Wednesday, April 9, 2008

312. Louisville Poll

This month’s Louisville Magazine features, among other things, its 23rd Annual Best of Louisville Awards ballot, sponsored by Hilliard Lyons, one of Louisville’s oldest businesses. I thought I would make my own list here, answering and commenting on the questions in their categories, and then inviting your comments. So, here goes.

Asian Restaurant – I do not eat much at any true Asian restaurants. A friend of mine, a Filipino guy who for simplicity same goes by Phil, has served as an assistant Chef at the Kobe Restaurant on Midland Trail in Shelbyville and I’ve eaten there with him a few times, so by default, that is my answer.

Bargain Restaurant – My kind of eating – cheap. Truthfully, I like to go to the little Chinese place, with a very small buffet, right down at the end of the Courthouse Alley on 5th Street. I have no idea what it is called but the daily special is $5.25 plus tax, without drink.

Gourmet Pizza – I don’t think there is any doubt the best gourmet pizza in this town is Wick’s, especially the one at Baxter and Highland avenues. But, I rarely go there because it is too loud and too crowded for my tastes. But when I do, I’m always sated. Also, Wick’s has played the good corporate citizen, taking a chance on a pizza parlor out Dixie Highway way past Valley High School. I’ve been told it has been an economic success. Good for them and good for the residents in the somewhat forgotten corner of the county.

Indian Restaurant - I can’t honestly answer this one. Someone enlighten me.

Irish Pub – Flanagan’s Ale House on Baxter Avenue is the place for me. It is local enough to still seem like a pub, and big enough to handle a nice crowd, especially with that wonderfully underdone Back Room.

Martinis – I don’t drink martinis, so I don’t know.

Middle Eastern Restaurant – Saffron’s on Market Street. I went there for the first time just recently at the invite of Marty Meyer, who works for Congressman Yarmuth. I’ve since been back. The food is good and the setting is appropriately Persian.

New Restaurant – There is an old saying that a good Republican would never do anything his grandmother hadn’t already done twice. As for restaurants, I am then rather Republican. I don’t do new restaurants as a habit. I did try to new Blue Nile on 5th Street just a few days ago, where you eat with your fingers using a bread-mixture of some sort. The food was good, but I needed utensils. The night before Easter a group of us ate at Rivue, the new top-class restaurant atop the Galt House Hotel on N. 4th Street. It was different, expensive, and interesting, but I’m not ready to give it a review here.

Outdoor Dining – Carly Rae’s at 1st and Oak has exceptional food, but their service has always been less than pleasant. My friend Migael works there and I hope his work is an improvement on the service. They have a large outdoor patio which is a great place to eat brunch on Sundays or enjoy a late night glass of wine. They are the 3rd or 4th restaurant at this site and they all have shared the contradictory issues – good food, poor service. Hopefully the upcoming outdoor season will be an opportunity for improved service because the venue is great.

Private Dining Rooms – I’m from Preston Highway where the term “private dining rooms” has no meaning. I have eaten once with Councilman Jim King in one of the private dining rooms at Cunningham’s on 4th Street, but one time doesn’t make me a good judge.

Restaurant Atmosphere – The Third Avenue Café at 3rd and Oak is my favorite place for atmosphere. They have music on some nights – most recently it was three students from YPAS who are going to be Peter, Paul, and Mary someday. Other times Celtic music is on tap, or guitar playing. There is a TV tuned to CNN but the sound is turned down so you have to follow the closed-captioning if it interests you. Plus, there are broad windows opening up onto 3rd Street and the intersection, offering a “real live” theater production now and then given the area characters who populate the “live stage” outdoors.

Restaurant for Desserts – I rarely eat desserts, so I’m not the one to ask.

Restaurant for Side Dishes – One of my favorite places to eat is the downtown café on 7th Street opposite the Police Station, known as Gavi’s. Gavi’s is a several generation family operated Russian/American café. Several of the side dishes are carryovers from the Fatherland. I especially like the Russian Potato Casserole.

Restaurant for a Splurge – Proof on Main, at 7th Street. The food is delicious, if minimal in amount; the atmosphere is bold and energetic.

Restaurant with a View – For me, anything offering a view of the river is great. Even the Café Magnolia, with its small windows which actually overlook I-64, which overlook the river, works for me. As previously mentioned, a few weeks ago I dined at Rivue, high above the city, where two parts of the room rotate while you dine, offering broad views up and down the river as well as across into southern Indiana. Over in Jeffersonville, several restaurants have been established on the river, all offering great views.

South-of-the-Border Restaurant – Louisville has a large number of restaurants offering south-of-the-border fare, from cheap eats to high-end restaurants. I prefer the cheap and delicious eats of the Santa Fe Grill at 3rd Street and Heywood Avenue, across Heywood from Holy Name Church and across 3rd from the University of Louisville’s Jim Patterson Baseball Stadium.

Sports Bar – The March 28, 1992 basketball game between Duke and Kentucky, the greatest college basketball game ever played, pretty much broke me of watching ballgames in restaurants. I’ve never gotten over Christian Laettner’s last second jump shot, giving Duke a 104-103 game winning advantage in the East Regional Finals. In that game, Laettner made 10 of 10 shots from the field and 10 of 10 shots from the free-throw line. I watched that game with a friend in a Sports Bar of sorts. She and I both cried at the end. I still do when I think about it. I haven’t been back to a true Sports Bar since then with the single exception being last fall when I ventured through the Champions Sports Bar in the Marriott downtown at 3rd and Jefferson, while the University of Louisville football team was playing.

Sushi Restaurant – I haven’t acquired a taste for sushi yet.

Swanky Bar – I mentioned Proof on Main earlier. It also fills the bill in this category, for all the same reasons. There is a wall of pictures on one wall – John Yarmuth’s is one of them.

Wine By The Glass – When I drink, I regularly order “a cheap Merlot.” I do this most often at the previously mentioned Third Avenue Café. I can sit for hours in there doing absolutely nothing and enjoying every minute of it.

TV Anchorman/Anchorwoman/Weathercaster/Sportscaster – I don’t watch TV – haven’t done so regularly since the end of the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles in 1984. I could not tell you who the anchorpeople are in this town. I miss Livingston Gilbert, Bill Gladden, Bob Kay, and Cawood Ledford. And, on the radio, I miss El Metzo.

Elected Official Male - This is difficult as I know a lot of elected officials. My boss is the easy answer. Irv Maze is a great guy, great friend, and conscientious leader in Jefferson County. Among legislators, I’ll tip my hat to the Dean of the Legislature, State Representative Tom Burch of Jefferson County’s 3rd District. He is a great guy.

Elected Official Female – Again, a difficult answer to provide. I will offer that the Jefferson County Clerk, Republican Bobby Holsclaw is one of the nicest people in local government. Her predecessor in that office, Rebecca Jackson, also a Republican who went on to be the last Jefferson County Judge Executive with any duties, was also a very pleasant person. But, I have to offer that being nice is one thing, while casting votes that affect people’s lives and futures is another. First District Councilwoman Dr. Judy Green has been a breath of fresh air on the Metro Council, where fresh-air breaths are few and far between. In the State Senate, Denise Harper Angel, against whom I strenuously (and unsuccessfully) campaigned in 2004, has proven to be a very good legislator, although that isn’t all that difficult with the crop of folks we have in Frankfort. Nonetheless, I have told her several times how pleased I have been with her votes. Joni Jenkins and Mary Lou Marzian are good friends of mine on the House side, but the House’s overall role in determining Kentucky’s future isn’t helping their status.

Art To Buy – Although I haven’t bought much art, I know when I do I prefer to buy it off the walls of some of Louisville’s odder places to do so, places such as Jennica’s Restaurant on E. Market Street, or in any of the other funkier locales up and down East Market.

Bathing Suits – Gosh, I haven’t bought a bathing suit in years. When I did, it came from Target.

Beauty Supplies – Who needs ’em?

Beer Store – When I buy beer, I like a variety. I used to go to Our Place Liquors on Poplar Level Road. Lately, it’s been Barret Liquors at Winter and Barret avenues. But, honestly, I do not but much beer.

Birthday Cakes – My grandparents were bakers. My brother and I grew up with the coolest and biggest birthday cakes imaginable. All the neighborhood kids came to our birthday parties. The Noble’s Bakery closed in 1972. I haven’t seen anything comparable since.

Children’s Books – I do not have an answer here.

Fabric Store – Nor here.

Fresh-Baked Bread – Ermins at 1st and Oak or Nord’s Bakery on S. Preston Street. When Nord’s took over the old Klein’s Bakery, I was concerned they would change the old fashioned tastes of the place. Thankfully, I was wrong. They have great bread, donuts, and chocolate milk. As for Ermin’s, they offer large loaves of bread made fresh daily, plus an interesting menu on the side.

Gag Gifts – I’d have to ask my oldest nephew about this. I really don’t know.

Handbags – I’d have to ask my oldest niece about this. I really don’t know this one either.

Men’s Shoes – I’ve discovered S&K Menswear in the last year. I really like it. I go to the one in Okolona at Jefferson Mall on the Outer Loop.

Women’s Jeans – I have no idea.

Day Trip from Louisville – Oh my! There are so many. I’ve written about them in my blog. My favorite would be from Louisville to Lexington, along US60, in October, to Keeneland in the afternoon and Commonwealth Stadium that evening. A stop in Shelbyville on the way up to shop for antiques and take in a bite to eat in one of the Mexican places along Main Street. Between Keeneland and Commonwealth Stadium, maybe along Vine or Main downtown for a glass of cheap Merlot in one of Lexington’s hotels. Returning late in the evening usually requires gassing up – gas went up to $3.46/gallon today - at the Flying J off I-64 at the Waddy exit. They have pizza, which is cheaper than the gas.

Manicure/Pedicure – They didn’t teach us about this at Durrett.

Museum – The Frazier Museum downtown at 9th and Main is one of my favorite places, although I haven’t been there a lot. It combines history with military arms, and is like traveling back in time over several continents. It is one of the places I recommend to visitors. For pure research, although it isn’t technically a museum, the Filson Club, on S. 3rd Street, is without peer.

Weekly Newspaper or Tabloid – Given that Velocity’s sole purpose is to be like LEO, the obvious answer is LEO, Louisville’s Eccentric Observer.

Outdoor Playground – I’ve written several times of the Jefferson Memorial Forest, which lies to the south of the Gene Snyder Freeway, between I-65 and Stonestreet Road, in far southern and southwestern Jefferson County. If an outdoor playground means the opportunity to fish, hike, and learn, this is the place. For those with kids – thankfully not me – the playgrounds in Waterfront Park on E. River Road are always packed, a testament to their popularity.

Product Made in Louisville – There used to be so many, but most are gone. I played baseball in high school and still enjoy the game so a Louisville Slugger is an easy response. But there is also beer. Louisville has a number of microbreweries making local beer. I like to go to Browning’s at Main and Jackson streets. There is of course Louisville’s signature classic foods, Derby Pie, the Hot Brown, and Benedictine Spread. Derby Pie is an exclusive product of Kern’s Kitchens. It is a luscious combination of chocolate, walnuts, and filling. The Hot Brown, created by the Brown Hotel, is a turkey and bacon open-faced sandwich topped with a Mornay or cheese sauce, served piping hot. Benedictine, created by Louisville restaurateur Jennie Benedict in the late 1880s, is a combination of cucumbers, cream cheese, and onion juice. I used to eat Benedictine sandwiches regularly at the Four Sisters Tavern on Poplar Level Road, which closed in 1987. A meal consisting of a Benedictine sandwich as the appetizer, a Hot Brown as the entrée, with Derby Pie for dessert would be an ultimate celebration in Louisville gastronomy. Maybe served with a local beer – and another Benedictine sandwich.

Small Theatre Company – My friend Gil Reyes is involved in a small theater company and I’ve attended a few of his plays. I also get invites from Mark England for various small theater productions. The Victor Jory Theatre at Actors Theatre of Louisville on Main Street offers an intimate setting for small-stage productions. Many years ago, I regularly attended plays at the Youth Performing Arts School on S. 2nd Street, which were excellent works.

Yoga Studio – Never been in one.

Reason to Live in Louisville – Overlooking the dearth of real political and fiscal leadership on the part of the Mayor of Louisville-Jefferson County Metro, there are a number of good reasons to live in our big town along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606. Many of them have been listed herein. This is where I was born – in the old Norton’s Infirmary at 3rd and Oak. Other than a few months of diversion in Lexington and Frankfort, it is where I have lived now for 47½ years. I do hope to live someday, at least for a little while, in Washington DC. And I’ve tentatively planned to retire to downtown Frankfort, where I can sit in the Kentucky Coffeetree Coffeeshop, ordering coffees from Eric the barista while reading old books on Kentucky history, among other things. But, until then, Louisville is a great place to live.

Incidentally, they turned on the Fleur D' Lis fountain in Jefferson Square this morning.


Anonymous said...

Came across your blog while researching Louisville places. Am also a grad of Durrett HS, 1977. Your name sounds familiar --
A. Leger

Mark England said...

Sounds like a great place to live!!

stateofthecommonwealth said...

Great post. I ate at Santa Fe last night, and their burritos are delicious. Only knock against the place is that their tortilla chips are not homemade, which is kinda sad since they're ridiculously easy to make.

As far as Asian food, you should try Vietnam Kitchen if you've never been there. And I'm sorry, but I think Impellizzeri's destroys Wick's, when it comes to pizza. But diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks, right? Anyway, thanks for the great bloggin'.

The Archives at Milepost 606


Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Never married, liberal Democrat, born in 1960, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.