Since April, 2003, the chefs at North End Caf? have championed a focus on local, seasonal ingredients with a healthy approach to cooking. North End Caf?'s menu features traditional meals from around the world, ranging from grass-fed beef burgers and flatiron steaks to grilled fish and scallops to 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 outdoor deck, an expansive wooden patio surrounded by vines and flowers.
At Zen Garden, many of the Asian dishes sound familiar, with adjectives like "orange," "sweet ‘n’ sour," and "kung pao." However, rather than tossing chicken or beef in with these classic flavors, the kitchen has adopted a meat-free credo. Chefs mix masterfully seasoned bites of tofu and other meat alternatives with fresh veggies, creating entrees such as green beans stir-fried with mock duck and the barbecued-soy sandwich. Noodles tangle around shiitake mushrooms in both the udon-noodle soup and the shiitake mushroom lo mein, and curry sauce imbues eggplant and shredded tofu with a spicy kick. Guests can pair their meal with a cup of green tea, prepped hot, iced, or in its purest form: emeralds that have not yet been juiced.
When a bell tolls across Shelbyville, stomachs rumble. Hungry diners who follow the chime find themselves at Bell House Restaurant, a stately, recently renovated pink house where the centuries-old bell?originally part of the city's firehouse?faithfully heralds lunch and dinner each day. Once guests are inside, owner Sue Andriot or one of her experienced hosts cheerfully leads them to seats in one of the cavernous manor's four dining rooms. Sue and her husband, Bob, designed the restaurant's interior themselves, drawing from years of decorating experience to transform the rooms into rustic, Tuscan-style dining halls, where vibrant paintings speckle the walls and vases of fresh flowers sit on every table.
Once seated, dinner guests nibble freshly baked bread and sip glasses of fine wine while the aromas of rosemary, lemon, and garlic waft around them. In the kitchen, Executive Chef Tracy Gibson folds fresh ingredients into savory pasta and fine French- and Italian-inspired specialties. She extends her culinary expertise to American favorites such as the Cajun blackened chicken and Henry Bain pork. Seasonal flavors characterize the dessert menu, with warm apple cake making an appearance in the fall and cheesecake making an appearance when the moon explodes each summer.
Louisville’s own Courier-Journal likens the coziness of J. Harrod’s Restaurant to that of an “old-school suburban sanctuary”—an apt description, though the upscale eatery sidesteps clichéd décor for an elegant dining room that refuses to pander to nostalgia. Like the green plaid wallpaper and other subtle touches of décor, chef Jenny Ballard’s menu reflects a refined simplicity with its comforting dishes of boneless fried chicken, center-cut pork chops, and veal marsala. The kitchen’s five house-made dressings spruce up salads with recipes that represent America’s diverse culinary traditions, from a zesty peppercorn ranch to a dressing that boasts ingredients from each of our country’s 1,000 island territories. Waiters whisk dishes from the kitchen to large tables, whose polished surfaces are illuminated by the glow that emanates from a wood-paneled fireplace.
The menu at Life Bar is designed to keep bodies humming at optimal levels?whether increasing energy, shedding a few pounds, or looking for a vitamin boost. Starting with 100% plant-based super-food smoothies, staffers blend a healthful mix of coconut milk, raw honey, and all organic produce such as ginger and organic pineapple. Add on individual boosters for an extra kick of antioxidants, proteins, or vitamins; bee pollen to promote longevity; and hemp-seed protein to promote healthy cholesterol levels. Customers on the go may use the online app to pre-order drinks.