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Entries in Reviews (5)


Review-isville: Fleur de Lis Cafe

Kentucky Derby

One Great Season

It hasn't been a great visit on the food front here in Louisville.

At least, that was the case until I hit up Fleur de Lis Cafe on Bardstown Road in the Highlands for breakfast Wednesday morning.

I like to think I'm adventurous when it comes to trying new restaurants. But once I'm in the door, I'm far less flexible. Consider the case of the New Orleans French Toast.


+ IN PICTURES: Backside At The 2010 Kentucky Derby
+ MORE PICTURES: Images From Derbys Past
+ ANALYSIS: Talkin' Derby Without Sounding Like A Horse's Ass
+ MEMORY LANE: Editor Longs For Louisville On Derby Day
+ INTRODUCTION: Welcome To Kentucky Derby Season 2010

Until recently, Fleur de Lis was called Sweet & Savory under the previous ownership. I'd enjoyed the french toast, stuffed with apple slivers and cream cheese and served with maple syrup, more fruit and powdered sugar. By the time you're halfway through the portion, it's just a big ole mess of food on your plate and there's no place else you'd rather be. It is some serious comfort food and has been the only thing I've ordered in my six or so visits there.

New owners Kyle and Jill Riggle, who bought the place in December and just changed the name this month, have a great vision for the future of the space. They'll be using fresh ingredients grown only by local farmers. They're even expanding the breakfast- and lunch-only hours to serve dinner, whereas Sweet & Savory kicked you out at 3 p.m.

Kyle said he likes to drill down as locally as possible, not just with the food, but also with the artists whose work will soon adorn the Riggles' walls. "The Highlands first, Louisville second and then Kentucky," he said.

That's a good way to do business, and coupled with the New Orleans French Toast -- as long as they keep making it -- is a great way to guarantee they'll see me eating there again.


Review-isville: Ramsi's Cafe On The World

Kentucky Derby

One Great Season

Remember The Patron? I couldn't help but fall in love with what I thought was the perfect gourmet pizza restaurant on Frankfort Avenue during my last visit to Louisville.

Well, it closed, and so have a few other familiar haunts, but that hardly spells the end of great eating in the Derby City. Ramsi's Cafe On The World is still in its popular and increasingly busy Bardstown Road location.

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When I first moved to Louisville in 2000, Ramsi's was a small, hipster-ish joint with low ceilings and poor lighting.

But it's expanded twice since then -- obviously a good sign -- and serves all kinds. Its menu is far more diverse than the Louisville population, offering up nearly 30 entree items from almost as many countries.

The best part of my visit Sunday, however, was the friendly bartender who confessed the Korean Beef Tips dinner wasn't the heartiest of servings. So I ordered the Shanghai Stir Fry instead.

Much like the fish tacos I ordered at El Mundo the night before, the stir fry was pretty bland. The black bean sauce was drizzled in far too conservatively. When the bartender agreed and retrieved an extra side of it, I was nearly half done with my meal that was quickly getting cold. It was a sizeable portion, so I filled up on chicken, rice and nutritious vegetables, but hey, I'm on vacation. I'm not thinking about health. I want delicious creams and sauces.

Pat ordered the fish tacos and seemed to enjoy them. That plate was way heartier than the fish tacos I didn't really enjoy at El Mundo. So far I'm 0-for-2 eating dinner out in Louisville. At least I had some Graeter's Black Raspberry Chip ice cream waiting in the freezer for me when I got back home.


Review-isville: El Mundo

Kentucky Derby

One Great Season

Whether you're a first-time visitor to Louisville or returning for a two-week stay like I am, El Mundo is a culinary staple that shouldn't be missed in the Derby City.

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I hadn't eaten at the Frankfort Avenue joint often in my four years living there, but I do recall an enjoyable dinner on each of those precious few occasions.

Saturday night, however, delivered a fairly mediocre plate of fish tacos. I know the cod is universally pretty bland in such an entree, but most places drop in some seasoning. At El Mundo, however, the surrounding beans and rice served as a stand-in for the flavor that was otherwise absent from the plate.

At least the mojito was pretty good.

Pat, on the other hand, said he was pretty impressed with the chile relleno, so order that before the fish tacos, especially if you can handle some spice.


March Adness: Cheers To Dos Equis

If you're like us, you've probably got some opinions on the many commercials you absorbed (or ignored) in front of your television or computer watching the NCAA Tournament all weekend. That's why we thought we'd take a different route today and have once again asked Steve Susi, founder of branding consultancy Brand Spanking New York, to chime in with his thoughts on a few of the ads aired/streamed the most often during those many (oh, so many) timeouts.

Special To One Great Season

Of course, we all know the Super Bowl is the holy grail of football, and — aside from the self-absorbed ad industry itself — probably the only time and place where advertising is legitimately included in the main event. But long after the cocktail flu kept you home that fateful following Monday has faded, the month of March belongs to the high-profile NCAA Basketball Tournament, which has in its own right become a hugely important vehicle on the media calendar. For advertisers with new creative seeking a "captive audience" (if that even exists anymore outside of a jail cell) of college-educated, 18-to-59 year-old men to show it to, these few weeks of Madness represent the first reason to live since Drew Brees shocked the world with his admission that he was going to Disneyworld.

Over the course of this frenetic weekend, here are the five spots which appeared to be in heaviest rotation and their requisite critiques

Dos Equis, "Snow Monkeys", "Lady Luck", "Ice Fishing" (Euro RSCG)
Courtesy of Euro here in New York, the latest ad flight of the “Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign from Dos Equis stands as one of the few beacons of creativity remaining, seemingly, on earth. Or at least the American TV ad landscape. His mother has a tattoo that reads "son." How much fun is it to handle this account? Must be great. Excellent scriptwriting (by now a constant), tasteful shooting, and A-plus editing render this marketing push the best in broadcast by far today. And what often goes uncelebrated in rare moments like these is how smart and gutsy the clients are. Talented creatives can be found in agencies all over the country (and world), but it’s only because of great clients that spots like these see the light of day. (Client-side marketing execs, this means you.)

Miller Lite "Love – L-L-Love" (DraftFCB)
In stark contrast to the above, this beer campaign succeeds only in its achievement of greater levels of embarrassment. Someone please tell me what DraftFCB and their clients at Miller Lite are thinking, assuming they are. We all know that it’s been the currency of beermakers for decades to prey on the young single guy’s inability to commit to relationships as fodder for their ads. But what research is showing men are now being forced to choose between the two? Not sure about your college, but in my experience, they were often found together in close quarters. Anyway the campaign isn’t funny, and worse, what the hell kind of alcoholic is your target that he’s ready to sacrifice his dog, mother, and okay-looking girlfriend for a bottle of see-thru beer? Bad, half-brained, insulting.

Southwest Airlines "Battle Cry" (GSD&M)
The Texan discount carrier is betting that the US traveler is so against bag fees that he'll select the friendly airline famous for it’s Cincinnati-Who-concert-bumrush-style seating process. That might be a stretch in my opinion, but whatever. What certainly will be a stretch is the public’s tolerance of seeing this spot 20 times every basketball game. The five-second shelf-life of the humor of outta-shape Joe Sixpacks removing their shirts to reveal “BAGS FLY FREE” painted across their collective chests is so predictable, but not insulting or anything like that. It’s just, now that ad inventory has plummeted throughout the TV world in favor of more digitally focused media budgets, the traditional advertisers left standing see their spots rotating over and over again during any given program, guaranteeing viewer fatigue and annoyance and multiplying exponentially its lack of surprise. This one included.

Capital One, "Ivan Brothers" (DDB Chicago)
“What’s in Your Mullet?” has to be one of the most universally despised campaigns in history. (The “Hands in Your Pocket” spot that ran in Canada is the high point, and the David Spade units were OK, I guess.) For nearly a decade we’ve been treated to nitwit dads and buffoon desert island castaways performing low-quality slapstick before delivering the same rhetorical question/tagline. (I’ll give them that, though — consistency is key to great branding; unfortunately for the world’s largest credit card issuer, so is interesting, relevant creative). But this new “Visigoths” push takes mediocrity to brand new heights of dumb. Our country is so litigious that no one can target anyone as the butt of a joke anymore because the client might be sued or flamed by some watchdog organization, so agencies are left to create stories around fictitious “people.” (See also Geico’s “Cavemen.”) Sure, this alleviates legal risk. But how much longer are we going to be subjected to these idiot Vikings (including Ogre from "Revenge of the Nerds") with Cockney accents putting change in their laptop disk drives, sniffing rental bowling shoes, putting a mace through the airport metal detector, bringing goats to the ski slope, and raising bearded children? Who wrote these things, seventh-graders? Enough already. I speak for the world when I beg of thee: please, please stop. With sprinkles on top.

HP, "Let’s Do Amazing" (72andSunny)
I want so badly for this new $40 million campaign for the computer giant from 72andSunny — a departure from HP's agency of record, San Francisco’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners — to be great, what with the casting of Kiwi comic genius Rhys Darby of "Flight Of the Conchords" and all, but they’ve underwhelmed. Smacking of Cisco’s current campaign, which uses Ellen Page to go around her hometown and explore the awe-inspiration that is Cisco, we see Darby barge in on Dr. Dre during a recording session, bumble with questions at a UPS facility, and touch things he shouldn’t in The Venetian’s security office. That’s it? Come on, guys. When the best bit you write in for a hilarious dude like Rhys is his little beat-boxish noises at the end of the Dre spot (which I do find genuinely funny), you’ve wasted a massive opportunity to separate yourself from other tech concerns like, lo and behold, Ellen and Cisco. I pray we see you flex your comedy-writing muscles (or let Darby do it) soon.

Be sure to give Susi a follow on Twitter. He's at @BrandSpankingNY.


One Great Dinner: Louisville's The Patron

One Great Season

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- I lived in Louisville two different times for a total of four years and somehow never heard about the restaurant that changed my life Wednesday night.

Well, it might not have changed my life, but it sure as hell made the evening quite memorable.

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I'd just chugged a bottle of wine with my old friend Diane at Prime in downtown Louisville. Afterward, at about 8:30 p.m., I was getting into my car and checking the Blackberry for the pizza joint near my boy Patrick's house, where I've been staying this week. I couldn't remember the name, but I asked a nice dude walking by and he reminded me that it's called Boombozz Pizza.

Tony Boombozz makes himself a delightful pizza indeed, one that I ordered many times when I lived in the Derby City back in the day.

But after William confirmed it was Boombozz, he offered up one more tip: that I should skip Boombozz and instead try having dinner directly across the street at The Patron, where his girlfriend Lauren was tending bar.

As soon as I sat down next to a friendly guy named Andrew, I knew the evening would be interesting. He took my card and said he'll check out the OGS project, then told me to peep his band, The Ringtones, whose site will be up later this week.

I ordered the salami pizza (pictured), which included local garlic, roasted red peppers, ricotta cheese, fresh thyme and balsamic marinara.

After I pounded all eight slices of the 12-inch pie, I asked to see the man responsible for all the belt-loosening carnage. Matt came out and thanked me for the compliments. I told him about my project, how it involves a lot of eating out, and that while I'm not a food writer, his pizza pie has turned me into one for at least a night.

I've lived in New York for 3+ years now, and folks there are pretty proud of the pizza. But what they're doing at The Patron is outstanding. Not only do Matt and the fellas in the kitchen kick it gourmet style, but the front-of-house staff was excellent as well. Most said hello and engaged in some friendly conversation. The dainty Lauren was pretty cool behind the bar, and even introduced me to another patron she knew was like me, in town from Brooklyn. Dean disagreed with my take that New Yorkers are unfriendly, but I didn't listen to his logic. I was busy staring at his friend Sarah with an H.

As I was getting ready to pay the bill, Matt came out with a nice surprise: two scoops of home-made ice cream (pictured) made from fresh, blood-red, end-of-the-season peaches. That shit was the bomb yo.

I shouldn't forget to mention the $1 PBR I enjoyed with dinner, after which I walked around and said hello to a few patrons and self-promoted the OGS tip.

Like I said, I'm not a food writer, but some experiences just make you want to try something you don't normally do, like ask to meet the guy who made your wonderful dinner and wander around an unfamiliar place all alone, introducing yourself to others because you just don't want to leave.