Sunday, July 24, 2011

Gangster's Dueling Piano Bar

Gangster's Dueling Piano Bar
18 East Fifth St.
Newport, KY
Tel: 859-491-8900

What we here in the U.S. know as "bachelorette parties" are called "hen nights" in the U.K., which if you think about it is a much more fitting and descriptive name. If you are ever among a gaggle of liquored-up ladies celebrating a bride-to-be, close your eyes and listen. Cluck cluck cluck!

I mention this because Steve and I found ourselves without any plans on a recent Saturday evening, and on the spur of the moment decided to stroll over to Gangster's and see what it was all about. We didn't know what to expect, but we certainly weren't expecting the dueling piano entertainment to be as much fun as it actually was. The talented musicians know how to work a crowd. The infectious fun encourages merrymakers to drink more, and the more folks drink, the funnier it gets. While we were not at Gangster's for anything special, plenty of others were: Birthday parties, anniversaries, office parties, and an astonishing number of hen nights in progress.

Gangster's Dueling Piano Bar

We hadn't made reservations and all the tables were booked, so we were directed to the bar. My first impression was that of a strip club; low lighting, lots of mirrors and neon, padded pink and mauve chairs, and even a stripper pole on the dance floor. Yes, you read that correctly. There is a stripper pole on the dance floor. I imagine that these days it's there more for drunken sorority girls to hold onto than it is for actual pole dancing, but hey, you never know.

A friendly server greeted us and throughout the course of the evening really went out of her way to make us feel relaxed and welcome. When she learned I am vegetarian she immediately pointed out which appetizers and entrees were veggie-friendly and was able to make recommendations on both the food and drinks menu. As the evening progressed and elbow room shrank, she was still able to work the room with aplomb, never wavering from her amiable attitude.

One look at Gangster's menu and it's obvious that this place is first and foremost a bar - albeit one with dueling pianos - than it is a restaurant. We sampled several items: nachos ($8.95) and Italian cheese wedges ($7.95) for me, and potato skins ($6.95) and chicken club sandwich ($8.95) for Steve. Nothing was remarkable; it's just your basic, standard issue bar food. The specialty martinis, all sporting gangster-themed names, were much better. I chose the "Pushing Up Daisies" (vanilla vodka, orange rum, orange juice, and a splash of cream and Sprite) and Steve got "Public Enemy #1" (vanilla vodka, coconut rum, lime juice and a splash of cream). Both were excellent.

Now that we know what Gangster's has to offer, I think that the next time we visit we'll make reservations and bring friends. The energy is incredible and the fun contagious. But with all due respect, we'll probably eat elsewhere first.

(Apologies for the lack of photos - I couldn't get any while swinging around the pole!)

Gangster's Dueling Piano Bar on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 15, 2011

National Ice Cream Day

Did you know that National Ice Cream Day is this Sunday, July 17? To celebrate, all area Graeter’s locations are offering single-scoop ice cream cones for just $1.41 - in honor of 141 great years! I know where I'm going on Sunday!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Winds Coffee and Café

The Winds Coffee & Café
152 Barnwood Drive
Edgewood, KY 41017
Tel: 859-341-2100
Hours: M-F 6:30 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sat 8 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sun 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

Steve and I have lived in Northern Kentucky for a little over six years, and we are continually amazed at the number of shops and restaurants we stumble upon. We recently opted-in on a Groupon for an independently-owned athletic shop called Tri-State Running, located in a small, tucked away strip mall near Crestview Hills Town Center. We stopped by the other day to pick up some bits and pieces, and as we were leaving we noticed a restaurant's summer specials chalkboard a few doors away. Enticed by the lure of home made soy milk, I dragged Steve into The Winds Coffee & Café.

Specials board

The Winds Coffee & Café

Inside, the restaurant was bright and spotlessly clean. We were greeted warmly by proprietor Tao Justus, who explained the summer specials menu to us and whipped up our drinks; soy milk for me and an Italian soda for Steve.

Squeaky clean interior

Let me just state right off that The Winds' soy milk is leaps and bounds better than anything you can buy in a carton. It's sweet but not sickeningly so, and has a consistency closer to water than to cows milk, which is exactly the way I like it. At $1.95 per glass, it's a drink to be savored rather than chugged. They also offer a full line of espresso, coffee, tea, bubble tea, the aforementioned flavored Italian soda spritzers, and fresh fruit smoothies.

Freshly made soy milk - YUM!

Surprisingly for a restaurant that makes its own soy milk, The Winds has only one vegetarian entree: lasagna ($7.95). When I commented on this, Tao explained that most of her customers are older and want homemade but healthy country-style cooking. I guess this explains the number of meat and potatoes dishes on the specials board.

The lasagna came with an organic spring mix salad. The piquant balsamic vinaigrette pleasantly complimented the sweet, meaty walnut halves dotting the dish. The restaurant also makes their herbed croutons in-house; a nice touch.

Organic spring mix salad

Steve ordered the Cuban panini ($6.95), which came with a choice of either macaroni salad, potato salad, pesto pasta, coleslaw or organic spring mix salad. He chose the potato salad and boy, am I ever glad that he did. Normally I am not a fan of potato salad because most are overly creamy and have too many extraneous additions, but The Winds' was utterly divine. Theirs is a simple recipe that lets the potatoes take center stage, instead of being a bit player to mayonnaise, onions, pickles or eggs. Delicately flavored with fresh parsley, this potato salad is one of the healthiest I've found in a restaurant. It was so tasty that Steve had no choice but to let me finish it.

potato salad

The lasagna, deftly spiced with basil, fennel seeds, and a hint of sweetness, tasted lovely but looked a little bare on the plate; it could have benefited from a slice of crusty garlic bread to sop up the last of the tangy tomato sauce.

Vegetarian lasagna

The Winds Coffee & Café offers fresh, home-made pastries and a thoughtful selection of deli sandwiches and breakfast items - including scratch-made granola and vegetable quiche. The quality and affordability of their dishes make this restaurant one of Edgewood's best kept secrets.

Winds Cafe on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Recipe: Curry Deviled Eggs

For as long as I can remember, my mother has made deviled eggs using this recipe and they are the most sought after item at our family reunions, cook-outs and gatherings. Whenever I am invited to a get-together that involves a covered dish, friends specifically request these little guys. They never fail to please.

Curried Deviled Eggs
6 eggs
1/4 Cup light mayonnaise
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp white pepper
1 strip vegetarian "bacon" cooked according to package (optional)


Place eggs in a pot of cool water. Turn up heat and boil for 15-20 minutes, then plunge into a pot of ice water until cooled

Peel eggs and slice each one lengthwise

Remove yolks

and put into a small bowl

Mash yolks and set aside

Combine mayo, mustard and spices. Mix well

Add mashed yolks to mayo mixture and combine thoroughly

Stuff a teaspoonful of mixture into each egg white half. Sprinkle on "bacon" crumbles, if desired.

Chill at least 30 minutes before serving

NOTE: If you aren't planning to use a decorator/pastry bag to pipe the egg mixture, it is safe to mix the veggie bacon into the egg mixture. If you are using a decorator/pastry bag, sprinkle on the "bacon" afterward because the crumbles tend to clog the decorator tip.

Printable recipe here.