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Searching For Proof Of Buffalo In Most Equestrian Of Surroundings; Nearing Louisville Finish Line

December 28th, 2009 · Tags:Arts · Cities · Hotels · Restaurant · Wi-Fi

When you travel alone you always think of the joke at restaurants: “Bitter … table for one!”

Well … when I scheduled my last meal in Louisville, I had nothing on my mind but “bison — table for one.”

Immediately when I walked in the ultra nice Proof On Main restaurant inside the artsy 21C Museum Hotel, I knew this was going to be a great experience. If you have dined alone, you also know there is a tendency to place the single diner near the door of the washroom or where the swinging kitchen doors hit you in the back of the head.

21C Front Desk Art

21C Front Desk Art

21C Museum Hotel

Not so at Proof. They pretty much gave me the best seat in the house — the head position at a table and bench combo, facing the entire restaurant. People watchers rejoice!

There were some interesting types already seated — I overhead one conversation about a recent family excursion to The Great Wall of China ruined by cigarette smoke everywhere! Gag (or gasp … I suppose).

21C Gallery

Oh … and like the Museum Hotel next door — very cool art everywhere … lots of excellent equestrian themes as you might expect “next door” to Churchill Downs. The studio portraits of Thoroughbreds with dramatic lighting almost made a horse lover of me … almost. Another cool piece was a video work of a person projected on the wall above the racks of wine glasses. It looked like an homage to all of the ghost stories I had heard around Louisville.

Proof On Main

Hmmm … but what about the art of Wi-Fi? Any on display? I mean — “it what I do.” Yes! The wireless aroma from 21C wafted all the way into the restaurant to my table. Don’t ask me if I tweeted during my meal. (Oh, I did.) I sent out a few twittered wisecracks, and also called up the PingWi-Fi site on my iPhone. The PingWi-Fi site loading tends to challenge some hotspots because there are so many stinkin photographs on there … But anyway … This day … no problem.

I sat down alone, and soon I was breaking bread with one great wireless network shared among Proof On Main and 21C Museum Hotel … So as for the Wi-Fi rating: free, easy access, quick access, near perfect — 6 pings.

If you don’t hit Louisville during the holiday season, turn your calendar to May 1, 2010 for the next Kentucky Derby.  Pick a really fancy hat to wear, and pencil in Proof On Main!

Kentucky Derby

Back to the bison thing. I heard in advance that Proof was THE place to go to try bison. So I set my sights on beast, in the form of a tenderloin on the menu.

To my chagrin, my waiter — an exceptional server named Charles — informed me the bison tenderloin entrees were extinct that night. But, he was quick to make amends. The chef fashioned a shrinky-dink version of their KY Bison Burger especially for me. It was a petite, juicy, excellent bison slider for four bucks — accented with Jezebel sauce, an apple/apricot marmalade with horseradish and tillamook cheddar. Who don’t luv them some Jezebel? (Another nice touch – the appetizer plate was lined with a small reproduced version of race results …)

Chef Michael Paley and his charges also suggested no one should leave Proof without trying the octopus, so unprompted, it showed up at my table dressed in oregano, parsley and lime. Yum.

Then the chef hit me again. Next up, caramelized Brussel sprouts! (I had just had a conversation a few days early about the resurgence of B Sprouts in gourmet cuisine …) I didn’t think I liked the things, even if they are the most healthy thing in the produce aisle, with all of their fancy schmancy vitamins and fiber … Well, Proof disproved the old adage. The sprouts were TDF, even though they were good for me. I am hoping the caramelized factor deserved a little guilt on my part.

As for the main course, it was decision time. In lieu of hoofed beast, I considered the Pacific Swordfish. But then the Berkshire Pork Chop was also calling my name. And if you know me, you know I couldn’t just ask Charles the waiter for a suggestion. I put it to him this way:

“Chuck … do you mind if I call you Chuck? Chuck, let’s just say there were an imaginary boxing match between the Pacific Swordfish and the Berkshire Pork Chop — and you were the ringside color announcer calling the fight … break it down for me.”

Charles had to think about that one for a second, but unphased, he predicted that the “pork chops conditioning and longevity would prevail in the late rounds.” I think that meant it would stick to my ribs, as they say. I put my trust in him.

Good call.

Erin, Charles at Proof

Erin, Charles at Proof

The Berk was more of a delicious roasted, succulent slab than a mere chop. If not for the telltale bone left in, I might have not called it a chop at all. Served up with a more than generous portion of braised dandelion and cannellini beans … well … I would have to describe it as high-end, gourmet soul food. Huge portion … enough for me and my bruthas.

Already I felt as if I couldn’t get up, not that I wanted to. Then Charles and a nice cohort, the hostess Erin, delivered the knock out punch. (Yes, there is a horse theme and a buffalo theme already in this blog … but Louisville is also home to the Muhammad Ali Center … so the boxing metaphor stands …)

Muhammad Ali Center

So, these two merciless individuals brought out the warm vanilla pudding cake next. I ate it all. In the name of all things holy, what was I thinking? Can too much goodness be a bad thing? I think not

Can you believe this?  Lastly, Proof serves cotton candy after every meal … in a frou-frou bowl of course.  And of course, I somehow, inadvertently set mine afire …

So … I have run out of superlatives … The proof was in the pudding cake and pretty much all over the table. You must check out Proof On Main the next time you are in The Ville.

Even though I was greatly disappointed about the bison tenderloin shortage, I did like the silly extinction joke … and then what Proof lacked in bison … well, it made up for in every other category — perfect service … talented and most generous chef … Cool, cool surroundings … and of course Wi-Fi at tableside — perfect score for Proof — 7 pings.

Know what I sayin?