I do not enjoy giving a bad review. When I began writing about food, I couldn't wait for my first Anton Ego (the dour food critic from Ratatoille) moment. I imaged writing scathing reviews would showcase my Bachelor's degree is Snark of the First Order, and I rubbed my hands together in gleeful anticipation. But the deeper I have gotten into the Louisville food scene, the more personally I feel for these restaurant proprietors who have put their entire lives on the line to provoide scrumptious local fare for our gullets. So just know that this negative review of Against the Grain Brewery & Smokehouse hurts me more than it hurts you.
The menu at Against the Grain looked tempting, and when we arrived we promptly ordered pulled pork risotto fritters, smoked beer cheese, and smoked red pepper hummus. The beer cheese was even and pungent, a standout from the other appetizers, which were merely alright and could have used more heavy flavoring. Undeterred, we ordered a Berkshire Schnitzel sandwich, with house cured sauerkraut, beer can chicken, and the Hash--chorizo, fried egg, hash potatoes, and salsa verde. Our waitress, while not openly rude, was terribly slow in taking orders, filling drinks, delivering checks and food. We had to keep asking for our waters to be filled, and one of the appetizers did not come out until the entrees arrived.
There is no denying it, the beer can chicken was burned black. Now, I know smoking meat leaves it with darker skin and a more "burned" flavor than other methods, but this chicken truly was burned. One bite filled my mouth with dry charred chicken bits. The accompanying green beans were gray mush, and I was charged extra to substitute them as a side. I was also charged extra for a small side of the butter bacon aioli, which was a bright spot in an otherwise unappealing meal. The hash was not hot, or crunchy, or palatable in the least. The schnitzel sandwich was entirely inedibly bland. At this point in the meal, all my friends were glaring at me around the table, as the guilty party who dragged them into this flavorless hell. when our checks were finally delivered there was more frustration, the prices at Against the Grain were a tad to high for the fare provided, and WAY too high for the quality of the sustenance.
Now, I am not a beer drinker, and this has gotten me into trouble when reviewing places known for their beer. However, I do believe that even places with AMAZING brews need to have high quality food as well. Against the Grain was a major disappointment to me and my friends. Ill cooked food, terrible service, and overpricing are the trifecta of restaurant woes.
photos: Elizabeth Orrick