Sharon Thompson: New country grill serves food with 'American flair'

swthompson@herald-leader.com,by sharon ThompsonMarch 6, 2014 

Sharon Thompson

Jim Olert, who teaches culinary skills to students at Southside Technical Center, has returned to a working kitchen. Olert and his wife, Elaine, have opened a grill at Avon Service Mart, near Bluegrass Station.

"It's a cozy mom-and-pop country store that serves breakfast and lunch," he said. "Our menu consists of an American flair with several comfort food choices. We have everything from burgers and hot dogs to chicken, pork and fish."

Homemade items include sausage gravy, beer-battered onion rings, seasoned home fries, and fried pickles, Olert said. Daily specials can include meatball sandwiches, sloppy Joes, chili, or Kentucky hot Browns.

Olert is a graduate of Baltimore International Culinary College and has worked as sous chef at Roy and Nadine's, kitchen manager at Café Joseph-Beth, banquet chef at the Hyatt Regency hotel, and executive chef at Lake Cumberland State Resort Park. He started teaching at Southside in 2004.

The grill is at 5569 Briar Hill Road. Hours are 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Call (859) 327-3212.

Special events

■ Shannon Collins, day chef at Azur Restaurant, was one of many people who were offended when a Time magazine article last fall neglected to include any female chefs as "gods of food." (Four women were on the list of 13, but none was a chef.) Collins decided to plan an event that would showcase the talents of six of Central Kentucky's top female chefs.

"In this male-dominated profession, women are often overlooked. We need to take up our space," Collins said.

The dinner, at 6 p.m. Thursday at Azur, 3070 Lakecrest Circle, will benefit Susan G. Komen. Tickets are $85. Call (859) 296-1007 or email info@azurrestaurant.com.

Collins will serve grilled tenderloin of bison with red wine-almond mole and sweet potato-apple hash.

The other chefs and what they will prepare are: Amy Harris, sous chef at Jonathan at Gratz Park, pan-seared scallop with apple-golden raisin compote and blackberry-pomegranate coulis; Ranada West-Riley, chef/owner of The Lexington Diner, masala of curried chickpeas with spinach, braised carrots and new potatoes in coconut milk curry with jasmine rice; Vanessa Wilhite, chef/manager at Gigi's Cupcakes, spiced airline quail breast with warm quinoa salad over cauliflower bisteche with saffron jus and roasted red grapes; Ouita Michel, chef/owner Holly Hill Inn, rolled grouper roasted in sorghum brown butter with Woodford Reserve gastrique over white beans, Benton's bacon, shaved Brussels sprouts and caramelized onions; and Toa Green, chef/owner of Thai Orchid Café, strawberry balsamic sorbet with bubbly prosecco, lemon sea salt and ginger-sorghum pizzelle.

■ Town Branch master distiller Mark Coffman will introduce Town Branch rye at Jonathan at Gratz Park, at 5:30 p.m. Thursday. The cost is $20. Call (859) 252-4949. Jonathan is at 120 West Second Street.

Specials

■ If you missed the Fat Tuesday celebrations around town, you still can get Cajun specialties at Rick's White Light Diner in Frankfort. The diner, featured on Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives in 2010, serves oyster po'boys, crawfish pie, muffalettas and crawfish etouffee. New hours are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Rick's is at 114 Bridge Street. Call (502) 696-9104 or go to Whitelightdiner.com.

■ Starting Friday, Thai Orchid Café will offer Lenten seafood specials including shrimp and greens, tom yum seafood noodle bowl, and crispy chili fish. The café is at 1030 South Broadway. Call (859) 288-2170 or go to Thaiorchidcafe.net.

1790 Row House Restaurant, 2117 Old Main Street, Washington, is open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Specials include chicken Parmesan and Swiss steak on Saturday, and baked spaghetti and hot German potato casserole on Sunday. Call (859) 907-6093.

The Grey Goose, 170 Jefferson Street, is serving grilled Clare Island salmon with cream risotto and grilled asparagus as the weekend special. The pizza flavor is "sky high meat pie." Call (859) 233-1500.

■ Jan Sullivan, chef/owner of Bakery Blessings & Bookstore @ the Bar, 1999 Harrodsburg Road, is making shamrock sugar cookies for St. Patrick's Day parties. Soup specials are chunky Cheddar potato and tomato bisque. Call (859) 554-6044.

■ The color green reigns at Greentree Tearoom this month. The menu features potato leek soup, Irish oat scone with blackberry jam, spanakopita, corned beef, poppy seed egg salad and Benedictine tea sandwiches, Bailey's fudge, and pistachio cupcakes. Greentree is at 521 West Short Street. Call (859) 455-9660 or go to Greentreetearoom.com.

Sharon Thompson: (859) 231-3321. Twitter: @FlavorsofKY. Blog: Flavorsofkentucky.bloginky.com.

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