High Deutsch marks: Eiderdown [Food and dining]

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This article appears in the January 2010 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe, please visit loumag.com.

Even Eiderdown’s chef, Brian Morgan, isn’t exactly sure how to describe the restaurant’s menu, which is why he laughs and calls the place a “German-redneck gastropub.” Husband-and-wife owners Heather Burks and James Gunnoe, who also own the nearby Nachbar, say Eiderdown (983 Goss Ave.) serves up “European-inspired Southern comfort food.”

Whatever you want to call it, throngs of people have been showing up since opening night in October. Inside the eatery — which once housed the pizza joint Jockamo’s — the tiled walls were demolished to expose the original bricks. The bar, thick tables and a wine rack are made of reclaimed poplar wood from a former tobacco warehouse on Main Street.

There’s certainly a German flavor to several of the dishes, including pork ribs braised in sauerkraut and a “Daddy’s Dainty,” which is German bologna topped with beer cheese and served on brioche. The menu’s snacks-and-starters section is also popular. A popcorn machine in the kitchen pops kernels in duck fat instead of peanut or coconut oil. Morgan, who’s from Richmond, Ky., and got his start in town washing dishes at Le Relais, describes the flavor as “effervescent.” The cornbread, stuffed with whole corn kernels that are cooked in bacon fat, is served with a whipped butter that’s mixed with honey and, yes, more fat rendered from the bacon that’s made in-house. “Our thinking was, if people were able to walk two blocks to get food, they’d probably return to the Nachbar after eating,” Gunnoe says. “We wanted a place that reflects the neighborhood.”

A good example of that are the breadstick-like soft pretzels. They come with two of three dipping mustards (a porter, an IPA, a hefeweizen), which are made by a man who lives down the street.

Photo: Courtesy Louisville Magazine

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