Nancy Miller / courier-journal.com
Bob Durbin has been chef at Over the 9 for less than two months but he’s already making waves on the local culinary scene.
“I thought the previous menu was kind of random. I wanted to bring it back to pub fare, but a little higher in creativity than you would find in a standard bar or gastropub. I introduced an entirely new menu except for one dish, the macaroni and cheese, which I kept,” he said.
His short ribs with roasted jalapeño garlic grits and red chili gravy is a resounding hit as are the duck wings. Among other new offerings are winter greens gratin, charred and sweet potato salad, and pork belly with refried baked beans, harissa Brussels sprouts and black molé.
“I really like being able to devise new dishes and put flavors together to see how people react. When they don’t react well, I don’t take it personally because I think I have a different palate than a lot of people,” Durbin said.
“There’s such a growth of interest among chefs and diners in getting away from refined and prepared foods, toward local ingredients, lighter and fresher and prepared from scratch. I think I’ll be able to get farmers to grow things that aren’t as well known to the general public. One of the farmers grows heirloom purple plum tomatoes that I’ve never seen anywhere,” he said.
He attended culinary school in Michigan and worked in restaurants in Texas and New York – all very different environments for chefs and restaurant patrons. Whereas he describes Buffalo and Syracuse, N.Y. as reflecting a distinct Old School Italian influence, he thinks of Austin, Texas as very forward-focused, much the way he sees Louisville heading.
“On a day I’m not working, I like to have people over for good food and conversation, and often for tacos. And I do a lot of canning, preserving, pickling and fermenting. Most recently I did an apple and Brussels sprouts kimchi. I have a batch of kohlrabi sauerkraut that should be ready in the next few weeks,” he said.
Don’t be surprised if you see some of those on the Over the 9 menu. He’s not one to keep good things to himself.