Sunday, April 17, 2011

Dragon King's Daughter

The Dragon King's Daughter from the parable in the Lotus Sutra is the first woman in Buddhism to attain enlightenment, and it's no surprise Toki Masubuchi picked it as the name of the restaurant she opened to serve as the international cousin to Maido, which has sushi only. She was seeking to open a spot with international offerings set off by a Japanese flare. We went tonight and were greeted by pleasant staff who seated us immediately, as it wasn't very crowded at 5 o'clock on a Sunday for an early dinner. Our waiter let us choose where to sit, and we opted for a table by the large open windows. We thought about sitting outside at one of the two patio tables on the sidewalk but wanted to get a good feel for the ambiance of the restaurant. We immediately agreed the atmosphere is relaxed and super-cool. Our server provided great, friendly service throughout. First, he brought us a bottle of water for the table with no ice, which Beth noted gave off a European feel. This impression also carries with it a pub-like vibe. With an array of boldly colored walls and a mix of different chairs, the decor was trendy without being pretentious. A series by a local artist was featured across the restaurant and was quite striking (see the photo). Our chairs were wooden and could have been a bit more comfortable, however, we noticed other tables had ones with cushioned seats. We should've traded up.

Michael was up for tacos, so that was a must, and we decided on the Ginger Chicken kind, which came with three soft corn tortillas filled with ginger sauteed chicken, diced and topped with green onions. Michael thought the green onions were a little scarce, but Beth had no complaints. A waitress Beth had there prior to tonight was very enthusiastic about suggesting the wasabi sour cream to go along with them. We were happy we took her tip, because we agreed this added the perfect blend of flavor, an overt spiced up kick to go along with the ginger. In fact, one might say this sauce will "knock your socks off"... or your pants, if you're feeling extra excited. It literally opened Beth's sinuses!! We had to get sushi too, because it's us, and we're the Holladays who need their sushi fix. We chose the Dippity, which included eight rolls of salmon topped with avocado and spicy crab and roasted garlic inside. Michael felt the garlic was a great flavor not found in most rolls and is just the right amount to provide a nice zest without assaulting the palate. We also ordered the Ace roll, a basic salmon, avocado, and cucumber mix. Light and cheap at only $6. And with 8 pieces! We specifically picked this to counteract all of the other spicy stuff we ordered, and this roll did the trick.

In our sushi experience in Louisville, we've both gathered that Maido and DKD feature rolls that are a bit different than the standard at other places. Seemingly fresher and lighter, the rolls that are the signatures of these two restaurants are simple rolls done right without all the fancy trappings other spots try to employ. We picked this spot for tonight, because of its unique diversity not found at any other Japanese place in town that we know of. If you want not only sushi, you can also get flat breads, quesidillas, and tacos.

The prices are pretty standard for a sushi place -- far cheaper than Sapporo and a little more expensive than Oishii -- with a range of $5 to $14, and the other meals don't exceed $10. The seasonal beer list is typical in terms of size, but provides a diverse selection, and some good craft local options too. Michael got a glass of wine, and the list is also good. He got the Seven Deadly Zins, an excellent Zinfandel he's been meaning to try. Other notably good brands were also included. Overall, we highly recommend the Dragon King's Daughter for those looking for some sushi and more!

Just remember at your next Holladay Platter, when you are being cornered by three of your great aunts who are hounding you with personal questions like, "Why are you still single?!?" and the only wine they have to take the edge off is white zin, you can always make a hasty escape with your bro/sis and enjoy a great meal. Until next time... live to eat!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Baxter Station

This past Saturday, we ventured to the Baxter Avenue area for a meal at Baxter Station. Located on 1201 Payne Street in a 100 year old tavern in historic Irish Hill, this cozy and eclectic bistro is truly one of Louisville's hidden gems. Upon entering, you might notice the black and white tiled floor, reminiscent of a 1950's diner seeming to immediately invite you in. The restaurant doesn't fail to live up to its title with a railway theme featuring an antique train whizzing around the edge of the ceiling. We requested a patio table, the waitress proceeded to lead us past the front dining room to a similar back dining area adorned with train photographs against choo choo train red walls, however in the narrow hallway in between, the tables featured quirky lounge-like chairs out of place with the other rustic wooden chairs and tables. She brought us to our table on the enclosed patio that rolls back for the warmer months. We agreed the patio offers a down home ambiance of Southern charm. Our good friend Meg who joined us shared that she felt like she was dining out in a friend's back yard. 

The atmosphere is so comfortable and saloon-like that one may think the menu would be limited to pub fare, when, in fact, it offers a much more gourmet selection. We thought about ordering the specials, which included the catch of the day, a grilled salmon fillet in a bourbon glaze or a cup of butternut and squash soup but decided against it. Instead, we were between the potato cakes, mussels, or shrimp and grits. Beth had previously sampled the shrimp and grits, and she liked what she tasted so much, she was tempted to give it another go. With a touch of jalapeno juices, she felt it offered just the right amount of spice with a great creamy texture to cool it down. We decided, instead, on the mussels, which was a mistake. All three of us agreed they were a bit mushy instead of steamed to a firmness, however the garlic-wine sauce soaking them provided a decent flavor. Meg went for her favorite there, the red beans and rice, which she whole-heatedly claims to be Louisville's best. They are unique in that the beans and rice are accompanied by a mix of zucchini and celery with the option of adding Andoli sausage for an even spicier kick. We split the Bourbon Fried Chicken and agreed the chicken breast was perfectly breaded. The juiciness of the chicken was present in every bite along with just enough of that crunch necessary in every fried chicken dish. The light bourbon glaze accented the tenderness of the meat well. It came with a side of mashed potatoes and vegetables, which were nothing special. Michael even poured some of the Bourbon glaze over to liven them up. 

Baxter Station offers quite an extensive Bourbon menu, as it is a member of the Urban Bourbon Trail. They run a special on Mondays for Bourbon flights, which Michael is tempted to hit up. Their tap offers 24 beers. The wine list offers 30 for under $30 and is much more helpful than most, denoting more descriptive categories ranging from "Rich and Full Bodied" to "Crisp and Refreshing," even recommending certain wines that go well with spicy foods or ones that are more supple. 

The menu is affordable enough if you're on a budget with prices ranging from $8 for appetizers and sandwiches to up to $20 for entrees with service that was, at times, on the slower end in our experience.  

And remember for your next Holladay platter, when Uncle Allen starts bringing up those awkward adolescent years when you still wanted to be the lead singer of [insert any embarassing 80's or 90's band here] in front of your new love interest, and all you want to do is grab a heaping glass of bourbon and egg nog and crawl under the table... there's always the option of dining out with your brother or sister. That's what we prefer. Until next time... live to eat!