The Post-Derby Blues, Plus Valu Market’s John Bizzell and Drinks with Jared Schubert

We begin the second year of EatDrinkTalk podcasts with a show sure to get you motivated to sample some of the city’s finest cuisine and cocktails. Steve and Rick are, of course, in recovery mode after an event-filled Derby Week. We review Rick’s experience at the first Culinary Kickoff at the Ali Center, where three nationally recognized chefs offered up their best. The highlight for Steve was a trip aboard the Belle of Louisville, where he sampled special bottles from Four Roses. Later, he enjoyed more bourbon sampling at the Stitzel-Weller Affair on Derby Eve.

For our Copper & Kings favorites, both Rick and Steve went back to basics. Steve’s was a pizza on Derby night from The Post in Germantown. Rick took in a Derby tradition by having a hearty breakfast at Wagner’s Pharmacy. Drink-wise, both of us stuck to bourbon. Steve chose the Belle of Louisville version of Four Roses specialties, and complained that the experiment he tried — a whiskey and pickleback, was a huge fail. Rick picked an Old Fashioned off the Derby menu at the Village Anchor.

Our first guest has worked for the same company since he was 16. Maybe that’s why John Bizzell is so good at his job as manager of the Highlands ValuMarket, where he’s preparing for the Highlands Beer Fest on May 20. Steve’s guest, Jared Schubert, is an expert on Louisville’s cocktail scene as partner in the newly created Bauhaus, a beverage consultancy.

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Scott Harper to open Cuvée Wine Table May 12

Scott Harper, Louisville has thirsted for this for some time. Glad you’re finally ready to fill our glasses.

This Friday, Harper, a Master Sommelier, wholly approachable wine wonk and all around well-liked guy, will open Cuvée Wine Table (3598 Springhurst Blvd.) The wine-focused, small-plates restaurant is the manifestation of Harper’s long-held dream to have such a place. It’ll also be an excellent addition to the dining scene in a corner of the city that’s light on such fare.

The longtime general manager of The Bristol Bar & Grille in Jeffersonville, Harper hired executive chef Edoardo Bacci and chef de cuisine Brandon Noe to create a diverse menu designed to pair with what will surely be an impressive list of wines from around the globe served in 2-ounce, 6 1/4-ounce and half- and full-bottle pours.

Scott Harper

Scott Harper

According to a news release, the restaurant, in the former Papalino’s Springhurst location, will seat more than 100 seat guests throughout its dining room, patio and bar. There’s a 10-seat tasting table available for large parties and communal eating, and 24-seat private dining room.

The restaurant will offer daily happy hours from 3 to 7 p.m., as well as full table service dinner Sunday through Thursday from 3 until 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 3 until 11 p.m. Fast-casual lunch service will follow in the coming months.

Want something a bit more intimate? Cuvée will offer wine tastings, pairing events and workshops run by Harper and his expert staff. Conveniently, Harper’s a veteran wine class instructor.

Bacci’s menus include a variety of appetizers, salads, house made flat bread pizza and sweets. Highlights include polenta fries with garlic aioli; Israeli salad with parsley lemon vinaigrette; smoked duck flat bread with aged balsamic; and Chifeletti with chocolate ganache. Sandwiches like Kentucky lamb sliders, braised pork belly BLT and grilled cheese with local Capriole Farm goat cheese will be served for lunch only, while diners can enjoy small plates for dinner like cast iron provoleta, crab bruschetta and mussels and chorizo with fennel white wine sauce. A rotating daily entrée will be available as well.

For more information, visit www.cuveewinetable.com and follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

My Derby Week Favorites — the Backside’s Morning Rituals and Breakfast at Wagner’s

The magic of Derby Week is best exemplified in the pre-dawn mist any morning on the backside at Churchill Downs. Walk in from Longfield, and you see the effort it takes to stage the sport’s premier event.

Photo by Bill Brymer

Photo by Bill Brymer

The beautiful beasts you encounter in the few hundred yards walking are bigger than you’d expect. They’re lively, too, heads bobbing through their stables, neighs heard from near and far away. You see exercise riders atop their steeds, guiding the stars of the show back and forth to the racing surface. Grooms pace around barns leading thoroughbreds by their bridles. You see the famous names on the barn walls — Lukas, Whiting, Stewart — and trainers who think that maybe, just maybe, this will be their year.

For horses, the morning is the opportunity to get out on the track, enjoy a bath, and maybe get a carrot or peppermint, and enjoy the attention. As the sun rises, more horses put in their morning workouts, and the crowd grows along radio row. TV crews have their spots along the rail, and there are several radio broadcasts going on simultaneously. Those of us fortunate enough to have media credentials dip inside for a doughnut. We saw Derby princesses here, and the captains of the steamboats that will race later in the day on the Ohio.

Once the sun’s up, you start spotting local celebrities and politicians, all smiles because the most challenging question is this one — who do you like in the Derby? On the track, suddenly, the pink and green saddlecloths appear, signaling the entrance of Derby and Oaks contenders. You squeeze in along the rail to see them up close, hoping to remember the moment you first saw the eventual champion.

Still, it’s quiet enough that you can hear the workouts, horses breathing heavily, shoes beating on the turf.

Breakfast at Wagner's

Breakfast at Wagner’s

The perfect Derby Week morning isn’t complete without a trip to Wagner’s Pharmacy across the street. The smart move is to arrive early (they open at 7, and at 6 on Friday and Saturday) so you don’t have to wait. On Wednesday, a WAVE-TV crew was there, with reporter Kayla Vanover standing behind the counter doing the umpteenth feature on the appeal of the place. It’s obvious the staff is used to this, working around the reporter at the counter in order to get orders to tables.

It’s not fancy — you’ll be eating off styrofoam plates with plastic forks, while sitting on chairs that may have been here when they opened in 1922. Don’t ask for an omelette – the menu is a limited choice of bacon, sausage, eggs, biscuits, toast and gravy. It’s $9.99 for a breakfast plate, but the portions are generous, and filling.

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TV stations have been reporting on the ambiance at Wagner’s for years.

And other than the chance you’ll spot D. Wayne Lukas, Bob Baffert or some other racing luminary, the attraction here is the photos on the walls, celebrating Derby winners through the decades. If you are celebrity stalking, your waitress will be more than happy to tell you who’s been in recently.

In back, where you have to go to pay, you are reminded this is a pharmacy, with a selection of over-the-counter remedies. There’s also Derby t-shirts, umbrellas and souvenirs.

It’s the only place I’ve seen Bigeloil for sale. It’s a liniment that soothes sore muscles in horses. I remember that my Dad, a pari-mutuel clerk, always had some in the cabinet at home for his own muscle relief.

This part of the Derby experience does not involve fancy hats or exquisite cuisine, and you better wear comfortable shoes that are likely to get mud on them. There’s no ticket to get in, and if you get there early enough you can park free nearby. And the best thing about it may be that nothing about it ever changes.

 

 

Most chefs, restaurateurs agree, prix fixe menus are necessary at Derby time

If Louisville’s restaurant boom proves one thing, it’s that customers like choice. Who needs to eat at the same places all the time when restaurants offering completely different cuisines and experiences keep opening?

But Friday and Saturday of Kentucky Derby week, the choices at many finer restaurants are pared back significantly through the use of prix fixe (fixed price in English) menus. Rather than running the full menu, chefs prepare a limited roster of their best dishes—or a lineup of one-offs—with the goal of gaining better control over purchasing, prepping and final cooking of foods on guests’ plates.

Some restaurant regulars I’ve talked to object to such limited menus, especially when the restaurant is a favorite of theirs and they want to guide their guests to specific favorite dishes when they visit this week. I get that. No one likes choices reduced.

Steve Coomes | Photo by Nancy LaRocca

Steve Coomes | Photo by Nancy LaRocca

And it makes me consider my own experience as a chef in the 1980s, when we offered not only the full menu during Derby Week, but added a few high-dollar specials to the mix. It was hell preparing all our normal food to a multiple of 4, but we pulled it off relatively well.

But in defense of chefs taking the prix fixe route, there’s no denying that changes in local restaurants and the Kentucky Derby itself have forced them to pare back some. On April 21, I asked “why prix fixe?” on my Facebook page, and here’s a bit of what I learned:

  1. Post time of the Kentucky Derby comes later than ever. If memory serves me correctly, Derbies long ago went off around 5:30 p.m. That meant the first guests of the evening began trickling in close to 6. By 6:30, when crowds from the track were coming in, restaurants were serving their first full “turn,” the industry term used for a full seating and emptying of their tables.

Now, however, the race goes off more than an hour later, meaning restaurants lose that first turn (and a lot of revenue, too), and guests all try to get in for a single seating at 7:30 p.m. The need for speed at the restaurant is greater than ever, and streamlining the menu with limited choices is one solution to that problem.

  1. Many restaurants were larger back two and three decades ago. A full seating at some of the places I worked ranged between 200 and 300 people. But think about how many local independent finer-dining spots have that many seats these days? Most seat about 100. Many of the older restaurants simply had the seating capacity to handle the crush better.

Bigger restaurants also had more storage to hold the massive quantities of food needed for the week. And even then, when I worked at Sixth Avenue, a huge restaurant with four large walk-in coolers, we still rented a refrigerated truck for overflow production. Modern indie restaurants simply aren’t that big, and lacking such basic infrastructure can be a problem this week.

  1. Restaurant staffs are much smaller than ever. Several operators who responded publicly and privately said many local indies serve somewhere between 75 and 150 guests on a common Saturday night, numbers they can manage with small staffs. To serve double that number in a compressed period of time—along with the full menu—isn’t the best way to go, they say.

And the ongoing restaurant staffing shortage—it happens when you open as many restaurants as we’ve seen here the past few years—only aggravates the situation during Derby Week.

But not everyone agrees. At least two chefs who responded said their restaurants (Harvest and Bistro 1860) are running not only full menus, but additional tasting menus and amped-up specials. Are those staffs just better able to handle the crunch? Or are their chefs just old school-stubborn and insisting it be done the hard way?

I don’t know and, frankly, I don’t think it matters. It’s just their choice to do that, and having cooked through eight Derbies, I’m in awe of chefs Patrick Roney and Michael Crouch and their crews. Given the choice to go prix fixe, I think I’d have done it on the off chance it would lower the insanity level some—and restaurants are insane places to work this week.

So if you’re going out to dinner this week, be patient in those places that are super-busy. Know it may take a little bit more time to get your food and drink, but it’ll get there. Look forward to prix fixe menus (if that’s what they’re serving) because they may hold some neat surprises reflecting those chefs’ whims of the moment. And just be happy you live in a marvelous city like this one for the greatest party in the world this weekend.

A Year of Eats – plus Haymarket’s Matthew Landan and Mike Mays of Heine Bros

The finest restaurant and bar podcast in the ‘Ville wraps up its first year with a celebration of all things Derby. Steve was ultra-impressed with the new Red Herring, now open on Frankfort Avenue in a gorgeous space. Also new to town is ROC in the Highlands, boasting of Italian specialties the way an Italian grandma would make it. There’s a new look to the 2nd Floor clubhouse at Churchill Downs, where Rick got a chance to visit with executive chef Dave Danielson and sample some of the new track staples. Steve tried the new Vinaigrette Salad Kitchen on Hurstbourne, and has a new appreciation for the Morris Deli on Taylorsville Road. Also, we drove by St. Matthews Saturday night and saw the new Sullivan’s is open for partying.

Our first guest, the Haymarket Whiskey Bar’s Matthew Landan, has concocted an amazing new Old Rip Van Winkle Package with a dreamy price tag of $25,000 — which happens to be a good value when you see what it includes. Mike Mays opened the 14th and largest Heine Brothers coffee shop last week in Hikes Point, a part of town he’s been eyeing for years. With close to 250 employees, Mays has a keen eye for the coffee shop business.

This week’s Copper & Kings faves come from the aforementioned clubhouse at Churchill Downs, where Rick found the Hot Brown Pizza to be a cool new twist on a favorite taste. Steve’s Maki Shrimp salad was his top bite at Vinaigrette Salad Kitchen. Steve sampled a Sazerac at the Red Herring, while Rick tried a Chocolate Mint Jill-up at the Jill’s Wish charity event at Bowman Field.

Thanks for sticking with us for a full year, and here’s a shout-out to our great sponsors: Harvest Restaurant, the Eye Care Institute and Copper & Kings.

Matthew Landan

Matthew Landan

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Mike Mays at the new Heine Bros. in Hikes Point

Churchill’s Remodeled 2nd Floor is Ready for the Masses

When you go to the track this week, you may be tempted to bring a box lunch, which many local restaurants are marketing to track-goers. But the advice here is that you shouldn’t do it out of fear that the grub at the track won’t satisfy you.

Dave Danielson

Dave Danielson

Executive Chef David Danielson is focused on the quality of cuisine at Churchill Downs, from the buffets on the expensive upper floors to the hot dogs you can buy in the paddock. Last week, he unveiled the newly remodeled 2nd Floor Clubhouse, which requires a relatively inexpensive ticket to enter, and where you can now choose from barbecue, pizza, Mexican, chicken and burgers, plus dessert.

Danielson, who appeared on the EatDrinkTalk podcast last fall, said that he’s been building relationships with local farmers to provide fresh produce. For instance, he showed me photos from a Mt. Washington farm producing lettuce and strawberries shipped directly to the track the day before they’re served.

Churchill Downs invited media to sample some of the new staples last Friday. I tried the Hot Brown Pizza, which did have the distinct flavor of the famed dish’s Mornay sauce, along with bacon and turkey. I also tried a chicken burrito at the Central Avenue Cantina. I could easily imagine ordering both for a treat while focusing on the horses.

spendabuckIn previous years, this second floor area was a self-serve circle where you picked up your own food and paid on the way out. Ready-to-please servers at the seven storefronts in the new configuration seem ready to go, though I’m sure they will be challenged to keep the lines short during Derby Week.

There is limited seating, so the idea here is to grab something and head back to your seat or out to the paddock.

I did appreciate the smart marketing folks who named the bars at two corners of the space, using aptly named past Derby winners — Spend a Buck and I’ll Have Another.

 

 

After two years work, ROC Restaurant opens quietly in the Highlands

I was certain I heard Rocco Cadolini say he’d been working on his new spot, ROC Restaurant, for three years.

“No, two years, just two,” he says, correcting me kindly. Adding with a grin, he says, “If it was three, I’d cut myself.”

As in a suicidal way, implying that there’s nothing easy about opening a new restaurant, especially when dealing with permitting. The city hasn’t yet approved the bourbon-barrel ROC sign that will hang from the newly erected pergola at the sidewalk of 1372 Bardstown Road. And the kitchen: built from the ground up in what was the backyard of the former Emma Lou’s Café, the city wasn’t sure it would allow that either. (Thankfully it relented and there’s an amazing and spacious cooking area there now.) And the pergola over the curbside patio: the city didn’t like Cadolini original plans, which included a more natural design that would have appeared as if live trees were growing from the ground. What’s there for now are sterile but sturdy 8-by-8-inch posts, but that’ll change.

Rocco Candolini, a native of Italy's Amalfi Coast, owns and operates ROC Restaurant.

Rocco Candolini, a native of Italy’s Amalfi Coast, owns and operates ROC Restaurant.

“Eventually, there will be an awning over the top to shade from the sun, and misters, too, because I know how hot it gets here in the summer,” Cadolini says. The native Italian’s accent is heavy, but after 28 years in the U.S., it’s wrapped as comfortably around English as prosciutto drapes melon. “It’s all coming together. It just takes time.”

Cadolini knows. He’s done two prior restaurants: one in the Tribeca neighborhood of New York City, and another in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg section. Connected to neither now, he’s all in when it comes to his Louisville investment. Parents of his wife, Stacey, live here, and they wanted their two daughters close to kin.

Also relocated are his two chefs, Giovanni Penace (pronounced “pen-ah-chay”) and Davide Zigrino. Both men are from Italy’s

Puglia region; Penace moved to the U.S. a few years ago, while Zigirinio just arrived.

When I ask him how diners might find ROC different from other Louisville Italian standbys, Cadolini, first compliments his competitors, saying they’ve done well developing their own niches over time. The difference, he says, will be in his chefs’ interpretations of the foods of their homeland.

“I told them to just make authentic Italian—what your grandmother made,” he says.

That means things like fresh mozzarella and burrata, and housemade pasta.

“I just bought this beautiful machine,” Cadolini says, pointing to the pasta maker and its three dyes for cutting fettuccini, spaghetti and pappardelle. “There’s nothing better that fresh pasta, ah?”

It also means grilled octopus with potatoes (polipo alla griglia con tortino di patate), linguine and clam (linguine alle vongole) roasted branzino (branzino al cartoccio), pork Parmigiana (lombata di maiale alla Parmigiana) and many more items Italian food fans will recognize. The pasta lineup features seven dishes, the panini menu just two choices. Short and simple, Cadolini says, to “keep food fresh coming in and going out. Prices range from $8 for smaller plates, to $30 for entrees.

The entire space is an interesting one, a combination of a farmhouse and a trattoria. Guests enter through the patio and pergola before stepping inside to the main dining room, a modest spot with a long bar and multiple bare wood tables and floors. Candolini calls that mostly a cocktail area until guests arriving for dinner are seated further toward the back. When it fills in, a curtain will be pulled to cordon off drinkers from diners. A naturally lit glass walled room toward the front is an all-weather space overlooking the patio.

“Upstairs is a little bit more formal,” Cadolini says, climbing ROC’s wooden stairs. “Up here it will be mostly white tablecloth.”

A trio of spaces can be used for private events or overflow from the main floor. He envisions guests who want a quiet experience will go there.

Cadolini opened without announcement nearly two weeks ago in order to give his staff real-time training without the pressure of large crowds.

“Right now we’re kind of taking it easy and learning how we want it to run,” he says. “But last night, there were just a few of us here and it got busy. I had to jump in.”

Ready to go yourself? Hours are 5-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 5-11 Friday and Saturday. Lunch will follow once dinner business is solid, and he expects it’ll open from 12-3 p.m., Monday-Friday. Future Saturdays should see brunch served from 10 to 4 p.m.

Underground sounds: Jimmy Can’t Dance to bring the Jazz Age tunes to downtown

Longtime Monkey Wrench owner Dennie Humphrey is teaming up with Another Place Sandwich Shop operator Brian Goodwin to open an underground jazz club that’s truly underground—as in the basement of the aforementioned restaurant at 119 S. 7th St. The location is a prime spot: directly across from the 21 C Museum Hotel and a couple doors down from Mussel & Burger Bar.

The club will be called Jimmy Can’t Dance, and it will host live music four nights a week, starting mid-summer. According to a news release, the goal is to create a speakeasy vibe first by having guests enter through the dimly lit sandwich shop. Down below, they’ll find what resembles a traditional Manhattan jazz hall with New Orleans touches. The space will be classy and comfortable, owners say.

Programming will include weekly residencies by professional musicians, while serving as a place where young talent, including students from University of Louisville School of Music, can hone their skills.

Humphrey, who also is a partner in The Taj bar in NuLu, will lead the club’s beverage program. Expect a reasonably priced menu of jazz age-inspired cocktails, bourbon and craft beers.

“We want the bar program to be simple enough that you can get a drink quickly and get back to enjoying yourself,” Humphrey said in the release. “The menu will have variety, but will be price conscious. We don’t want anyone priced out of the experience.”

Another Place Sandwich Shop is creating a limited menu for Jimmy Can’t Dance, but don’t expect deli foods. Rotating menus will include pop-up collaborations with Louisville restaurants and chefs, and a weekend jazz brunch will be added to the lineup later this summer.

The name pays homage to Goodwin’s father, Jim Goodwin, who, before venturing into real estate, was a promoter in the Louisville music scene. He opened Friend in Hand and Beggar’s Banquet in Downtown Louisville. Goodwin also owned Another Place Sandwich Shop, now in its 45th year. Under the leadership of his son Brian, the operation has undergone a rebirth, including new culinary direction.

“Jim loved music, but he most certainly couldn’t dance,” said Goodwin. “Louisville has a great music scene, and we’re looking forward to adding to it while honoring my dad in the process.”

Expect more stories about your favorite haunts and ‘joints’

In the past, I traveled a lot with clients whose means far exceeded mine, lifestyles that included chauffeurs, four- and five-star hotels and restaurants matching that level. Because I was there to chronicle their activities, I got a taste of their lifestyle by proxy, so I joked that I lived like a king while earning a pauper’s wages.

But it could become too much of a good thing, and after several days eating every meal out and living in hotel rooms nicer than my apartment, I longed for the comforts of a PB&J on the couch in front of the TV. I was ready for, as my boss would say, “a little slumming,” which meant food and drink we could afford, meals consumed hunched over a bar and served from a plastic basket lined with wax paper. I’ve never lost my love for such relaxed repasts.

Perhaps my and my wife's favorite "dive" in the city, Cumberland Brews. Beer, food and service ... a complete package.

Perhaps my and my wife’s favorite “dive” in the city, Cumberland Brews. Beer, food and service … a complete package. The Jamaican jerk wings here are fantastic.

I made a few stops in such places recently and found myself surprisingly refreshed when it came to my writing. I found new stories to tell, things I’d overlooked by focusing mostly on “the newest restaurant in town.” With so many places opening, the best way to keep up pace is to produce blow-by-blow recitations of what I ate or drank—a task that can become tedious to write and, I gather, read. But it’s news, so we do it.

Yet, perhaps most interesting is the reaction I’ve noticed to tweets and posts about those relaxed stops, compared to reactions received about higher-end places. Going to places like Kern’s Korner yielded a story of a first date that led to a marriage, others praised the burger or the club sandwich, while some included suggestions for similar spots. A post about The Back Door yielded similar results, especially about the big, affordable pours of spirits.

Now that is a Back Door Pour: generous and inexpensive.

Now that is a Back Door pour: generous and inexpensive. This one is the bar’s Old Forester private barrel pick, my favorite of that series I’ve ever tasted.

By comparison, posts about amazing meals (Bistro 1860’s recent Titanic dinner, St. Paddy’s Day feast at Harvest), openings of Chik’n & Mi and Fork & Barrel get far less response, and likely because 1. only a small number of readers get to attend such special dinners, and 2. few people have anything to say about brand-new restaurants because they haven’t visited yet.

But let’s face facts: Many of us are drawn to those lower-end spots because they’re affordable. When we settle in, take in the surroundings, food and drink, we realize how soul satisfying they can be. It soon becomes practically impossible not to return, especially when you start making friends with bartenders, servers and regulars. An extended family forms unexpectedly, and you’ve got a new draw.

Perhaps most surprising of all is how many restaurant industry folk frequent these less-heralded spots, the “joints” where good burgers, wings, beers and sturdy whiskey pours are found. Given their days spent cooking and serving finer-dining fare, perhaps they also are burned out on it and longing for the basics done well.

Last Sunday at The Back Door, I chatted with a bartender who’s been there since it opened 31 years ago. Monday, while at the Bob Evans on Hurstbourne Lane with a former client, I hardly got a word in before our meal because he was surrounded by staffers who’d worked there between 31 and 39 years. He, a man who’ll turn 95 next week, has frequented the restaurant since it opened, but he hasn’t been there as much since he relinquished the keys to his car. It was touching to see them have an impromptu extended family reunion.

She ain't pretty, but she's tasty: the basic cheeseburger at Kern's Korner.

She ain’t pretty, but she’s tasty, right down to the grilled bun: the basic cheeseburger at Kern’s Korner.

Of course, such exchanges happen at upper-crust eateries, too. I participated in it when I worked in such restaurants, and I see it now on those infrequent occasions that I dine at local legends. I’ve seen owners beam when hosting special dinners for brides who they held as babies when their parents began dining there 25 years before. I’ve seen owners give backrubs to the ailing and the aged, and then say, “I’ll bring you some dinner by the house tomorrow, OK?” In short, there’s love at every level in this business. It’s how great restaurant folk are wired.

But as far as slumming—if you can even call it that since none of these places could be considered rundown (at Kern’s Korner, even the bottles on shelves appeared spotlessly dusted)—that’s where I think I want to be for a while, where I want some of my reporting to take me. There are new stories to tell, tales about people we all relate to, and anecdotes easily shared over burgers and beers.

Perhaps best of all is they won’t empty my wallet, and they’re free to you!

  • And please send any suggestions for your favorite haunts (or restaurants of any kind for that matter) to steve@stevecoomes.com!

Local Takes with Damaris Phillips; Talking Hogs with Barry Yates

We’re in the home stretch headed toward the beginning of Derby Week, so as the city’s best restaurant and bar podcasters, we’re here to fill you in on how restaurateurs here are preparing to host thousands of out-of-town guests. We start with Steve’s explanation of why so many operators are offering prix fixe menus, and as you might guess, part of the answer is staffing.

What new places are planning to open before the big day? Roc in the Highlands has made it, and it appears that the new Red Herring on Frankfort might welcome guests as early as this week. Across the street, we’re glad to see the Hilltop Tavern is back after some plumbing issues forced a weeks-long shutdown. Among Derby events to look forward to, the Jill’s Wish bash at Bowman Field is a deal at $65. But we’re not all about the fancy — we tell you about some excellent food at great prices in neighborhood spots the Back Door and Kern’s Korner. We also fill you in with more details on the big Bourbon & Beyond event, which has started a billboard campaign around town.

In the Copper & Kings Favorites segment, Steve picked a Kentucky Cuban sandwich at Monnik Brewing in Germantown, while Rick opted for the Hung Jury, a tasty burger at Sidebar during the post-Neil Diamond concert rush. At the Back Door, Steve selected an Old Forrester barrel pick, a bargain at $5.50 a pour. While at the Pints and Parkinson’s event at Fourth Street Live!, Rick sampled a Birra Sour at Birracibo, featuring Bulleit Bourbon, a Shock Top brew, lemon juice and orange bitters.

Our first guest, Damaris Phillips, has a bunch of TV projects in the works with the Food Network, but loves the restaurants and coffee shops in her hometown. Steve’s guest is Franklin County hog farmer Barry Yates, who will be providing the pig at this week’s Chef’s Table at Harvest.

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Barry Yates

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Damaris Phillips. Photo by Bill Brymer