Monday, July 8, 2013

Keeping Louisville Weird: Ramsi’s Café on the World

Entrance to Patio of Ramsi's Cafe on the World
It was midnight and I was feeling right frisky. My whippet friend Sparky was fast asleep in his doggy bed. This wasn't Paris at midnight, but Louisville Kentucky harbours a magical place. Bardstown Road, in the historic Highlands is like Paris -- it never shuts down. Bardstown's funky nature adds additional sparkle to this magic hour.

Leaving Sparky to his dreams of bones and chasing cats, I scampered off, looking for adventure.

Picture that image of the world with cutouts of people from all races, sex, color and age standing on top and you have an idea of Ramsi’s Café on the World. Situated in one of the funkiest parts of one of the funkiest streets in Louisville, Kentucky—Bardstown Road— Ramsi’s is definitely on top of the world. “If America is truly the melting pot of the globe,” said reviewer Jessica Elliott, “then Ramsi's Café on the World should be our national eatery.” The restaurant features late hours and a menu of international foods that includes a sampling of every sort of cuisine imaginable— 103 different items, I’m told.

Manni with Toulouse and our waitress
When  I got there shortly after midnight, they were still hopping with customers: a diverse and eclectic mix of diners, forming a boiling pot of cultures stirred into a fun cocktail of lively discussion and laughter over great food and drink.

My new friend Manni would explain that this is because Ramsi’s has something for everyone. Owner Ramsi, a native of Jerusalem, is an engineer by trade but his love for food and his vision for a
multicultural meeting place with affordable food for everyone translated into a café with incredible ambience.

The café offers a richly visual interior decorated with an eclectic mixture of fine art, sculptures, bookshelves and artifacts from all over the world.  My friend Snoopf said that the inside looked as though “a team of National Geographic photographers and world explorers had a day off and decided they would try out interior design.” The café also provides a classic European-style courtyard garden, complete with large overhanging plants, sculptures and a trickling fountain.

Interior of Ramsi's Cafe
After seating me in the garden patio, the waitress suggested Ramsi’s evening finger-food platter—a kind of antipasto— and I agreed, realizing that I felt quite peckish after my long walk in the Highlands.

While I waited for the food, I ordered a Ginger Pear Martini. My first sip surprised me with midnight sunshine and my whiskers trembled. This elegant yet zesty cocktail tasted of “summer love”. Made with fresh pear and ginger and Grey Goose La Poire vodka, it scintillated like an exquisite aria.  I shall have to make this drink for a good friend, I thought to myself.

I leaned back and enjoyed the frisson of sipping an elegant drink in a cultured setting. My whiskers Cavalleria Rusticana, when a distinguished looking gentleman approached me with a curious smile. No doubt, he recognized a classy cat when he saw one. He introduced himself as Manni the Magician in a pleasant NYC drawl. I invited him to join me and he happily took the seat opposite me. Manni explained to me that Ramsi had hired him to do magic tricks weekend evenings to entertain the crowd that packed his café pretty most every evening. Manni came to Louisville from New York in 1972. Using typical NYC vernacular, Manni told me about Ramsi’s. “You can go to anyone on the street,” Manni said to me, “and touch them on the shoulder and say, ‘do you know where Ramsi’s is?’ and they will say ‘that’s my favorite restaurant!’ ”
Bar at Ramsi's Cafe on the World
quivered as I hummed Mascagni’s
Manni  reiterated my observation in his New York way: “Ramsi’s attracts every color, every income, every ethnicity, and every hairdo…”

I curbed a saucy grin and ran my paw briskly through my unruly fur coat.

The platter arrived and I devoured with gusto a variety of color, texture and taste with complex aroma. I helped myself alternatively to banana peppers, tomato and cucumber relish, feta, portabella mushrooms, roasted red peppers, falafel, calamata olives with baba ganoush and humus.

Manni watches Toulouse devouring
Despite my invitation to join in, Manni just watched me devour the assorted treats and talked. He informed me that Ramsi’s wife, Rhona, is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and involved in every aspect of the restaurant, particularly menu development. Ramsi’s twin brother Ramzi , who’s been involved with the restaurant since its inception, also helps with quality control in the kitchen as their head chef.

Ramsi's Cafe on the World is one of the most unique and likely one of the most vegan-friendly establishments in Louisville. Some of the more popular dishes include the roasted vegetable Panini-portabellow mushrooms, roasted red peppers, yellow squash and red onions topped with crispy fried onions served on homemade Cuban bread. Try pairing this with a mojito or Ramsi's signature island Cooler to complete the vegan experience.  

Ramsi’s is located fortuitously right next to Carmichael’s Bookstore. Why is this fortuitous?
According to writer Jessica Elliott, this lets you browse there as you wait for a table—the only
Sparky with his favourite chewing toy...
downside of Ramsi’s is it takes a while to get a table sometimes. Manni confided that some patrons come often enough to merit their own table place tags.

Aside from its elegant tree-lined residences (like the one Sparky lives in), the Highlands is best known for three things: its eccentric stores, its funky bars, and its diverse selection of restaurants and cafés. Many of the very best restaurants can be found on Bardstown Road, like Avalon, the Bristol Bar & Grill, Kashmir Indian Restaurant, Le Gallo Rosso and Palermo Viejo. What makes Ramsi's Cafe on the World unique is that its menu features not just one type of cuisine; it features popular dishes from all over the world. And the clientele to go along with it.

1293 Bardstown Rd
Louisville, Kentucky 40204
Phone Number: (502) 451-0700

No comments:

Post a Comment