River Bend Winery gets new look

| September 23, 2011
River Bend Winery.

River Bend Winery.

Good things are worth the wait, and no restaurant is a better testament to that than River Bend Winery. After six years in business, the restaurant has undergone a complete remodel from the inside out.

The restaurant is under new management and has a re-focused menu. The dining room was gutted to increase seating capacity from 50 to 100, allowing the winery to stay – well – a winery.

“The old layout had some equipment feeding into the dining area, which took away from the two components as separate entities, our restaurant and our winery,” said Jim Clair, River Bend Winery president.

Creating a differentiation between the restaurant and the winery was a feat for management, but River Bend’s grand re-opening on Saturday, Sept. 24, will serve that the proof isn’t just found in their wine.

Still maintaining an intimate feel, the restaurant now has high tops in the bar area for live music enjoyment and separate four-top tables for those who wish the dining experience to reign their evening. With an on-site catering business headed by Bill Smith, the upstairs is waiting to host 150 of your closest friends.

River Bend offers 10 varieties of wine.

River Bend offers 10 varieties of wine.

Either way, with signature menu items and a welcoming ambiance, this eatery goes down smooth just about any night of the week, preferably with a Kentucky Lady – one of their house made white wines.

Originally built in 1880, the building stands tall in the Distillery District of downtown Louisville. With exposed brick and original wood flooring, the industrial theme only adds to the hip factor of this locale.

In close proximity to the KFC Yum! Center and the last stop on the monthly Trolley Hop, River Bend Winery may just be your new go-to hot spot for pre- or post-evening plans. Wallet-friendly prices are offered in the form of $4 glasses of wine and $14 bottles, making any of their under $20 entrees the perfect pairing.

River Bend Winery’s accolade of being dubbed “Louisville’s Favorite Winery” is “technically by default,” said Clair, with a laugh, since it is the only official winery in Louisville.

River Bend produces 5,000 cases of in-house wines a year, with 10 varietals.

The New York strip.

The New York strip.

“First and foremost we’re a winery,” said Clair. “We’re wine specialists with a few key menu items.” Many of which are “Louisville-centric,” a term Clair coined to pay homage to this Louisville original.

River Bend’s ode to Louisville is seen through and through – particularly with the wine that made them famous, Bourbon Barrel Red.

“You really don’t get more Louisville Original than this. We pay homage to the South’s love of sweet tea by using sweet red Kentucky grapes, which sits in Maker’s Mark barrels for 30 days in a winery located in downtown Louisville.”

Whether you’ve been there a thousand times – and need to be reminded why you’re a regular, or you’re in search of a new local hangout – try River Bend Winery, Louisville’s favorite winery.

Chef Spotlight: Ramzi Kearl

Chef Kearl.

Chef Kearl.

A self-proclaimed Louisville native – (moving to the River City when he was 3 years old), Chef Ramzi has worked in just about every position in the kitchen. From dishwasher to sous chef, he’s spread his love of cooking and Kentucky pride to locals for the last 30 years. More recently, he’s assumed the title of head chef in the newly remodeled River Bend Winery kitchen.

Favorite dish on the menu?
The ribeye. I like a good ribeye period – and there’s nothing better than 12 ounces of RBW’s center cut, if I do say so myself. The filet is good for a date night dish. I find it always impresses the ladies.

How would you describe the cooking style at RBW?
Louisville-centric: the perfect combination of American cuisine with the Southern flair that we all love. We also have a lot of fun with our wines, both pairing with our food and putting it in the sauces and glazes themselves.

What’s the best part about being chef here?
I love knowing that I’m cooking good food. When I look out into the dining room and see people enjoying it – it’s just a great feeling knowing I did that. The people here are amazing! It makes it all a complete package.


Louisville’s Famous Hot Brown wrapped and deep-fried to a golden brown – served with cheesy Mornay dipping sauce. $8.

Hot Brown Wontons.

Hot Brown Wontons.

Freshly baked soft pretzel rods served with homemade Meritage port wine cheese for dipping. $6.

Lightly sautéed chicken breast and rendered pepper bacon topped with fried tobacco onions and a bourbon cream sauce resting on a bed of tender kale greens served with roasted fingerling potatoes. $15. Recommended wine – Meritage.

A champagne flute hand-dipped in red chocolate with 4-ounces of Chocolate Decadence Wine – served with two chocolate dipped tuxedo strawberries. $8.

The staff at River Bend Winery.

The staff at River Bend Winery.

If You Go

River Bend Winery
118 S. 10th Street
Louisville, KY 40202

Tuesday through Saturday
4 p.m. – 11 p.m.

President: Jim Clair
General Manager: Rick Torres
Head Chef: Ramzi Kearl
Catering Director: Bill Smith

River Bend Winery will be honoring all coupons that have expired during the renovation hiatus.


Category: Life & Style, Tastes

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