Thursday, August 17, 2017

Visiting Louisville on the way to 600

As the summer moved on, I was getting close to my 600th Triple D visit and I started to look for places to go that I could either drive to or get on a flight noting that the summer travel season usually means full and over sold flights.  Guy had recently visited a number of places in the Norfolk, VA area and that was where I was focusing my attention since Norfolk is about a 5 hour drive (or 16 depending on traffic!)

I really didn't want to drive so I decided to look to other places and happened upon Louisville, Kentucky where there are 6 places that Guy visited over the last coupe of years and I decided to see if the Blue Grass State city would work and it did!

In the weeks prior to going to Louisville I was able to take a couple of day trips to get to a few more places including "Miss Shirley's Café" in the Inner Harbor area of Baltimore and "Alewife Pub" near Baltimore's historic Lexington Market, as well as a true Drive-in in Knoxville, Tennessee called "The Pizza Palace".

Miss Shirley's Café in Baltimore

Alewife Pub in Baltimore

Pizza Palace Drive-in in Knoxville, TN

I took the only nonstop between Dulles and Louisville, which left about 5p and after a quick 75 minute flight I arrived about 20 minutes early and headed off for my 3 night visit in Louisville.  After getting the car and checking into the hotel I headed out for my first stop.  "Momma's Mustard, Pickles, & BBQ",  a small place with a unique name and great menu. Momma's is in a small neighborhood and reminded me of a neighbor restaurant.  There are a few small dining areas with the bar in the middle.  I was seated at a table in the back dining area.  I think they must have a big repeat crowd as my server was a bit surprised that I didn't know the menu.  He told me that they make they're own mustard, dry rubs for all their foods and have exceptional barbecue and wings.

Momma's Mustard, Pickles and BBQ in Louisville, KY

I had a hard time making a decision as much of the menu looked awesome.  With the aide of my server I chose the Fried Pickles and what they claimed are the World's Best Wings, which are served Memphis Dry Rub style.  As I waited I noticed the "Guy Ate Here" Stencil on the wall at the end of the bar and in the same area was a tribute to Bob Ross, if you're not sure who Bob Ross is, he is the late PBS star who starred on the series "The Joy of Painting".  He has the huge hair and talks in a very soothing voice, I love watching the show because I am always amazed how he creates such masterpiece paintings.

Momma's "Guy Ate Here" stencil

Momma's Tribute to "The Joy of Painting" star Bob Ross

The pickles came out before the wings and they were served with a side of Ranch, at first bite I realized they were by far the best Fried Pickles I have ever eaten!  They had a bit of a spice bite. Momma's uses the sweeter Bread and Butter Pickles, and had an amazing flavor.  The wings arrived and were excellent some of the best I have ever had.  They were rubbed with a salty, not too spicy rub and the wings were big and meaty!  When I talked to the server about it he told me that not only was he not surprised by my reaction but that's the reason he loves working there so much, the food sells itself and he loves seeing the diners enjoy Momma's cooking! What a wonderful attitude!  This place is a must if you visit Louisville!  Before leaving I was able to get the manager to sign my book and we chatted a little bit about my travels and the show.

Momma's Bar area

THE best Fried Pickles I have ever had

Excellent Dry Rub Wings

My Momma's meal

I left and headed back to the hotel after a long day of work and travel.  My second day started and I planned to go to 3 places and also do some sightseeing.  I headed out to my first stop in the Highland Park area of Louisville.  "Gralehaus" is a breakfast and lunch place.  They also rent rooms for overnight stays and have a separate dinner restaurant in this cozy neighborhood setting.  As you enter you take a menu and give the greeter your order and take a seat at a table or the bar which is where I sat as it was like sitting at a chefs table where I could watch all the food being prepared. 

Gralehaus café in the Highland Park area of Louisville 

Gralehaus dining area

I ordered the Duck and Oyster Mushroom Crepe.  As I waited for my meal I enjoyed watching the single chef making the food.  She was pretty intense in getting the many orders done, but was extremely efficient!

Chef preparing my crepe

Crepe in final stages

Preparing omelets in the back area of the kichen

Thick grilled bread

Some of the finished meals

I was a bit apprehensive about my order because it had egg, but the crepe was very good which chunks of duck meat, Oyster mushrooms and goat cheese, micro greens and a small swirl of hot sauce.  The savory crepe was just right it was a very good meal.

My Gralehaus Duck and Oyster Mushroom crepe

I headed out and decided to take in some of the sights of Louisville.  Before I left a friend had suggested I check out a place in the downtown area and even though I wasn't interested in that place I noticed it was down the street from the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory.  I took a 40 minute tour of the place where most Major and Minor League players get their bats made.  It was totally fascinating, the precision that goes into making a bat is unreal!  They also had a lot of interactive displays and movies.  They also had an area of Lego built stadiums and the Milwaukee Brewers' Miller Park Lego replica had a roof that opened and closed!

A big bat at the entrance

A replica or early bat making for Louisville Slugger

Try a bat area, pick your favorite team or player, I tried a Mickey Mantle bat

Info on the bat I tried

Honus Wagner display

Babe Ruth at the bat!

Lego Miller Park in Milwaukee with the roof open

Roof starting to close


Lego Wrigley Field from Chicago

Lego version of Cincinnati's Great America Ballpark

Old Comiskey Field form Chicago in Lego bricks

After fishing up the tour and museum I headed to my next Triple D stop.  "The Table" is in the Portland area of Louisville.  I was told that in the growth of the city, if not for a 19th Century flood, might be the main city in the area.  It is now one of the poorer areas of Louisville, but the area is making a comeback.  "The Table" is a very unique place, open only 4 hours a day and dedicated to feeding anyone that desires a meal.  They give you their mission statement along with the menu.  One thing is that the pricing is suggestive, pay what you can, if you can't pay fully then pay what you can and they employ volunteers to help serve.  The place was packed during my visit!  It is in an industrial area of Portland.

The Table in the Portland area of Louisville, KY

Inside the rustic dining room

I was seated at a communal table and decided to try the Meatloaf sliders that were topped with cheese, pickles and sweet pepper jelly on the side.  As I waited for my meal I talked with my two servers and they were very excited to sign my book and they even posed with me at their "Guy Ate Here" wall stencil.  The sliders were really good, served on small Brioche buns.  I wasn't sure if I'd like the pepper jelly but it was really good and small amounts would enhance the sliders taste.

My slider meal at The Table

My two servers, very nice and great servers

I headed back to the hotel to relax for a few hours before heading out to my next Triple D stop.  My last stop of the day in the Frankfort Avenue area of the city.  "The Irish Rover" claims to be "Louisville's Irish Pub" and was the cities first Irish pub.  As you enter the Irish Cottage style house, you enter the Dublin style pub/bar area. The dining areas are designed as different Irish cottage rooms.  There are family pictures and portraits on the walls as well and travel posters and Irish drink signs.  It reminded me of Kitty Hoynes, a Triple D place in Syracuse, NY.  I was seated in one of the cottage rooms.  I was really impressed with the menu, very authentic Irish fare and some of the items had the origin of the items and the pub in Ireland that developed them.  

The Irish Rover in the Frankfort Avenue area of Louisville. "Louisville's Irish Pub"

The wall décor in The Irish Rover's Cottage room where I dined
Beers and Ales on tap at the Irish Rover

The menu looked so good that I decided to try a starter and a main meal item.  I chose a starter called Bleu Cheesecake and the Crab Bake as my main meal, off the Irish Rover's summer menu.  The starter came with a side of Vinaigrette dressing and Irish soda bread, I was also given a basket of Irish Soda and Sourdough bread.  The starter was excellent, and incredibly looked like real Cheesecake on a savory cracker crust.  Then the main meal came out, the Crab bake was presented in a crock, the generous portion of Crabmeat was mixed with Rose Marie sauce, a mayonnaise based sauce and baked with a breadcrumb topping with a side salad of micro greens.  The Crab was really sweet, crab is probably my favorite seafood.  

Irish bread basket

Bleu Cheesecake Starter

Irish Crab Bake

Crock of Crab goodness!

The manager came over to sign my book and we talked about the history of the restaurant and the owners.  She also complimented me on pronouncing the name of the city correctly, most visitors to city say Lou-E-ville, but it should be pronounced as Loo-ah-ville.  I headed out after a great first full day in Louisville and had some fun plans for my second day.

I love to travel and love trying  all of these great restaurants, but the highlight of this trip was planned for my second day.  I booked a tour of Churchill Downs, home of the World's Most Famous horse race, the Kentucky Derby.  I decided to take the "Around the Track Golf Cart Tour" a 4 hour tour of the track which included visiting the back side of the track and the barns, watching the morning workouts, visiting the club and box seating areas including Millionaire's Row, the Jockey's room, lunch in the café, where the barn workers eat and admission to the Kentucky Derby Museum.  Although a bit pricy, I highly recommend taking this tour, you are immersed in all things Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby.  The 4 hour tour was very personal as there were just 4 of us including the guide.  The museum featured an awesome 360 movie called "The Greatest Race" that surrounds you with the sights and sounds of Derby Day from early dawn to the winners circle.

Statue to the great Barbaro at Gate 1

Churchill Downs famous Twin Spires

Paddock area

Winner's Circle used only for the Kentucky Derby

Winner's Circle used for all other races

Crystal replica of Churchill Downs on Derby Day in the Millionaire's Row Club area

Starter's Gate

Backside barn area for Fires Stables

Up close with the "athletes"

On track workouts

Back side Quarter Pole

Washing the horses

Waiting to start their workout

Shoeing the horse

A real art form performed by the Farrier 

Worn Horseshoe

The Finish Line

In the Jockey's Silks Room

Museum tribute to the Great Secretariat

Ron Turcotte's Secretariat silks

Finish Line replica in the Museum 

Museum starting gate display

After a great visit to Churchill Downs I headed out to try my next Triple D place.  It took about 15 minutes to drive back into the downtown area.  "Grind Burger Kitchen" is in an industrial area of the city and the building looks like a southwestern adobe.  As you enter you are greeted by a staff member and given a menu and then order and pay.  I took a seat at the bar and looked over the menu.  The place is kind of sparse with some interesting comic themed art work. They feature sandwiches and local micro brews.  I decided to try the Cuban sandwich that was featured on the show.  While waiting the manager came over and signed my book and we talked a little about my travels.

Grind Burger Kitchen in Louisville, KY

The Grind food truck

Grind's bar area

The Cuban sandwich was served with a choice of a side and I chose the blackened Brussels Sprouts.  The sandwich had a great twist from the usual Cuban.  Normally Cuban sandwiches have Ham, Pork, pickles pressed on a crispy sub style roll.  Grind's had Pork Belly in place of pork and that is a much better version of pork.  You always hear "Everything is better with bacon" but I say "Everything is better with belly, Pork belly that is!".  The sandwich was pressed perfectly and was scalding hot, but tasted great!  The sprouts had a real spice bite.

My Grind Burger Kitchen meal - Cuban Sandwich and Brussel Sprouts

Cuban sandwich with Pork Belly

After finishing I headed back to the hotel to relax before heading out to my final Louisville place.  

My last stop was in an older neighborhood of Louisville.  "The Seafood Lady" is a popular take-out place with a self seating dining area.  You enter and order your meal.  The pace is pretty Spartan and has a number of big TVs to watch while you wait.  They have a sign telling you it could take up to 30 minutes for you order to be ready.  The place was packed!

The Seafood Lady in Louisville, KY

Guy was here!

Cool wall decorations in the dining area
I ordered the Half Combo which consisted of two huge Snow Crab Claws, 10 Cajun Shrimp, 2 Cajun Corn cobs, and a Cajun hard boiled egg.  This was a HALF ORDER!  After ordering the manager signed my book and was amazed at the number of places I have been to and thanked me for coming in.  I waited for about 30 minutes or my order and while waiting the manager came through the dining area offering samples of their Teriyaki shrimp and fried gator bites, both were very good.  The meal was great!  Meaty crab legs and huge shrimp.  The egg was really good, but the corn was extremely spicy, as many know I am not a spice person.

Samples of Gator Bites on the top and Teriyaki Shrimp

Half Combo order - Snow Crab Legs, Shrimp, Corn and Egg

Spicy Cajun Corn

Cajun Hard Boiled Egg

The meal was excellent and very messy, but sometimes messy is good!  I washed up and talked with some of the staff who were all very nice and accommodating.  Heading out I had been able to visit all of the Louisville places and was not disappointed.  As I headed home my Triple D count stands at 598 and I can no start planning 600!

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