Monday, November 9, 2009

Tourist in my own town: Downtown Vacation

Can we still call this "Indian Summer"? I mean, we're just about as close to the first day of winter as we are the last day of summer. I, for one, couldn't be happier about this warm spell. Not just because I'm a hothouse flower, but because the heat on my house has been kablooey since Thursday, and I can't seem to get a repairman out here to save my life.

But the house fiasco led to an unexpectedly nice weekend, thanks to Roommate. He's out of town til the end of the month, and as an "I'm sorry you're shivering" gift (it was miserable those first couple of days), he paid for a room at the downtown Hyatt for me for Saturday night. So I had a lovely Saturday playing tourist in my own town.

Faithful readers may remember that this time last year, I was actually a denizen of downtown-- exiled to the Residence Inn on Market for almost seven months because Hurricane Ike toppled a tree onto my house. So my downtown stay was equal parts vacation and "Old Home Days."

I started the day at Bodega on Market, the charming little gourmet market/beer store with a lovely deli/restaurant. If there's any restaurant in Louisville that makes a better bisque than Bodega, I haven't found it. My spirits were dashed when I found out that they were out of Lobster Bisque, but a patron at the coffee bar said that the Roasted Red Pepper Bisque was even better. And it was marvelous (though I still prefer the lobster-- New England girl and all). I always kick myself for not going there more often, and I'm so glad they're surviving the death of sister restaurant Melillo's and the popularity of nearby Toast. Lovely atmosphere, free wifi, and very nice people.

When it comes to nice people though, few can hold a candle to the guys at Scout. I just love, love, love them. And they always remember me and ask me all kinds of lovely personal (but not too personal) questions. I suspect, however, who they REALLY love is Big Mama Lou who, whenever she comes to town, hits Scout like a friggin Yankee Tornado, buying up tons of loot and shipping it home. (Or, bless her heart, if she's feeling the bug, buying a ton of stuff for me.) Both Scout and Scout Home seem to be doing really well. Big Mama Lou is coming next week, and I promised to bring her by. I bought myself an adorable pair of squirrel earrings. (Uh, squirrels love acorns!)

The Louisville Beer Store has just opened up next to Scout Home on Market. What an exciting addition to the Nulu District. I mentioned this upcoming opening in my post about the Nulu Festival. I peeked inside and it looks lovely and cozy. Folks were pretty busy stocking shelves, so I didn't stop in.

The only bummer about that new arrival is that it has popped into the store that used to belong to the adorable Boston Flower shop. Anyone know what happened to that place?

Another new opening, mentioned in the comments of a recent post, is the new Sol Azteca's on Fourth Street, which moved into the funky space vacated by Raw Sushi. Can't find much about it online, and I've never been to a Sol Azteca's, but it looks like it's doing well.

One place that definitely calls for further investigation is the absolutely gorgeous Theater Square Market Place on Fourth Street near the Palace. I stopped in for a (kind of poor) iced coffee, but was stunned at the very sophisticated decor and the awesome layout. Theater Square Market Place seems to be treading the same ground as Bodega in many ways (though Bodega's iced coffees are awesome). Gourmet deli, market, etc. But in the back there's a full restaurant and bar (with beautiful lighting) and next door there's a wine shop.

There's also another new (to me, at least) pizza place on Fourth Street. Little joint. The name escapes me right now. But it smelled divine. UPDATE: It's called Sicilian Pizza & Pasta. Thanks, @funambulator

I spent my evening bar-hopping a little. Manhattan at the hotel bar. Beer and Octopus Bagna Cauda at 21c (it's so simple but so tasty... I can hardly bring myself to order anything else). Manhattans at AJ's at the Galt House-- I think they make some of the best (and fairly reasonable) Manhattans in town. Back to the hotel bar. (Uh, yeah, Manhattans again... Mama loves her bourbon).

Morning = chocolate chip bagel and cream cheese at Einsteins.

All in all, an excellent downtown vacation. And while I don't know what he spent on the hotel room, I do know Roommate got it on Hotwire for pretty cheap. The Hyatt is one of the 4-star options, and it is very nice. Lovely comfy beds, sizable rooms. I do wish they had nicer bathrooms. And, because it is an atrium hotel, it's rather noisy in the mornings. The hotel was booked to full-occupancy-- Yay Louisville!-- and it sounded that way. Often 4-star hotels in Louisville can be booked on Hotwire for as little as $60. That's peanuts when you consider the quality of getaway you can have!

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