Louisville Magazine

MAR 2012

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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If You Go Rye, 900 E. Market St., 749-6200. 5 p.m. to midnight Tuesday through Thursday and 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. a more traditional dining room with ban- quettes, tables and a great view of the open kitchen. Tere's an extensive cocktail menu, which general manager Erin MacDonald de- scribes as "an extension of our kitchen." Says Morris: "Tere is a conscious decision to have the bar and kitchen complement each another and work with our seasonal menu." A "Rock 'N Rye" (Bulleit Rye whiskey, rock-candy syrup, orange, lime and blood-orange bitters, $9) certainly was sweet enough for dessert. My "Kentucky Breakfast" (a $9 drink with bacon-infused bourbon) could have used a bit more bacon flavor. Rye's sea urchin chowder ($15) was a chunky and creamy delight rocking with ba- con as a backbeat to its funky tang of fatty urchin, with crisp and salty sea beans adding tart, sassy percussion. I would gladly have it on every visit, but of course on a subsequent trip it was nowhere to be found. Whether a victim of quality control or just Morris' vicis- situde, my new, non-Rasta companion and I found an admirable substitute in a plate of Texas shrimp ($10), spicy with romesco and a cumin marinade. Ten a magnificent Milanese pork chop ($18) superseded the sea urchin in my quickly developing pantheon of Rye favorites. Pound- ed for tenderness instead of circumference (are you listening, Hoosiers?), the panko-crisp pork chop arrived wonderfully sauced with lemon and capers. On each visit, I have discovered so much to like about Rye's food: A soft-poached egg with ricotta and broccoli raab ($10), delicate- ly combining bitter and unctuous, crisp and cream. Te brown skin on a tender, spicy and smoky half chicken ($18) crackled with each bite. A not-for-the-faint-of-heart head cheese terrine ($6) offered gelatin-laden goodness for spreading on Blue Dog bread. I wince at the irony, then, of my disap- pointment with the rye bread on the smoked pastrami sandwich ($11). Te hand-sliced, house-cured beef was delicious — smoky, fatty and just a bit hand-carved chewy — but the bread was dry and tasteless, too fragile for the hearty meat and spicy mustard. Trager- Kusman tells me the bread comes from Katz's, the famed New York deli, but I'd take more of the vinegary and salty homemade pickles over the thin, tough, flown-from-New York slices any day. But, really, why worry? Both the pastrami and the bad bread were gone, man — just gone. Rye's desserts, like everything, seem to reflect the chefs' improvisational whims. A sticky toffee sweet-potato spoon bread ($9) was a darkly torched, nut-studded mound on one visit, a delicate pudding decorated with sliced toffee candy on the next. Whatever — f**k predictability. Just go to Rye and see what's cooking. Q 3.12 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE [107] A Rye sampler: A seasonal salad of kale, roasted squash, feta cheese and toasted pumpkin seeds (top right), an octopus salad with fingerling potatoes and cipollini (left), and spice- roasted chicken with northern beans and arugula pesto.

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