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One Damn Fine Burger


The gaping holes which have eventuated along Louisville’s Main Street as a result of the closing of the Druid’s Arms and Pasquini’s are well on their way to being filled. The Waterloo Icehouse, which replaced the former this fall, is stepping in nicely as a comfortable (and, for better or worse, less dive-y) space.
The storefront windows splash ample light onto a bar and cocktail area that gives way elegantly to a series of tables in the rear, the apex of which is a stage and huge projection television. On this Sunday it  featured the Broncos game.

Settling in for the second half, we were greeted by our server/barman, Reilly, who promptly supplied us with waters while we perused the drink list. The Waterloo, given its London Underground-influenced name, doesn’t engage with the British beer tradition as much as it could, but a few prominent names are listed, including one of my favorites, Smithwick’s, on draft ($5, and only $4 during the 4 p.m.-6 p.m. happy hour). The wine list, meanwhile, is very good, with some excellent selections bearing labels not accustomed to finding menu space in the average pub. We chose a lovely Two Rivers Chardonnay (a pretty good deal at $8.50), an oaky treat hailing from an up-and-coming producer located on Colorado’s Western Slope.

Watched over by several musicians featured on the tasteful wall art, we consulted the menu, which features pub favorites alongside some innovative surprises. Many of the ingredients used at Waterloo are organic. The menu professes to be implemented with the same care for food with which the proprietary Karp family plied its trade in music at the Waterloo Icehouse record store in Austin, Texas.

Our experience suggested success in this arena. My partner opted for a salad of whole Romaine hearts ($8), a huge plate bursting with ample dollops of Gorgonzola cheese, candied pecans and heirloom tomatoes. Tempted by the verbiage of the Waterloo’s menu concerning the quality of their Coleman beef, I splurged and ordered the Potato Burger ($11), so-called for its inclusion of shaved potato in the patty mixture (which is said to increase moisture and, therefore, juiciness). It was a resounding success and one of the best burgers I’ve had in some time. The prodigious portion of hand-cut French fries (available as a side along with housemade onion rings, organic baked potato or side salad) was delectable. The flat rate for burgers, regardless of what or how many toppings you choose (which made my pepperjack cheese and bacon free add-ons), was a welcome diversion from the norm.

It was made clear that food at the Waterloo Icehouse is not simply there to hold you over between beers. Quality cuisine—albeit unfussy and simple—is as much a part of Waterloo’s mission as is its commitment to music (a holdover from the record store days). With two to three live acts per week, each of which are announced on the Waterloo’s website, the Karps are sure to make downtown Louisville just a little funkier after dinner.

With an atmosphere, a drink list, a menu and a mission that suggests neighborhood quality cuisine and entertainment, the Waterloo Icehouse is a welcome addition to what is already a homey business district.

Waterloo Icehouse
809 Main St., Louisville
Bottom line: For long afternoons or late nights, the Waterloo Icehouse has the vibe and the victuals.

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