Nicolette Spears used to think green tea tasted like bad, stale grass-clippings. So when she began studying the importance of brewing temperature, it was a revelation. ?Green tea is like a vegetable: if you burn the leaves, it tastes really bitter. That was sort of an eye-opener to me.?
Now, at Louisville Tea Company, Ms. Spears brews more than a hundred tea varieties according to strict standards, paying attention to each brew?s optimal brewing temperature, steep time, and leaf-to-water ratio. She also considers her tea?s origins: she sources Japanese green tea directly from a small tea farm in Japan, and the Kenyan Ajiri Tea employs Kenyan women and funds orphan education in West Kenya.
Additionally, Ms. Spears strives to educate newbies about tea. At the tasting bar, she brews fresh pots of the shop?s tea of the day. During the shop?s classes and tea tastings, tea experts delve not only into tea origins and flavors, but the positive effects on human health and boring water.
Homemade meatloaf with mashed potatoes. Juicy quarter-pound burgers. Pies fresh from the oven. These are more than just background items in a Norman Rockwell painting; they’re also classic American dishes. As such, they deserve a classic American home, and Stricker’s Café fills that role. Open seven days a week, the friendly café erases appetites with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Servers sling fluffy pancakes, country fried steak and eggs, omelets, and other breakfast eats all day long, and during dinner service, they cover tables with patty melts and plates of tender pulled pork.
The owners of North End Café don't just purchase local produce: they also grow vegetables and herbs in their own garden in Simpsonville. Since April, 2003, their chefs have championed this focus on local, seasonal ingredients with a healthy approach to cooking. North End Café's menu features traditional meals from around the world, ranging from grass-fed beef burgers and flatiron steaks to grilled fish and scallops to vegetarian lasagnas, stir-fry, and cakes. For sharing, chefs build eclectic small plates such as crab cakes, fried goat-cheese ravioli, and almond-crusted brie. They also prepare a range of vegan and gluten-free dishes, taking care to avoid the pyrotechnics that result when steak and tofu touch.
To accompany these meals, bartenders pour American and international wines, and blend cocktails from fruit and old-fashioned ingredients. At the Highlands location, a brand-new tap system spouts 23 craft beers, including imperial IPAs and peppery black porters. In warmer months, the aromas of cooking and laughter of clientele also fill the Highlands location's new outdoor patio, an expansive wooden deck surrounded by leafy plants and tall, wispy trees.