Saturday, October 25, 2008

Best of Downtown: Jenicca's

Among the most underappreciated (best that I can tell) spots in downtown-ish Louisville is the wine/beer bar and restaurant Jenicca's. Even before I "moved" downtown, we hit Jenicca's on a fairly regular basis, but now I'm making an even more concerted effort to get there as often as I can. Like so many downtown establishments, Jenicca's is struggling, and it's in everyone's best interest that this place thrives.

Whenever I walk into Jenicca's, I feel like I want to move in. Not only does Jenicca's design aesthetic match my own (although you'd never know it walking into my shotgun home-- I love the NYC loft-y, industrial schtick, but when you own a 102 year old home, you feel obligated to preserve the original design as much as you can-- at least I do), the music is great, the food-- though light-- is my kind of food, and the people behind the bar-- usually Jennifer or Rebecca, the owners-- are lovely and kind. Not to mention the fact that they have beautiful bathrooms and a great outdoor space.

Jenicca's is open from 11-3pm on Mondays, 11-10pm Tue-Wed, and 11-midnight Thu-Sun. They offer an extensive wine selection and lots of craft beers, including Schlafly's on tap. Their menu features mostly sandwiches and snacks, and everything I've had there is great. I'm especially partial to the BLAT (Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado, and Tomato) sandwich. At $5.95, it's an awesome deal. With any sandwich, you have a choice of broccoli salad (which is WONDERFUL) or chips and salsa.

Jenicca's hosts lots of live music on the weekends and other special events. Last Friday Trolley Hop the place was so packed it was nigh-impossible to get a beer. It made me so happy to see them so busy, I wasn't bothered a bit.

My only beef with Jenicca's is that they only offer regular coffee, actually it's hazelnut coffee which is one of my least favorite coffees. I can say with total certainty that if Jenicca's had cappucino-machine-made coffees or at least a regular coffee on tap that the restaurant would become my very regular on-the-way-home stop after work. I know that this is an unwelcome complaint for the Jenicca's owners. They've made conscious choices about what to offer-- and the conscious choice not to offer a better coffee selection is one that they're firm on. But still. With only Blue Mountain and DCE even remotely nearby, I can't help but think they'd do a killing on lattes and such with the local small business owners. I know if I worked in an office nearby, I'd sooner bring my own cappucino machine to work than go out and get a hazelnut coffee from Jenicca's any day.

Smaller beef: at least twice, we've tried to head there on a weekend afternoon and found them closed despite what their business hours said.

636 E. Market StreetLouisville, KY 40202

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Downtown Girl

I know it's been a long time. But the good news is that in four days, Lou will have her last chemo and hopefully shortly the worst of the whole "cancer thing," as I like to call it, will be over with. Thanks to all the loyal Loueyville readers (all two or three of them) for the good wishes!

Anyway, around a week after the Hurricane in Kentucky, ye olde insurance companye relocated Roommate and me to one of the better extended stay hotels downtown. On the downside, we've been here around three weeks now and I'm wicked homesick for the Highlands. On the upside, it's given us a chance to explore urban Louisville living.

I have to say, the experience has been mixed at best.

The worst news about urban Louisville living came this weekend when I swung by Browning's Brewery to pick up a growler of Bourbon Barrel Stout and found the place packed to the rafters... with people enjoying their LAST Browning's brew. Unbeknownst to anyone, from best that I can tell, Browning's was closing for good.

This just a week after Roommate and I had discovered the fantastic Happy Hour at Browning's upscale sister restaurant, Park Place. Half price drinks and appitizers made for a fantastic Friday evening. We'd certainly intended to spend more evenings there during our exile from our Humble Highlands Abode. Mama Dearest is headed to the Ville this weekend, and I was looking forward to taking her there and perhaps endulging in a Mama-funded full price tony meal.

The shuttering of these two fine restaurants comes hot on the heels of two more restaurant closures within two blocks: Primo and Market on Market. It certainly doesn't bode well for this neck of the woods-- the Slugger Field 'hood. Now, truly, there's no restaurants of note-- nothing Mama Dearest-friendly at least-- within a short walk of my new temporary home.

The same holds true for bars. Icebreakers-- never exactly a hotspot, except on weekends and not my crowd then, to begin with-- appears to have limited their hours to just weekends. Neither Roommate nor I have gotten thirsty enough to venture into the brightly lit Bank Shot billiards club. There's Connections, a gay club which is very straight friendly as long as you're gay friendly, but it's not the kind of place you'd pop in for a beer.

The best bet for a beer in the immediate neighborhood is the super-homey Derby City Espresso which has a fantastic espresso stout on tap for $4. Matt, the owner, is always good for a nice chat, and so far I've caught every presidential/vp debate on their big screen. The debate crowd is an Obama crowd; although they're a respectful, respectable bunch, I wouldn't venture attending on Wednesday if I were a McCainiac. The only drawback to DCE is its erratic hours, but cut Matt some slack; I don't know that he's ever NOT there.

Speaking of DCE, on Thursday (10/16) starting at 6pm they're hosting a fundraiser for Adam Tatum, the owner of Oak Street Pizza who was shot during a robbery a couple of weeks ago. That's some marvelous local karma.

Otherwise, we've got some slim pickings between the hipper parts of E. Market (home of Toast and Jennica's, et al. More on those later) and 1st Street. The music at Stevie Ray's has never been bad when I've been there, but the drinks are a little on the pricey side, and on most nights there is a cover. Blue Mountain Coffee House is nice, too. Like DCE, it's a great place to get a cup of (somewhat pricey) coffee during the day, but the drinks are also a bit higher than I would like to pay on just your average night of casual drinking.

I'm spoiled rotten. I know. In most cities a $5-$6 beer is not a luxury item.

But there are some absolutely charming parts about downtown life if you're willing to hoof it a bit. We're not talking Manhattan-style, long-distance hoofing. We're just talking a longer walk than this Highlander is used to (it's Fall, for goodness' sake... you can't ask for better hoofing weather). More on those to come.