Eating in Louisville

{by alexis}–You know by now that we spent our anniversary sipping bourbon and touring around Kentucky in the back of the limo. But you also know me well enough to know that no celebration in my house is complete without about fifty outrageous meals. While there, we ate at the Brown Hotel and 21c Museum Hotel, and both meals were memorable. Which is putting it mildly. Ready? Let’s go.

So, the Brown Hotel was, in a word, the bomb. The lobby was majestic, the service was impeccable and our room was enormous (shout out to my dad for nudging us into the upgrade!). Situated in the middle of downtown, the Brown is old-school elegance at its finest. While Joe was checking out, I crept up to the third floors to get a few stunning shots of the lobby.

the brown hotel lousiville the brown hotel louisville the brown hotel lousivilleI’m no architecture expert, but I can tell you with certainty that the space is truly beautiful. The ceiling was intricately carved, and the whole room was lined with enough arches to convince you that you’re standing in a European cathedral with a long history. Every inch of the wall was carefully considered, every detail executed with a precise perfection.

We had our first dinner (we’re hobbits) in the lobby bar space, and spent more than a few minutes silently, taking in the intricate room around us. There is a lot to see.

Do you wonder what we were eating in this first of two dinners. Behold: THE HOT BROWN.

the hot brown

believe it or not, this is a HALF portion

Their website has a whole PAGE dedicated to this holy grail of sandwiches. What you see here is Texas toast piled high with four slices of bacon, pecorino cheese, and FOURTEEN OUNCES of sliced turkey breast, so tender, I swear you could use a spoon. This recipe will be PERFECT for those Thanksgiving leftovers. The whole thing is smothered in a sauce made from spices in cream and butter. It is like bread and turkey soup and it was amazing. The hotel is credited with creating this masterpiece and it soon became a hit in all of Louisville, and on menus still you can find enough re-interpretations and homages to make your head spin. But this is the ORIGINAL sandwich. Worth a trip on its own.

So after a quick nap (digesting is hard work), we met my darling parents downstairs for our second and main dinner at 21c Museum Hotel. This place is bananas. The restaurant here is called Proof on Main (a nod to bourbon, of course), and caught my eye due to shout outs in national publications and an endless list of good reviews.

By the way, if you need a laugh, please check out the Louisville Yelp restaurant reviews. I spent more than a few days tormenting Alicia with excerpts and all-caps yelling via gchat. (Pro tip: your carbonara is SUPPOSED to come with egg).

Anyway, it was time for drinks. This time, we went for a round without bourbon, and mom and I chose classic prosecco. Because: bubbles. Joe went for a “smoky” cocktail that slowly grew on him.

proof on main louisville proof on main louisvilleForgive my photos: the lighting was very cozy, which means it was tough on the pictures. But that is a HOT PEPPER floating in that drink, not some delicate, sliced FRUIT. Peppers > fruit.

Next, we moved on to a beautifully presented charcuterie plate. We chose the tobacco duck, salami picante, the Mt. Tam, and the Kenny’s cheddar, along the country ham, which appears to no longer be on the menu. It was awesome, so sorry about that!


The salami was the clear winner because spicy and salty are meant for each other. The duck was not our favorite due to it’s strong tobacco flavor, but surely it was prepared well. The bread was tough and chewy and a great match for the meats. We also loved the grainy mustard and the rich cheeses. When I die, please bury me with soft cheese in both hands, so that I may have a snack on my journey to wherever it is we all end up. WRITE THAT DOWN.

After more prosecco and beer, it was time for dinner. Mom chose the garganelle, which I insisted on calling Gargamel because I am mature. She was a little afraid of the hog neck reference in the menu description, but it ended up being tender, flavorful pieces of pork. It was light on sauce which we as a family prefer, and delicious.

proof on mainJoe went for the Hog Chop because how often do you get to order hog chop? Also, he likes pork. The shelling beans on the side were some of the best I ever had, and I gave him puppy dog eyes at every opportunity so he would share. He did!

proof on mainA beautifully presented dish, don’t you think?

My father and I ordered the same thing, which is usually STRICTLY AGAINST THE RULES at my tables, but I allowed it this time because it was a bison burger. And they’re famous for it, and I had to have it.

Bison is so wonderful as a burger. It is velvet-y and smooth, like the cashmere of ground meats. Find one now and order it. It was accented by giant slices of bacon and a delightful strong cheddar. The chef recommends you order the burger cooked medium-rare, so both my father and I followed directions. I know a lot, you guys, but I certainly don’t know more than this chef.

proof on mainPamela (you know my mother is Pamela, right?) said that these were some of the best fries she’s ever had, which just goes to show that most folks are suckers for truffle sauce.

As we got ready to pay our bill, we got such a fun surprise!

proof on mainThis picture is tough, but THAT IS COTTON CANDY! That’s the dessert they bring along with your check! What pink fun! It was sweet and not too sticky, and made me positively giddy.

After we left, we wandered out into the hotel to take a look at the art on display. The hotel is literally a modern art museum.

The first piece was, at first glance, charming pastoral textiles mounted on the wall, though they’re actually made from a combination of fabric, thread, and paint. The artist is Gina Phillips, a Kentucky native, though she now makes her home in New Orleans.

21c museum hotelNeat right? LOOK CLOSER. What seems cozy and country is actually quite violent and more than a little scary.

21c muesum hotelOh, you know, eagles just swooping away with human limbs in their talons. THE USUAL. I do love the way the size of the textiles gives them a little perspective though. Very interesting.

Down the hall was a neat installation. You stand before a wall that has a projection of raining letters and, somehow, the screen knows you’re there, and the letters fall all around you. They spell out sentences, but we didn’t stay long enough to know what the whole piece meant to say.

21c museum hotel

Also, these charming guys were all around the hotel.

1011142123a_edited-1 1011142121_edited-1And don’t forget to stop and take a look at this man on your way out, who is SURE to give you nightmares. Tis the season!

21c museum hotelI kind of like his cloak, what with all the beading but…Yes, he’s scary.

The next day, we checked out of the hotel and headed out of Louisville a bit to brunch with some old friends who have recently moved to Kentucky. They suggested we meet at the Village Anchor, and GOOD LORD am I glad they did. This place was all kinds of adorable. Even the neighboring little town!


1012141312_edited-1Once inside we got to the business of brunch, and, after a late night of prosecco and cotton candy, the first thing on the agenda was coffee.

the village anchor louisvilleNo, your eyes do not deceive you: My coffee is served with a BOWL OF CHOCOLATE CHIPS. I enthusiastically dumped half the bowl in my mug and snacked on the rest throughout the meal. But I forgot all about that when our meals arrived. Camille went with the California Benedict. And as Alicia and I have yelled a thousand times before: You can’t. Go wrong. With Hollandaise. AND avocados!

the village anchor louisvilleBoth men ordered the grilled filet mignon with bleu cheese biscuits. This was by far the winner in my opinion. The biscuits were moist and flaky, the steak was cooked properly, and the bleu cheese sauce was rich and held it all together. IT WAS DIVINE. I basically tried to steal Joe’s plate, but he wasn’t having it.

the village anchor louisvilleI went with the Village Anchor French Toast. If it has the restaurant’s name in it, it HAS to be good, right? Well, it was! I ordered mine sans bananas because, honestly, bananas are from hell, but the strawberries, blueberries, and pecans were divine. The toast was sweet and a bit crispy around the corners, which was just how I like it. Go ahead and order this, yo.

the village anchor louisvilleWe wandered a bit around the little town, and then ran up to our friend’s new house to gawk at its loveliness and cry because we haven’t found one like it. Kentucky is beautiful this time of year.

1012141313a_edited-1And then we got on the road, to return to fair Columbus. It was another pretty drive, thanks to the leaves and the lovely views of Cincinnati. This will be our next weekend trip, but for now I’m dying to spend a weekend enjoying the city on my doorstep.


One thought on “Eating in Louisville

  1. Pingback: Looking Back on 2014 | Wander & Whine

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