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    Eat & Swig

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    When recommending Mussel & Burger Bar’s original location in Jeffersontown to diners, there was always need for a caveat. “You absolutely have to try this burger,” one would say, and then: “it’s worth the drive to J-town” The high quality and reasonable price tag of a meal at Mussel & Burger Bar made the original restaurant (at 9200 Taylorsville Rd.) so popular that it’s become known for weekend wait times – “the mussels are incredible, but you’ll have to wait at least half an hour for a table.” It’s a worth-the-wait hit in an area of town that doesn’t have many non-chain options.
    The second location of Mussel & Burger Bar is now open at 113 S. 7th Street. Fernando Martinez and company (Olé Restaurant Group) snapped up the space that used to house St. Charles Exchange, after the Whiskey Row fire pushed back their original plans for a downtown location. Just like that, yet another Martinez restaurant is open in Louisville, to the delight of many. Since opening last week, “we have already had guests from Indiana, Downtown, the South End, and not forgetting to mention a slew of out-of-town guests,” says Director of Operations at Olé, Rick Moir. “They have all mentioned how amazing it is that we have opened on this side of town, and that the wait at the J-Town location has kept them from dining with us. Most of the out-of-town guests have asked us if we are considering opening in other cities.”
    Without any kind of snobbery, note the difference in demand and diversity in audience between Jeffersontown and Downtown Louisville. Martinez's own upscale and innovative Place Downstairs suffered, by his estimation and others, from the location in Jeffersontown. In contrast, Proof on Main, a pioneer of upscale and innovative Louisville dining, flourishes yards away from Mussel & Burger Bar 2.
    So how has the Mussel & Burger Bar concept changed in the move from Jeffersontown to Downtown? Immediately obvious is a slight shift in atmosphere: from the family-friendly, butcher paper-covered tables in J-town to the high gloss of a plush eatery in the heart of Louisville. Mussel & Burger Bar’s new logo is prominently displayed in the new restaurant, etched on the mirror behind the expansive bar. There’s a hidden jewel of a patio that’s certain to tempt diners in the warmer months, and a room for private parties or meetings.
    A few items were added to the menu to cater to downtown diners. “We added a few more entrees to the menu, a bistro steak, 12 oz. with peppercorn sauce, a new chicken dish, a pan roasted chicken,” Fernando Martinez says. A pork belly and shrimp appetizer ($12) has been added to the menu, as well as the Cubano Burger ($15) served with melting Woodlands Pork lardo. “I think that’s one of the best burgers on the menu now.”
    Martinez and company are known for flourishing concepts across the map in Louisville. Though Mussel & Burger Bar 2 is now only open for lunch. “[Lunch has been] much busier than we anticipated,” according to Moir “We will be deciding this week just when we will open for dinner, the team has to be 100% so we can deliver what is expected from Mussel & Burger Bar.”
    In either location, Mussel & Burger Bar is a winning concept; like all of Martinez's restaurants it strikes a great balance between mass appeal and the unexpected. Mussel & Burger Bar 2 is a little tighter, a little glossier, but however it continues to evolve it's likely to have at least one thing in common with the flagship: popularity.
    Cover image courtesy of all other images credited in captions
    Elizabeth Myers's picture

    About Elizabeth Myers

    Big fan of bacon and bourbon, deep fried anything, sweet tea and sweet nothings.

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