Since opening last week, Garage Bar has become one of the hottest spots to eat in Louisville. The restaurant, opened by chef Michael Paley and 21c Museum Hotels, offers a variety of artisan pizzas, country ham, fresh-shucked oysters and Southern-inspired snacks and house specialties.
Located at 700 E. Market St., the restaurant is housed inside a former auto service garage, with the garage door hanging wide open to display the enormous bar, complete with draft and bottled craft brews and a wide range of wine and liquor.
After hearing about its grand opening, I couldn’t wait any longer to try out the restaurant. I took a drive down to the NuLu neighborhood to dine with Stephanie Greene of 21c Museum Hotels and sample the fabulous cuisine and laid-back atmosphere.
The outside of the restaurant offers a welcoming feel, with two old-fashioned vehicles decorating the gravel parking lot, and the open garage door showing off the communal table and crowded bar area.
Around dinner time, guests gathered around the bartender to taste the unique beers that Garage Bar has to offer. To start off the night, I tried the Founder’s Cerise, a crisp tasting dark brew with a hint of cherry flavor. For light beer drinkers such as myself, this was an excellent beer for the transition into dark beer territory. Along with the Cerise, I also ate a few boiled peanuts as an appetizer, which tasted, as Stephanie Greene described, “like salty baked potatoes.”
The salt on the peanuts dissolves immediately on your tongue, and though I could have easily devoured them all, I had to leave room for the other dishes I had ordered for dinner.
Next on the menu, was the local mixed lettuce with plums, plum vinegar, avocado and ricotta salata. Alongside the salad, I sampled two of the signature ham dishes served with Blue Dog bread, whipped red eye mayonnaise and pickled peaches.
The first ham dish was the S. Wallace Edwards & Sons, a lightly salted ham from Virginia. The second ham was the Colonel Bill Newsoms, a creation from here in Kentucky. One of the best features of the ham dish was the pickled peaches. The fruit could stand alone as an appetizer, with its tart juicy taste.
Once Stephanie and I finished off the ham, it was time for the main course – the artisan crafted pizza. Pizza is at the heart of the Garage Bar menu, with each pie 100 percent handmade and cooked at 850 degrees in a wood-fired brick oven built in Naples, Italy. Each pizza is baked quickly to produce a thin, chewy crust that is crisp on the outside.
The eight pizzas listed on the menu change frequently, with the list currently including white pizza with ricotta, sea salt and charred spinach, and country ham with milled tomato, mozzarella, basil and parmigiano, among others.
I decided to order both the sausage pie – topped with milled tomato, mozzarella, rapini and spicy sausage – and the sweet corn pizza, doused with roasted garlic, basil, cream and bacon.
It was difficult to determine which was my favorite as both of the pizzas were so vastly different in taste, yet equally delicious. I never would have expected to find corn on a pizza, but the topping was an outstanding touch. At the end of dinner, I had to choose a winner, and with my love for spicy food, I went with the sausage pie. The red peppers were just hot enough to swallow without shedding a few tears from the zesty topping.
To cool down after consuming two slices of sausage pie, I ordered chocolate and vanilla soft serve for dessert. For an extra kick, the bar can add a little liquor to the ice cream, but I chose to hold off after finishing my second drink of the night – the Ginger Shandy with ginger syrup, PBR, Sprite and bourbon.
After leaving Garage Bar, I couldn’t wait to come back. The casual décor, complete with tires hanging on the wall and the tasty Italian- and Southern-style food left me craving another visit and another slice of pizza.
700 E. Market St. in the NuLu neighborhood
Garage Bar is open 5 p.m. to midnight, Monday through Thursday (late night menu served from 11 p.m. to midnight); 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday (late night menu served from midnight to 1 a.m); and 5 p.m. to midnight Sunday (late night menu served from 10 p.m. to midnight).
Pizzas are $11-$17; entrees are $16-$19.
Call 502.749.7100 or visit www.garageonmarket.com
About the Author (Author Profile)
Ashley spends half her time writing stories at The Voice-Tribune office and half her time out on the town conducting interviews, while occasionally dressing in wild outfits to fully immerse herself in the experience (aka Princess Leia at Comic Con). Ashley is a huge UofL fan and loves the Yankees and the Boston Celtics (she is fully aware of the irony). She hopes to one day outshine Erin Andrews on ESPN and enjoys running, Bardstown Road/Fourth Street, Breaking Bad and reality TV (she’s not ashamed to admit that).