A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty, has wasted thirty years of his life.—Muhammad Ali
This quote, from one of my favorite Louisvillians, sums up my approach to food over the past few years. All my life, I was eating good food…I just didn’t know it.
My wife was developing into a superb cook, my mom fixed delicious food all my life and my mother-in-law fed me like a king. My two grandmothers were really good cooks but in different ways. I didn’t appreciate what all they did in the kitchen until lately when I started enjoying cooking.
I didn’t appreciate restaurant food until the last twenty years or so. It was more about eating out at for a reasonable price than dining for enjoyment.
As I started my journey in the kitchen, I started paying attention more to restaurant food. Now I tell my friends “food and cooking have become my new sport” since my knees don’t allow me to participate in a lot of sports anymore.
Well if sports have become my new metaphor for cooking, then Louisville, KY is the playing field. Louisville has become a food destination in the culinary scene. It has been this way for many years but is now starting to get recognized for the many fine restaurants in this wonderful city on the Ohio River.
My wife and I spent a rainy weekend in Louisville recently. I was limited in my time, as I was in classes for two days, and it was too wet for outdoor activities, but we still got to eat. We took every opportunity to visit some really good restaurants, some of them are not particularly well-known, but very good nonetheless.
This blog is all about the food…
First up was Whiskey Dry on a Thursday night. This is Chef Ed Lee’s newest Louisville restaurant. He has 610 Magnolia and Milkwood. Incidentally my wife and I agree that our favorite dish we have eaten in Louisville over the years has been Chef Lee’s pork shoulder with black barbecue sauce over coconut rice, with edamame and curry oil. This is a staple at Milkwood.
Whiskey Dry is the only locally owned restaurant on 4th Street Live in downtown Louisville. It specializes in burgers paired with bourbon, very Kentucky.
I had the Big Ed burger, a take-off of the Big Mac. Instead of a middle bun, there is a fried green tomato. I can’t impart the degree of deliciousness I experienced with this burger and fries.
Our very tasty appetizer at Whiskey Dry was Pimento Cheese Curds with Chile Romesco sauce.
This adult chocolate milkshake may have had a little bourbon in it. This was dessert.
Cool bar at Whiskey Dry.
Friday afternoon lunch at NamNam Cafe for wonderful Vietnamese cuisine.
Very cool table top at NamNam Cafe.
My new culinary romance is pho. The NamNam Cafe pho is real real good.
We had a Friday dinner at Louvino on Bardstown Road. This is a small plate eatery in the heart of Louisville’s restaurant and hipster section. You can literally walk up and down Bardstown Road and find a great place to eat. We met my cousin and her husband for a lively and enjoyable meal. Lots of good dishes were enjoyed here.
The bacon-wrapped dates are a must for a starter at Louvino.
The Port wine brisket with zucchini cornbread was so tender and delicious at Louvino.
Lee’s Korean Restaurant was our choice for a Saturday lunch. Lee’s is on the first floor of what looks like an office building, so don’t give up looking if you drive by it the first time. If you have a hankering for Korean, this is the place.
Deep fried won ton was a great choice for our starter.
Mrs. Big Surf and I shared the beef bibimbap with the Korean vegetables. Our waitress/hostess was so nice and pleasant as she demonstrated the way to eat this Korean traditional dish. She was happy to show us a little of her home country. I was glad she did.
The Come Back Inn was recommended to us for our Saturday night meal. Word of mouth is a wonderful thing for we had a wonderful meal. This is a small neighborhood Italian eatery in a humble building in the Smoketown/Germantown/Highlands area. I really don’t know my neighborhoods in Louisville.
We started with a chef’s special appetizer for the night of Smoked Salmon Crostini. This was pretty special. Capers are one of God’s little blessings that let me know He knew what He was doing.
The waiter told us the specialty at Come Back Inn is the Bolognese. I was going to get something else, but he said this would bring me back. He was right. I will come back (now I get it). My wife had the chef special of the evening of lobster ravioli in a saffron cream sauce. This dish was very tasty but the lobster may have been lost in the sauce. The sauce was so good, we didn’t mind too much not to get all of the lobster taste.
Our last meal was breakfast on Sunday morning before heading home. After some research, I found Gralehaus. This is actually a bed and breakfast with rooms upstairs. I loved this place. It is very small and was hard to find. It is on Baxter Avenue right behind the Holy Grale that is on Bardstown Road. Our GPS took us to the Holy Grale.
The coffee alone was worth braving the rain and not having room service, also we got to drink out of these nifty mugs.
This was the best dish I ate all weekend, Biscuit & Duck Gravy, made with a black pepper biscuit in duck sausage gravy with a maple sauce drizzle and duck cracklin’. I will be thinking about this for a long time. I may take up duck hunting just to try to duplicate this.
My wife had Lamb & Grits, a sausage of Middle Eastern origin with lamb and pork. The grits were very good, topped with an egg and cilantro and mint. This was very enjoyable also.
I mentioned earlier my favorite dish I have ever eaten in Louisville. This is Milkwood’s Pork Shoulder with black barbeque sauce from Chef Ed Lee.
They say the most exciting two minutes in sports is the Kentucky Derby (also in Louisville). But set one of these dishes from a Louisville restaurant in front of me and I will give this phrase a run for the money.