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April 20, 2011

Don’t think twice — Highland Morning’s all right

New breakfast spot a welcome addition to Bardstown Road

Breakfast places come and go. Some last for just an eye-blink; some earn landmark status; some hang around long after they should have hung up the spatula.

Bardstown Road’s latest addition to the fast-breaking genre, Highland Morning, crept in quietly. After a bustling grand opening, last week the café had settled into a relaxed pace serving comfort food — with a bountiful twist.

Yes, it’s morning in the Highlands. With the tagline “Breakfast Done Right,” Highland Morning’s kitchen pedigree boasts Chef Chris Roerk (previously with Wild Eggs), so expectations were high. With an extensive menu that ranges from traditional bacon-and-eggs fare to a bananas Foster waffle to brats and burgers, its reach may be a bit ambitious, but as far as breakfast goes, the restaurant is on the right track.

The steak and eggs — a 6-ounce sirloin, two eggs any style, choice of a broad selection of toast, and skillet potatoes — makes for a satisfying meal any time of day. The steak was cooked perfectly to order, and the sourdough was flavorful enough to eat plain, or to sop up the yolks of over-easy eggs. The potatoes, finely diced and buttery inside and out, were an unexpected delight, not just another overdone Southern side dish. The steak, however, showed an unnecessarily heavy hand with “secret ingredient” seasoning that may have been more appropriate for dinner. Still, a short-order steak made to order as part of an entrée or $6 à la carte is a certified steal.

My companion opted for “The Classic” ($5.50), which consisted of two eggs any style, bacon or sausage, a biscuit or toast, and grits. He also went for a pancake side — yes, a single pancake, but generously proportioned. He described it as “almost creamy.” The grits were smooth and buttery.

The restaurant, a cleanly remodeled replacement for Caspian Grill, faces the rising sun with a cool but cozy black-and-white feel, with a wall gallery that’s a veritable guessing game of Louisville luminaries (however tangential). We sat beneath the mirthful gaze of Mary Travers (of Peter, Paul & Mary). Other local portraits featured Pee Wee Reese, My Morning Jacket, Wilson Pickett, Mary Meagher, Hunter S. Thompson and, yes, even the Colonel. (Or his grave, at least. This is the Highlands, after all.) There’s an unobtrusive bar in the corner with a sufficient collection of beer, wine and liquor large enough to serve but not so exhaustive that Highland Morning will be mistaken for just another bar.

It’s open long hours, 6 a.m.-11 p.m. daily, with plans to go 24/7 before Derby; but Highland Morning, as its name implies, takes its stand as a breakfast place. Coffee? Choose the house blend of African and Central American beans or a single-bean organic brew, with French press available. It stands on its own against coffee specialist Day’s next door. Service was attentive, and our server even offered to send us on our way with a to-go cup of our choice, a nice touch to brighten any morning.

For $24.38 plus tip, breakfast for two was a low-key way to start the day. If it can sustain good quality at shockingly reasonable prices, Morning will stick around for a long time. —Eve Lee

Highland Morning
1416 Bardstown Road
365-3900
www.myhighlandmorning.com
Rating: 84

 

What’s new? Lots

We’ve done Thunder; Passover has begun; Easter is coming up; and next we dive into the frenzy of Derby season. This is a busy time of year for Louisville restaurants, and it’s no surprise that restaurateurs planning spring openings aim to open well before the first Saturday in May if they can.

Here’s a trio of new eateries that will justify a visit before Race Day:

If you’re a regular at the Bardstown Road Farmer’s Market, you will surely recognize the friendly, bearded face of Ivor Chodkowski, whose Field Day farm provides a memorable array of fresh local produce. Now, he has enlisted chefs Coby Ming (formerly of Wiltshire on Market), Joshua Lehman (who recently departed the Bank Street Brewhouse) and other local culinary luminaries to open Harvest, an impressive new addition to the soaring East Market neighborhood. In the renovated quarters that once housed Mayan Gypsy, Harvest will offer an upscale, eclectic, “farm-to-table” cuisine strongly based on local produce, meats, poultry and beverages.
Harvest, 624 E. Market St., 384-9090, www.harvestlouisville.com.

If pizzerias keep opening at their current rate, there might soon be one pizza oven for every family in the Metro. Maybe two per family in St. Matthews. But even if this unlikely condition comes to pass, Coals Artisan Pizza will still stand out. New in the Vogue Center, built around an impressive coal-fired oven capable of reaching 1,000-degrees Fahrenheit, Coals puts the “char” in smoky, light and delicious wood-toasted pizza crust. With Chef Mike Hungerford, who built his reputation at Seafood Connection, at the helm making pizzas and more, this stylish spot, which opened early this month, is bound to become a destination.
Coals Artisan Pizza, 3724 Frankfort Ave., The Vogue Center, 742-8200, on.fb.me/coalspizza.

One door opens, another opens, too. Simply Thai moved to larger quarters down the block, and NamNam Café, a tiny, stylish and authentic Vietnamese eatery, opens in its former quarters. Mary recently brought me home a pork bánh mì, the iconic French-Vietnamese sandwich-on-baguette, and my, oh, my. It doesn’t get much better than this.
NamNam Cafe, 318 Wallace Ave., 891-8859, www.namnamcafe.com. —Robin Garr

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