Mimi’s Cafe: un bon petit dejéuner

Let me begin with a confession: I hate breakfast. I eat breakfast only because I wake up hungry and can’t make it to lunch without eating something. When you don’t care for eggs or sausage, there aren’t a whole lot of choices available for the morning meal.

After an exciting late-night show choir competition, we took my daughter and her boyfriend to breakfast before heading home the next morning. Hope suggested Mimi’s Café. I looked at the menu online and noticed it had a French flair, explaining why Hope would be drawn to it. She is really enjoying her French class and dreams of traveling there one day. The menu appealed to us so we agreed to try this new place in lieu of the closest Waffle House. (Don’t’ wrinkle your nose at that. There is nothing wrong with the Waffle House, people.)

I simply can’t wait to tell you that we loved it! There was a wide variety of menu options from the standard breakfast components to crepes, quiche, and croissants. At our table we ordered chicken and waffles, eggs, sausage, waffles, wheat toast, bacon, roasted potatoes, and a muffin.

The waffles are the thick Belgium style and you are served two squares from the large waffle iron. The generous portion of chicken was piled on top – two breast halves with golden crispy breading. The eggs were prepared correctly as ordered. Sausage and bacon were cooked just right. The wheat toast was possibly the best toast I’ve ever had at a restaurant, evenly and thoroughly toasted and made with high-quality bread. We wondered if it was baked in-house. You can taste the French influence in the roasted potatoes which are seasoned with rosemary. I loved the potatoes almost as much as I loved the banana chocolate chip muffin. It arrived at our table warm with butter on the side. This large, delicious, bakery treat was topped with streusel, adding another level of greatness.

Everyone was pleased with their food and left with their bellies delightfully full. Prices were reasonable, especially considering the high quality of the food. I recommend Mimi’s as a delicious breakfast alternative to the ol’ standbys you might be accustomed to. They also serve lunch and dinner.

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Delicious Deliveries: A Review of Blue Apron

IMG_2610I have been curious about the make-at-home meal delivery services. Presented with an opportunity to try Blue Apron for free, I didn’t hesitate to accept. The delivery arrived this week.

My husband has been poo-pooing the impending “Blue Apron Week” since I broke the news to him many weeks ago. It’s taken me that long to 1) find a week of meals I think we will both enjoy (“week” is defined as three meals) and 2) find a week of meals I think we will both enjoy when my stepsons are at their mom’s. They offer packages that serve 2 people and a family package that serves 4. My freebie was for the 2-serving plan. Besides, our kids are so picky there’s no way they would eat these meals and therefore we would never consider the family package. They have vegetarian plans but I signed us up for the “we eat everything” option. Husband kept on harrumphing every time he was reminded that we had three meals coming to us this week. That is, until I sat the box on the kitchen counter.

He opened and unpacked the items like it was Christmas morning. Everything was still cold and in excellent condition. We thought we would need to cook the fish meal the day it arrived, assuming it would have thawed in transit, but that was not the case. After much ooo-ing and aah-ing on my part we organized the goods by meals and stowed them in the fridge.

I am going to launch right in to the things I love about this service:
1) Quality of ingredients. In particular, the produce items are fresh and beautiful. It made my heart happy to see all the lovely colors spread out on the counter. All ingredients are clearly labeled. They give you a small brown paper bag with the “knick knacks” for each recipe. That is so cute. Yeah, yeah…I’m a sucker for cute. See # 3 below for more evidence.

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2) Recipe cards
. You receive a full page recipe card, in color, printed on heavy paper. Each card details the ingredients, prep work required, cooking steps, and lots of photos. You can make the dishes again with your own ingredients! They include complete nutritional information on a separate sheet in the knick knack bag.

3) No waste. You get everything you need for the meal and ONLY what you need for the meal. I love this. I am not a big fan of leftovers, unless it’s cake. Duh. So I don’t want to eat the same meal the next day for lunch, warmed up in the office microwave. I also love that you aren’t buying a $3.79 bottle of some rarely used ingredient because one piddly teaspoon is needed for a recipe. The box contains the exact amount of each ingredient. Just look at how adorable those tiny bottles of soy sauce and vinegar are.

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4) Easy prep.
I am one of those foodie nerds that just love to get in the kitchen and chop a whole pile of stuff. I own an assortment of tiny glass prep bowls so I can get my ingredients ready and line them up on the counter like I have my own Food Network show. (Yes, I actually do that.) Our kitchen is stocked with multiple microplanes, a food processor, a mega drawer of spices. We think the prep is… dare I say…fun? We still got to do some prep work such as “thinly slice the carrots on an angle” to keep it fun but enough of the prep was done by Blue Apron that it saved a good bit of time. For example, the miso paste was already pre measured into a two-tablespoon scoop of stuff. The chicken was already cubed. The soy sauce and vinegar were pre measured.

5) Pricing.
At first, husband thought the price was too high at $10/meal/person ($60 for the “week” of 3 meals on the 2-person plan). I do believe he’s changed his mind, though. The example of the $3.79 bottle of Strange Ingredient is one reason why the pricing works for me. I’m also saving time at the grocery store. Much of the prep work is done for you so that’s another time saver and time=money, right? I am absolutely fine with the price, especially after experiencing our first meal. And I like the 3-day concept. That leaves an option for eating out or maybe you have to work late one night of the week.

6) Clear instructions. We are accomplished home cooks. I’m not afraid to tackle any recipe unless it involves butchering or yeast. (Don’t ask about the yeast.) But you don’t have to be a serious cook for your dish to turn out looking just like the pretty photo on the recipe card. The instructions are very clear and easy to follow. Husband thought he found a step that was omitted – nowhere on the card does it say to cut the chicken into cubes – but when he opened the package, we realized the chicken was already cut. So they did indeed think of everything.

7) The Finished Dish. The results are delicious. One of my fears was the portion size would be too small and husband would be hungry an hour later. That was not the case at all! The quantity of vegetables were generous and made the plate appear abundant. No after dinner snacking required.

The one thing I don’t love: each week there are only three meals to choose from, for a 3-meal plan. I realize this enables them to offer the very best pricing so it’s not a complaint. It simply limits the weeks I would choose to purchase. I wonder if I can swap a meat dish for a vegetarian dish without choosing all vegetarian? I’ll have to find out about that.

Pork and cabbage tacos with pineapple-jalapeno salsa and smoky seared cod with potatoes  are on deck for the next two nights.  I am getting to the knife first so I can do the chopping this time!

Highly recommended!!

https://www.blueapron.com/

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Exceeding Expectations – Village Anchor

village8A couple of my friends came to Louisville to visit me recently. Who am I kidding?  They came for the shopping!  We had a great time browsing from Westport Village to the St. James Art Show to the malls.  In the midst of the shopping we enjoyed a light lunch at Ghyslain – soup all around so as not to spoil our appetites for the main event later that day.  We had reservations at the Village Anchor for dinner.

The weather had been lovely that week leading up to our girls’ day out so I made reservations for the lanai. But when Saturday arrived it was cold and windy and cold.   I was worried that we wouldn’t get the full effect of the premium seating location due to the turn in the weather but the atmosphere was hardly diminished:  in place of open air dining we enjoyed the warmth and coziness of a fire in the fireplace.

My friends were instantly impressed with the exterior of the restaurant. The friendly yellow siding, the balconies, the lush foliage. By the time we arrived at our table, traveling through the upper level bar area, there were oohs and ahhs all around.  They are already planning a return trip and asked to sit inside next time!

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This wine was super yummy

The service throughout our meal was top drawer. Not only was our server knowledgeable about the menu, she went out of her way to ensure that our visit exceeded our expectations.  I’ll give you two examples.  First, I asked about the name of the wine I ordered so I could make a note in my phone for future reference.  Instead of simply bringing the wine list back, she offered to take a photo of the bottle for me (see photo over there ~).  Second, she went next door to the café to find a to-go cup for my friend’s coffee.  I was also impressed that leftovers were taken away from the table, packaged, and returned to us.

 

It’s exciting simply to get dressed up and go out with your beautiful friends, but to also have the luxury of a picturesque location and a mouth-watering menu…I couldn’t stop smiling.

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crab cocktail

We ordered the crab cocktail ($16) as an appetizer to share. I typically would not select crab with so many other tempting options (green chili wontons, goat cheese, Thai style kabobs), but I went along with the majority without a fuss.  I’m so glad I did!  A generous mound of lump crab was enhanced with jalapeno, avocado, cilantro, and lime juice for a fresh and delicious appetizer.  Crispy wontons were served alongside.  (I made a mental note to try to make this dish at home, or at least use fried wontons as dippers with my faux ceviche.)

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wedge salad

One friend ordered the wedge salad ($9). It was indeed a quarter of a head of iceberg, as expected, but also boasted a pile of spring greens, a hunk of tangy Danish blue cheese, and a ball of Boursin studded with candied pecans.  We all helped her eat this salad.  The blue cheese dressing was a bit bland and thin by itself, but combined with the rich cheeses on the plate, it was the perfect bite.  You know, I’ll bet they planned it that way.

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cast iron seared scallops, wild mushroom risotto

I had a very difficult time narrowing the options down to one dish for my entrée. I like to order dishes that either I don’t cook very well myself, are simply too complicated for me to try to make myself, or I don’t have easy access to the ingredients.  Oh, or if they feature scallops.  Going along with that philosophy I chose the scallops ($17) – two large sea scallops seared in vanilla butter with a bourbon demi-glace.  This dish appears on the appetizer list but is served with asparagus (the one vegetable I can’t resist on a menu) so it could easily be enough for a meal when paired with another appetizer (may I suggest the crab cocktail?) or a salad.  Just as I expected, the scallops were melt-in-your-mouth tender.  The Woodford Reserve sauce was so delicious!  The asparagus were bright green, properly cooked and well-seasoned.

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the hotter brown, au gratin potatoes

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airline breast of chicken

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My friends received the airline breast of chicken ($28) and the “hotter” brown ($15), both to rave reviews and lots of moaning.  As a testament to how difficult it was for us to make decisions about what to order, we also had sides of the au gratin potatoes and wild mushroom risotto.  How were they?  Delicious, of course.  The risotto ($5) was perfectly cooked leaving a “bite” to the rice and infused with umami flavor.  The au gratin potatoes are not listed as a “side” however,  since they were being served with some of the entrees, they hooked us up.  Just another example of the superior service at this establishment.  All the dishes were as beautiful as they were tasty.

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heaven?

 

You know when three girlfriends get together there is going to be some dessert, right? We shared the chocolate bread pudding with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream ($9).  Yes, it was as decadent and rich as you are imagining right now.  The bread pudding was slightly crunchy on the outside, moist and tender on the inside.  The warm, thick caramel sauce provided the prefect compliment to the cold and creamy vanilla ice cream.  What a great ending to a great meal.

In case you’ve been downstairs to the Sea Hag (see my review of Big Burger Thursday) and were wondering about the trashy romance novels…they use them upstairs in the swankier part of the restaurant, too.  What a quirky and fun way to deliver your check.

There was no doubt at our table that what we just experienced was a five out of five meal. Everything was impeccable.  I recommend it for girls’ night out, a hot date, a special occasion, a family celebration, heck….a regular ol’ Wednesday night.  Whenever!  Just be sure to get there.

The Village Anchor
11507 Park Road
Anchorage, KY 40223
502.708.1850

Village Anchor and Sea Hag Pub on Urbanspoon

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Deliciously Quaint – Terry and Kathy’s on Main

Due to my frequent treks from Louisville to West Virginia via I-64, I have passed by, and often stopped at, the Mount Sterling exit, number 110. I had never ventured far enough to lose sight of the highway.  That is, until I recently traveled to Mount Sterling for my job.

We were spending one night at a hotel near the interstate which meant I needed to find a suitable restaurant for my dining needs. When driving through the quaint and pretty downtown streets, we noticed an eatery on the corner called Terry and Kathy’s on Main.  The favorable feedback on Urbanspoon encouraged us to give it a try.

Since many restaurants are closed on Mondays and we were dining early, (we had an early start that morning so I was starving by 5:00) I wondered if that could account for the fact that we were only one of two parties seated in the restaurant. By the time we left, we were the only party.  That’s a shame, and I hope it was an anomaly.  I’d like to see this place do well.

There was sufficient variety on the menu with sandwiches, salads, and entrees. After a brief internal debate I decided to go with the jumbo shrimp, fried.  I received two sides with that.  The vegetable of the day was asparagus and anyone that knows me knows I’m a sucker for asparagus so that was going to be on my plate for sure.  I also chose the “Italian green beans” hoping they would be cooked with tomatoes instead of the country cookin’ variety with bacon.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I just don’t like country cookin’.

terrykathyWe were served a soft yeast roll with our meals and I could have eaten a whole basketful. They were so comforting.  My shrimp were truly jumbo sized and I received eight perfectly crispy, perfectly breaded, perfectly tender shrimp.  These shrimp would rival any that I order at the gulf beaches.  Much to my delight, I was told they bread the shrimp in-house!  Unfortunately the green beans were indeed the country cookin’ kind but I ate most of them anyway.  I think it’s important to eat your veggies.  The asparagus didn’t look as good as they tasted – they appeared somewhat shriveled up but they were nicely seasoned and had some lemon for kick and were cooked well.

We experienced no issues with service. Prices were a little on the high side.  The high ceilings give a feeling of spaciousness and we discussed what it may have been in years past, taking clues from the architecture.

I recommend Terry & Kathy’s on Main with a rating of three out of five.

Terry and Kathy’s on Main
2 East Main Street
Mount Sterling, KY  40353
859-497-9494

Terry & Kathy's On Main on Urbanspoon

 

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Napa River Grill: A Happier Happy Hour

photo from urbanspoon

photo from urbanspoon

Who doesn’t like a good Happy Hour? I certainly do.  Especially when the specials include drinks I actually want to drink and food I actually want to eat.  Not that typical “bar food” which is mostly frozen stuff that takes a dip in the deep fryer. Happy Hour on weekend days?  That’s practically unheard of.  But it is reality at Napa River Grill.

Located in trendy Westport Village, Napa is one of the few sit-down restaurants on the premises. (Why do we call them that?  I’m going to sit down at Qdoba even though it’s a quick-serve establishment.)  The others are Hiko a Mon (love it), Boombozz (great thin crust pizza), and Los Aztecas (aka Chimi Town, according to my husband).  Wild Eggs doesn’t count because they close long before dinnertime rolls around.

One of the things I like best about Napa, besides their awesome Happy Hour, which I will indeed get to in just a few more sentences, is the outdoor patio area. It’s enclosed with attractive iron fencing, boasts generous plantings, and features some metal sculptures.  The tables are sturdy and attractive and there are two (at least) large round tables with glass fire pits in the center.  I have never been able to sit out there because I’m too cheap to pay for the regular menu items and you’re not allowed to participate in the bar specials out there even though it’s right beside the bar area.  Oh well, I can look at from inside the bar area.

Let’s talk about the bar area. It’s open-air (when they want it to be) with some cozy seating areas featuring upholstered chairs and benches.  There are also some high top tables made from whiskey barrels.  Most of the time, it’s tough to find a seat because they do good business during Happy Hour which spans from 4:30 – 7:00.

During our most recent visit, my husband and I went on a Friday night (I know!! Specials on a Friday night!) around 5:30 and had to wait for a seat.  I am fine sipping a glass of wine whilst standing up but I don’t want to eat without a seat.  My Grandpa always said “don’t stand up and eat like a horse”.  (Again, I don’t know where these goofy sayings come from.)  Most wines by the glass, including some sparkling, are half price during Happy Hour as well as select beers, Finlandia, Grey Goose, Old Forester, and well drinks.  They offer a bar menu which includes many regular menu appetizers and sides offered at a discounted price.

My favorite food item on the bar menu is the pork carnitas tacos and I chose those for my meal tonight. For $10 you get three corn tortillas filled with tender pork, black bean and corn salsa, lettuce, and pickled red onion.  They serve a delicious tomatillo sauce on the side which you will want to pour onto your tacos.  I love these tacos.  I am going to have to start making my own pickled red onions for our homemade carnitas.

I am not sure what you have to do to get some of their delicious corn bread brought out to your table in the bar, but do try to make it happen. It’s served in a cute little cast iron skillet and it’s scrumptious.  (It’s not listed on the Bar menu.) Every plate we saw go by our table looked delicious.

We ate dinner at Napa one time and we felt like the prices were simply too high. The Happy Hour prices are right, however.  It gives me the opportunity to enjoy the sophisticated atmosphere and the beautifully presented, tasty food on my non-sophisticated budget.

I highly recommend Napa for girls’ night out or a spontaneous date night. I give it a rating of four out of five for Happy Hour.

Napa River Grill
1211 Herr Lane
Louisville, KY  40222
502-423-5822

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Don Senor is My Traveling Buddy

My family is one of those new-age blended sort of families. My two teenage daughters preferred (I’m downplaying here) to finish high school in West Virginia so I frequently (still downplaying) drive to West Virginia to see them and participate in their school events. On other occasions my ex-husband meets me part way and I bring them to my Kentucky home for the weekend. Our official meeting place is exit 137 off I-64, Morehead. These meetings occur on Friday evenings after work and we are all starving by the time we get back to Louisville, typically around 9:00. That’s really too late to eat so sometimes we succumb to the hunger pangs and eat “junk” (as I call it) at a drive through. I always feel bad about myself afterward. I’m happy to announce that we have found the perfect solution to our quandary: Don Senor Mexican Restaurant in Morehead. We not only get a break from being in the car, but also delicious and satisfying Mexican food!

I first gave this joint a try when I was staying in Morehead for work. My cousin lives in nearby Flemingsburg so she drove to Morehead to meet me for dinner. I ordered the shrimp nacho thingy and it was great. I bragged about it to my daughters so we decided it would make the perfect dinner when meeting in Morehead in the future.

On this particular day my ex-husband got stuck in traffic and was significantly delayed. My daughter (one had to stay behind for work) and I agreed that I could go ahead and eat if I got her food to go and she could then eat while I was driving.

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My shrimp chimichanga arrived golden brown and crispy with cheese sauce. Accompanying it on the plate were refried beans, Mexican rice, lettuce, pico de gallo, and sour cream. I asked them to keep their sour cream but it wasn’t worth asking for a redo when I regretfully saw it perched on top my pico. My food was tasty and served in generous portions. The tortilla was filled with several medium-sized tender shrimp, grilled peppers, and onions. The beans were the run-of-the-mill variety sprinkled with cheese. The Mexican rice was also the standard style you get at most Mexican eateries. It wasn’t anything gourmet, but they executed their style of food well.

I was disappointed in the salsa during this latest visit – it contained tomatoes. Only tomatoes. I couldn’t detect any onions, garlic, cilantro, cumin, anything. I had always enjoyed the salsa with past meals so I am hopeful this was a one-time glitch in the salsa preparation. On the bright side, I didn’t eat very many chips.

I ordered a soft chicken chimichanga for my daughter. They packed it up with chips and salsa of her very own. She reported it was as yummy as ever but agreed the salsa was subpar this time.

The restaurant is quite large and has been busy on each of my stops. Service is attentive and efficient. The prices are reasonable. There are some dishes on the menu that you don’t see at other joints and I appreciate that variety. They have an outdoor dining area for those of us who like to take advantage of the fresh air.

I recommend Don Senor with a rating of three out of five.

Don Senor Mexican Bar & Grill
140 Toms Drive
Morehead, KY  40351
606-780-0005

Don Señor Mexican Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

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I Had Bad Luck at The Joy Luck

joyluck1As you have probably already figured out by reading my reviews, we like Mexican food. Truth is, my husband really likes Mexican food so he wants that cuisine about 80% of the time we choose to dine out.  Well folks, tonight I won the decision!  I have been drooling over the scrumptious photos from The Joy Luck and was anxious to experience those Asian flavors.

The Joy Luck is located on Bardstown Road right across from Baxter Theater.  In fact, that’s precisely where we parked.  It was a nice night but a little too cool to enjoy the alfresco dining on their adorable patio area.  The interior of the restaurant is nicely appointed with cool hanging lights, large dramatic art pieces, and contemporary chairs.  If you look to your left when you enter, there is the cutest, coziest little seating area with a view of the street.  I really wanted to sit there but another couple had already snagged it.

I have no complaints about the service except that our guy recommended the most expensive dish on the menu (the Beijing roast duck) and the seafood casserole which (spoiler alert) left me sadly disappointed.

But this is the beginning of our meal and I was excited about trying something new. My first instinct was to order the orange chicken.  My husband was fairly determined to get some sort of duck.  We took our time reviewing the menu and decided to begin with an appetizer of pork dumplings.  Given two choices, steamed or pan fried, we chose the latter and I’m glad we did.  One side of the dumpling was tender and forgiving to the fork while the other side was golden-brown and slightly crispy.  The well-seasoned tender pork filling was delicious.

joyluck3After asking our server for the fateful recommendations, my husband goes with the Beijing Roast Duck for $26.  Purportedly one of the most popular menu items, the “best part of the duck” is served with fluffy pancakes and accompaniments.  The dish was beautifully presented on a wooden cutting board made by Boos.  Four fluffy pancakes stacked with tender sliced duck, crunchy shredded vegetable, and hoisin sauce.  They were like puffy Asian tacos.  A delicate rose fashioned from a cousin of the radish (?) and vermicelli-style carrot provided the garnish.  I definitely give them an A for visual impact.  I stole one taste and decided it didn’t excite me.   Husband really enjoyed his food, although he felt the price tag was a little too steep for the product.

joyluck2I, unfortunately, succumbed to our server’s recommendation for the seafood casserole which was probably the second most expensive menu item (on the newly revised menu it is listed as “market price”). Honestly, it sounded good to me.  Mussels, shrimp, scallops, veggies, and curry.  I love all those components so, why not?  I’ll tell you why not.  It was freakin’ HOT.  Not spicy hot, although it had enough heat to keep things interesting.  It was temperature hot like the depths of hell.  It was so hot, I burnt my mouth on the first bite and tried my darndest not to spit it right back out like Sandra Bullock does with the foul, low-fat hot chocolate the soon-to-be Miss United States serves her in Miss Congeniality.  (do you have the visual?)  It was so hot, it completely overcooked the delicate seafood and melted the veggies.  The snow peas were limp as noodles after spending a little time in the Hades Hot Tub of Curry.  I couldn’t have been more disappointed.  I paid a lot of money for four or five medium-sized shrimp that survived the boiling cauldron fairly well, a few small bay scallops that were on the verge of rubbery, a half dozen mussels that had crossed over completely to rubber, and various overcooked vegetables.  The flavor of the broth could be described as scalding.

I really regretted not going with the orange chicken.

This brings me to a philosophical thought.  What does one do in a situation like that?  On one hand, I could have told our server that my food was insanely hot resulting in overcooked everything and they may have offered to redo it or bring something else or adjust the bill.  On the other hand, I chose to accept my fate based on the choice I made when I ordered.  I don’t want to be perceived as trying to get a free meal or being a “complainer”.  In my opinion, the error was in the preparation therefore I should have been able to ask them to rectify it without feeling guilty or shameful (right?) but when in that situation, I feel guilty and shameful anyway.  What would you do?

I would like to go back and give it another try if I can ever again talk my husband into eating something other than Mexican. Or a cheeseburger.

I give The Joy Luck two out of five for this experience.

The Joy Luck
1285 Bardstown Road
Louisville, KY  40204
502-238-3070

The Joy Luck on Urbanspoon

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