- 237 Whittington Parkway, Louisville, KY, 40222
- (502) 326-9830
- Overall User Rating:
- (7 ratings)
- Daily: 11:00AM-4:00AM; Full menu: 11:00AM-11:00PM; Bar menu: 11:00PM- 2:00AM
- Official Web Site:
Can you find traces of Germantown — and one of Louisville’s iconic dishes — on Whittington Parkway in Hurstbourne? The curving connector that links Shelbyville Road to Hurstbourne Parkway seems an unlikely spot for a family-owned bar and restaurant with traditional Louisville touches, but stop by Brownie’s The Shed Grille & Bar and you might find a few surprises.
By any measure, Brownie’s is a classic American sports bar. The decor is a straightforward mix of beer signs and TVs. One table, big enough to host a softball team, is dressed with a green tablecloth bearing the yard markers of a football field. The central space is a noisy, spacious, inviting bar. Off to one side, there’s a slightly quieter dining area. And on pleasant evenings, the outdoor patio has the feel of a neighborhood hangout.
That neighborhood feel is a bit of a surprise, given that much of the Hurstbourne corridor is dominated by suburban chain restaurants. But it’s what the father-son team of Keith and Jason Brown wanted to create when they opened the place some six years ago. And based on recent visits, they seem to have pulled it off. Service is functional and friendly. Servers won’t linger over your table, but they’ll take your order, keep your glass filled, deliver your food while it’s hot, and make you feel welcome.
And though most of the menu is pretty conventional — fried appetizers, nachos, quesadillas, an assortment of burgers and sandwiches — the Browns have brought a bit of Germantown to the suburbs.
The signature entree, the Bratzel, is an over-the-top riff on German elements. The ingredients: an oversized pretzel sliced in half, a couple of Johnsonville Sheboygan bratwursts, plenty of grilled onions and green peppers, sauerkraut upon request. The technique: Stuff the brats and veggies into the pretzel to make a giant, crisp sandwich that will challenge an athlete’s appetite ($7.99).
In fact, many of the sandwiches seem to be built for two: The breakfast melt made with bacon, a couple of fried eggs and thoroughly melted cheese might do the trick ($7.99), as would the grilled cheese cheeseburger (yes, you read it right: it’s a multilayered sandwich made by stuffing a half-pound hamburger between two grilled cheese sandwiches ($9.99).
For a group that wants to catch a game, quaff a beer and nosh on fried appetizers, the Shed Sampler ($9.99) is a fine choice. Many of Brownie’s appetizers are — as bar food often is — fried frozen goods. But whoever runs Brownie’s fryer is a master of the art: On recent visits, I haven’t seen a trace of grease on anything that has come out of that kitchen, and if your taste runs to items like mini-corn dogs, crisp pretzel chips, fried pickles and tubular queso sticks filled with a molten cheese, the Shed Sampler is a good way to go.
More important, it comes with a big bowl of Brownie’s house-made beer cheese, a beautifully textured, pleasantly spicy version. (It’s also available on its own for $4.99, or $5.25 for an 8-ounce takeout portion.) And if you’re looking for a fried fish sandwich, Brownie’s version ($6.99; $3.99 for a second piece of cod) is pretty darned good.
Finally, and perhaps most important, it turns out that Brownie’s offers an authentic version of what is arguably Louisville’s most important contribution to the fried genre: the original Mazzoni’s rolled oyster.
For generations of Louisvillians, the rolled oyster (an oyster fritter, for the uninitiated) is as much a part of the city’s lore as the Kentucky Derby. And it has been around almost as long.
The Mazzoni family introduced the rolled oyster to Louisville some 125 years ago. When Mazzoni’s closed in 2008, Greg Haner, who owned the eatery at that time, continued to serve rolled oysters at his other restaurant, Flabby’s Schnitzelburg. But when Flabby’s closed last year (it has since reopened under new ownership), there were lamentations aplenty. The Courier-Journal even dedicated a portion of its editorial page to a nostalgic reflection on “the last rolled oyster.”
True, other restaurants have rolled oysters on their menus, but Mazzoni’s loyalists are firm in their belief that none can hold a candle to the original.
Well, when I spoke to Jason Brown after my recent review visits, I learned that Haner is once again on the roll, and is making his original-recipe rolled oysters for Brownie’s. I prefer my oysters plump and raw, but there’s no denying these are a fine piece of work. They’re not overly stuffed with oysters, to be sure, but poke a fork through the deep, dark, pebbly crust, and the steamy interior releases a mouthwatering aroma that’s subtle and briny. The only flaw in the dish is an insipid cocktail sauce that needs way more horseradish, hot sauce and lemon juice, but that’s easily corrected. And a true loyalist might not even care.