Antsy to get out of town, and childless for a few days, we headed to Louisville for a little getaway. It really is not that far, and with a perfect lunch stop at Brozinni’s right on the way, and a massive outlet mall halfway there, you can’t really go wrong.
Our main reason for going though was to stay and eat at the 21C Hotel which is a fairly small boutique hotel combined with a modern art museum. They have art throughout and a couple of nice gallery rooms as well. And we happened to end up there on their First Friday, when all the local art galleries (conveniently located around the hotel) are open late. They have a great little trolley that will take you on the circle with stops near the galleries and shops. It was a lot of fun and we even ended up buying a little art.
Anyway, like I said, most of my trips are planned around food, and I have heard that the restaurant at 21C, Proof on Main, was good. So in between gallery hopping, we had a leisurely dinner as well. The space at Proof is great—lots of art on the walls, and best of all, lots of people. It is so nice to see a City embracing a modern non-chain restaurant. The place had quite a buzz, but with the help of sound absorbing, and really cool looking light fixtures, it was still possible to carry on a conversation. We were seated at a long banquette (if you were a party of two, this is what you got) and the tables were a little close for me, so unfortunately, actually, you could carry on a conversation with your own dining companion as well as those next to you.
The menu is quite extensive and it took us awhile to go through it all, ask the questions we wanted and make our decisions. Unfortunately this seemed to annoy our server, who actually seemed a little bored to be there altogether. So after not ordering right away, she disappeared for some fairly extended periods of time. But finally we figured it out, got her attention, and ordered. We were brought a half loaf of very crusty French bread. It was delicious. We asked where it was made, and were told it was from Blue Dog Bakery, which is a local bakery. This bread was so good, I went and bought a loaf the next day on the way home and built my entire dinner around it. Supposedly they also have a restaurant which I would love to try some time.
I ordered the sweet corn and garlic soup as my starter. It was garnished with some cream and served with a crostini with double smoked ham. The soup was good. It was a puree, but you could still get the texture from the corn in it (almost like grits). The ham “toast” as they called it really made it special though. It was a nicely toasted crostini with a topping of a ham heavy spread. It was highly seasoned and added the salty kick that you wanted with the soup. The soup on its own wouldn’t have excited me that much, but together with the toast, it made a nice dish.
Hubby was very excited to see they offered roasted bison marrow bones as a starter as well. Nothing makes him happier than bone marrow. They served the bones with what they called apple pear mustard and some frisee. The “mustard” was more like an apple and pear chutney. Hubby thought it was a little sweet, but he loved the little frisee salad that was perfectly dressed and wished he had more. I had a couple of bites of the marrow on bread and frisee on top, and it was all very nice. I am not one to just eat marrow on its own in general, as it is (obviously) a little over the top rich—it really is just spreadable fat. Hubby’s only complaint was they didn’t serve it with a marrow spoon (a teeny spoon that makes it easy to scoop it out) so it was hard to wedge the knife in there that they served with it.
For my main, I pulled one of my favorite moves and got an appetizer for my main dish. They had a section on the menu featuring items made with local farm items, and a wonderful sounding raviolo caught my eye. A raviolo is just one big ravioli (I guess technically the plural is ravioli, so if there is only one, it is a raviolo right?) and this one was described as a “farm egg raviolo.” So I thought they used egg in the pasta right? Oh no, there was an entire egg yolk in the pasta that burst when you cut into it. Oh my, when I heard that, I knew it was a must have for me. It was topped with eggplant confit and sesame seeds. Well, unfortunately, I have a feeling my dish befell a fate that occasionally happens when you order an app for your main. I think it got cooked by the apps crew in the kitchen really fast and then sat for awhile. While the yolk was still fairly runny, the edges of the pasta were a little too hard. The eggplant added a nice varying flavor and the sesame seeds a needed textural contrast, but I don’t think this dish was served to me as good as it could have been. We also shared a side dish of the grilled corn on the cob with smoked aioli, pecorino cheese and lime. Sounded really good and was by far the worst thing on the table. Again, it seemed to have suffered from sitting for awhile. The corn was completely cold and the aioli looked like it was starting to form a crust on top. I sunk my teeth into it, and promptly removed my mouth from it and didn’t even swallow a bite. I set it down and neither of us touched it again. Really unappealing.
Hubby had gnocchi with braised pork, shaved celery and horseradish. The gnocchi was great. Super fresh tasting, and tender. The pork had a great smoky, hearty flavor, but there wasn’t so much of it that it overwhelmed the gnocchi. The celery was really thinly sliced on top, almost like a garnish, and then lightly dusted with fresh horseradish. The horseradish was just a little flavor bite, and in no way overwhelmed the other flavors either. It was a very well done dish. So yeah, hubby totally out-ordered me.
One of the signature things at Proof is that they bring you a little bowl of cotton candy with your check. I have to say, seeing other people get this, I was really excited. I have a weakness for cotton candy. When it was delivered, our server said something like, “this is the chef’s take on an after dinner mint.” As soon as I ate it, I was disappointed. It actually had mint flavor mixed in which to me, just wasn’t right. And I noticed several uneaten bowls around the room as the night went on. I don’t know if this is always the flavor, but I didn’t care for it.
But we had a great time in Louisville. It is a great easy drive to a really nice, friendly City. The gallery hop was fun and dinner was enjoyable, even if my dinner didn’t end up being a highlight of my trip. And I would love to go back, so if you have suggestions for other great places to eat there, please let me know!
Proof on Main
702 West Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202