EDT Podcast: Jared Matthews on Diamonds, Cafe Lou Lou and Jack’s

Since Carolyn got called out of town, Rick is flying solo at the EatDrinkTalk studio on Episode 73.
The show includes an interesting interview with Jared Matthews, who finds himself in charge of three distinctly different, but geographically aligned, neighborhood establishments.

Matthews originally became a partner in Diamonds Pub and Billiards, then bought Cafe Lou Lou just over a year ago. More recently, he brokered a deal with Chef Dean Corbett to take over the operation of Equus and Jack’s Lounge. And he’s the father of a new baby. All of his operations are close by the studio, so it was easy to come in and talk. Caroline Knop, another St. Matthews regular and a PR powerhouse, joins Rick in the interview.

Rick’s Eat of the Week, in addition to several choice samples at Apron’s Taste of Independents, was a blackened mahi mahi fish taco from LouVino, prepared by last week’s guest, Chef Bill Jennings. We’re looking forward to the August 9 Margarita in the ‘Ville contest at Captain’s Quarters, in which our guest Jared Matthews will have an entry for each of this three restaurants.

And at Fourth Street Live!, this weekend is the exciting Vault in the ‘Ville competition, which features pole vaulters doing their thing on Fourth. Next week is Danny and the Homewreckers, plus the big Nelly show. Thanks for joining us, and check out more at EatDrinkTalk.net.

 

Here for the Beer at Fest of Ale, plus our Eats of the Week

Come on in and listen to another tasty episode of Louisville’s only podcast devoted to dining and drinking. We start off with a great interview with Tisha Gainey, the queen of local beer festivals, and Courtney Lewis, who has helped organized this year’s 13th annual Fest of Ale on the New Albany riverfront.

While Carolyn missed the interview, she was out west sampling a delicious meal from the Fat Ox in Scottsdale, Arizona. That was her Eat of the Week contribution, while Rick sampled fish tacos at Gravely Brewing and Citizen 7.

We were a bit surprised, but excited, about changes coming to one of our favorite local spots – Jack’s Lounge and Equus. Legendary owner Dean Corbett sold the business to Jared Matthews, but will stay on as Executive Chef. Matthews, who has had success down the street with Cafe Lou Lou, promises a revamped menu featuring more seafood and reasonable pricing.

Local politicians have a knack for sticking their noses where they don’t belong – and that’s true at the Metro Council this week. By a 13-11 vote, the Council passed an ordinance requiring restaurants to offer healthy menus for kids, if they have a kids menu. One dissenting Council member said we’ve gone too far when we tell parents what to feed their kids.

We’re looking forward to the next Hot Country Nights show at Fourth Street Live! It’s Russell Dickerson on the 16th. But this weekend, we’re kicking it at the Denim and Diamonds benefit Friday, then going to Fest of Ale in New Albany on Saturday. Thanks for listening to EatDrinkTalk, and catch us online at EatDrinkTalk.net.

Ring 2017 in Right with Our Favorites

So you want to usher out 2016 with a bang and welcome in all the possibilities of 2017 with a night on the town? Want to make this the night you stay up past midnight, kiss someone special out in public, and Uber your way home in the wee hours? That’s what New Year’s Eve is all about, right?

Here it is Wednesday morning, and you still don’t have reservations with a local restaurant for Saturday night.

Here’s the good news. You’re not alone. The bad news is this. The longer you wait, the less likely you’ll be dining at your favorite spot. Or you’ll take the only reservation available, and it’s at 6 p.m. At last check, the Open Table web site offered 61 area restaurants with available seating for New Year’s Eve, though many of those listings noted that only a few spots were left.

Tops on that list (ranked by Most Popular) were Ruth’s Chris, Varanese, Village Anchor, Stoney River and Seviche.

Here at EatDrinkTalk, we want to help. Some of our favorite dining establishments are gearing up with special menus, and they still have openings for you. Our advice — print this post and start making calls NOW. Be the hero of the family and get the reservation, then book the babysitter and make sure your best outfit is ready to go.

Some ideas (unless noted, alcohol and gratuity are not included):

At Decca, in NuLu, Chef Annie Pettry offers a prix fixe menu including appetizer, entrée, dessert, champagne toast for $85 per person. Optional wine pairing is extra. Call 502-749-8128.

At The English Grill in the Brown Hotel, chef de cuisine Andrew Welenken offers early diners a three-course dinner ($75) starting at 5:30, or a five-course meal ($125) starting at 8:30. Call 502-583-1234.

At LouVino’s two locations (Highlands, Middletown), executive chef Tavis Rockwell will offer a prix fixe four-course dinner ($70) featuring seasonal dishes with Southern influences.  Specially selected optional wine pairings ($30) will complement the evening’s offerings. Seatings at 5, 7 and 9:15. Reservations available online only.

At Doc Crow’s Southern Smokehouse & Raw Bar, special pairings of holiday cocktails and signature smokehouse dishes highlight the night, with reservations available until 11. Call 502-587-1626.

At Bristol Bar & Grille downtown, the celebration is called Pappy New Year, featuring a flight of Pappy Van Winkle 12, 15, 20 and 23-year expression. The four-course feast ($95) features New Orleans style shrimp and filet Oscar. Call 502-582-1995. The Bristol is joining in with the inaugural Lou Year’s Eve Party on Main, featuring local arts groups performing until midnight.

At Bristol Bar & Grille Jeffersonville, the New Year’s special is a worldly five-course wine and food travelogue ($180 per couple) from Master Sommelier Scott Harper and chef Heather Brown. It starts at 8.

At Corbett’s Restaurant in the East End, chef Jeff Dailey’s elegant five-course dinner ($100) makes for a night to remember. Seatings are at 6, 8 and 10 p.m. Call (502) 327-5058.

At Equus & Jack’s Lounge, hard-working chef Dean Corbett’s menu includes prime beef medallion and Canadian rock lobster tail. You can enjoy dinner for $55 starting at 6, or join the second seating at 8 for $65. Call 502-897-9721.

At Butchertown Grocery, a special four-course prix fixe dinner ($85) with optional wine pairings ($40) begins at 9, with seating until 10. Executive chef Bobby Benjamin’s menu features chicken and waffles, steak frites and striped bass. The price includes access to Lola’s party (see below). Call 502-742-8315.

At Lola, in Butchertown, start the party with live music from DJ PYRAMYDZ (aka Craig Pfunder) and a finish with a champagne toast at midnight ($25). Order from the menu, featuring crave-worthy snacks and a cash bar, from 6 p.m. to midnight.  Call 502-749-6323.

At Brasserie Provence, you have two prix fixe options. Early birds pay $49 for a three-course meal from 5 – 6:30. Starting at 7:30, Chef Guy Genoud offers a four-course masterpiece at $79. Call 502-883-3153. 

At The Levee at the River House, enjoy a full evening of entertainment from Radiotronic, while sampling an all-you-can-eat buffet ($125) of kitchen favorites including charcuterie and cheese, crudité, flatbreads, bacon-wrapped scallops, beef crostini, sliders, and more. Cost includes all-you-can-drink well and call liquor, house wines, and domestic beers. Dancing is encouraged. Call 502-897-5000.

At 21C Museum Hotel and Proof on Main, Executive chef Mike Wajda will prepare a special four-course table d’ hote menu ($67-$78) featuring savory holiday specials, including seared scallops with pumpkin miso, charred broccoli, pickled peanut and yuzu vin and Woodland Farm porchetta with fennel pollen, kale and turnips. Seating is from 5:30 – 11 p.m. Afterward, explore the museum and dance to the music of DJ Matt Coxx, plus enjoy live performances, starting at 9. There is a premium cash bar provided by Michter’s Whiskeys and Against the Grain Brewery. Admission is $59, and includes two drink tickets and a party favor. Check it out at 21cMuseumHotel.eventbrite.com.

AND ON SUNDAY. . . 

In the tradition of Lynn’s Paradise Cafe Pajama Party, you can go to Noosh Nosh in flannel pants, robes and slippers from 8 to 2. It’s a family friendly party with awards going to those with the most creative attire. Enjoy chef Anoosh Shariat’s signature breakfast and lunch dishes. Or get your traditional Southern good-luck-themed entrees made with black-eyed peas and collard greens. Also there will be a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar, signature cocktails and specialty coffees. For more information, visit Noosh Nosh on Facebook.

 

 

 

 

 

Fieri’s Smokehouse fires up, Jack’s price pivot, OAK Feast O.F.F. Saturday

“Well, shut the front door,” Guy Fieri’s Smokehouse is really going to open next week. After we media drones get a sneak peek on Thursday, Sept. 8—so we can write about it being “off the hook” and “out of bounds”—it opens to the public on Saturday, Sept. 10 at 9 p.m. (Yes, 9 p.m. Must be a new daypart called Latino Hours.) This restaurant, located on Fourth Street Live! (434 S. Fourth St.), will be the flagship for what appears to be a growth vehicle brand.

Fieri’s gob-stuffing visage has become virtually synonymous with The Food Network, the media juggernaut that’s been his “bus to Flavortown,” wealth and fame ever since. But unlike many of his camera-purty peers, he earned his chops as a restaurateur before becoming a “money” making slogan coiner.

As the name implies, the restaurant is a smoked meats concept, yet since there’s no menu online yet, we don’t know any details about the carbon-coated proteins. However, according to a news release, the restaurant space is as enormous as his personality, spreading over 6,700 square feet that, interestingly, includes only 117 interior seats. (Restaurants that size typically seat triple that number.) The outdoor patio, which at 2,200 square feet is larger than many quickservice restaurants, seats an equally head-scratching 79 diners.

According to the news release, “representatives from Guy Fieri’s Smokehouse are available to speak with media,” which likely means we’ll not get to see Fieri in all his bleach-tipped-ness. Given that he’s got six concepts and some three dozen restaurants under his belt, I’m thinking he’s done his fair share of grand openings.

Jack’s Lounge pivots, lowers happy hour prices: I generally don’t write about restaurant price changes or happy hour upgrades since everyone makes such tweaks on the run. But this one’s a bit different, and here’s why.HH Jack Lounge

Jack’s Lounge, the classy-casual bar-centric spot conjoined to Equus is lowering prices on select appetizers from 4-6 p.m. and after 9 p.m. to, what else, bring in more customers. Dean Corbett, owner of both spots, describes the move as the latest in a series of course changes taken to stay relevant with diners’ changing tastes.

“It’s the same thing almost everybody’s going through,” he said Tuesday night to a handful of reporters. “It’s competitive as hell, and you just can’t stay still or you’re in trouble.”

He should know. Since acquiring Equus in 1985, he’s changed it from a gourmet white tablecloth spot serving headline grabbing food, to a far more casual operation. Some of that doubtless was the result of opening Jack’s Lounge 16 years ago. Customers liked Jack’s relaxed environment, yet wanted Equus food while reclining in their cushy leather loungers. Not long after, a door was opened between the two, and a few years later, even the tablecloths disappeared from Equus.

But as Corbett’s pointed out, many of his original customers have passed away, and that with all the new restaurants in town, it’s increasingly hard to get their descendants to patronize his businesses as did their forefathers. Many long-running restaurants here face the same struggle, equally noteworthy places like Vincenzo’s (30 years) and Lilly’s Bistro (29 years). Tables aren’t jammed nightly like they once were because dining options are so plentiful, yet they’re still in business.

Every economic indicator points to a restaurant industry recession already begun, yet it’s not even near its peak. The blame for the downturn? Overcapacity: not enough people to fill the available seats. Yet there are plenty of new openings still to come here and elsewhere before year’s end.

It’ll be interesting to watch how these veteran operators weather the oncoming storm. Until then, I’ll likely tie into some $5 truffle fries and a well-made Old Fashioned at Jack’s.

OAK Feast O.F.F. set for Saturday: If local meteorologists are to be believed, Saturday will be gorgeous, so get out and enjoy the Organic Association of Kentucky (OAK) Feast O.F.F. (Organic Food Festival) from noon to 4 p.m. at ReSurfaced in Phoenix Hill (at the intersection of Shelby and Liberty streets).OAK Feast OFF

Expect loads o’ restaurant and food truck chefs (Harvest, Decca, Ramsi’s, 502 Smokehouse, Sweet & Savory, Holly Hill Inn, Missing Link and Churchill Downs’ executive chef David Danielson) cooking organic food while Appalatin brings on the live music. Sip libations and enjoy a live taping of the Mighty Fine Farm & Food podcast.

Though admission to the event is free, food tastes cost $3 each.

Funds raised at this event support OAK, which hires transition coaches to train farmers to become certified organic producers of grain, livestock and produce.

Food Literacy Project‘s 7th Annual Field-to-Fork Dinner and Silent Auction: Hardly a better food-related fundraiser than this. On Thursday, Sept. 15, FLP will host its annual dinner and silent auction to benefit its work providing farm-based experiential education and entrepreneurial youth development programs that promote healthful living.

Held at the Clifton Center (2117 Payne Street), the event begins at 5:30 p.m. with cocktails, hors d’oeuvre and the auction, followed by a five-course dinner at 6:30. The menu that evening will be prepared by a list of culinary who’s who in Louisville: Matt Durham and Nick Sullivan (The Seelbach Hilton Oakroom), Jonathan Exum (Wiltshire Pantry), Jay Denham, Duncan Paynter and Bob Hancock (Red Hog Artisan Meat), Michael Hargrove (American Culinary Federation, Kentucky Chapter), Bobby Benjamin (Butchertown Grocery), Patrick Roney (Harvest) and Erica Parker (The Comfy Cow). Wine pairings are courtesy of Horseshoe Bend Vineyard and Winery, and beer is from Against the Grain.

Tickets are $125 each. Get ‘em by clicking here, or to pay by cash or check, call 502-491-0072.