Friday, January 28, 2011

Spread the Jelly

We would like to give a big shout out to for sharing a link and helping spread The Gangs jelly!  Go check out her site if you haven't seen it yet.  It contains a great deal of information regarding some of the best things happening in our remarkable city!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hillbilly Tea

Hillbilly Tea
120 South 1st Street
Louisville, KY 40202
Today’s adventure was just a hop, skip and a jump away from our home base to Hillbilly Tea (HT). A few of us had been before, but for the rest of the gang this would be their first experience with this unassuming downtown eatery. With so many interesting things to share about HT this entry will be broken down into 3 parts; tea, entrees, and last but certainly not least, desserts!!!
Considering that “tea” is included in the name of the place, one would expect nothing less than to have a great glass (in this case jar) of ice tea or cup of hot tea. HT certainly did not disappoint on this front. They have an eclectic selection of teas and in addition to those listed on the website there are a number of other specialty teas that vary daily. I ordered traditional sweet tea, Man 1 & 2 ordered the lemon basil tea, and our co-worker (Candypants) ordered the jasmine green tea. As I have come to find restaurants that make sweet tea as good as mom’s are few and far between, but HT may have actually done it! Of course, if you happen to share this comment with my mom I will certainly deny it! The lemon basil tea, the overall group favorite, had just the right amount of lemon and was a perfect complement to our desserts (more about those tasty treats later). Candypants, a jasmine tea connoisseur, felt the jasmine tea needed more jasmine and less sugar and in a word was “disappointed”

HT has a seasonal menu consisting of a small but diverse collection of down home favorites with an unexpected twist. Vegetarians & vegans need not shy away from HT as it as has several vegetarian and vegan options (even a vegan dessert of the day) to satisfy your non-carnivorous dining needs.
After much discussion, Man 2 and I decided on The Appalachian Trail Tea Platter, served in a wooden box, came with a sampling of fried frog legs, braised greens, chow chow (a sweet, pickled relish traditionally made in the south that utilizes vegetables left over at the end of the summer's harvest), a cup of bison chili, corn pone (corn bread), and a hillbilly dessert. At $28 for two, including tea The Appalachian Platter may seem a bit pricey for lunch, but it was well worth the cost. The platter offered a way for us to try many of the menu items that we may have otherwise overlooked and in this case introduced us to some new favorites, especially the hillbilly desserts!!
Please note: the tea platter for two is served in two separate boxes. Man 2 nearly had a panic attack when our server presented us with one box of food and explained that this WAS the platter for 2. In the few minutes before our server returned to straighten this out, I watched the fear/anxiety build in Man 2’s eyes while he contemplated two things: 1) How in the world could they charge us $28 for this and 2) How can I convince Chickadoo that she would be much happier walking across the street for a delicious sack of White Castles, so that I can have this platter all to myself. Luckily the server returned just in time to save me from a trip across the street!
Once we were able to each enjoy our own box of food, both of us agreed that the frog leg was our least favorite. The batter was too thick, but on the bright side the sauce that was served with it was great. The greens were perfectly cooked until just wilted with tiny bits of bacon, mmmmm bacon. The corn pone and chow chow were equally as good, but by far the best of the Appalachian Trail Tea Platter was the bison chili. Thoughts of enjoying more of this amazing chili have eased my longing for the warm sunny days of spring. Everyone in our group excluding our vegetarian friend, who for obvious reasons did not try the chili, loved it.

Man 1 was a fan of the bison burger and our vegetarian friend was equally pleased with her marinated portabella mushroom sandwich. Both commented that the biscuit on which their sandwiches were served was a nice touch. Sandwiches come with sweet potato chips which were also very good. Vegetarian friend subbed her chips for pit roasted sweet potatoes. I did not get to try those but I definitely have my eye on them for my next visit. Candypants had the smoked chicken salad on a bed of greens with apple and stale bread, and added a side of corn pone. The chicken salad looked great and I heard no complaints.
It takes a very special place to get the Lunch Pail Gang to do its first dessert review, but try as we might there was really no avoiding those tasty treats that HT had to offer. Walking into HT your eye is instantly drawn to the counter where the desserts of the day are charmingly displayed in various glass containers. When you place your order at the counter you can hear them calling out to you, begging you to take them home. As mentioned earlier the Appalachian Platter included dessert, so Man 2 and I had no choice but to get dessert. I had my eyes on a lemon sandwich cookie, but was informed that the platter included any dessert except for that cookie because it was the vegan dessert. Disappointed, I “settled” for the chocolate torte. Man 2 went with the apple pie. Once settled into our seats and while waiting for our food I was happy, in fact may have even squealed with delight, when I found out that Man 1 had ordered the hillbilly tea cookies. An order of cookies includes 6 cookies, 2 of each of the cookies of the day. On this day the cookies were a peanut butter no bake cookie, a chocolate brownie cookie, and a shortbread cookie with strawberry preserves. Although, Man 1 initially did not want to share his cookies, he eventually gave in and let us all try a bite of each. All of the cookies were fantastic and each of us had our own personal favorite. I do not have words to describe the deliciousness that was the chocolate torte; perhaps life changing is too strong. The apple pie was good but serving it warm would have been a game changer. As we were enjoying all of our tasty treats and thinking that things could not possibly get any better, our server mistakenly brought us over a lemon sandwich cookie (yes, the same lemon sandwich cookie I had pined for earlier). We explained that we did not order it but he left it for us anyway. The lemon cookie was as good as the rest of the treats, but may get extra props for being delicious and VEGAN!

Obviously, The Lunch Pail Gang thoroughly enjoyed our lunch at Hillbilly Tea, and I know that you will too. Just remember to save room for dessert or two or three!

- Chickadoo

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Queen of Sheba: Wet Naps Included

Queen of Sheba
2804 Taylorsville Rd.

This was the most anxious the Lunch Pail Gang had been to date. I use the word "anxious" because we were unsure of what to expect. Ethiopian cuisine was uncharted territory, but nothing will stop us from diving in feet first...or should I say fingers first! Queen of Sheba offers an authentic Ethiopian experience where all your party's food is served together on one large platter. Each platter comes with rolls of flat bread called Injera. Ethiopian food is commonly eaten with your fingers by taking a piece of the Injera, scooping up your food, and shoving it all in your mouth.  Ethiopian food is actually quite healthy and the bread is low in carbohydrates. Queen of Sheba stands by their tradition of using zero canned or frozen foods. All veggies are fresh and all meat is USDA approved.

We started our meal with two orders of Sambussa, fried pastry shells filled with your choice of Beef or chicken mixed with peppers, garlic and Ethiopian Spices. The pastry shell had the perfect crunch of crispiness and the filling was packed with so much flavor we were all very satisfied. To be honest, the sambussa made us feel more comfortable about the mystery of the meal of which we were about to indulge.

After a short wait, our lovely waitress (who by the way was very helpful in our selections since we had no idea what we were ordering) laid in front of us the platter of assorted meats and side salads. We decided, with the help of our waitress, that we should try a little of everything. Our meal included an order of lamb tips, beef tips, and the traditional chicken stew. Each order came with fresh salad and lentil stew called Kik Wot. At first glance one might second guess themselves. It's not what most Americans are used to, but once you breathe in the aroma and notice the preparation that goes into the display of the food you can't wait to get a taste.

The gang enjoyed it all very much. Chickadoo was the most skeptical, but once she got over the spongy texture of the bread I think she was satisfied. Man 2 loved it to the very last bite...literally. And I will be going back that's for sure. Overall, we would say the lamb was the best and a must try to any newcomer. Queen of Sheeba also offers a wide menu for vegans. A friendly vegetarian couple allowed us to take a picture of their platter (see below). They ordered collard greens and mushrooms.

After your meal, and if you are a coffee consumer, we suggest trying some of Sheba's authentic Ethiopian coffee. It wasn't like anything I have tried before so the best way I can describe it is by calling it very rich and full of flavor - a hint of clove. Just trust me and try it! If anything, the pot it comes in can act as a great center piece for the table.

Step out of your comfort zone of cheesburgers or sandwiches for lunch and step into Queen of Sheba...Try something new.

Melkam Megeb! (enjoy your meal)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

T-H-O and Good Slaw

3rd Avenue Cafe
1164 S. 3rd St.
Old Louisville

Bring your electric blankets, one and all, to 3rd Avenue Cafe in charming Old Louisville!  As we stepped into the familiar kitschy dining room LPG stated, in unison, "cold in here!"  I think the Elvis maniquin by the front door had a frozen booger hanging from his nose.... it may have just been a paint chip or something, I'm not really sure.  Regardless of the climate, we were all excited to hit up this popular local lunch spot. 

Chickadoo ordered the black bean burger and homemade mesquite potato chips.
I tried it - it was tasty.....tasty for something that doesn't have meat in it.... I remember Chickadoo saying "this tastes know, just like mashed up beans."  The homemade chips were great - kindof reminded me of Grippos without the sweetness.  I really enjoyed the Foccacia bread that this was served on...better than a traditional bun would have been.

Man 1 and I both got the same thing....something that we swore never to do, but did anyway.  Shows you where we draw the line on formality...stand strong LPG, stand strong.... The Jerk Pork Sandwich and Honey Mustard Cashew Cole Slaw.

Our food had arrived after I consumed 2 ice waters and developed a mean case of THO  - I was hoping for a hot n' spicy meal to warm my chilled bones.  The pork was okay....served as a boneless butterflied chop on a bun with some great hot sauce concoction on the side...I don't think they put much jerk seasoning on the pork - didn't get much of that sweet/hot flavor I was looking for.  But the cole slaw....ahhhh, the cole slaw.  I think it might be my favorite slaw of all time....well, almost - there is an old place called The Log Inn near Evansville that my lovely wife grew up frequenting - and they have great slaw...but still, this slaw was the shizzle. 

The grub was tasty - but unfortunately, I think the frostbite that was forming on my toes distracted me from enjoying this place as much as I think I would/could have...This was my 2nd encounter with 3rd Avenue Cafe and I may wait until the summertime to have another. 

The Sauce is the Boss

La Rosita
336 Pearl St.
New Albany, IN

Today the luck of the draw took the Lunch Pail gang on an adventure north of the border (southern Indiana) to La Rosita for a little south of the border flavor. This was my first time at the new location on Pearl Street. Although, it was lacking some of the charm of the original location, the new space was nice and large enough to accommodate bigger groups and most importantly now has a fully stocked bar.

The Lunch Pail Gang (LPG) started with and order of chips and salsa. The chips at La Rosita are not complementary, but at a mere $2.50 it is definitely a must! The chips arrived quickly and were light, crispy, and perfectly seasoned. The real star here, though, was the sauce. With an order of chips you receive your choice of 4 sauces; guacamole, mild salsa, a chipotle barbeque salsa, and habanero salsa.

I spent most of the rest of the lunch trying to figure out how I was going to sneak these four bottles of deliciousness out of there in my small clutch purse, but had a change of heart when realized this is definitely a place I would want to return to.

My entrée was the La Rosita Burrito which was filled with rice, whole black beans, cilantro, sour cream, and a choice of chicken or steak. I opted for the chicken while Man 2 went for the steak. The burrito was massive, and as much I wanted to finish every bite I was only able to finish half, Man 2 powered through, but we both agreed that next time we should probably share a burrito. Man 1, however, was not on board with this plan because he was the one who got to take the other half of my burrito home for dinner.

La Rosita is hands down one of the best authentic Mexican restaurants I’ve been too and it is definitely worth a trip across the river. We are already planning another trip for happy hour to determine if the Margaritas are as good as the food.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ollie's Trolley

978 S 3rd St
Louisville, KY 40203
(502) 583-5214

Rumor has it that the trolley seen in the picture to the left has an interesting story on how it ended up on the corner of 3rd and Kentucky. It all started with the great power outage of 1979. Downtown Louisville went dark for four whole days after a ice storm moved through the Ohio Valley. Power was out, the city's trolley system was at a stand still and that included everyone's favorite traveling food car, Ollie's Trolley. Before I go on with the story and tell you why the trolley still resides there today, you must know a little background of who Ollie was. Ollie (last name unknown) self started this food chain in the early 70's from the ground up. He was a retired Trolley operator for the city, so naturally he came up with the idea to have a burger joint on wheels or rails to be more specific. As time went on the company expanded to surrounding cities, but Ollie's business wasn't the only thing growing. Ollie himself had grown to over 600 lbs. with his diet consisting solely of Ollie burgers and signature fries. You see, he spent all day and night grilling burgers on this trolley that eventually he became too large to ever fit through the trolley's doors. So that's where Ollie lived, right there on the food car. Doing the two things he loved most...eating and trolley operating.
Back to the story - So there Ollie was out of power, out of food, and freezing. He was able to keep warm by the hot friers for a day and half before they went cold, but by that third day Ollie was forced to bust out of there. With the doors to small to fit through, he came up with the idea to jump up and down on the wooden emergency hatch until he broke through. He busted through with ease but not without getting stuck. So now there he was, lodged in the floor of his own trolley car. Can't go up, can't go down, just stuck. After about an hour of planning he rocked that trolley side to side trying to dislodge it from the rails thinking he could walk it down the street like Fred Flintsone. Can you believe that this 600+ pound-man got enough momentum he succeeded and rocked that trolley loose. However he only made it about 40 yards before he died from heart failure. He was eventually removed from his resting place but the trolley remained. Of course none of that story is true or makes much sense for that matter, but it's better than the real reason for its odd location whatever that may be.

Now on to the food. Not much to say really. The picture below speaks for itself. Nothing but meat, grease and Ollie's special sauce. I felt 600 lbs. myself after eating that.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Kayrouz Cafe

Kayrouz Cafe
127 Wiltshire Ave
St. Matty's

The Lunch Pail Gang stepped into Kayrouz Cafe at around 11:30 on the first Monday of 2011.  Though they had no clue, I would hope that they feel privileged given that theirs was the pioneer restaurant on our gastric journey through the Louisville metropolitan area.  Early birds, as always (seeing as our stomachs consistently start talking shit at 10:30am or so), it looked like we were the first patrons of the day.  The restaurant was nice…small and quaint.  Attentive and chipper, a lovely young waitress came promptly to take our drink orders…waters all around - with lemon, please.  I had started stalking the menu by 10am that morning and had a good idea of what I was going to order, as did the rest of LPG.  We quickly picked our poison and watched as more and more people piled into the small dining area (seats 30, give or take, indoors).  Mixed bag of clientele – from the informal home refinance meeting, mother daughter lunch outing, to, what I can only assume is the geriatric version of our own fine club.  We were sardines by noon and people started walking in and turning to leave after they’d seen the packed house.   

I had ordered the Crabby Joe – explained to be an 8oz fresh ground sirloin burger that’s smothered w/ lump crab, sundried tomatoes, garlic, blue cheese, spicy mayo, and the other typical burger fixens.  I opted for the regular fries though they offered the ever so trendy sweet potato variety.  Another member also got a burger and fries, though his was topped with pepper-jack, bacon, and homemade aioli.  He ordered it sans bacon…..wierd I know.  I felt I should inform him that bacon is a gift from God that should be consumed at any and all opportunities you find yourself lucky enough to be in its presence, but decided to keep myself quiet not to ruin our inaugural outing.  Chickadoo ordered what was titled the B-Nally.  Picture a grilled cheese on the juice – veins popping and muscles twitching…that is the B-Nally - and I must say, it sounded delicious. 

Our food arrived and the consumption began.  I was impressed with the quality of the burger – cooked to a nice medium, as I had ordered.  The crab concoction that topped my patty was good…not great…but good.  I felt like the crab should have played a bigger role in the production, but was left in the background of the bold flavor of the beef.  The fries were batter dipped and deep fried – I especially liked the “crispies”.  The quality of a restaurants pickle spear weighs in heavily for me – and they had a pretty nice pickle.

I’ll go back – the menu had nice variation and I’m excited to try out some other stuff. 


Crabby Joe