From the moment you enter Le Moo, it is sensory overload. A varying number of textures intermingle across the walls, the plush chairs, the substantial host stand and the neighboring bar, each of which is adorned in lush shades of blue and brown. The restaurant is buzzing, even on the Sunday night we visited. The sounds of glasses clinking and animated conversations rise with the music and float into the air, mixing with the warm scents emanating from the kitchen. Save the round bar at the center of the restaurant, it’s hard to imagine that this utterly transformed space once belonged to KT’s, a Louisville restaurant staple that simply ran its course and shut its doors earlier this year. There is no question that owner Kevin Grangier was going for a more opulent feel with his redesign for Le Moo, and by all accounts, the resulting product is a success.
On the night we visited Le Moo, we were seated at a comfortable table for two adjacent to the bar, the following missive emblazoned on the reclaimed wood wall to our left: “Love is a green sky on a blue pasture and I am the flying cow eating it all up.” Beginning with the name on the building, the theme of the cow is ever present in the Le Moo experience, from the quippy cocktail names to the art adorning the walls and the variety of grades of beef offered on the menu. Indeed, Le Moo blends the full steakhouse experience into its own unique dining expression, and we were anxious to dive into this decadent dinner experience.
We ordered cocktails to start, sipping slowly as we perused the dinner menu. The complete Le Moo experience requires time. This is not a dinner you rush through, nor would you want to. The food is indulgent, and you are doing yourself no favors if you try to hurry the process. Always curious to taste a new version of a Manhattan, I selected the Moohattan for my predinner drink, made with Fernet Branca, the secret ingredient of sorts — a bitter, herbal liqueur. It was aromatic and came with a welcome punch of Woodford Rye. My husband selected the Bottled and Branded, another rye-based cocktail punctuated with a eucalyptus honey syrup and dashes of grapefruit and pimento bitters.
The Wagyu Pigs in a Blanket immediately jumped out at me when I picked up the menu and this throwback starter did not disappoint. Le Moo puts a modern spin on this retro dish, nestling high-class bites of hot dog and blue cheese between flaky folds of croissant, serving them with a sweet cherrywood bacon jam and a pork rind garnish. In addition to our playful appetizer we selected a classic, the steak tartare. Made with prime filet, cornichons and capers were tossed within the finely diced raw beef, a swath of Dijon garnishing the side of the plate. The only element missing was the egg yolk, but it seemed that this tartare was all about the beef, and the portion was ample enough to feed a party of six or more.
Our appetites roused, we moved on to our second course, the Le Moo signature haricots verts and asparagus salad and their take on a steakhouse wedge. A substantial bowl of crisp green beans and shaved asparagus was delivered to us, the mound of bright veggies adorned with dollops of burrata and showered in an ample rain of balsamic glaze. Crispy curls of country ham added a welcome, salty textural element to the dish which, much like the tartare, was more than enough to split with a crowd. The wedge salad was also generous in size given the half portion we ordered, fresh hearts of romaine taking the place of the traditional iceberg. A mix of tomatoes, toasted pecans, blue cheese and croutons rested within the leafy folds, a warm brown sugar and bacon dressing adding a tasty cherry to the top of this inventive take on a steakhouse tradition.
It was time for the main event, and I was looking forward to the prime rib-eye heading my way. Focusing on three specific cuts — the rib-eye, New York strip and the filet — Le Moo offers a guide to the various grades of beef they have on hand, including the difference between USDA Choice, USDA Prime, Dry Aged, Wagyu and Grass Fed versus Corn Fed. Steaks are ordered a la carte with one side included, or in a variety of nostalgic preparations like Steak Diane Prime and Beef Stroganoff Prime. For those looking for an over-the-top encounter, they offer the Captain’s Log, three splurge-worthy and super-size steak selections topping out with the 32-ounce, Grade-8 Wagyu T-bone, served with one side at a cost of $158. I elected to order my most favorite of steak cuts, the rib-eye, opting for the prime grade over the choice, given the promise of extra marbling which translates directly to more fat, and thus, more flavor. The steak did not disappoint, and Le Moo established its steakhouse street cred with my very first bite, the crust perfectly seasoned and charred just so, the interior a beautiful medium-rare, exactly as ordered.
My husband was smitten with the burger the moment he saw it on the menu and was soon presented with a behemoth beef patty sandwiched between two slices of brioche and topped with pickled red onions, oven-roasted tomatoes, ham, cheddar, dill pickles, roasted garlic mayo and spicy Sriracha ketchup. The burger was clearly ground in-house and had loads of flavor, the Le Moo drunk-cut fries a perfect, crisp accompaniment.
As we tried valiantly to finish our entrees, knowing well we would fail, we knew dessert would have to wait for a future, more restrained visit, and we declined the oh-so-tempting chocolate bread pudding served with Graeter’s vanilla bean ice cream jumping out at us when dessert menus were presented. Indeed, Le Moo is a celebratory destination, the menu stacked with opportunities for indulgence. That said, the burger and mountain of drunk-cut fries are highly shareable, and we chatted about returning soon to split this meal barside, getting a taste of Le Moo without putting a dent in our wallet. The Le Moo experience is unique and, based on the crowd filling the seats on this particular Sunday evening, it is a welcome addition to the neighborhood. Something tells us Le Moo will establish itself as a Louisville staple for years to come, much like KT’s did, during its 30-year reign on Lexington Road.
Le Moo is located at 2300 Lexington Road, the home of the former KT’s Restaurant. Hours are Sunday through Thursday, 5 to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5 to 11 p.m. Learn more at (502) 458-8888 or visit lemoorestaurant.com.