- 942 Baxter Ave., Louisville, KY, 40204
- (502) 409-9422
- Overall User Rating:
- (2 ratings)
- Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-midnight; Sunday, 1-10 p.m. (the bar is open until 4 a.m.).
- Official Web Site:
I think it was Lewis Carroll who wrote, “The time has come, the barfly said, to talk of many things, of patios and pubs, of pizzas and of wings.”
Or maybe it was somebody else. In any event, as any philosophical climatologist will tell you, it’s an ill global warming that blows nobody good, at least for a moment or two. And this long, warm spring has spurred lots of early season sidewalk and patio drinking and dining.
Baxter’s 942 Bar & Grill, which opened last fall right in the middle of the Baxter Avenue club zone (an area that bustles most of the time, and where the weekend party never seems to stop), has a big old patio out back, big bays in the front that create an open connection to the sidewalk, and one of those alluring bar/dining rooms that owes its rustic, reliable feel to ample doses of brick and hardwood.
Except for a couple of standard tables on the sidewalk, the place is furnished with bistro tables and chairs — a mindful strategy that caters to the casual crowds that amble the area, drinking, dining and moving along to the next watering hole (though an almost nightly schedule of live music also encourages people to linger and listen).
The owners (Erick Strnatka, Nick Nowinski and Don Nowinski) have roots in northwestern Indiana, and the full bar nearly always has on hand a generous assortment of Chicagoland and Northern Indiana beers (like Old Style, Goose Island and perhaps some Three Floyds) on tap or in bottles or cans (and recently they were tapping a nice Green Flash IPA from San Diego).
The kitchen focuses mostly on pub-grub standards: apps (buffalo wings, $8.99; deep-fried pickles, $6.29), sandwiches (veggie wrap, $6.59; BLT club, $6.99; fried bologna, $5.29), flatbread pizzas ($7.99-$10.99). And not surprisingly, there are a few generic items you could find anywhere (fish sandwich, $7.99).
On the other hand, there is quite a bit of in-house cooking going on, and the folks running the grill half of the bar & grill have a keen eye for detail and attractive presentation.
An entree-sized Black ‘N’ Blue Salad ($8.29) topped off with carved slices of blackened chicken was fresh, green and generous enough to serve as a full, satisfying meal: a gleaming mix of romaine, iceberg and dark green leaves of spinach was tossed with tomatoes, onions and crunchy croutons, and a generous sprinkle of crumbled blue cheese, and finished off with an easy-going Caesar dressing. A grilled chicken quesadilla was crisp and well stuffed ($7.59). And if cold weather does return this spring, you might warm up with a bowl of chili ($3.79) or one of the rotating daily soups.
Beef and corned beef are the meaty attractions at Baxter’s 942, and fine attractions they are. Slices of house-roasted beef show up in a Philly cheese steak ($8.79), a beef croissant ($8.79) and a beef melt ($7.99) — where tangy pepperoncinis, neat pools of melted cheddar and a dipping cup of richly flavored beef broth make nice additions.
You can have that sandwich with chips, but for $1.49 you can substitute a bowl of steamed vegetables that are crisp-tender (they’ll come to the table unseasoned, but if you squeeze a lemon wedge over them, they’ll be fine). Or, if you’re tempted by a more childlike culinary impulse, you can substitute an order of crisp tater tots (the nice thing about tater tots is that you dip them in the beef jus; well, come to think of it, I guess there’s nothing to stop you from sprinkling vegetables with jus, either, if you feel the urge).
An Angus burger (5 ounces, $6.99; 8 ounces, $7.99) came to the table cooked exactly to order, on a sturdy Kaiser bun that easily supported the sandwich, even fully dressed (again, here’s an opportunity to skip the chips and substitute a bowl of spicy Pepperjack macaroni and cheese).
And though the Reuben sandwich ($8.79) didn’t hold together quite as well as the burger, the fault was probably mine, since my sandwich-eating technique is notoriously flawed. Anyway, a tall stack of excellent corned beef (tall enough to challenge the bite of even a large-mouthed politician) was served on light rye (dark is also available) with Swiss, Thousand Island dressing and fine shreds of excellent sauerkraut.