The EatDrinkTalk team sampled some new menu items at the VIP opening of Merle’s Whiskey Kitchen this week. The downtown spot’s ownership made some strategic changes to the name (so long, Manny) and the new menu that should be a hit. One of our new favorites, La Chasse on Bardstown Road, closed temporarily because of a sewer issue, and its owner has some complaints about the way MSD reacted to the situation. We’re skeptical, but hopeful, about the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts’ newly announced restaurant. And we regret reporting that Slice in Old Louisville closed after a brief three-month run.

Steve’s guest is Pamela Heilmann, the energetic new master distiller at Michter’s. She’s the first woman to earn the title in Kentucky, and is well-prepared for the new job. Rick talks with John Good, who has found life after horse racing (he was Bob Baffert’s top assistant) as a potato chip entrepreneur. He just introduced three new flavors of Spudz chips and in addition to being on the shelves at Kroger, is making it into several area restaurants. He just signed an agreement to sell Spuds at Churchill Downs.

In our favorites segment, Rick raves about the candied bacon at Merle’s Whiskey Kitchen and a Kentucky Mule, a mixture of bourbon, lime and ginger beer on the drinks menu there. For Steve, the highlight was the fried chicken sampled at Merle’s, plus the sweet cornbread. He couldn’t decide between two favorite drinks — the new Copper & Kings Flood Wall Apple Brandy, and a Manhattan he ordered during a trip to Miami.

There’s more cool stuff going on around town, including a Shelton Brothers Beer Festival at Copper & Kings Friday and Saturday. Download the podcast, and tell your friends, about the EatDrinkTalk podcast.

John Good in studio with Spudz
Pam Heilmann, center, leads the team at Michter’s