Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Louisville- A Vegetarian's Dream

Being the chub foodie  that I am-  I am always super excited to discover real, legitimate vegetarian fare.  Living in a cosmopolitan city like Chicago, one would think vegetarian restaurants and or meals would be abundant.  We're the third largest city- surely taking that into consideration there have got to me an infinite number of vegetarians in this town.  I'm quite certain there are-  however, we are in the land of the stockyards -  the place where animals come to die and be butchered (think- The Jungle)  this is a true meat and potatoes town - unless you want pizza.    My husband and I joke about it all the time because we go to a restaurant and say "do you have anything vegetarian"  and they usually give me 2 options 1. a "Veggie Wrap" or 2. A salad. (oh, and in fairness, the occasional veggie burger).

On a brief side note-  I don't know if any other vegetarian ever experiences this when eating with meat eaters-  but with my family and friends, vegetarian has become synonymous with "illiterate"-  as they all constantly have the urge to point out anything they see that might even hint at a vegetarian meal as they peruse the menu.  Typically the convo goes like this:

Person 1:  Oh, did you see that they have a Veggie Wrap on the menu

Me:  Yes, I saw thank you

Person 2:  Hey,  there's a VEGGIE WRAP (insert enthusiastic voice of the person trying to up sell the vegetarian options on the menu)

Me :  Yes, thank you

Person 3:  Oh, not only do they have a (again with the wonderment voice) veggie wrap... but they -also- have a salad! (continued voice of wonderment)

How badly do I want to walk into a restaurant and actually have legitimate options?  Enter the town of Louisville.  Being that Kentucky is south of the Mason Dixon line - even if it's just slightly south-  In years previous, my assumption had been that it would be meat, meat, meat, more meat, and vegetables coated in bacon.  To my pleasant surprise-  Louisville is quite the place for delicious food.  It is truly a vegetarian chubs   foodie's  dream.

Our first night in Louisville, we ate dinner at this wonderful boutique restaurant called "Bourbon's Bistro" Not only do they have the most delicious (dangerously so) bourbon infused girly drinks ( I had the Bourbon Ball Martini -  ok, in the interest of full disclosure- I had THREE of them)  but I was served for my appetizer-  goat cheese and garlic (so yumalicious I can't even tell you) and dinner was a Black Bean and Mushroom Croquette covered in a sherry and butternut squash coulis.  I almost embarrassed myself by licking the remainder of the sauce off the plate, but I restrained myself (maybe).

Here's a pic of us at the restaurant-  keep in mind we got there (and took this picture) right when they opened (we had a 6pm sharp reservation)  the place started hopping around 6:30 and was packed with a line by 7

Day 2- Friday. We stop for breakfast at my personal favorite breakfast place in all of Louisville - Lynn's Paradise Cafe  .  If you watch the Food Network, you have seen her on Throwdown with Bobby Flay as well as Man Vs Food. My reason for loving it?  A TON, literally a TON of vegetarian friendly options-  you may say "its breakfast of course its vegetarian friendly-  but this is the only place I know of that offers vegetarian biscuits of gravy.  And, they are Yum-O- Licious!  Oh yeah and their quiche's  are delish as well.  

If you do go-  be sure to stop and take some time perusing her shop.  She has a lot of really fun (and funny) gifts -  plus fun hats and sunglasses (though, I'd say she probably frowns on people [like me] trying on her hats just for gag pictures
Oh  and group shots outside are always fun as well.  This year, I decided to be a dancing fruit.  In years previous  my husband and I play the spoon and fork in these pictures.  My husband decided to be the fork and that's my grandpa playing the spoon :)

Friday night we went out for burgers at Blue Grass Brewing Company.  Now I know earlier I said that veggie burgers are kind of passe when it comes to real vegetarian fare- but when you're going to a bar and just having a late night snack- having a veggie burger offered is always a thumbs up.  Now, considering whenever I go out for dinner with friends and family-  veggie burgers are typically all that is offered, so I consider myself  a veggie burger expert.

The burger at Blue Grass is To.Die.For.   They're handmade (always a plus) and I swear I have never had another veggie burger nearly as delicious as this one.  I try to get the recipe every time I go down- but the lady who makes them is never actually IN the restaurant when I'm there.    If you do go-  ask them to put it on a pretzel bun instead of serving it on the traditional bun - and my personal preference is Swiss cheese  not the pepper jack it is traditionally served with.  But, trust me, try it.

The only downside to my vegetarian foodie tour was Churchill Downs.  The luncheon planned for us, did not take vegetarians into consideration-  so I hate some bread,  a salad,  and a brownie.   Of course, just as we were leaving we discovered that the vegetarian requests changed from years previous and that the chef in fact -could- have made me something to eat.  Ah well, you live and learn.

Saturday night, we made a stop at my first love (restaurant wise) in Louisville. Ramsi's Cafe on the World   - or just Ramsi's.  :)

This is the acme of vegetarian/vegan fare in Louisville.  You could close your eyes and point to practically anything on the menu and it is either a legitimate vegetarian or vegan dish- or can be made that way.  My favorite's there:
Brie Bernadette-  I'm not even kidding, I have dreams about it.  It's brie - rolled in Almonds and Pecans, lightly fried and drizzled with honey -  it is one of those "lick the plate" dishes- Im not even kidding.  For dinner, I usually get the Egyptian Kitchen which is calleKusheri -  which is essentially a lentil dish- and it is so good.  I passed on dessert though they do have some deliciously decadent ones 

All in all, Louisville =  super fantastic vegetarian fare.  If you happen through Louisville or decide because of the amazing restaurants I visited you are now inspired to visit- stop through the ones on my list.  I promise you, you won't be disappointed :)