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Restaurant Roundup: Wick’s closes, Grind update, Lou-Originals still suing, Wild Rita’s lunching…

by Steve Coomes

event_139706392Wick’s Pizza J-Town closed: The Wick’s Pizza Parlor in the Ramada Plaza (9700 Bluegrass Pkwy.) is closed.

“Yeah, we did that a couple of weeks ago,” said co-owner Michael Wickliffe. “The hotel wants to put in a sports bar, and it was a good time for us to move out.”

Why? Because the underperforming store also pulled delivery orders from his stores on Shelbyville Road and on Goose Creek. Save for the ongoing rotten weather, all four remaining stores, including the one in the Highlands and the newest in New Albany, are doing just fine.

“The weather’s hurt everybody; it’s really sucked,” he said. “Plus, everybody’s got a pizza shop today, and there’s more coming. But what do you do? We’re still doing good.”

First, there was a truck: Grind Burger prepares to open brick-and-mortar store

First, there was a truck: Grind Burger prepares to open brick-and-mortar store

The name will be Grind Burger Kitchen. That’s according to Grind Gourmet Burger Truck owners Jesse and Liz Huot. We ran into the couple at Wednesday night’s Great Flood Brewing Co.’s pre-opening.

“We’re really hoping to get it open soon, but we hate saying when until we’re sure,” Liz Huot said. “It doesn’t make customers too happy to tell them one thing and then we don’t do it.”

She gave me an approximate date, but I promised not to share it. Well, I’ll at least say it’ll be warmer than it is today. Hopefully. Back off, Polar Vortex!

The good news is residents in their neighborhood (3311 Preston Hwy., at the edge of Audubon Park) have shared their excitement for “something other than fast food coming here,” Jesse Huot said. “There are two Taco Bells near us! … People want good quality food.”

3294_92878812754_92878337754_2454698_6808936_a_mediumLe Gallo Rosso for sale: The homey Highlands Italian restaurant that served really good food that too few people know about is for sale for $149,000 including FF&E (industry argot for food, fixtures and equipment).

That’s a dandy location (1325 Bardstown Road) for operators who want to make it their own. And judging by the low price, the FF&E needs some TLC.

It’ll be interesting to see who bites, and it’ll be really interesting to see what a new restaurateur might do with the B&B connection it has to The Roost, the two-suite mini-hotel right behind the restaurant.

Wild Rita’s now open for lunch: Same menu, same prices, all day long. New hours: Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday: 11 a.m.-midnight, Saturday, 4 p.m.-midnight., Sunday, 4-9 p.m. Happy hour is Monday-Friday, 4-7 p.m. Good excuse to invent the three-margarita lunch!

twitter_photoA smokin’-cold Oaks party at the Ice House: Here’s a new party to consider for Derby Week. The Ice House will shut down East Washington Street on Friday, May 2, from 7 p.m. to midnight for its Oaks and Smokes Derby Eve gala.

According to a news release, “Crushed Ice Events executive chef Laurence Agnew’s signature Kentucky inspired dishes and drinks will pair with cigars and live music for one of the best places to enjoy an outdoor Derby celebration away from Churchill Downs.”

I toured the facility recently, and it’s a beautiful, contemporary space. Were I planning a wedding (and I’m not, honey, I promise you’re still the one!), I’d have it there.

Tickets are $125 per person, which includes food, entertainment and one cigar. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit oaksandsmokes.com or call 502-894-9999.

More TV for Chef Lee: Edward Lee, chef-co-owner of 610 Magnolia and MilkWood, will be featured on the PBS show, Mind of a Chef on September 6. Not much known about this episode (you can see all past shows online, and they’re brilliant), but you can see the trailer by clicking here.

Louisville Originals lawsuit still not settled: A year after we reported that Louisville Originals is suing its former treasurer, Pabs Sembillo, for allegedly embezzling more than $40,000, the case is still ongoing.

Attorney Artie McLaughlin told me recently that Sembillo (co-owner of Asiatique) started off cooperating in the case but has since gone incommunicado on the matter.

In a recent conversation I had with former Louisville Originals president Maggie de la Torre, she told me she expected it would be settled by now, and that Sembillo’s reluctance to cooperate has surprised her.

“Our group has been very patient about this matter,” said De la Torre, co-owner of De La Torre’s Spanish Restaurant. After nearly 26 years in operation, she and husband Miguel are retiring and closing their restaurant April 10. “This issue has gone on too long, and it never should have happened in the first place. It’s made us all very sad.”

index-heroYum! Brands births Super Chix concept: Nope, that’s not misspelled, it’s not a new competitor to Hooters, and it’s not a TV show knock off of Charlie’s Angels. Super Chix is a chicken sandwich concept under test in Arlington, Texas, that bills itself as “the last true chicken sandwich.”

Hmm. What? Maybe the last true chicken sandwich entered into the fight.

I must say, though, the picture on the website of a pickle-layered chicken sandwich and fresh-cut fries looks muy delicioso and super chickalicious.

Some analysts suspect the test could one day become a competitor for Chick-fil-A.

Wow. Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves here, especially since there are 80 Chick-fil-A restaurants in Super Chix’s DMA, and especially since Chick-fil-A has more sales than KFC.

Yum is calling Super Chix an “innovation incubator,” which, if proven viable, will go to international markets.

Tale of the Horse cocktail contest results: I had the oh-so-tough duty of helping judge the Tale of the Horse cocktail challenge at Varanese earlier this week. Of 10 entries put forth, the list below features the top two voted on by our foursome, and their recipes. We figured you could use some fun drinks to make for your Derby guests. Or, well, tonight, if you’re ready. Which we know you are.

1st Place: “The Starting Gun” by Isaac Fox, Volare

1 ½ oz. strawberry-infused Farmer’s Gin
1 oz. ginger-mint syrup
1/3 oz. fresh lemon juice
2 scoops lemon sorbet
1 oz. egg whites
2 dashes Bittermen’s Hopped Grapefruit Bitters
2 oz. Champagne or dry Prosecco

Blend all ingredients except Champagne in a blender. Pour 2 oz. Champagne into Martini Glass. Fill will blended cocktail. Garnish with strawberry, mint sprig, and a dash of grapefruit bitters.

2nd Place: “Steady Bob’s Honey Mint Julep” by Charles French, Dittos Grille

Mint
Mint-infused local honey (made into syrup, see below)
Woodford Reserve Bourbon
Honeycomb

I asked French about this recipe, and here’s my distillation of what he said:

Place ½ cup honey in small saucepan and add about ¼ cup of fresh mint leaves. Warm mixture to 150 F over very low heat. (Don’t get too hot or honey will crystalize.)

Remove from heat and let cool slightly about 1 hour.

Add ¼ cup cold water to mix and stir; strain out mint leaves and pour mixture into a bottle. Chill in the fridge.

To make the drink: In a rocks glass, muddle together about four fresh mint leaves and 1 teaspoon minted syrup. Add ice, filling the glass about 2/3 full, followed by 1 tablespoon (more if you like it sweet) of minted syrup and 2 ounces of a high-rye bourbon (Woodford’s high-rye profile makes it a good choice for this).

Stir with bar spoon until icy cold. Garnish with mint sprig and small square of local honeycomb on a skewer or bar straw.

FWIW, this was my favorite of the lot. Simple and really flavorful, a great twist on the traditional mint julep.

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