a significant city for spirits and cocktails. The event runs from 7-10 p.m. Say hi to me if you come.

Plenty at Buck’s: You can still get tickets for a Five-course Ballotin Whiskey Dinner at Buck’s in Old Louisville Tuesday night. It’s all going to be great, though I might consider going straight for dessert: Ballotin Flight with House Made Ice Cream.

Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 12.29.26 PM

Anchorage Amaze: Expect tasty things from PICNIC, a new concept near the popular Village Anchor in Anchorage. Kevin Grangier, whose company Belle Noble Entertainment Group also brought you Le Moo on Lexington Road, has more concepts cooking. This one, featuring local and organic produce, as well as soups, sandwiches and a salad bar, opens in July.

A Banana Split on Frankfort? We always thought that no matter how wonderful the Butter Pecan is, it would be hard for Frankfort Avenue foodies to support a Comfy Cow AND a Homemade Pie Kitchen right across the street from each other. Word from the Homemade folks on Facebook is that they’re taking their Rocky Road to Dixie Highway. The Post says Homemade is selling the building (hmm, to whom we wonder?) due to an offer it couldn’t refuse. Like Mint Chocolate Chip.

OK, we’ll have more morsels for you soon. Watch this space for breaking drinking and dining news. And a special new podcast this and every Friday.


Blaze Fast-Fire’d pizza continues growth in Louisville with third location

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Get ready, Louisvillians! It’s going to be a blazin’ hot summer. Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza, the nation’s leading fast-casual artisanal pizza concept, announced today the opening of its third Louisville location late this summer.

According to a news release, the new restaurant will be located in the Paddock Shops at 4055 Summit Plaza Drive, next to Zoe’s Kitchen and Five Guys Burgers and Fries. This marks the fifth Blaze in Kentucky after Bowling Green opens later this month.

Each Blaze Pizza features an interactive open-kitchen format that allows guests to customize one of the menu’s signature pizzas or create their own, choosing from a wide selection of carefully sourced, high-quality ingredients for around $8.

The generously sized personal pizzas are then sent to a blazing hot open-flame oven – the centerpiece of the restaurant – where dedicated pizza makers ensure that the thin-crust pies are fast-fire’d and ready to eat in just 180 seconds.

The concept, known for its custom-built pizzas, freshly made salads, blood orange lemonade and s’more pies, came to Kentucky in June 2014 with the opening of its first Louisville restaurant at Shelbyville Road Plaza in St. Matthews. A second location opened at Louisville’s Middletown Commons in June 2015.

“Blaze Pizza will be a welcome addition to the Paddock Shops, which has become a Louisville hot spot for top-notch shopping and dining,” said Rodney Poston, Operating Partner for Blaze Pizza in Kentucky. “Blaze’s fast-casual concept is perfect for area shoppers who want a delicious, high-quality meal without the wait.”

Each restaurant makes its own dough from scratch and requiring a 24-hour fermentation period. For pizza fans with specific dietary needs, Blaze Pizza offers gluten-free dough and vegan cheese.

The authenticity of Blaze Pizza, along with its culture that focuses on the happiness of its guests and crew, has been the key to the concept’s nationwide popularity and expansion.

Award-winning design architect Ana Henton will add several unique, modern touches to the new Louisville location, including an over-sized wall mural custom designed to suit the space.

The new Blaze Pizza will be operated by Louisville-based Millennial Restaurant Group (MRG), which continues to develop the concept throughout Kentucky, Tennessee and Florida. The partnership consists of James Patterson Sr., Jim Patterson II, Ulysses (Junior) Bridgeman, Wayne Albritton and Collins Cogan. About Blaze Pizza: The first Blaze Pizza® restaurant opened on Aug. 6, 2012, in Irvine, Calif., and quickly gained attention for its chef-driven recipes, thoughtful interior design, and a service culture that celebrates individuality.

Now ranked as the overall #2 fast-casual brand in FastCasual.com’s annual Top 100 list, Blaze Pizza is building momentum and developing a cult-like following as it expands across the country. The company currently operates 134 restaurants in 28 states and Canada, including the major metropolitan areas of Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Toronto, Dallas, Las Vegas and Washington D.C. Founded by Elise and Rick Wetzel (co-founder of Wetzel’s Pretzels), the concept is backed by investors including LeBron James, Maria Shriver, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Boston Red Sox co-owner Tom Werner and movie producer John Davis. For more information, please visit blazepizza.

Visit Buck’s for May 24 Ballotin Whiskey dinner

LOUISVILLE, Ky.—Visit Buck’s Restaurant and Bar on Tuesday, May 24, when executive chef Colter Hubsch creates a four-course dinner paired with four flavors of Ballotin Chocolate Whiskey.

“For this dinner, I wanted to explore the ability of this product and how it can be used in savory food dishes as well as a drink,” Hubsch said.

Ballotin Whiskey owner Paul Tuell is honored to partner with Buck’s for the event.

“Buck’s has been the go-to restaurant for special occasions in Louisville for nearly 25 years,” Tuell said in a news release. “We are very excited to team up with Buck’s and Chef Hubsch to create a night that lives up to the beauty, hospitality, and culinary creativity that are Buck’s hallmarks.”

The menu for the evening:

  • Ballotin Chocolate, paired with tomato salad with local tomatoes, queso fresco, fresh veggies and a Ballotin Chocolate balsamic vinaigrette
  • Ballotin Turtle, paired with pecan breaded shrimp with a sweet and sour sauce and fresh herb salad
  • Ballotin Bourbon Ball, paired with smoked certified Angus beef tenderloin carpaccio with local microgreens tossed in a Ballotin Bourbon Ball and shallot dressing
  • Ballotin Chocolate Mint, paired with pork mole (roasted and smoked pork belly) with a Ballotin Chocolate Mint mole, smoked in a corn husk
  • Ballotin Flight with house-made ice cream

Make your reservations today by calling 502-637-5284 or email bucks@buckslou.com.

The evening begins with a 6:30 p.m. cocktail reception, followed by dinner at 7 p.m. Cost for the meal is $65 per person plus tax and gratuity.

Bristol Bar & Grille closing Prospect location on May 29

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (May 18, 2016)—The Bristol Bar & Grille announced it will close its Prospect location at the Prospect Village Shopping Center (6051 Timber Ridge Dr.) on Sunday, May 29.

According to a news release, despite experiencing its most profitable year since opening in 2006 and making multiple proposals to lease the property, Bristol was not afforded the opportunity to negotiate with Kroger, which owns the center.

The restaurant’s other four locations in the Highlands, downtown, on the waterfront in Jeffersonville and on N. Hurstbourne Parkway will remain open. All the employees from the Prospect location will be offered positions within the company.

“I’m really disappointed that Kroger, who owns the shopping center, through their leasing agent did not negotiate a lease extension for the Bristol,” said Norb Paulin, managing member of HIPP Enterprises who owns the lease for the property. “The leasing agent’s unresponsiveness to Bristol’s offers were very disheartening. It appears to me that there was a predetermined strategy to remove the Bristol and go with another concept. I’m very sorry that our loyal customers and dedicated staff will no longer have a Bristol in Prospect to enjoy and work.”

Bristol Bar & Grille entered an agreement with Paulin’s Louisville-based group to manage the space in 2006. After a very successful decade making a home in Prospect, Bristol intended to negotiate to take over the lease from HIPP when it expired this month. Last week, Bristol was notified by Kroger’s leasing company that would not be an option.

“Since 1977, we have been Louisville’s neighborhood restaurant, no matter which part of town you live,” said Bristol’s director of operations T.J. Oakley. “We love the Prospect community and felt at home there. We want our customers to know it was not our choice to close the restaurant. For reasons unbeknownst to us, the owners of the space weren’t willing to even negotiate with us about continuing.” Oakley says they hope one day to return to the area.

No Louisville food and drink fest until at least 2017

Louisville skyline

No Bourbon & Beyond here until at least 2017–if then!

Louisville’s dreams for a food and drink festival aren’t any nearer to reality than they were two-and-a-half years ago when a committee was convened to make it happen. Seems a lot of problems abound, not the least of which is too many voices in the room, no single visionary driving it and no clear vision of how it best would become uniquely Louisville.

An email from the office of Mayor Greg Fisher–who tentatively wants to name the event, “Bourbon & Beyond”– says the event will not take place until 2017. Check out this portion of it:

“We had hoped to launch the festival this summer, but after much discussion with those involved — including local chefs and distillers and our production partner, Wimmer Presents – we realized that 2016 was too aggressive. …

“When we advised Wimmer Presents that we were not comfortable proceeding with the event this year, they indicated that they would continue to develop a bourbon/food festival, host the event, and assume all financial risk and all planning and production for a 2017 festival. This is a great solution for all involved as our city will have another bourbon/food festival without city government assuming any of the risk.”

Yet committee members I’ve spoken with call that number laughable since no significant plans have been made.

I’d agree, especially given the lack of talk I’m getting from committee members, people who usually throw me bits of information when they’re excited about different developments. Their reticence implies little to no progress.

Louisville’s restaurant scene is regularly getting national attention as an up-and-comer. And it’s widely believed that it’s ready to host a significant coming out party and bring people here to eat. And drink. Be it cocktails or our waves of bourbon, drinking is important also.

Yet it’s not so important that the current name under discussion, Bourbon & Beyond, bears no mention of food.

Bardstown has The Bourbon Festival, Lexington hosts The Bourbon Shindig and Louisville hosts The Bourbon Classic and The Bourbon Affair. Though there’s plenty to eat at all of those, none mentions food because bourbon is the star of those shows.

But any idea of a Louisville festival must be rooted in restaurants, and its name needs to include food.

Real nuts and bolts marketing sense, right? Yet apparently such a concept beyond some committee members’ grasp.

The very word “Beyond” begs the question, “Beyond freakin’ what!?!” The word drips with vagueness.

Event producer Danny Wimmer Presents has been hired to manage the event, yet according to its website, its core business is large-scale rock concerts, such as Louder Than Life, hosted here the past couple of years. The addition of a restaurant food and a bourbon pavilion into the fest was well received. Yet did that small success give Wimmer the gumption to believe it can scale up such an effort into a large festival? Apparently the Mayor’s Office is convinced it can.

But here’s where the whole thing can stall interminably: If you don’t get the cooperation of local restaurateurs, you have no festival. Right now there are several disgruntled chefs and owners who’ve lost their enthusiasm for this event. Some have said, “I already spend so much time outside my restaurant working for charity,” and “Am I really going to take time away from my business and family to get involved in something that doesn’t even mention food in the name?”

Their tension levels are rising, and as far as I can tell, there’s little to show for anyone’s effort so far.

That leads me to believe that Beyond in the name of this festival means well beyond a 2017 start date—if then.

Noosh Nosh Set for May 23 Opening

News Release from Estes PR

Renowned local chef Anoosh Shariat launches casual venue near Anoosh Bistro

Chef Anoosh Shariat’s new restaurant Noosh Nosh, opening Monday, May 23, will feature Mediterranean and Italian-influenced cuisine with an emphasis on shareable plates utilizing flavors from around the world with many dishes cooked in the combination gas and wood stone oven that sits at the heart of the open kitchen. Located at 4816 Brownsboro Center behind sister restaurant Anoosh Bistro, Noosh Nosh will open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Breakfast includes baked green eggs and breakfast pizza; a variety of traditional and creative egg dishes; sweet and savory crepes; and healthy alternatives. An “all-day snacks” menu features house-cured meats and artisanal cheeses, crispy green beans, lobster and shrimp spring rolls, smoked honey and Sriracha glazed chicken wings and Thai-style chicken skewers. The main menu is divided into flatbreads and pizza, salads, sandwiches, hearty plates and pasta.

Prices range from $7 to $14 for breakfast and $6 to $18 for lunch and dinner. Handcrafted gelato and a full bar with gelato drinks, craft beers, wine and bourbon will also be offered.
Courtesy of Noosh Nosh

Courtesy of Noosh Nosh

Shariat’s reputation for providing innovative vegetarian and vegan options will not disappoint. Items like tofu Florentine, potato frittata, black bean cakes, charred eggplant, mushroom flatbread, grilled cheese sandwiches, Margherita and paneer pizza, and baked rigatoni round out extensive offerings.
Designed by Adam McIntyre and built by Kelley Construction, a tall exposed industrial ceiling and glazed concrete floor welcome warm wood and brightly colored accents. A shiny red-tiled stone oven is the signature eye-catcher in the 120-seat venue. A Kentucky walnut wood bar top hand carved by local bourbon barrel artisan Jason Cohen wraps around the 25-seat bar and a vivid green colored patio provides a cheery outdoor space. Custom artwork includes a brass flame steel sculpture, and smooth pizza peels in a fish scale pattern adorn the length of the wall. A semi-private dining space seating 32 will provide groups with an area for business meetings or social gatherings.
“Our name actually came from some of our regular guests’ children in Anoosh Bistro who always said they were going to “Noosh’s,” so the name stuck” said Shariat. “Noosh Nosh is going to be a casual, fun neighborhood place you will want to visit more than once. It is going to be the kind of restaurant where families can enjoy meals together, friends can grab a drink and bite, and business patrons can catch a quick breakfast or lunch.”
Shariat debuted in the Louisville food scene at Remington’s in the early 1990s. Since then, he has made his mark for use of global flavors and passion for hospitality. Most diners remember him from Shariat’s, Browning’s Restaurant and Brewery at Slugger Field, and Park Place. After working in Charlotte, N.C., for several years, he returned in 2014 and opened Anoosh Bistro with refined American food, located across the parking lot from the soon-to-be Noosh Nosh.
About Noosh Nosh:
Located at 4816 Brownsboro Center in Louisville, Noosh Nosh is a family-friendly, neighborhood restaurant from renowned local chef Anoosh Shariat. The shareable Mediterranean and Italian cuisine includes tapas, pizza, flatbreads, pasta, sandwiches, breakfast dishes and more. Handcrafted gelato, gelato drinks, and a full bar round out the menu. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served daily, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 7 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday; and 8 a.m.to 10 p.m. Sunday. For more information, visit www.nooshnosh.com or follow onFacebook and Instagram.