Thursday, February 24, 2011

Vietnam Kitchen

Vietnam Kitchen

5339 Mitscher Ave
Iroquois Manor

The entrance is a bit scary – the d├ęcor, pedestrian - the menu, crusty and illegible – the food, stupefying!  Vietnam Kitchen is everything I love about a restaurant.  Unassuming and quietly doing what they do best – no frills, nothing fancy….just damn good food.  I think I may have skipped a full loop around the office after LPG pulled it from the lunch pail.  This place has been on my list of favorites for some time, but I rarely get the chance to venture out to the Beechmont/Iroquois area to take in a lunch there. 

There is a large Vietnamese and Korean population out in this area of town – enough to tout quite a few great restaurants and some specialized grocery stores.  There are 80+ million people in the world who speak Vietnamese… I’m not one of them…. so instead of having a middle aged Vietnamese woman cackle at a lame attempt to pronounce what I was ordering, I said what any other decent American would say…. "I’ll take the K-8 with chicken."  sidebar - I always chuckle to myself…that’s awfully close to K-9, and I sure as hell am not going to order K-9 -  Everyone else put in their letter-number sequence, J-4, K-6,  another K-8 w/ beef, F-5, and how could we go without a couple of orders of A-2 ….we patiently waited to wolf on our monstrous bowls of amazing. 

It took a little while for them to put together our order, but while we waited we were able to look around the establishment and make an interesting observation.  The place was was noon and there were no tables open - typical of this eatery during the lunch hour.  Businessmen.  Everywhere you looked.  At every table sat a crew of middle aged men in shirts and ties, some had navy blazers with brass buttons draped over the backs of their chairs.  Mortgage brokers, software engineers,  hospital administrators tending to important business with napkins tucked into their collars.  It was obvious we were in the midst of a full scale sweaty forehead business operation.  This was important business.  We laughed because we had the only table that included patrons of the effeminate persuasion.  I told Chickadoo, Candypants, and J-Lust that they were hard-core chicks that could handle the heat.  They agreed and out came the goods.

Please - if and when you go to Vietnam Kitchen, get the spring rolls.  They are a delightful start to a great experience.  Everyone was all smiles as we attacked our main courses.  I was an oily mess by the time I was nearing my fill... Man 1 had to slap the bowl out of my hands as I was working up the nerve and the gastro-capacity to slurp the K-8 sauce that remained after the noodles, broccoli, and chicken had met their end...the sauce is that good.  
Almost every time I've been to VK, I end up with the K-8...I swore that I would branch out this time. I asked the waitress what she recommended - I was looking for something spicy and noodley and delicious.  She recommended the K-8.... by god I saw it as fate!  I had to re-indulge, and I'll probably do it again next time.  We all left happy and stuffed.

With all of the business they do, it's obvious they have the means to update their digs, but that may just diminish some of the charm of the place.  Everyone owes it to themselves to hit up this spot - and I know that a lot of people have - but if you are one of the few Louisvillians yet to embark on this Vietnamese culinary journey, please do so with extreme urgency.

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Toast to "Toast...on Market"

Toast on Market
736 E. Market Street (Louisville)
141 E. Market Street (New Albany)

Here's to breakfast for lunch. A concept many don't practice anymore...
But a concept that left the Gang smiling that's for sure.
Here's to Toast on Market, where breakfast is served all day...
Their hours are 7-2 and 7-3 on Saturday and Sunday.
But it's already twelve-thirty, no time for eggs and bacon...
Who cares?! There's no rule against breakfast for lunch, so come on down to Toast
and see what they're makin'.
Here's to Chickapoo and her BLT scramble..
Breakfast for lunch is no gamble.
Especially with a side of the Gang's favorite hashbrown casserole...
BREAKFAST FOR LUNCH! Tell one, tell all, tell every soul.
Here's to Man 2, always lookin' for the meal that's just right...
Only the Cliffie's Plate would fill his hearty appetite.
It comes with eggs, meat, pancakes and more...
Exactly what Man 2 was looking for.
Last but not least Man 1 and his mountain of french toast.
'The Classic' is it's true name...
with fruit and whipped cream, it will put any stomach to shame.
So raise your cups of coffee and glasses of OJ...
And give thanks to Toast on Market for serving breakfast all day.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Queenie's Soul Cuisine

Queenie’s Soul Cuisine

2956 Richland Ave.
Hikes Point

LPG was eager to draw one of the few soul food locals in our pail – and we did just that preceding our most recent adventure.  We came across Queenie’s Soul Cuisine doing a search online for soul food back when we were initially filling our lunch pail with options….it looked cool, it is locally owned, and we all love some good down-home cookin’- so we put it in.  Not knowing what to expect, we left the confines of our office on a road trip to Hikes Point. 

Tucked back behind the Baskin Robins in a strip mall off of Taylorsville Road stood our destination.  We walked into a very clean, nicely decorated space that smelled of fried food and cornbread – not too shabby!  We were immediately seated in a large dining area – probably 30 tables total, 5 or 6 of them were occupied by 11:30 when we arrived….promising!   Our waitress came by to take our drink orders, and let me tell you, she was the best part of our experience at Queenie’s. Sarcastic and sassy, she fit right in w/ the gang – we got along splendidly.  After bringing a round of water, tea, and grape Kool-aid, she presented us with a basket of warm cornbread to help subside the yearning of our imploding stomachs.  This cornbread was remarkable – sweet, moist, w/ a hint of what we decided was cinnamon…but we’re probably wrong…   

The lunch menu gives you a choice of a meat w/ 2 sides – dinner is the same, but double the portion of meat.  I went with the smothered pork chop, greens, and mac-n-cheese. Others in the party got salmon croquettes, fried chicken, and smothered chicken…sides varied, but primarily mashed pertaters, green beans, black eyed peas…etc.

I think I had worked myself up and expected a whole lot from Queenie’s – especially the sides.  Could be that I used to work with a lot of wonderful ladies who would bring in hot water cornbread, greens, mac-n-cheese, chicken, and other deliciocities that make my mouth water, still, just thinking of them…

Our wonderful waitress brought out our lunch pretty quickly and we all started to dig in.  I grabbed my fork and went right for the mac….ouch….not gonna say much about the mac – 'cause I’m not mean, but lets consolidate what could be a lengthy description to just “bland”.   So…I went for the greens – the greens lacked seasoning…Lets move on to the good stuff – the “smothered” part –  the gravy that coated my bone in pork chop was delicious!  So delicious that I sopped it up with the some of the 2nd basket of cornbread that had graced our table – all the way to clean plate status!   The consensus among the attendees was consistent – sides need some work, but the main dishes were right on point!  Man 1 and Otis loved the seasoning on the fried chicken, Chickadoo liked her Salmon Croquettes, and Candypants was impressed with her smothered chicken!

As much as it pains me (please understand, it’s necessary for me to remain in good order with the gods of the food blogosphere) it is my duty to give a somewhat stale review.  If it wasn’t for the sides, I’d go back in a heartbeat – if not just to visit with our waitress!  We also found out that Queenie’s has breakfast on Saturday’s – Chicken and Waffles anyone?