Tuesday, February 04, 2014


So after a completely unmemorable -- as most Midwestern drives between Metropolises are -- Brian and I reach our destination of Louisville, KY from St. Louis, MO via double-decker bridge, which we discover we both find slightly disconcerting after the '89 World Series in Oakland, despite neither of us having been there and only witnessed it on TV.

After checking into and briefly admiring the beautiful Brown Hotel, we catch a cab to some local grub in the Germantown neighborhood via a comfortably outward racist cabbie, who prides his service on having "English-speaking only" drivers. I'll spare you the rest of his speech that involved strong views on camels and their -- ironically, as we were in Louisville -- jockeys ... suffice it to say, after a brief and uncomfortable ride, we find ourselves at the basement door step of Hammerhead's none too soon.

Jesus, those guys do FOOD. The space is cramped, seating for 49 only, and is in a very obvious residential basement. The bar is beer only, the wait was long, we were seated wherever they found room enough for our party and we were lucky that we even made it in time as we arrived at 9 PM local (which we didn't realize we'd even crossed a time zone until the moment we were waiting for our seats) and they stop serving food at 10.  Our order consisted of some German beer I can't recall that was heavenly and light, duck-fat fried fries tossed in truffle oil and garlic, mac-and-cheese balls, soft shell crab tacos and a half rack of BBQ lamb ribs (hence the reason why I can't recall the beer's name).

We were so fat and happy and stinking to high heaven of duck fat when we left, that we didn't notice as we'd stumbled our way the nearest "decent" bar (Siedenfaden's) that it was only semi-recommended by our server at Hammerhead's. The bar itself was alright, reminded me of a southside bar in STL, but the vibe was weird; someone was spinning dance music and they had Fat Albert cartoons on mute on a large projection screen and several of the TV bars. The drinks were cheap, though, the bourbon selection serviceable, but it was getting late, so it wasn't long before we found ourselves fumbling for a cab much like we would have to do in STL back to our hotel.

A bourbon flight, glass of red wine and a shared serving of Derby Pie in the hotel bar later, we collapsed in our gloriously squishy bed.

To Hillbilly Tea for breakfast! So yummy! So charming! I loved this place, down to the Ball jar glassware and tarnished silver wrapped in rags and cinched by a clothing pin.

We then ventured to Joe Ley's Antiques on Market, which is an incredible 4-to-5 story building artfully stuffed to the gills with stuff we loved but were not really in the mood to afford. So much great perusing and daydreaming; it's a Victorian home restorer's dream in there; all the great wood work, fireplaces, doors, mouldings and cappings and such ... even down to hardware like cold air return covers and fireplace grates, as well as reclaimed tile. Stunning stuff.

Since it's later in the afternoon, as all rational people on vacation do, we decide to do dessert for lunch. We head over to the Clifton neighborhood and enjoy the divine offerings of The Comfy Cow. And aside from amazingly decadent treats, it is really, really pretty in there.

As we were on our way to ice cream, we noticed a little store sign bearing the name "Guestroom Records," which was exciting because Please and Thank You on Market turned out to be a bust (just more coffee than records for our tastes) and Matt Anthony's Records in the same neighborhood proved to be nonexistent (that we could tell, anyway). It turned out to be everything we were looking for; and entirely overwhelming with the great selection of new vinyl they had. Almost disappointing, even, but only because -- while I was in the *mood* to afford lots of music -- our personal ledger sheets urged us otherwise.

After a quick change, at the urging of our host for the evening, we have some sumptuous snacks and drinks at the gorgeous and well-soundtracked (served by a well-educated staff, I might add) Proof before heading a few blocks down to catch Pirates of Penzance at the Actor's Theatre. I recently saw The Hypocrites' production of The Mikado at Steppenwolf in Chicago, so I had an idea of what I was in for; but I'd forgotten how downright mirthful and talented this gang was. So silly, so joyous, so much FUN! We sat in the promenade, which was insanely cheap and so very much "where it's at" for this production (especially for the space at Actor's, which I found to be well served by the show). I just kind of felt sorry for the suckers who paid 4 and 5 times what we did to be playing along with the cast on stage.

Afterward, we enjoy more knockout (and, dare I say, better) snacks with the Major General himself at Milkwood before heading across the street to Down One to enjoy a fabulous bourbon selection and yummy beers in the best of company I could have possibly appreciated that evening.

After we check out from the friendliest, prettiest hotel in the South in which I've had the privilege of staying, we head to Ghyslain on Market for breakfast and coffee. Dynamite coffee (served in small or large French press carafe), extensive menu, and delicious pre-road meal.

The trek back to St. Louis was uneventfully peaceful and full of happy chatter ... and, as always as we approach from the East, that skyline made me grin. 

Which is ironic, as it prominently features the world's largest man-made frown.

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