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     by Laura Beavers
    Louisville Magazine
    May 2004

    As gusty spring winds mellow into soft summer breezes, restaurants everywhere are pulling out the patio furniture and popping up umbrellas. Here are a few places you’ll want to try before those soft breezes turn into sweltering heat.

    For something casual and congenial, Highlands haunt Molly Malone’s (933 Baxter Ave., 473-1222), perched atop a small hill, perfectly combines black-and-tan drinking with people-watching on this busy commercial stretch. The pub has two outdoor bars — one for a grassy picnic area and the restaurant’s front patio (laid with ancient Irish stone), the other a couple of stories above at deck level. The menu offers a mix of traditional Irish and American fare.

    Perhaps the trendiest al fresco option is the patio at Avalon (1314 Bardstown Road, 454-5336), opened last fall. The rubber-coated tables and chairs are sleek and comfortable, and the covered bar and decorative light fixtures add to the restaurant’s fashionable feel. New on the menu this spring:

    a linguini and littleneck clam appetizer, along with several other entrees and starters.
    If Mo Bay isn’t on your trip-list this year, hop over to Bahama Breeze (104 Oxmoor Court, 423-9040) for a much-needed island fix. Munch on coconut shrimp and sip something fruity on the immense wooden deck, where ceiling fans circle slowly above your head. The al fresco menu features drinks and appetizers only, with live Caribbean music on the weekends.

    Enjoy a “sunny side” view of the river and skyline, as well as top-notch pizza, at Rocky’s Italian Grill (715 W. Riverside Dr., Jeffersonville, (812) 282-3844). A large patio wraps around the side and back of the restaurant, overlooking the riverbank below. The signature whole-wheat crust pizza, piled high with toppings, has been Rocky’s claim to fame ever since it got its start upstream near Jeffboat.

    And what better way to /files/storyimages/the day than by watching the sun set over the lush greens of Crescent Hill Golf Course from the tree-shaded patio at Azalea (3612 Brownsboro Road, 895-5493). The wooden and iron furniture and brick wall separating guests from Brownsboro Road traffic speak to the permanence of this longtime outdoor favorite. Recommended for a summer splurge: the rock shrimp pasta in a white wine crawfish cream sauce.

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