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Rendering of Union Common, the new restaurant Louisville-based DC Management has planned for Nashville

DC Management prepares to open Union Common in Nashville: Why the mention of a Nashville restaurant in a Louisville scene roundup? Because DC Management is the same group that owns Doc Crow’s and La Coop, and we cheer on the home team wherever they go.

Restaurateurs Steven and Michael Ton, master sommelier Brett Davis, attorney Chip Hamm and their corporate chef Bobby Benjamin have released artist’s renderings of their new steak and small plates concept located at 1929 Broadway in the city’s Midtown neighborhood.

Rendering of the exterior
Rendering of the exterior

According to a news release, Union Common will focus on shared plates including bar snacks, fresh seafood and aged steaks paired with an extensive wine and whiskey list for lunch and dinner seven days a week. The 125-seat social concept steakhouse is built around easy sharing and group dining allowing guests to customize a meal to their cravings.

The effort is a bit of a homecoming for Benjamin and Davis. Benjamin cooked at two prominent Nashville restaurants, The Capitol Grille and Flyte, and Davis is an east Tennessee native.

“We think the dining experience should be like a ‘Choose your own adventure’ book,” Benjamin said in the release. “You can start with something small and then decide if you want to make a big meal out of it or just share a few bites with friends without any restraints.”

Looks cool in the pics, right?

Taco truckin’ this spring: Warm weather has the food truck scene revving back to life and with some new feeders entering the mix. Trucks for Bahn Mi Hero (Asian fusion tacos) and El Taco Luchador (Latin tacos taken to another level) are under assembly and expected to roll soon.

Ellen Gill fundraiserFundraiser for Ellen: Ellen Gill McCarty isn’t the highest profile chef in the Louisville area, but the executive chef at Science Hill Inn is one of the most beloved among her peers. Ask anyone of her kitchen buddies to describe her, and they’ll say, “She’s a sweetie.” And a talented cook.

The daughter of Science Hill owners Terry and Donna Gill, 48-year-old Ellen is a mother of two whose husband died two years ago, and now she’s battling cancer. Big battle.

Following radiation, she recently had major surgery to remove an ovarian tumor and now she’s preparing for chemo.

Medical bills are mounting and her friends are rallying to help. On May 17 during the annual summer Bardstown Bound, BoomBozz Highlands Taphouse is hosting a fundraiser for Ellen from 1-4 p.m. So there’s your excuse to put that beachwear diet on hold to eat pizza and drink beer for a great cause.

Dining under the stars in Derby Week: We love our bourbon, but we’re also fine with wine during Derby, particularly during the two-day WineFest on the Belvedere, April 29-30.

On Tuesday the 29th, the event includes a farm-to-table dinner presented by Harvest Restaurant from 6-8 p.m. Eighty percent of the meal’s ingredients will be sourced locally from farms within a 100-mile radius, and all wine pairings will be served courtesy of Old 502 Winery, the state’s only urban winery.

The meal costs $85 per person, but that also includes your admission to WineFest, which costs $40 and comes with several sampling tickets.

Here’s the menu:

  • First course: VanMeter Family Farms strawberry salad, Kenny’s awe brie, strawberry powder, strawberry-basil vinaigrette, granola, strawberry gastrique and pickled strawberry relish
  • Second course: chilled green goddess soup, crispy country ham, chive blossoms, lemon cream and a crispy pasta chip
  • Third course: Stone Cross Farms smoked and braised beef brisket, beet hot sauce, bacon 5 way baked beans, spicy slaw and crispy onions (vegetarian option on request)
  • Fourth course: dessert to be served by Jackknife Café

Click here for more info on tickets.

Varanese-logHardcore Derby night partying at Varanese! This Derby marks the 28th annual Billy’s Burger Bash, surely the latest party to get started on Derby night in Louisville.

Billy Rapaport, the Emmy-winning freelance field producer of NBC’s Derby Day coverage, started the party years ago at Zena’s when he sought a place to host his media buddies for a good time after the end of their grueling week of work. When he learned the kitchen was closing, the endlessly energetic Rapaport asked Zena’s owners to let him do the cooking. They agreed (surely the actual response was, “What the hell. If you want, have at it. I’m gonna sit down and watch.”) and a tradition was born.

When Zena’s closed several years ago, Rapaport asked his friend, John Varanese (Rapaport, who travels extensively, has a home in Crescent Hill), if he’d host the party. Even for the tack-sharp Rapaport, this was a dumb question. If Johnny V. can throw a good party and sell some inventory in the process, he’s in.

So Billy’s Burger Bash lives on, and the party—which is becoming the stuff of legend—begins at Varanese Derby night at 11 p.m. and runs into the wee hours of Sunday, May 4.

The free event—seriously, no cover on Derby night!—includes live entertainment from Lamont Gillispie and 100 Proof, dancing, drink specials, and a simple, late-night menu of appetizers, bar bites, burgers and fries.

Want more info? Call 502-899-9904 or email [email protected].

The evolution continues: Just this week, the new operators of The Brewery (426 Baxter Ave.) have posted new lunch and dinner menus. I had dinner there last week, and trust me, it’s strange to eat food that great in that watering-hole setting. Shawn Ward’s kitchen is on it.

Come July, the restaurant—now operated by Ward, formerly of Jack Fry’s, along with Dean Corbett and others—will be renamed Junction 426.

Grind Burger Kitchen closer to opening: Its owners posted on Facebook recently that they passed their health board inspection.

Yay! Nice. We know we won’t be poisoned there, but, dang it, if the doors aren’t open yet, there’s no risk of that anyway, right?

Official statement from owners Jesse and Liz Huot: “Getting closer, guys. Opening date coming soon-ish.” That’s good enough news.

Rye’s Back Porch summer sessions return: Well, actually earlier than summer; the free concert series begins Thursday, May 15, and will run each third Thursday through July, before ending with a special Saturday, Sept. 27, event. Featured acts are up-and-comers from the Louisville-area music scene, including The Love Language, which is featured opening night.

Of course, every Back Porch Session includes access to Rye’s great food and drink.

Need a Derby hostess gift? Consider dropping by Westport Whiskey & Wine (1115 Herr Lane, Suite 140) today from 4:30-8 p.m. (we know, short notice, sorry) for the Angel’s Envy Bottle Engraving & Tasting. Cool idea for Derby guests or hosts/hostesses or new college graduates. Tastes of this excellent bourbon are $3, but if you pony up the dough for a bottle of the pricey potion, the engraving is free.

Makers_Mark_Mint_JulepDrink Maker’s Mark mint juleps to help APRON: Yeah, we know, this should be called the “drink for a cause blog,” but tis the season. Marker’s Mark Bourbon has been super generous of late in sponsoring APRON events. The group is a local restaurant-and-bar-centered organization that provides financial assistance to local foodservice workers and families facing financial hardship.

From now until quantities run out, you can get a classic version of a mint julep served in special Maker’s Mark julep cup at Bistro 1860, Bourbons Bistro, Café Lou Lou, Down One Bourbon Bar & Restaurant, Equus and Jack’s Lounge, Sidebar at Whiskey Row, Varanese and Village Anchor Pub & Roost. Restaurants will determine their prices, but according to APRON’s Facebook page, expect it to cost around $25.

Claim one for yourself, you keep the cup, and all proceeds from the sale go to APRON.

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Steve Coomes
Steve Coomes is a restaurant veteran turned award-winning food, spirits and travel writer. In his 24-year career, he has edited and written for multiple national trade and consumer publications including Nation's Restaurant News and Southern Living. He is a feature writer for Louisville magazine, Edible Louisville & The Bluegrass and Food & Dining Magazine. The author of two books, "Country Ham: A Southern Tradition of Hogs, Salt & Smoke," and the "Home Distiller's Guide to Spirits," he also serves as a ghostwriter for multiple clients.

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