Just a dash of Wild Ginger…

Wild Ginger
Wild Ginger, Louisville, Kentucky

As a vegetarian, one of the most complimentary cuisines out there is Asian food.  Most of it is centered around rice, tofu, and all those delicious spices and seasonings.  And the best part about Asian cuisine…it never tastes the same at every restaurant.  Each place has its own take and its own flare to add to a dish.  Even the most basic of dishes can turn into a gastronomic masterpiece.

Fresh off of one of the finest sushi bars and Asian restaurants I had eaten at, a good friend of mine chose an Asian fusion restaurant on Bardstown Road in Louisville, Kentucky, for her birthday lunch.  We met outside the restaurant just as it opened and were the first customers of the day at this beautiful establishment. 

Beautiful is not an understatement.  The sushi bar is beautifully arranged and the first thing you see as you enter the building.  The waitresses seated us at a table in the back and gave us time to browse the menu.  My friend’s mom insisted on sushi, but this place did not offer a vegetable roll.  Too bad, really.  But the sushi was a huge hit with everyone at the table.  My roommate preferred the California roll over those with more of a fishy taste.  And she was dared to try one of the rolls with the fish over the top, and took the challenge.  While she didn’t like it, she polished off that roll.  It wasn’t a reflection of the food.  Sushi just isn’t her thing.  Everyone else enjoyed the various rolls down to the very last bite, polishing it off.

House Salad with Ginger Dressing
Wild Ginger's House Salad with Ginger Dressing

For the entrée, I chose to order the Crispy Tofu Sichuan Style, which consisted of lightly fried tofu with garlic, ginger, spicy soy, and a touch of Asian vinaigrette reduction over sautéed Chinese greens and Goji berries.  It was served with a choice of the house salad or their soup.  I opted for the house salad topped with ginger dressing.

The salad arrived and it was delicious.  The dressing was light and seasoned just right.  It didn’t overpower the vegetables, and it stood out.  It was different from every other dressing I had on a salad.  And that, alone, would make me order it again with my next meal here.  Very delicious!

The Crispy Tofu Sichuan Style was beyond delicious.  It was fantastic.  The tofu was crispy on the outside, but melt-in-your-mouth on the inside.  It was the perfect texture.  Not only that, it was cooked properly and seasoned to perfection.  Tofu can be tricky, but Wild Ginger does it right and does it well.  The sauce served with the meal was fantastic.  The right amount of seasoning so that the food popped with flavor with every bite, and didn’t taste bland.  It was fantastic.

If not for the decision of my friend to eat here, I probably never would have entered Wild Ginger.  But now that I have…and now that I have sampled a bit of what their menu offers, I honestly can’t wait to go back and try something else.  While their menu doesn’t have as many vegetarian choices, the ones they offer sound delicious.  And I can’t wait to get back again and again and try every single one.  If they are as good as the meal I had the first time, then they’ve won a new regular customer.

My recommendation if you find yourself on Bardstown Road in Louisville, Kentucky…forgo some of the pizza places, the bars, and the fast-food joints and give Wild Ginger’s Asian fusion menu a whirl.  You won’t be disappointed.

Crispy Tofu Sichuan Style
Wild Ginger's Crispy Tofu, Sichuan Style

A little taste of Beijing…

Beijing Grill & Sushi Bar, Sellersburg, Indiana

I love Asian food.  Seriously…LOVE it.  Every kind of it.  Which is why when a little gem of a place like Beijing comes around, my foodie self rejoices!

Beijing Grill & Sushi Bar, at first glance, would seem like something that would be fighting to survive on Gordon Ramsay’s “Kitchen Nightmares.”  Not that the place is a mess.  It’s not.  In fact, it is immaculate.  What worries me about this restaurant is, every time I’ve been in there, no one else has been.  It’s so quiet.  It’s so…empty.  And that is truly a sad thing.

Located in Sellersburg, Indiana, Beijing offers a fantastic menu consisting of Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese food.  In addition, they have one of the best sushi bars I have ever been to.  Seriously.  The woman who makes their sushi is a master and no other sushi has come to live up to the standards of hers.  It is, without a doubt, the best sushi outside of Japan.

I went to Beijing on St. Patrick’s Day.  I love Irish pubs, but not on thatcommercialized Irish holiday.  So, instead I went to a bar – a sushi bar.  And it was just what I needed that day.

Vegetable Sushi Roll
Beijing's Vegetable Sushi Roll

To begin my meal, I ordered a Vegetable Sushi Roll off the sushi menu.  It was delicious.  And they don’t skimp on the size either.  Most sushi establishments give you tiny slices of a small roll.  Not at Beijing.  You get a large roll, sliced into 5-8 pieces.  Each bite is delicious.  While eating it, the woman who makes them came over to see if we got the vegetable one because we don’t eat meat.  My roommate does eat meat, but I said that I did not and she said next time she could make it with apple or whatever I wanted in it.  Now, name another place where they will personalize a sushi roll to your taste?  Regardless, the one she made was delicious and I ate most of it as my roommate was sampling their egg rolls off the appetizer menu.

For my entree, I wanted to try something different.  Previously I had ordered off the Vietnamese menu…the Boom Cha Gio Vermicelli Bowl.  But since then I had become a vegetarian, so the spring rolls that were on that bowl were not going to work for me.  I opted to try something off their Chinese menu, deciding on the Spicy Eggplant and Tofu entree.  This was a simple roasted eggplant stirfried with fried tofu and topped with roasted sesame.  It looks a bit of a mess when it is set down in front of you, but the taste is exceptional.  Not even kidding.  The eggplant was roasted and marinated to perfection.  The tofu was done perfectly.  Despite the huge portion size and my indulging on the sushi roll prior, I ate every last bite of it.  Cleaned my plate completely.  Happily stuffed and in Asian food heaven.

Another thing to point out about this fantastic restaurant is that they can substitute tofu or mock chicken for almost any dish on their menu.  Talk about vegetarian friendly.  They also have a note on the menu that if you alert them to any food allergies, they will accomadate you and make sure you have a safe dining experience.

Honestly, if you like a variety of Asian foods, Beijing is the place to go.  The food has always been delicious.  The service is great.  And you feel like the people there really care about you and want you to have the best dining experience you can.  And that says a lot these days when most people think Asian food is always served buffet style, drenched in thick, fattening sauces, and over overcooked fried rice.  This is a refreshing change.  Freshly cooked food done perfectly to reflect the area of Asia it is derived from.

If you are in the Sellersburg area and want amazing sushi…or Asian food.  Go to Beijing.  Just go.  You can thank me later!

Spicy Eggplant & Tofu
Beijing's Spicy Eggplant and Tofu (Chinese Menu)

Mo’s leaves you wanting more!

Mo's Irish Pub
Mo's Irish Pub, Nobelsville, Indiana

There is a desparate need for Irish pubs in the United States that do not pride itself on displays of clovers and leprechauns.  It seems pubs in the States are all about Irish gimics instead of being, well, Irish.  Mo’s, however, is not one of those places.  In fact, Mo’s does Irish right and does it proud.

My first experience at a Mo’s was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin a couple years back when I was in town with my roommate and her mom to see Billy Joel.  We chose the pub as a place to eat dinner…fell in love with the ambiance, the drinks, the food…and the famous Mo’s Cookie (but more on that later!).

Mo's Basket of Fries
Mo's Basket of Fries

So, when one opened up in Nobelsville, Indiana…it was close enough to warrant giving the place another shot since Wisconsin’s was so great.  What I found, and appreciated, at Mo’s was not only a couple of vegetarian options, but also a gluten-free menu.  Since I recently had to go gluten-free, this was a blessing!  Even the chips (aka: fries, for those of you who don’t know the lingo), are made gluten-free.  This made for one very happy pub connoisseur!

While my roommate opted for her usual pub fare…fish and chips, and our friend Julia went for the soup and grilled cheese, I got a little creative with my order.  I ended up with a mish-mash of various items on the menu.  I ordered the Caprese Salad, a delicious mix of grape tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette.  It was SO good.  Along with that, I got a basket of fries, for the carbs (of course!), and their fresh fruit.  Every bit of it was delicious.  And I enjoyed the salad and fruit down to the last bite.  I left quite a few of the fries, but it was an entire basket of golden potato-y goodness that I enjoyed in moderation!

Mo's Cookie
Mo's Cookie (Trust me...you want one!)

But the most imporant part of the meal came at the end.  Ignoring my need to be gluten-free in honor of my roommate’s birthday, the three of us split the famous (and sinfully delicious) Mo’s Cookie…which consists of  a freshly baked (so it is hot and gooey) jumbo chocolate chip cookie topped with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup.  Oh yeah…it was worth every calorie and everything I had to deal with as a result of food allergies.  Yeah…it is thatgood, my friends!  Sometimes a splurge is worth it and this was one of those times!

So, if you find yourself near Indianapolis…venture to Nobelsville and check out Mo’s Irish Pub.  Feast on their versatile menu.  And, for God’s sake, go off your diet, forget calories, and get the damn cookie.  Because it’s worth it.  It is all worth it.
Mo's Caprese Salad with a side of fresh fruit
Mo's Caprese Salad with a side of fresh fruit

Basket Full of Goodies

Bread Basket Family Bakery
Bread Basket Family Bakery, Gahanna, Ohio

I absolutely love scones.  LOVE them.  So, when I went to visit a friend of mine in Columbus, Ohio, she mentioned a local bakery in Gahanna that had…scones.  So, it only seemed natural that I go and check them out.  I mean…scones for breakfast make any day better.  Mark my words.

So, we headed into Gahanna and dashed through the rain into Bread Basket Family Bakery.  Their mission: To make the best baked products possible. To serve our customers, our community, and our families to the best of our abilities.  Seems noble enough.  And, for a bakery that does everything…EVERYTHING…from scratch, well, it has to be good.

Myself and my two friends were set on scones, although contemplated a loaf of bread for a moment.  Realizing we had much to do before heading back home, we opted just for the breakfast.  Each of my friends got a chocolate chip scone.  I opted for the strawberry cream cheese scone.

The one thing I absolutely loved about this bakery was the glass walls.  Honestly, I could look back behind the counter and see the staff preparing the breads, the scones, the cakes…I could see it happening.  I could see how the food was prepared and the people who were making it.  No hidden kitchen in the back.  It was out there and it was fascinating.

With scones in hand, we headed out with great anticipation to dive into them.  I was informed the chocolate chip scones were awesome.  The chocolate chips just melted away as you popped bits into your mouth.  One of my friends got one with icing on it and she loved it.  My strawberry and cream cheese scone was good…but it didn’t wow me.  It might have been a texture thing.  That being said, it was good.  Delicious.  And, despite the very large size of the scone…I ate every last bite of it.  I kind of want to go back and try another kind…and maybe get some bread.

I’m very particular on scones.  When I travel overseas, it’s my go-to breakfast for the most part.  It’s filling, it’s delicious, it’s just…a warm piece of heaven that goes well with tea or coffee.  Yes…scones are amazing.  And the Bread Basket Family Bakery does a good job with their recipes.  Good enough that I really want to go back and have another one…

Strawberry Cream Cheese Scone
Strawberry Cream Cheese Scone from Bread Basket Family Bakery, Gahanna, Ohio

It was all about the cream puff…

Schmdit's Sausage Haus und Restaurant
Schmdit's Sausage Haus und Restaurant, Columbus, Ohio

I know what you’re thinking…

A sausage haus?  But…but…but you’re a vegetarian!

That’s right.  I am.  But this is Schmidt’s Sausage Haus und Restaurant in Columbus, Ohio.  After watching an episode of Man v. Food on Netflix one night, my roommate saw this place featured.  After Adam Richman’s suggestion that everyone try the Bahama Mama sausage, Schmidt’s signature one, she knew we had to go next time we were in town.  And, lucky us…we just happen to know people in Columbus.

Me?  I totally wanted one of their half-pound cream puffs.  Yes…you read that right…HALF A POUND OF CREAM PUFF!!  They are known for them and I can tell why.

We went early on a Friday night to Schmidt’s, knowing that it is a really busy place on weekends.  But, we got a table immediately and were given time to look over the menu before placing an order.  The waitress was informed of my vegetarianism and immediately began pointing out what on the menu could be done for a vegetarian, depending on how strict one is.  I am really strict when it comes to that, so anything with chicken broth was out, but there was still plenty out there.

Hot tea!
Hot tea at Schmidt's Sausage Haus und Restaurant. Love the science experiment look!

I opted on the appetizer of Pretzel Nuggets with a side of the Potato Pancakes und Apple Sauce.  To drink, I got the hot tea, which just happened to be served in what looked like a tube for a science experiment.  It was different…and I love different.

The food was amazing.  I absolutely fell iin love with the potato pancakes.  The pretzel nuggets were perfect…crispy and chewy.  The right texture.  And the apple sauce had so much fresh flavor…it was delicious.  I sampled a couple of sides from my roommate’s plate, as she opted for the big buffet, known as “The Autobahn.”  The macaroni and cheese was delicious!!  My roomate sampled a bit of everything…and the mild and hot versions of the signature Bahama Mama sausages, prefering the bite of the hot one to the mild.  It may have still had a bit too much spice as soon she was just mixing the sausage in with her macaroni and cheese, but I give major kudos to her for stepping out of her usual comfort zone and trying something different!

Pretzel Nuggets and Potato Pancakes und Apple Sauce
Schmdit's Pretzel Nuggets with a side of Potato Pancakes und Apple Sauce

And then came dessert.  The half pound cream puff.  As it wasn’t a Saturday or Sunday, we didn’t get the option for a specialty, but that was fine.  Our choices were vanilla, chocolate, and peanut butter.  My roommate went for chocolate.  I wanted the original.  The Vanilla Cream Puff. And when it was delivered…I was in dessert heaven.  No, I didn’t eat it all then.  I had maybe 1/3 of it and saved the rest of it for another time.  Rich.  Delicious.  Creamy.  The pastry was the perfect compliment to the creamy topping.  Half a pound of deliciousness.  I already crave another one.

So…if you find yourself passing through Columbus, Ohio and want to try out an awesome place to feast…check out Schmidt’s Sausage Haus und Restaurant.  It’s vegetarian friendly, despite it being meat-heavy and specializing in sausage.  And the food is far and away some of the best to be served up anywhere.

And…save room for that cream puff.  You know you want one!

Cream puff
Schmdit's Half Pound Vanilla Cream Puff. The original!

Oh, Mamacita!

Taco Mamacita
Taco Mamacita, Nashville, Tennessee

Sometimes, grabbing food on the road can be difficult when you are a vegetarian.  So many restaurants cater to the meat and potatoes crowd.  If you aren’t a carnivore, well, have a salad and, perhaps, some soup…if we’re featuring one without meat in it today.  Those soup of the day can be tricky as a lot of the cream-based one have cream of chicken soup in it anyway.  So…what is a vegetarian to do?

There are some cities in this world that offer up quite the offering for the meat-eaters and the vegetarians alike.  In Nashville, Tennessee, Taco Mamacita is one of those places.

Upon entering, it’s a friendly environment.  The staff is cheerful and helpful.  Drink orders are taken as you settle in, and when they are put on the table, you are asked if you’ve ever been there before.  Since neither my roommate or I had, our waiter was really quick to offer suggestions.  I love hearing what people who work there like to eat.  If it’s good enough for them, well…it’s gotta be good enough for the general public, and foodies like myself.

Of course, I threw the monkey wrench into the circuits with the declaration that, “I’m a vegetarian.”  Have no fear, my veggie-loving friends.  Taco Mamacita has its own vegan menu.  Not even kidding.  An entire menu with vegan selections, all of which made it very difficult to choose one thing to have.  In addition to that, they have gluten-free options as well.  Could this place get any better?

Chips & Salsa
Taco Mamacita's chips and salsa appetizer, Nashville, Tennessee

If the chips and salsa were any indication…yes.  Just enough spice to heat up the mouth without being uncomfortable, their salsa was the perfect consistency and the perfect heat.  And…was it ever delicious!

My roommate and I placed our orders.  She decided to start a Travel Channel war, and chose a pork taco, the Carnita, in honor of my chef hero, Anthony Bourdain, and a steak taco, the Royale, in honor of Adam Richman.  Her side?  The cilantro-spinach rice.  She really is branching out these days!

As for me, I ordered off the vegan menu, a delicious order of the vegan enchiladas.  These delicious treats are corn tortillas that were stuffed full of cilantro spinach rice, yellow corn, diced tomatoes, black beans and cilantro.  They were liberally doused in their homemade salsa verde.  They looked amazing when they came out.  They tasted even better.  I enjoyed every last bit…and splurged and got my favorite side with them – sweet potato fries.

Taco Mamacita is doing what more restaurants need to be doing.  They are catering to the average diner, but also have separate menus for vegetarians/vegans and those with a gluten intolerance.  What’s even better…they love it when these special cases come in.  They enthusiastically grab the alternate menu and begin to make suggestions for the new diner.  How awesome!

There are a lot of good restaurants in the Nashville area, but it’s going to be difficult to get me to go anywhere other than Taco Mamacita now.  They serve up delicious food on top of everything else.  It’s a place that needs to be on more people’s maps.  Especially if you are craving a taco…and not those fast-food Taco Bell ones either.  Real tacos.  Real food.  Really damn good.

Vegan Enchiladas
Vegan Enchiladas and Sweet Potato Fries at Taco Mamacita, Nashville, Tennessee

Little Italy, Big Yum

Joe's Italian
Joe's Italian, Alabaster, Alabama
When people think of Alabama, they think of barbecue, grits, okra, and maybe even collard greens.  None of which I would touch with a ten-foot pole.  Most people, when they travel through this state wouldn’t think they’d find this little gem of a restaurant, family owned, and operated, very Italian restaurant.  Authentic Italian.  Yes…here in Alabaster, Alabama.

I came to know about Joe’s Italian thanks to a good friend of mine who suggested it when I was home for the holidays one year.  He and his family went there for dinner with friends as they were passing through and they fell in love with the food.  I know why.  Family recipes, family operated, family oriented, good, old-fashioned authentic Italian food.  This isn’t Olive Garden or those chain Italian places.  No…this is the real deal.  This is the food that Giuseppe and Elvira Bertolone (Joe & Mamma) served when they opened up their first restaurant in California.  It’s a family tradition…and so is their food.

The menu is authentic Italian.  Pastas of every walk and flavor, paninis, soups, sandwiches, and yes…pizza!  And because it’s Italian, plenty of options for a vegetarian.  Always a plus!

Mamma's Cannoli
Mamma's Cannoli at Joe's Italian, Alabaster, Alabama

Every other time I visited, I have gotten the eggplant parmesan.  But I went for something different this time.  The Spaghetti Aglio, Olio and Peperonicino (which I ordered with mushrooms and broccoli) sounded like spicy Italian goodness.  I opted for the salad, rather than the soup, but my roommate ordered their tomato basil soup with her Tortellini al Pomodoro and I sampled it…delicious!  Their salad, crisp and fresh!

Portions are big so come with a big, hearty Italian appetite.  Savor the flavors, the atmosphere, the way the staff really wants to get to know you.  And when you fill up on their delicious food, find a little more room for one of Mamma’s famous desserts.  Keeping with tradition, we tried the cannoli…and it was different.  Not as good as the one I had back home, but it was good.  The prize however came on Mamma’s Sampler, a plate full of pieces of her homemade cakes.  The Strawberry Cake is her most famous and the most popular for a reason.  It was the most amazing cake I have ever had, and since I’m not big on cakes, that’s saying something.  I even had a second sampling of that one.

Mamma's Cake Sampler
Mamma's Cake Sampler at Joe's Italian, Alabaster, Alabama

Come hungry, leave full.  That’s a good Italian motto.  Even better…it’s a good Italian restaurant run by good people who really want to give you a good time and serve you a little bit of their history through their delicious food.

It doesn’t get any better than that.  And I’ll be hard-pressed to find a better Italian restaurant anywhere where the food and desserts can leave you as full and satisfied as the story and the people who operate, run, and serve you there.

A little bite of Italy with big taste in an unexpected location – Alabaster, Alabama.  It’s worth the trip.

Spaghetti Aglio, Olio and Peperonicino
Spaghetti Aglio, Olio and Peperonicino (with mushrooms & broccoli) at Joe's Italian, Alabaster, Alabama


Donut Joe's
Donut Joe's, Pelham, Alabama

In a world full of Dunkin’ Donuts and Krispy Kreme’s…it’s a donut eat doughnut world out there.  Everyone having their own claim to fame.  Everyone having their own gimmick.

So, what makes Donut Joe’s, located in Pelham, Alabama, so special?  I knew it had to be something when moments after pulling into the lot, it was filled and people were already streaming in.  It’s a crazy, fast-paced, donut world inside and you gotta be quick to get in on the sugary treats that await.

The best way to sample anything at Donut Joe’s is to make your own dozen.  It’s simple.  You just look through there selection and choose what looks good, sounds good, or just looks interesting.  I even treated myself to an entire order of their yeast donut holes.  Yes…an entire serving.  They melted the instant they hit my tongue.  That’s some good donuts!  My roommate tried one of their cinnamon twists, which I took a sample from and, hit-the-mark delicious.

I’m not the biggest donut eater.  While I love them, they tend to be overly sweet.  While these donuts, yes, do come frosted, glazed, and packed with sugar…they really are good.  In fact, on top of my order of a dozen donut holes, I also found one of the most delicious donuts I have ever had the chance to eat.  The blueberry donut – which was like eating a blueberry muffin…but taken to the next delicious level.  I wish we had more of them waiting downstairs with what remained of the leftovers.

If you are needing a delicious breakfast treat, and just happen to be passing through the Birmingham, Alabama area, take the time to sing by Donut Joe’s.  Treat yourself.  Indulge a little.  You only live once…might as well enjoy every cream-filled, glazed, frosted, cakey, delicious bite.

If you’re going for donuts…do it right.  Eat at Joe’s.  You won’t be disappointed.  Just on a bit of a sugar rush.  But every bite is worth it.  Every sugary bite.

A dozen donuts of yum
Donut Joe's dozen donuts

Sweet Home Alabama

The Depot
The Depot, Helena, Alabama

Nothing says “home” like a trip to The Depot, a little diner in between two railroad tracks in Helena, Alabama.  When I go home to visit my family, this is the place to eat.  The locals swear by it.  And there is a reason people come back over and over again.  Good, old-fashioned diner food in a really cool setting.

Bo Bice and my sister at The Depot
Bo Bice and my sister at The Depot, Helena, Alabama

Is The Depot a vegetarian-friendly place to eat?  No.  I’m pretty certain the grilled cheese is grilled on the same grill as the meat.  But…I’m a big fan of the BLT, no bacon, extra tomato, with the tater tots on the side.  Good, old-fashioned, Southern comfort diner food.  And my roommate, well, she goes there for the onion rings…hand battered, hot, big, and sweet.  They are fabulous.  The best around.  Their food is what you would expect of a “greasy spoon” kind of diner, but it’s what I love.  It’s the food I only wish small places where I lived served.

The atmosphere only lends to the food experience.   The people who work there get to know you…especially if you go there often.  They know your order before you place it.  For example, my brother-in-law LOVES the buffalo chicken tender meal.  It’s spicy.  It makes him cry, but he loves it.  And they know he wants it with extra ranch…because he also uses the dressing for his fries.  This is what I’m talking about.  Small town, big love, awesome food.

So…while very little on the menu could be served to me, a vegetarian…there is always something that can be made and just the onion rings or tater tots alone would be enough of a reason to stop in.  Oh yeah…home town restaurants outside of Birmingham, Alabama.  Good food, good service, good people…and most of all…more good times.

When I come in town…this is always my first stop and it always will be.  Vegetarian friendly or not…it’s my go-to hometown, favorite place to go when I’m with the family.  It’s like being at home…eating awesome comfort food…with good conversation over hot, hot onion rings and tater tots…and a sandwich of choice.

If you find yourself traveling through Birmingham…head to Helena, Alabama…go to The Depot…and taste the reason so many people continue to make this one of their traditions.

Including me.

Rovin’ Through Louisville…

The Irish Rover, Louisville, Kentucky
The Irish Rover, Louisville, Kentucky

So…here’s the deal.

My roommate loves fish and chips.  LOVES them.  If we go to an Irish pub, I already know what she’s going to order.  And we do love our Irish pubs.  Oh yes…yes we do.

Interesting thing with Irish pubs when it comes to this my eating habits at these establishments…as a vegetarian pub grub isn’t always the easiest thing to navigate around.  Honestly.  It’s greasy, it’s fried, and not every pub offers much in the line of foods for vegetarians.

But almost every pub has something, be it a burger, a sandwich, a pasta, or a wrap, that incorporates portabella mushrooms.  And that will do for this veggie-lovin’ girl!

We ventured off our normal pub routine in Louisville, deciding to give the others in the area a try.  After all, while we are quite happy with our ‘home’ pub, it’s always good to branch out and see what else the Louisville area has to offer in the line of Irish pubs and the food they serve.

The Irish Rover came recommended to me ages ago by a co-worker at a law firm I used to work at, so I finally made my way down there.  The building itself is just how I would picture a pub.  On the inside, upon entering, you have the definite pub atmosphere, greeted by a large, fully-stocked bar.  The tables are scored and scratched.  The floor is wooden and showing signs of wear.  Yes…this is a pub.

But the expanded rooms are not as dimly lit, and while the atmosphere is still pub-like, it’s a more family-friendly feel.  Not that it’s a bad thing…just not how I picture a pub.  But this blog isn’t a critique on architecture and interior design, so let’s get down to the nitty-gritty:  their food.

The Irish Rover offers up a good selection, better than most pubs, for vegetarians.  I had it down to a possible four choices: the Cashel Salad, consisting of lettuce, walnuts, Cashel blue cheese, cheddar cheese made near the Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary, Ireland, and dressed in a balsamic vinaigrette; the Veggie Gratin,  a mix of eggplant, portabella mushrooms and other in-season vegetables, baked in a curried tomato chutney and topped off with parmesan, all served with toasted foccacia;  the Veggie Sandwich, two thickly sliced pieces of homemade bread, filled with diced sautéed vegetables and melted cheddar cheese, served with a side of Irish chips; or the Portabella Sandwich, a large mushroom cap, topped with marinated, roasted red peppers and melted swiss cheese, served on a toasted bun with Dijon aioli and a side of Irish chips.

Homemade Bread at the Irish Rover, Louisville, Kentucky
Homemade white bread and Irish soda bread at the Irish Rover, Louisville, Kentucky

I love a good portabella sandwich, so I went with this option.  However, since my body tends to despise being filled with fried foods, I substituted a side of fresh fruit for the Irish chips.  And I got the Barry’s hot tea for my beverage.

While we waited for food, we were brought a basket of their homemade bread, a combination of white and soda bread.  I’m an Irish soda bread fiend, so I dove right in.  And it was good.  It was VERY good.  The white bread, while I only sampled a bite, was a bit sweet and still tasted of the yeast.  I wasn’t a fan of it.  And since I do bake my own breads, I can be a bit of a bread connoisseur and snob at times.  It just wasn’t to my taste.  But yes…more of that Irish soda bread, please!

The drinks and food arrived in good time.  The portion sizes actually weren’t overwhelming, as I find to be the case at a lot of pubs.  Everything was cooked to perfection, including my roommate’s fish, which fell apart when her fork would slice through it.

The portabella sandwich was good.  The Dijon aioli spread was quite tasty, and a nice touch to the sandwich as a whole.  The peppers grilled peppers and cheese worked well with the sweetness of the perfectly cooked portabella mushroom cap.  It was just releasing its juices, which made for a dripping mess.  But I eat these sandwiches with a fork and knife…always!  The fruit I was given was fresh, ripe, and so good.  I almost wanted to order another serving.  Everything tasted really, really good and I was quite happy with the service, as I was given refills on my hot tea whenever needed.

Barry's Tea at The Irish Rover, Louisville, Kentucky
A hot cup of Barry's Tea at the Irish Rover, Louisville, Kentucky
I do admit though, a lot of amusement was taken at watching my roommate tackle a pint of Guinness.  We had just watched an episode of No Reservations, where Anthony Bourdain went to Ireland.  He had Guinness everywhere…so she figured…maybe it tasted better with food.  She learned – it doesn’t.  But seeing the faces she made while trying to knock it back with her fish and chips did offer up a nice bit of entertainment that afternoon.

The Irish Rover in Louisville, Kentucky does offer up a great menu of great pub grub and a nice selection for those who go meatless.  That’s refreshing.  However, don’t go in there expecting a classic pub atmosphere.  What you find is more of a restaurant than pub.

And that’s okay…because their food comes with an Irish brogue and packed with flavor.  It’s authentic Irish…without the run-down appeal of a pub.  Great for a lunch out, but if you want to watch the rugby match choose your pub more wisely.

Come for the food and service…and you won’t be disappointed.

Portabella Sandwich at the Irish Rover, Louisville, Kentucky
Portabella Sandwich with a side of fresh fruit at the Irish Rover, Louisville, Kentucky