EDT Podcast: Forecastle Sets Sail with Bourbon Lodge in Front

Carolyn and Rick have been keeping a busy schedule eating and drinking around town, all so we can talk about it here on the EatDrinkTalk podcast. We start with Carolyn’s Eat of the Week, which she found in Westport Village at the Artesano Tapas spot. She gives the Ole Restaurant Group spot high marks for some succulent lunch dishes.

Rick went all the way to Nashville to discover that city’s equivalent of the ‘Ville’s own Seafood Lady. It was not fancy, just mouth-watering seafood (lobster, shrimp) served in styrofoam containers.

It’s Forecastle Week in the ‘Ville, and while concert-goers savor the sounds of the likes of Jason Isbell and Arcade Fire, many end up in the air-conditioned comfort of the Bourbon Lodge. Liquor Barn’s Brad Williams traces the evolution of the attraction, which has become a big event in the bourbon world, thanks to the keen interest in the project by founder J.K. McKnight. Williams says the Rarities Bar is a treasure to bourbon aficionados, with plenty of bottles you won’t find elsewhere.

We got an early look at Louisville Magazine’s Best of Louisville awards in restaurants, and have some nits to pick with the choices. And Carolyn had a chance encounter with Mitch McConnell, who has experienced unpleasantness on a few recent trips to local restaurants.

Thanks to our sponsor, Fourth Street Live!, which is gearing up for the Nelly concert August 3 and is welcoming the new Pizza Bar to the Street.

Brad Williams hosts the Bourbon Lodge at Forecastle

Carolyn’s Eat of the Week from Artesano Tapas

Ole’ “Firing on All Cylinders” with Spring Menu Changes

Last spring, when the OLE’ Restaurant Group stopped serving lunch at its Mercato Italiano location in Norton Commons, it wasn’t necessarily that lunch business was non-existent, according to director of operations Rick Moir.

Instead, Moir said that owner Fernando Martinez wanted to make better use of the time available to train his young and talented new chef, Zack Wolf, in doing things the OLE’ way. In the meantime, businesses have continued to sprout in the East End development, creating what Moir believes will be a strong demand for quick and tasty lunch options.

Lunch dishes, including two new lasagnas, at Mercato

Lunch dishes, including two new lasagnas, at Mercato

On March 6, Mercato reopens for lunch with a new spring menu featuring items developed by Martinez and Wolf, including two lasagna dishes, a 10-ounce steak, panini, pizzettas and even a burger.

I was invited to a menu unveiling Tuesday, and sampled the lasagna alla Bolognese and lasagna alla Giardiniera, both served in a small skillet. My date and I also tasted other new additions including the asparago crostini, plus broccolini and polenta. Each was perfect and adequately described by Dustin, our attentive waiter.

Another highlight was a stracciatella insalata, a salad featuring seasonal tomatoes and fruit.

Stracciatella Insalata

Stracciatella Insalata

“Now that there’s more foot traffic in Norton Commons, we see a lot of people looking for a quick, in-and-out lunch,” Moir said.

The OLE’ group has been tinkering with some of its other concepts as well. Artesano Tapas, in Westport Village, unveils menu changes next week to showcase its new lunch menu, featuring dishes that Moir said are quicker and lighter, with more of a Latin touch.

Down the road at the Red Barn Kitchen, a Saturday and Sunday brunch is launching this weekend, featuring $1 Mimosas and $4 bloody Marys.

Moir added that work on the new St. Matthews location of El Taco Luchador is proceeding toward an April opening.

The company’s other local concepts are the two Mussel & Burger Bars and Guaca Mole.

“Now that all the chefs are where Fernando wanted them to be, in terms of training, we’re firing on all cylinders,” Moir said.

Mercato Italiano’s new lunch menu is available starting March 6, 7 days a week from 11-2.