Monday, April 15, 2013

Road Trip - 610 Magnolia, Louisville, KY

Man.  You know those meals you can’t stop thinking about? This was so one of them.  I have been looking forward to writing about this since I ate the meal.  610 Magnolia is set in a inconspicuous old house—honestly, other than the little lighted numbers, you wouldn’t even know there was a restaurant in there. You walk in to a very warm, inviting environment though (I really didn’t know what to expect based on the exterior). Lots of wood and dark slate gray.  I liked the feel of it right away. You knew you were in a nice place, but I don’t think anyone would feel out of place regardless of how they are dressed.

Chef Edward Lee has quite the accolades. He has won Iron Chef, was a favorite on Top Chef, and is on the list of James Beard semi-finalists for best Chef in the Southeast region.  And the food, well, the food speaks for itself.  It is a three or four course set price menu (3 courses are $55, 4 courses are $65). They also do a wine pairing ($45 and $55 depending on how many courses you get). You have a choice from at least 3 options for each course, and this was a menu that was hard to choose because so many things sounded good. Luckily hubby and I are very good at sharing and we ordered different courses the entire way through and split them.

The first course was actually an amuse bouche, so in the end you got a little extra.  This included 3 little things—a crisp Brussels sprout leave with chestnut puree, a slice of daikon with hummus (great rich flavor in the hummus) and a little sandwich with pork belly. This little bite was rich, and meaty and really delicious.

Our first ordered courses were lobster bisque and the raw Ahi tuna.  The tuna was so interesting—two sliced of beautiful fresh tuna topped with pieces of lardo (essentially thin cut pork fat). It was served in a chestnut and bay leaf sauce with a bourbon soy glaze and bacon powder.  I was sort of wondering how these flavors would blend with the tuna, but everything was amazing. The tuna was fresh and light, but the other things complimented it well turning it into a rich, decadent dish.  The bisque was also really good, and had a little lobster salad with pieces of lobster and greens.  It had nice little spicy kick to it to, making it stand out from other lobster bisques I have had.

Before I forget, they had a lovely bread service as well—both visually and taste wise.  The sliced bread from the local Blue Dog bakery (which we have enjoyed immensely in other restaurants in Louisville as well) was served in a little wooden basket and accompanied by soft tarragon butter that was amazing.

The next course was Carpaccio and a salad.  Both were really great, but honestly, as much as I love Carpaccio, I may have even liked the salad more.  It was local Bibb lettuce with little patties of warm blue cheese alongside.  There were julienne pieces of apples, hazelnut brittle, bacon, and a fennel vinaigrette.  I loved the way the blue cheese was warm, because it really brought out its flavor.  And the sweetness of the apples and brittle were great with it.  The Carpaccio was also really good.  The beef was thinly sliced on the bottom, with shaved foie gras all over the top. There was a little salad as well, and bits of crisp shallots and the most amazing little fried capers that were totally light and crunchy.  The salad was dressed with a light vinaigrette and had mustard oil as well.  For me, mustard is the perfect flavor to go along with Carpaccio, and they did it a very refined, but delicious, way.  Loved the additional richness from the foie gras, as if the perfect raw beef wasn’t enough.

The main dishes for us were the salmon and the wild boar.  I will have to say, this was the only course I had a hard time sharing because the salmon was so, so good.  (I am showing you a picture of it as served as well as after I deconstructed it a bit, just so you can see all the amazing looking ingredients that are kind of hidden in the initial presentation.) Wow, a perfectly cooked piece of fish on top of roasted fingerling potatoes—perfectly tender and perfectly crisp on the outside. The whole thing was topped with a pistachio brown butter puree and served on top of a nice little pile of melted leeks and Meyer lemon.  All of my favorite things. Melty soft, mild leeks, a nice lemony sauce, but with the little bit of sweetness that Meyer lemons have.  And beautiful potatoes.  There was also a nice side of broccolini.  I appreciated the well-balanced meal. And this main dish was quite a fair portion.

The boar was also very good—I don’t know if I have ever had boar in the form of chops. They were maybe cooked just a little further than I generally like meat, but had a nice, just barely game-ish flavor.  There was also an amazingly tender piece of boar shoulder that was really the star of this dish, even though the chops made it look impressive. There was also a black-eyed pea ragout which hubby loved—super flavorful beans, as well as some greens.  The dish was also flavored with rosemary and Guinness.  Really hearty, rustic type of meal.  Unusual in its main ingredient, but very comforting and familiar flavor profile.  Still, if I went back to the same menu, there is no way I would not order that salmon.

We just got one dessert to share (one of us got 3 courses, one got 4) and it was also very good (I am telling you this is one of the best top to bottom meals I have had in quite awhile.)  While we toyed with the idea of the cheese plate option, we ended up with the lemon panna cotta, probably because of the passion fruit element, which hubby and I are both suckers for.  It had a passion fruit cream, macadamia caramel, yuzu candy, yogurt and kaffir ice cream.  Loved all the tangy, fruity flavors going on in this dish, including in the ice cream. They also topped us off with some Bourbon chocolate bon bons just to give us the final chocolate pop. Perfect.

The wine pairings were great as well, and because they have a retail license as well, you can buy any bottles you particularly like—for us, that was nearly all of them, so we came home with several bottles of wine. I like being able to try them later in isolation to see if we like them as much as we remember.  So far, we do.  The service was also great—our server was super personable, not being snooty at all, but was happy to discuss anything on the menu, and to wonder with us about a table next to us that abruptly got up and left before ordering anything.

It was a great evening of great food and a wonderful experience. We are already planning a trip back with a group of friends because I want to share this one with some other people.

610 Magnolia
610 Magnolia  Ave
Louisville, KY  40208

610 Magnolia on Urbanspoon


  1. We've recently fallen for visiting Louisville and 610 Magnolia is very much on our radar, as we like to stay at a nearby B&B. We shied away because of the expense and relative gamble about which courses are on offer, but I think we just need to take the plunge! If you have time for another stop, I highly recommend the Holy Grale - they're focused on amazing beers, but the menu is innovative and amazing. I've taken home a number of ideas (mint, pistachio and chile = an awesome sauce/pesto)

  2. Oh wow, that looks amazing. How long in advance did you have to make your reservation?

  3. It wasn't that far Jessica, maybe a month or so.

  4. Tom. Three words. GO FOR IT. You will not regret it,