Louisville’s culinary scene generates ample media coverage, and justifiably so. In my view these newspapers, magazines, web sites and social media feeds each have something to recommend them (although yes, there are exceptions), the point being different points of view.

I’m the sort who appreciates historical context borne of institutional memory. We have it here at Food & Dining Magazine, with not one but two former Courier Journal restaurant reviewers (Susan Reigler and Marty Rosen) currently authoring weekly columns, as well as the CJ’s longtime kitchen wizard Ron Mikulak, not to mention our publisher/founder John Carlos White, at the helm for our quarterly print editions since 2003 (featuring the luscious photography of the award-winning Dan Dry).

This digression about the wisdom to be gleaned from experience is occasioned by a fortuitous glance at LEO Weekly (Louisville Eccentric Observer; founded in 1990) and Robin Garr’s restaurant review: Taj Palace takes tasty Indian fare and pandemic safety seriously.

Robin is another of the Louisville foodie veterans, surely one of THE longest tenured, having covered the food and dining scene since most of us figuratively (perhaps even literally) donned knee pants, back to at least 1980 and the debut of his wine column at the CJ and the Louisville Times. His on-line food, dining and wine discussion forums date to the 1990s. If I haven’t thought to thank him previously, let this be the moment to do so. 

I’m making a fuss over Robin, who would modestly defer the praise, because of the way he chose to began the July 15 LEO Weekly review: with simple honesty.

Billy Joel was right; honesty is such a lonely word, inside or outside “the business.” Speaking as one who owned a restaurant and brewery for 25 years, your peers function as a professional family. We stay together, and we take care of our own. There are times when some of one’s brothers and sisters err, and the understandable instinct is to keep it in the family. I’ve done so in the past, and on some occasions, I’ve come to regret it. Telling the truth might have forestalled subsequent, larger problems for everyone. 

Little white lies, fudging, averting the gaze, looking the other way? They’re incompatible with the duties of journalists, analysts and reviewers, for whom credibility is dependent on being truthful. It doesn’t mean click bait, cultivating confrontation or trolling, although there might be occasional heated discussions with the folks who sell advertising. 

That’s where experience comes to the fore; been there, seen that, able to synthesize information, and capable of saying what needs to be said – factually, sans hyperbole. It’s neither calling out, nor cancel culture. It’s very much about rewarding the positive performers, not the negative deniers.

I’ll shut up now. Kudos to Taj Palace, a restaurant I’ve yet to patronize but intend to visit soon for carryout, now that Robin has explained to me exactly what I need to know: “Taj Palace takes tasty Indian fare and pandemic safety seriously.” 

Here are his words.

There’s no way to put this but bluntly: I don’t think some Louisville restaurants are taking the COVID-19 pandemic as seriously as they should. Why the worry?
You probably saw the news item about 11 Louisville businesses that got inspection blasts from Metro Public Health & Wellness over the Fourth of July weekend for failing to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines.
This matters: When I’m deciding where to dine during this pandemic, I want to have confidence that the restaurant’s management doesn’t slack off on health and safety.
But how can we find out? The internet! It is not difficult to gauge an eatery’s priority on health and safety from its website and social media. I had to browse past a half-dozen local restaurants that did not even mention pandemic precautions the other day before I landed at Taj Palace, an East End favorite.
“Order Online for Curbside Pickup,” read an eye-catching orange button high on Taj Palace’s web page. “Order for Delivery via Grubhub or Doordash,” it added, assuring us that curbside pickup is as close as a quick phone call.
Taj Palace’s garlic naan, soft and intensely garlicky flatbread from the tandoor oven.
I found all this profoundly reassuring, and once I clicked through to the online ordering page, I was even more impressed. Clear and easy to navigate — it’s a technological dream.
Here’s how it works: Choose a dish, click on its name, and you’ll jump to a new page offering a choice among five meats — chicken, lamb, fish, shrimp or goat — five levels of spice and special instructions. Check the price, add the dish to your cart and go back for more. When you’re done, fill in your payment and contact information, add a good tip, choose your pickup time and even note the color and model of your car so they can find you out front. Yes, they did think of everything, and it shows again in the clear, complete email receipt and directions that shows up in your box moments later.

Read the remainder at LEO’s website.