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B’s Louisville {Proof on Main & Champions}

March 18, 2012

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B and I arrived home Sunday night after our trip to Louisville and the consensus was that it was as good a trip as it could have been. Traveling for a funeral is never something you want to do, but if it’s something you must do, it’s important to find moments of comfort and even… fun in the whole experience. It’s just as important not to feel badly about that.

I know. That sounds horrible, but I’m a believer in aspects of a traditional Irish wake (the open casket part, not so much). Mourning is critical and inevitable, but maybe it’s not as critical as remembering and celebrating the life of the person you’ve come to honor. I can’t think of a person (not one I want to think of, anyway) who doesn’t want to be remembered with joy and laughter. The most we can all hope for when we leave this world is that we will have made an impact on others’ lives such that they want to think of us often.

One read of B’s grandma’s obituary and there’s no doubt she’s someone who will be remembered. She was a remarkable woman and I know for certain she would be pleased that her family had this time to spend together and really enjoy each others’ company.

That Saturday afternoon, B and I checked into 21c Museum Hotel in downtown Louisville. B’s brother, sister-in-law, and nephew were heading back to Washington D.C. on a very early Sunday morning flight and we wanted B’s mom to be able to go home and get some rest after returning from the airport. After a nice afternoon with B’s family, we drove downtown.

This hotel is amazing. Absurdly amazing. It’s essentially a working art museum where you can also stay. The staff couldn’t have been nicer, the museum is wonderful and the rooms are huge and gorgeous. We thought about walking somewhere else downtown for dinner, but decided instead to stay in the hotel for dinner and eat in the bar at Proof on Main.

They were pretty packed when we arrived, so we were very glad to see a table getting up to leave as we were looking for a place to sit. The whole atmosphere of the bar fit perfectly with the rest of the hotel. Both places could easily go the way of aloof snobbery when it comes to service just based on their ambiance. In many cities, a place with this ultra-modern vibe would lend itself to aloof or distant service. Not so at 21c or Proof on Main. They manage to interject the perfect level of Southern hospitality into the environment.

The food also found an equal balance between modern and comfort, artistic and accessible. B and I chose to share the Proof fries (with smoked aioli), Chick Pea & Country Ham Fritters (Terviso, olives and grain mustard), and the Bison Marrow Bones (with apple butter, frisee, and toast). I’m still a marrow rookie. I like it, don’t love it, and the idea sort of creeps me out a little, but it was really good. The apple butter was amazing. Everything else was wonderful as well. We were still hungry after finishing, but decided to save the extra room for dessert and indulged in a Double Chocolate Terrine each.

On a photography note, my camera did a wonderful job of capturing the light in this very dark space. My shaky hands, however, did not do such a nice job of holding the camera steady for the long exposures. Thus, most of the photos were ruined.

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After dinner, B’s brother and sister-in-law joined us for drinks. While B was enjoying Lazy Eye cocktails (Old Forester, Fee Brother’s Bitters, lemon and orange), I opted for the 12yr Bourbon flight. Normally, I’m the Irish whiskey drinker and B the Bourbon drinker, but when in Kentucky… The flight had one of each: Elijah Craig, Pappy Van Winkle and Rowans Creek. I added Buffalo Trace White Dog “Mash #1″ (in other words, moonshine). They were all interesting and the first three were very good, but the White Dog was definitely the most interesting. B and his brother each tasted and determined it 1) tasted terrible and 2) tasted like tequila. I can’t say I’ll have it again, but it was certainly an experience and I thought it tasted more like bananas than tequila. There’s no way I could have finished it if it tasted like tequila.

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Sunday, B and I didn’t need to be at the airport until 5:00, having intentionally scheduled a flight late enough to catch the UK/UNC basketball game before leaving. We asked our new friends at 21c for sports bar recommendations. They gave us a couple names, but recommended Champions. I’m really glad I didn’t read any of the reviews before we went because some of them are truly awful. Maybe we were just there on an unusually good day, but nothing the bad reviews had to say was true on our visit.

We had our choice of seats since we arrived pretty early for the game. We chose a table toward the back, near the big screens and away from the door (it was cold). B tried to order a beer (hey, it was a couple minutes to noon… don’t judge) and was reminded that there is no drink service in Kentucky until 1:00 on Sundays. We had sweet tea (which wasn’t really very sweet) instead.

For lunch, B and I both had a Hot Brown. If you aren’t familiar with a Louisville Hot Brown, you really should acquaint yourself… though, it will be hard if you’re not in Louisville… unless you’re in Portland. Eventually, the restaurant filled up, the game started, halftime came and we had a beer. B and I watched the first game of the season this surrounded by other UK fans in New York and watched the last game of the regular season surrounded by UK fans in Louisville.

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After lunch, we had quite a bit of time to kill, so we made a walking tour of the downtown area and the waterfront. I love that B is proud of and loves the place he’s from. Everyone should have that like we both do. The only shame is that our homes are so far away. With any luck, though, we’ll be back soon and it will surely be under happier circumstances.

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Proof on Main on Urbanspoon

Champions Sports Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

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