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September 23, 2009

What I did on my summer vacation, part three

cupcake.jpgI wrote a "You Be the Critic" post soon after I started this blog 2 1/2 years ago. If you look you'll see I got exactly two responses, one from "Robert" asking if he could submit his expenses to the paper (that had to be RoCK) and one food blogger linking to the reviews on her blog.

Now I have a rapidly evolving feature whose working title is "What I Did on My Summer Vacation" that I didn't even initiate. So far we've heard from Hal Laurent and Retired in Elkridge. Today our guest poster is Mary Roby. EL

My husband and I recently traveled to Dayton, Oh., for the annual meeting of the 345th Bomb Group — WWII pilots, navigators, engineers, and gunners of the famous Mitchell B-25’s who flew in the South Pacific.  My dad, who died 40 years ago, was a navigator; and we were lucky to meet several fellow navigators or pilots who had known him.  We flew to Louisville where we stayed with friends and then drove the balance of the trip in a loop to Dayton and back to Baltimore. ...

Our first night, we walked along the beautiful St. James Court in Old Louisville to Café Amici, where our friend Elliott Irby is a chef.  There we started with some great appetizers, spinach and artichoke dip spiced up with red pepper and crispy three-cheese polenta cakes on a pomodoro sauce.  Clint had traditional lasagna and Elliott accommodated Clint's vegetarian mom by preparing an Alfredo pasta with portabello mushrooms.  I ordered basa, a lightly fried white fish on grilled bread with a delectable dill and caper remoulade.  Amici is a warm and charming restaurant that also has a nice outdoor dining courtyard with iron furniture and lots of blooming flowers. 

The next day, we wandered around in downtown Louisville where we saw an antique motorcycle exhibit at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft.  The museum had an excellent gallery shop where I recognized the work of some of the artists who come to the ACC show each year.  

Lunch in the outdoor court at the Bristol Grill was next.  I ordered the “Hot Brown,” an open-faced turkey sandwich with bacon and tomato, topped with Mornay sauce, traditional to Louisville, although you can get one at Miss Shirley’s locally. 

We had dinner at the Oriental House, an old-fashioned Chinese restaurant.  We were amazed they offered tasty dim sum items like taro cake as appetizers, and they willingly made moo shu vegetables for Sharon.  Clint ordered General Tso’s chicken which could have used more spice.    

The following day, we again visited downtown Louisville, where we spent some time at Louisville Glassworks.  This is a great place that offers classes and also a glimpse into architectural glass making.  We also stopped at Louisville Stoneware, a place where we’ve made purchases in the past, but found the current offerings expensive and not too interesting. 

There’s a cute café, called The Café, near Louisville Stoneware where we had a fun lunch and where we played with Clint’s new camera and its “food” setting.  After our sandwiches we shared a turtle brownie and a delicious strawberry cupcake (pictured). 

Our last restaurant meal in Louisville was at the Twig and Leaf on Bardstown Road, which sounds a lot more appealing than the actual restaurant turned out to be.  The bacon and eggs breakfast was OK, but there weren’t many customers and the atmosphere was sterile and a bit grim.  Don’t be fooled by the cute neon sign. Skip the Twig and Leaf if you visit Louisville.

We had surprisingly good food in Dayton, which I never thought of as a fine-dining destination.  We stayed downtown near the Oregon Historic District and were able to walk to a couple of good restaurants, Thai 9 and Jay’s Seafood

At Thai 9, we shared a spicy noodle dish similar to drunken noodles but with a different noodle shape, and a Thai Beef Salad.  There was a large table near us and our very friendly waiter was arranging drinks for the table that involve sake and beer.  Turns out they are called Sake Bombs and involve dropping a small cup of sake into a beer and chugging the whole thing.  So, there was much merriment all around.  This was a very large restaurant and it was quite full on a Friday night.

The next evening, we happened upon Jay’s Seafood, which had a supper club vibe.  It reminded me of the recent discussion about special nights out with its white table cloths and customers who were rather dressed up.  Jay's was large and had lots of dark wood with many tables but still managed to have an intimate atmosphere.  The restaurant is located in a former grist mill and has a 32-foot mahogany bar.  The menu was traditional and offered the day’s seafood choices (flown in from various cities) prepared in a variety of ways. 

Clint had a mixed green salad and I had the Caesar salad (good, but not as good as Henninger’s) to start.  Our entrees were a tuna steak prepared as ordered and scallops with garlic butter.  We both had a baked potato that was cooked just right.  You really don’t see baked potatoes in restaurants all that often any more and they were delicious.  All entrees were available in a half and a whole order, so we were able to order just what we wanted and didn’t have to worry about leftovers.

I wish I could say there were other fun food experiences on the rest of our trip, but we both ended up quite sick during the Hocking Hill State Park part of our trip.  And no Schweppes ginger ale was to be found anywhere.  Let’s just say I was glad to be able to order Panera Bread’s kid’s grilled cheese sandwich in Morgantown, W. Va. on the way home.  Just a plain grilled sandwich on white bread.

All in all, it was a pleasant trip to the Ohio River valley, renewal of a long-standing friendship with former neighbors, and the opportunity to meet and appreciate some wonderful WWII veterans and their families.

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 3:37 PM | | Comments (8)


When in Louisville, the best place to have a Kentucky Hot Brown is the place where it originated, The Brown Hotel.

I may have to describe our recently completed trip to Boothbay Harbor Maine.

I went to the beach in North Carolina and my goal was to eat pork in one form or another at least once a day for seven days.

"my goal was to eat pork in one form or another at least once a day for seven days.
And did you succeed?

Thank you Ms. Roby for the genteel, yet complete, recount of your trip. I haven't been to Louisville (yet) and the only time I was near Dayton I was at the Air Force Base for two weeks and didn't get around much.

EL, please make this a continuing feature and solicit new submissions. I know I enjoyed writing mine and I'm sure many other Sandbox members would if they tried.

RiT, I did indeed. Bacon (every morning), sausage, NC pulled pork (three times, plus I purchased a large amount to take home to enjoy), pork belly (three times), pate, pork chops, pork roast, and cracklings, among other things.

Yes, the comment about expenses was from me.

I also went to Louisville for my summer vacation, and I had the hot brown at the Brown Hotel. It is very good, but even better, surprisingly, is their Salad Nicoise.

I thought about writing about my very brief trip up to Baltimore over Labor Day but thought my entry wouldn't be as detailed as the ones posted were. I did, however, comment on the food parts of the trip.

In a nutshell, Tequila Mockingbird in OC is a must-visit! The food is most excellent there. And the Steak Baltimore I had at Chameleon in lower Hamilton was excellent as well.

Gee, someone else who likes Basa. I get it at Safeway (fresh or IQF) and just love its mild taste.

PCB Rob, Chameleon is actually in Lauraville. So what's Steak Baltimore? Description, please.

Here's one hand raised for LEC's trip to Maine, please.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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