The evening was overcast as fellow reporter Chris-Rachael Oseland and I arrived at Kyes for the Taste of Jeffersonville. Our challenge: find restaurants befitting the needs of a lactose-intolerant vegetarian and a lactose-intolerant Jew. To add to the challenge, these restaurants need to be local establishments.
Upon first glance, I felt discouraged. Although almost 2/3 of the attending restaurants and caterers were local, they were not featured upon entrance. Visitors were greeted instead by McAlister's Deli - a franchise. We turned the corner, only to be faced with three more franchises. Chicken fingers - and their many iterations - abounded. Chris-Rachael valiantly tasted all the variations for me, finally proclaiming the best to come from Lighthouse Restaurant & Lounge (NOT a franchise).
My initial disappointment wore off, however, as we encountered the talented John Young of Chris Cakes, flipping pancakes neatly onto outstretched plates. Foregoing the pancake syrup, I instead went two booths down and obtained some delicious blackberry cobbler from The Golden Twist (another local establishment). Those two should be in business together, for it was a delightful combination.
The wonderful Schimpff's Confectionery was also there handing out sweets, including their fabulous cinnamon red hots. If you've never been in their store during one of their live candy-making demonstrations, you need to be.
We got some delicious strawberry daiquiri and pineapple chunks with a pink flavored sugar coating from one of the newer additions to Jeffersonville - Sonny's Island Grill and Bamboo Lounge. As lovely as the place sounds, their only vegetarian offerings consist of fried cheese balls, onion rings, french fries, spring rolls, and a simple salad.
The biggest surprise of the evening was Clark Memorial Hospital. I was quite astonished to learn they have been voted best of Taste of Jeff three of the last four years. This Jewish Hospital Health Network Partner was serving chicken stuffed with ham, covered in cream sauce, and topped with bacon [pictured above]. Curious about this award-winning hospital food, I threw caution (and dietary restrictions) to the wind and tried a small sample. It was absolutely wonderful, and definitely my personal favorite. The Jewish hospital affiliate serving ham and bacon in cream sauce. Go figure.
Cozza Osteria Enoteca gets the honor of being the most accomodating to vegetarians. The waitresses and chef were almost enthusiastic in their offer to alter any dish to fit the dietary restrictions of patrons. And their orzo was fabulous. I will be visiting there soon.
There is also a grilled portobello sandwich on the menu at Adrienne & Co that I am dying to try. Plus I will continue to frequent Rocky's Sub Pub, also in attendance. You know it's a good Italian restaurant when they can blow you away with their simple marinara, and Rocky's manages to do just that.
Verdict: Jeffersonville seems to be quite fond of its pork and chicken fingers, but there are places to get a good vegetarian meal if you know where to look (Rocky's, Cozza, Adrienne & Co). And those places just happen to be local establishments. Local win!
[photo by Angie Andriot]