In her first outing as Courier-Journal restaurant reviewer, Nancy Miller writes that she "sets the bar high in terms of food and service," as Louisville "has become a more sophisticated restaurant town." To Miller, stars are "badges of honor that have to be earned one bite at a time." When it comes to Bistro 1860 chef Michael Crouch, however, some of those "badges of honor" can also be burned.
Miller lavishes praise on Crouch:
He's a chef who's willing to take risks but knows when to stop. In the hands of anyone else, pan-seared foie gras with huckleberry lavender coulis, or brown sugar and chili-braised pork belly tacos with kimchi, might be a stretch. Not for Crouch. He knows exactly what he's doing, and he does it impeccably.
Miller gushes that Bistro 1860's hush puppies are "putting taste buds on notice" and that the pork belly tacos with kimchi are "eye-rollingly delicious." Then she begins a somewhat schizophrenic salute to the bistro's duck confit strudel, one of the reasons she "can't get enough" of Bistro 1860:
It's puff pastry-wrapped bliss. Until it's not. My longed-for strudel was charred on the bottom and dry throughout. Apparently, I didn't hide my disappointment very well, if I tried at all, which I couldn't. The server and manager immediately offered to bring me another. They could not have been more gracious. Seeing that another dish was on its way to our table, I declined. In full disclosure, I admit I nibbled away on the strudel, leaving only the burned bottom pastry.After this brief detour into disappointment (and dry, charred strudel), Miller returns to positivity. She praises Crouch's "genius move" of adding smoked bacon to Brussels sprouts, and gives much love to a side of corn chèvre pudding before ending her first review by declaring:
Tight-fisted though I may be when it comes to doling out stars, Bistro 1860 deserves four very shiny ones.