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Decca to highlight Jay Denham’s Woodlands Pork

Pork celebrations continue unabated. Soon Cincinnati will have to surrender the title of “Porkopolis” if special pork parties continue–and they will.

The next such pig-centered shindig will be a Whole Hog Pig Pickin’ Wednesday, Oct. 22, at Decca, 812 E. Market St.  The pig will be a special one, one of Jay Denham’s heritage crosses raised on bottomlands planted in grains and squashes, and then finished in the surrounding West Virginia highlands on what Denham deems the world’s best mast forest–oak and hickory trees, persimmons and pawpaws, and plenty of delicious fungi and grubs in the understory, a feast that brings his pigs to the shambles burping with sloppy grins on their faces. Continue reading

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Pick 3 — Brazeiros Churrascaria Profile

The opening of Brazeiros, a traditional Brazilian churrascaria–or steakhouse–in the heart of downtown’s 4th Street Live is auspicious as Brazil expands its international profile with World Cup soccer and the 2016 Olympics. Taking over the space at 250 S. Fourth vacated by Quattro, Brazeiros brings to Louisville a unique dining experience from a country and culture that has a lot to offer.

Brazil, like America, is a geographically huge country which melds a diversity of cultures—Amerindian, European, African, even Middle Eastern and Asian, influences—into a culinary kaleidoscope. All are in rich display at Brazieros with its relaxed but elegant décor. Continue reading

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Pick 3 — The Joy Luck Profile

Joy Luck is a promising new venture at 1285 Bardstown Rd. (taking over the space vacated by Kashmir’s move), that exudes spirit and the vitality of a cross-generational collaboration. Alvin Lee wanted his parents Pauline and Fu Tsun Lee, who have extensive experience with restaurants in Tennessee and Kentucky (including the Asian Pearl in Louisville), to try something different. Alvin proposed the family go back to its roots in Taiwanese cuisine and present it in a modern setting coupled by an excellent craft cocktail program.

“There’s no gold and red. There’s no phoenix and dragon motif,” Alvin Lee said. referring to the clichés of Chinese restaurant decor. “What I wanted was what mom used to make for us at home, traditional Taiwanese comfort food. She would always be cooking up three or four dishes and I would always be bringing home four or five friends from school to enjoy it.” Continue reading

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Pick 3 — Wild Rita’s Profile

When Todd Blue needed someone to re-invent the 445 E. Market St. space once occupied by terrific restaurants like Primo and Mozz, he contacted an expert.

J.D. Rothberg, who made his mark in Louisville creating venues like Napa River Grill and, with partner Shane Hall, the very successful Wild Eggs, did not suggest repeating an earlier success but used the opportunity to develop a new dining experience—Wild Rita’s. Continue reading

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Menu revamp at La Coop

Chef Bobby Benjamin at La Coop: Bistro à Vins, 732 E. Market St., has introduced some menu changes. The newly added dishes focus more on seasonal produce, and several sharable are now available. One of Benjamin’s goals with the new menu is to craft a bit of Southern inspiration to the traditional  French cuisine-focus of his NuLu bistro.  The new menu items include starters of baked Boucheron cheese with tomato sauce, foraged mushrooms with Kentucky rose cheese and fig jus, and Brussels sprouts with pork belly, sorghum and Parmesan. Continue reading

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Bento box lunches in the Highlands

Wild Ginger, 1700 Bardstown Rd., is beginning a lunch service of bento boxes, the popular Asian multi-course packaged lunch to go.  The 11 selections include teriyaki California with chicken or shrimp teriyaki or beef bulgogi, Katsu bento with chicken, a 5-piece chef’s choice sashimi or sushi, and eel or salmon teriyaki — all served with 4 pieces of California roll; or a maki combo with California, spicy tuna and cucumber rolls, and a yum yum combo with yum um and spicy tuna rolls. Continue reading

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Vegetarian wine dinner at Mayan Cafe

Monday, Oct. 20 the Mayan Cafe, E. market St., will host a 3-course vegetarian dinner featuring the wines of Talley Vineyards, focusing on their Bishop’s Peak bottlings.

Brian Talley, owner and winemaker from Talley Vineyards, will not only be on hand to talk about his wines and winemaking philosophy, he will also bring  organic produce from his farm in California for the dinner Continue reading

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Just what everyone has been waiting for — a noodle shop!

Barely a week after a passel of Louisville chefs publicly voiced their longing for a good ramen-style noodle shop, Dustin Staggers, owner of the recently opened Roux and former executive chef at Monkey Wrench, has stepped up to the plate. His plans are to take over the space at 2009 Highland Ave. that most recently was Baby D’s Bagels & Deli, and, with partner Griffin Paulin, open Rumplings by early November. Continue reading

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Old Forester to return to Distillery Row

The block of W. Main St. known as Distillery Row for its historic connection to the history of Bourbon making in Louisville will be getting a new tenant, one that can give even greater bona fides to that re-development moniker. Brown-Forman Corp.  has announced that it will build an Old Forester distillery and visitor experience in two historic buildings at 117 and 119 W. Main St. Continue reading

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More pork hi-jinx in Butchertown

Copper and Kings, 1111 E. Washington St., will be the venue for the 2nd Annual Butchertown Porktoberfest, Friday, Oct. 10 from 5-10 p.m. There will be live music by Billy Goat Strut Revue, local brew from Apocalypse Brewery, cocktails from Copper & Kings, and food from more than 10 Louisville restaurants. (Vegetarian options also available.) Admission is free and food/beverage tickets will be sold, with all proceeds benefiting the Butchertown Neighborhood Association Inc. Continue reading

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The Bourbon Review lauds 8 Louisville bars

The Bourbon Review, a Lexington-based publication whose coverage is easily deduced from its name, has surveyed the country region by region to determine the 60 top bourbon bars nationwide. Eight of them are in Louisville, which is almost half of all the 18 cited places in the state of Kentucky. Four more are in Lexington.

The eight local establishments cited for the extent of their bourbon offerings and the knowledgeability of their bartending staff are Bourbons Bistro, Charr’d Bourbon Kitchen and Lounge at the Marriott East, Down One Bourbon Bar, Haymarket Whiskey Bar, Proof on Main, Silver Dollar, St. Charles Exchange, and The Monkey Wrench. Continue reading

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Two openings and two closings

After a fairly quick renovation of the space at 1702 Bardstown Rd., owners of Wild Eggs and Wild Rita’s, Shane Hall and J. D. Rotherburg , are scheduled to open Strati Wild Italian Sept. 29.  Wild Eggz Director of Marketing, Lauren Henson said in a press release,  “We really hope to open several. No one else is really doing fast-casual Italian and it’s great because the food isn’t necessarily heavy, it can be light and healthy.”

The menu will include things like chicken amore wrap, with grilled chicken, artichoke hearts, basil, dried tomatoes and red pepper ricotta; beef Gorgonzola cavatappi with roasted mushrooms and artichoke hearts; and shrimp scampi salad. Continue reading

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Roux shooting for Oct. 3 opening

Renovation is still under way, but co-owner and chef Dustin Staggers, who is doing a lot of the work himself, along with family and friends, is looking for an early October opening for his NOLA-influenced new restaurant, Roux. It will be at 1325 Bardstown Rd., in the space that until recently was La Gallo Rosso.

Staggers recently talked of starting work on another restaurant concept as soon as he gets Roux open and under way, but he was not more forthcoming about details, aside from a comment about planning a “fast casual” concept. Continue reading

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Restaurants join in IdeaFestival

IdeaFestival, the annual gathering of national and international Big Thinkers who present cutting-edge ideas in science, the arts and community design, will be joined this year by several area restaurants for the first Ideas Night Out on Thursday, Oct. 2. Attendees will have the opportunity to mingle at dinner with some of the week’s speakers.

The participating restaurants are Down One Bourbon Bar. Harvest, Hillbilly Tea, Lilly’s, Mayan Cafe, MilkWood, Napa River Grill, Rye on Market and  Vincenzo’s. Continue reading

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Cowboy Dinner at Bistro 1860

Thursday, Oct. 2, 6:30-9:30 p.m., Bistro 1860 Wine Bar, 1765 Mellwood Ave.,  will celebrate Cowboy Month with a Cowboy Dinner on the patio.

The menu will be based on what people ate in 1860. That will include sourdough biscuits with molasses, smoked bacon, beans, chili and stew, rib-eye (cowboy) steak, potatoes and onion, pie and cobbler and plenty of coffee. There will also be tastings of whiskey, beer and wine. Continue reading

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Harvest Bourbon dinner to support new performers’ group

IdeaFestival gets an early start with a dinner Tonight at  6 p.m. at Harvest, 624 E. Market St., in collaboration with Four Roses Bourbon and Legends nightclub. Proceeds from the dinner will benefit YADDA, a local group that provides technical, moral and emotional support for musicians in the community and their families. Some of those musicians will provide an acoustic performance at the dinner, a prelude to their appearance at the NuLu Festival that will conclude IdeaFest. Continue reading

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DiRoNA Conference a feather in Louisville’s culinary cap

Distinguished Restaurants of North America–known by is acronym DiRoNA–will hold it annual conference at The Brown Hotel Oct. 5-8. The restaurant group usually holds its shindigs in larger cities that always get press for their restaurant scenes, places like Toronto, Vancouver, Napa, Calif. and Cozumel, Mexico.

That DiRoNA‘s board accepted the invitation proffered by Winston’s and Vincenzo’s restaurants is another feather in Louisville’s food-destination cap, showing that the growth of Louisville as a restaurant destination is being recognized by national groups.  Continue reading

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4th St. Live celebrates beer, bourbon and pork with Pig and Swig

The premier fall party event at 4th Street Live will be Saturday, Oct. 11. Doors open for the Pig & Swig event at 1 p.m., music, provided by Gas Money, starts at 2 and the hi-jinks last until 6 p.m.

Tickets, available here, will be $25 ($30 at the door) and provide the bearer with 8 drink tickets that are good for either 4-ounce beer samples or 2-ounce bourbon samples, a souvenir sampling glass, 1 food item and 1 bottled water. Continue reading

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Restaurant tidbits, September edition, part 2

I.  Bourbon Month specials at Bourbons Bistro

Bourbon’s Bistro, 2255 Frankfort Ave., will mark Bourbon Heritage Month with a Wednesday bar snack special. Executive chef Jeff Bridges, will concoct a series of “Bourbon Bites” for munching at the bar.  Chef Jeff Bridges described them as “the perfect complement to bourbon sippin’.”

And on Friday, Sept. 26, Bourbon’s Bistro will offer a Bourbon 101 class in its private event space to coincide with the F.A.T. Friday Trolley Hop. Guests will be provided with a flight of bourbon and some taste training. Cost is $20, and reservations can be made by phone or email. Continue reading

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3 Upcoming Dinners

I. Wednesday, Sept. 24, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Buck’s Restaurant & Bar, 425 W. Ormsby Ave., will host Willie Pratt of Michter’s Whiskey, for the September meeting of the Bourbon Brotherhood, a loose organization of people who like Bourbon and want to know more about it.

Pratt is a master distiller with 40 years of experience in the  whiskey business. He is popularly known as “Dr. No” by the Michter’s salespeople for his insistence that his whiskey not be released until it is aged just right. Attendees can talk with Pratt over appetizers and food. Cost is $10 at the door.  RSVP to brucecorwin@yahoo.com. Continue reading

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Winston’s hosts Orin Swift Cellars wine dinner

Thursday, Sept. 25. Chef John Castro of Winston’s, 3101 Bardstown Rd on the Sullivan University campus, will offer a 5-course menu paired with wines from the Orin Swift Cellars, which crafts interesting wines from California grapes, as well as from grapes grown in its vineyards in the Southwest of France. Continue reading

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Coomes’s ham book inspiration for dinner at Seviche

Tuesday, Sept. 23 at 6:30 p.m., Seviche chef Anthony Lamas will serve a 4-course dinner to celebrate the publication of “Country Ham:A Southern Tradition of Hogs, Salt and Smoke” by F&D columnist Steve Coomes.

As you might be able to tell from the title, the book is about ham. Coomes visited Kentucky’s top ham producers, investigated the long history of preserving the hind quarters of hogs and finds the tradition alive and well and competing with some of Europe’s best hams for the attention of chefs around the country. Continue reading

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And, over in Butchertown, its Lock, Stock & Smoking Barrels

Competing fall festivals make it hard for dedicated local party goers to know which neighborhood to hang out in this weekend, Saturday, Sept 20.  In Butchertown, Copper & Kings brandy distillery, 1111 E. Washington St., is the host for a Craft Beer Week party they are calling Lock Stock & Smoking Barrels.

This will be “a festival of barrel aged beer, brandy and smoking hot food & music,” according to their press release. The main feature–aside from music and food–will be barrel-proof brandy tastings and 12 breweries serving 24 beers, including several made just for the event by being aged in brandy barrels. Continue reading

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Feed all 7 senses at Germantown Festival

It is that time of the year for neighborhood festivals, which are ramping up as cooler weather arrives. This Saturday, Sept. 20, Germantown inaugurates its Seven Sense Festival, a block party featuring more than 20 bands, local food and craft beers.

Two blocks of South Preston will be closed for the free festival, which will run between noon and 3 a.m. Four businesses,The New Vintage, Zanzabar, The Greenhaus and Purrswaytions, were  the instigators, headed by New Vintage owner Hunter Embry. Continue reading

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Loop 22 refocuses menu

Eric Morris, co-owner of Loop 22, 2222 Dundee Rd., will refocus the menu on value-priced small plates and bargain well drinks. The changes were prompted by the rigors of a weird first year, plagued by plumbing problems in the old building in the Douglass Loop, a cold winter, crowd-chasing rains and a customer perception of the restaurant as a special occasion eatery that often kept crowds small.

Morris decided it was time to “adapt and evolve,” the first step of which was to run Whiskey Wednesday food a drink specials. With a little social media marketing, crowds responded–so well that he decided that converting to a small plates menu and a new cocktail program featuring all well drinks for $2 (except on Whiskey Wednesdays, when they will be just a dollar). Continue reading

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Irish Exit to morph into Don Vito’s Italian Bistro

Southern Indiana restaurateur Matt McMahan has leased the property he ran as The Irish Exit, at 207 E. Main St. in New Albany, to Kyle and Ulrike Mullikin,  who will open an upscale Italian restaurant called Don Vito’s Italian Bistro with Annette Saco, formerly owner and chef at the now-closed La Gallo Rosso, as their head chef. Continue reading

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Field-to-Fork dinner to benefit Food Literacy Project

Thursday, Sept. 18, 5:30 p.m., 8 chefs from Louisville’s top restaurants will collaborate to create a dinner to benefit the Food Literacy Project at Oxmoor Farm, the only local 501(c)(3) organization providing farm-based education for Louisville youth and families.

According to a news release, “Since 2006, the Food Literacy Project has engaged over 22,000 low-income youth and families in using their senses for discovery at its home on an 8-acre vegetable farm. Participants experience fresh and healthful foods while they are still growing and in the ground, empowering themselves to embrace healthy lifestyles.” Continue reading

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Bourbon dinner at Varanese to feature Maker’s Mark Cask Strength tasting

Tuesday, Sept. 23 at 6:30 p.m., Varanese, Frankfort Ave., will host a Maker’s Mark themed Bourbon dinner that will feature one of the first public tastings of Maker’s Mark Cask Strength Bourbon, bottled at 113.2 proof, straight from the barrel,uncut and unfiltered, a libation usually only available at the Maker’s Mark gift shop.

After a reception featuring the “So Long to Summer” cocktail, dinner will begin with a tasting flight of White Dog, Maker’s Mark, Makers 46, and Barrel Proof Maker’s, which will accompany  a starter of lump crab cake, Bibb lettuce and marinated tomato-cucumber salsa. The second course will be watermelon, feta cheese and heirloom tomato salad with strawberry, Bourbon and cracked pepper vinaigrette. Continue reading

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Garden of Gourds

Summer squash–zucchini and its relatives in the cucurbita family–strike me as the Rodney Dangerfield of vegetables: they “don’t get no respect.” Backyard garden standards nearly as common as tomatoes, ubiquitous at farmers markets, summer squash are often the last items chosen, the go-to vegetable choice only when other options are used up, or unfamiliar.

Too often zucchini are ignored in the garden too. They’re such cute little things, as big as your finger, when they first form out of the blossom’s ovule, their showy flower still attached. Let them get a bit bigger before picking, we tell ourselves, and then a few days later, those little green fingers are the size of Fungo bats. Suddenly, the garden is awash in oversized squash, neighbors hide when you approach with more giveaways and the prospect of a dozen loaves of zucchini bread looms. Continue reading

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Farmer Appreciation Dinner at Downtown Bristol

Wednesday, Sept. 17, 6:30 p.m., Bristol Bar & Grille Downtown’s chef Bill Lynch will celebrate the hard work and creativity of local farmers with his annual Farmer Appreciation Dinner. The six-course meal will showcase a different local farm in each dish, and before each course, the farmers at the meal will speak about life on the farm, their growing methods, and some background about the foods to be eaten.

Farms and farmers represented will include Hillerich Family Farm from Fern Creek, run by 24-year old Troy Hillerich on his grandparents’ and parents’ land;  gardeners from the Refugee Agricultural Partnership Program (RAPP) which provides refugees tools and land to grow food and access to local growers’ markets; Stone Cross Farm in Spencer County; Mulberry Orchards in Shelby County; Marksbury Farm in Garrard County; Clark Family Farms, run by first generation farmer Todd Clark from Fayette County; and several other area farms and food producers. Continue reading

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Did you miss local talent on TV cooking shows? Set your DVR and catch the re-runs

It’s always a hoot to see people you know on TV. (Why that is is one of the mysteries of the Modern World, in my estimation.) Anyway, Edward Lee begins his co-host duties this week, along with much-ballyhoed Magnus Nilsson, for the third season of PBS’s “The Mind of a Chef.”  Produced by Anthony Bourdain, the not-your-usual cooking show blends cooking, travel, history, art and science, with each episode delving below the surface to understand the inspirations behind food traditions and trends.

The new season has started, and can be seen locally on these PBS stations at these times: KET2 Mondays 1:30 pm; KETKY Tuesdays 5 am; KET Fridays  at midnight and KETKY Saturdays  at 10:30 am.  The next time to catch the first episode, which has Lee back in NYC talking about his early food influences, is Friday, Sept. 12 on KET. Continue reading

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Restaurant tid-bits, September edition Part I

I. Anthony Lamas, chef/owner of Seviche, A Latin Restaurant, Bardstown Rd., is among more than a dozen chefs from around the country invited to the James Beard Foundation’s fifth Chefs Boot Camp for Policy & Change at 21c Museum Hotel in Bentonville, Ark. The 3-day symposium, which met Sept. 7 to 9, focused on “policy and advocacy skills through the lens of access and affordability of food,” according to a press release.

Lamas has previously been cited by Monterey Bay Aquarium for his efforts to use and promote fish from sustainable fishery populations. Continue reading

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Boombozz Taphouse to expand this fall

Tony Palombino, the ambitious pizza-meister behind the Boombozz Boombozz Craft Pizza & Taphouse concept, is in an expansion mode again, set to remodel the recently-closed BD’s Mongolian Grill space at 1890 S. Hurstbourne Pkwy into the sixth Louisville area location.

Palombino projects an early November opening date for the 200-seat capacity restaurant and bar with outdoor patio seating. “The South Hurstbourne Parkway area has been on the radar for several years,” Palombino said. “We had been waiting for the right opportunity to present itself.” Continue reading

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Allen Heintzman to take over kitchen at 211 Clover Lane

211 Clover Lane restaurant moved quickly to fill the gap caused by long-time chef Troy Schuster’s resignation by naming Allen Heintzman to head the kitchen there.

Heintzman has been a mainstay of the Louisville restaurant scene, dating back to the heyday of Artemisia. Since then, he has been keeping his hand on the saute pan as chef de cuisine at Basa, and sous chef at Relish. Continue reading

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Spanish Wine Dinner at Varanese

The wine dinners at Varanese, 2106 Frankfort Ave., give chef John Varanese and his crew a chance to branch out beyond the regular menu, and show the breadth of their kitchen skills.

The next such dinner is Tuesday, September 9, at 7 p.m., with National Wine Educator Thom Horsey on hand to comment on his wine pairings from the Spanish winemaker Torres. Continue reading

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Easy Entertaining: Honey

September is National Honey Month, which is as good hook as any for a timely story, but also a good opportunity to remind ourselves of what a remarkable food honey is all year round. Honey sustains bees in their hive, one of the world’s most efficient manufacturing facilities. The 40 to 60,000 bees in a beehive may collectively travel as far as 55,000 miles and visit more than two million flowers to gather enough nectar to make just one pound of honey.

In shopping for these recipes we easily found an array of locally produced honey which in addition to being delicious is also a healthful food (see sidebar). Give thanks to the bee and get buzzing with these easy and buzz-worthy food and drink recipes made with one of nature’s best natural sweeteners. Continue reading

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A Bobby Flay restaurant in Louisville? Maybe

Food TV’s Bobby Flay, who attends the yearling sales at Keeneland, is reported to be scoping out Louisville as a cite for a new restaurant in his little empire (he already has 8 restaurants, 18 burger places and too many cooking shows).

The Courier-Journal quotes him as finding Louisville a daunting prospect for an outsider celebrity to into. “Louisville is a place that has its own food culture. I feel like I’ll be up against it.” Continue reading

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Apertif hour at Meta; late night chow at Monkey Wrench

Meta, the relatively new watering hold on the corner of Fifth and Chestnut, is rolling out a relatively new drink concept–the apertif hour. Instead of specials on bloating beer or alcohol-heavy cocktails, Meta wants downtown workers to try a sophisticated Euro-style wind-down to the day, low to medium alcohol apéritifs and apéritif cocktails.

The relatively inexpensive, quite delicious and refreshing drinks will be served Monday through Friday, 4:30-7:30 p.m., at what they are calling Aper Hours. Look for specially priced apéritif cocktails, group carafes and discounted apéritifs to enjoy with soda, with tonic, with sparkling wine, neat or on the rocks. Bar snacks will be available too. Continue reading

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