John Curtas is …

Lovin’ Louisville

ELV's gateway drug to hog heaven

Picture 1 of 1

During the run-up to the NCAA Championship basketball game last night, it occurred to ELV that many a friend and loyal reader of this website has no idea why he is such a big University of Louisville fan.

It occurred to yours truly because, in the run-up to last night’s game, at least a dozen people asked me: “Why are you such a big U of L fan?” (Nothing gets past ELV — he’s as sharp as a bowling ball.)

The simple reason is, I went to law school there back in the 70s, and cut my teeth as a trial attorney with the Jefferson District Public Defenders office.

The more complex, nuanced reason, of course, has to do with food.

Specifically, a sandwich known as the Hot Brown (pictured above).

You see, besides living out my reprobate and scandalous twenties in a town named after a French king, my time in Lou-EE-ville (the correct pronunciation, no matter what the natives say), my seven years there marked the first time in my life I was ever exposed to a town with a real food culture. (Florida and Connecticut – two other places I’ve haled from – may be great in a number of ways, but no one has ever talked about their home-grown cuisines.)

Kentucky was the first and only place I’ve lived that reveled in its natural resources. These days, Louisville evens garners national food ‘zine ink as a locavore haven. But back in the day, it was a simple, turkey sandwich with bacon, tomato and a Mornay sauce that first grabbed my attention. You might even say the Hot Brown was my gateway drug. From tasting my first one at Kunz’s The Dutchman, to Hasenour’s, to the Pendennis Club, I was hooked. And whether it was the lip-smacking deliciousness of Shaker food, burgoo, chess pie, the iconic country hams,  Moonlight’s mutton barbecue,  or lots and lots of great Bourbon whisky, I knew I was in hog heaven.

It didn’t hurt either that, throughout this time, my alma mater also had a kick-ass basketball team, that was predicted to win it all in my first year of law school (the Junior Bridgeman-led team lost to UCLA in the Final Four), and then took the big prize in both 1980 (Darrell Griffith) and 1986 (Pervis Ellison).

Thus was Louisville the town which made me a lawyer, a basketball fan and a foodie. It is also where Number One Son (the grand poo-bah of our staff) was born, and where I married the mother of Number Two Son — so you could say me and the ‘Ville go way back together. I  can’t thank it (and the many great people I met there) enough for those gifts and the joys they have brought me….in food, drink, friendship and basketball.

That’s why I’m such a fan of Louisville, Kentucky and its university.

Go Cards!

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 08: The Louisville Cardinals celebrate after they won 82-76 against the Michigan Wolverines during the 2013 NCAA Men's Final Four Championship at the Georgia Dome on April 8, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) ** TCN OUT **

Picture 1 of 1

6 Responses to Lovin’ Louisville

  • I’ve had the Hot Brown at Science Hill in Shelbyville, Shaker Village in Pleasant Hill and the Brown Hotel in Louisville. A delicious hot sandwich indeed.

  • I’m headed there for derby. Will be staying at the Brown Hotel. Looking forward to one of these. Good to see some of your stories John….cheers

  • Cam; if you’re staying at the Brown Hotel, don’t just settle for one Hot Brown – they are fantastic. The lobster mac and cheese is pretty damn wonderful too.

  • John – is the Barrymore doing the hot brown special this year again? It’s sad that we can’t get one here right now.

  • ELV responds: thanks for the comment, Trish, but the Barrymore no longer does lunch so we doubt it. These days, if we want a good Hot Brown we make it ourself.

  • As I’m sure you know, Hasenour’s, and Kunz’s “The Dutchman”are long gone. The Pendennis Club is still around but hanging by a thread. Louisville always amazed me with the quality and quantity of food options for a town it’s size. While I do love my mama’s hot brown over anything you could get at a restaurant, my fave food item in Louisville was the fried fish sandwich. The large German Catholic population made the Friday fish a fry a long standing tradition and served the usual corn meal battered fried cod on rye bread with onions. Nothing like it anywhere else. My cousin owned Bus Parson’s River Creek Inn and they served the best in town along with, Kingfish, Moby Dick, Mike Linnig’s, Mazzoni’s (home of the rolled oyster), Suburban Fish Fry and Cunningham’s.

John’s Tweets
John at Work Restaurant reviews, quips, picks and pans-with some seriously salivating history-from the man who eats his way through Sin City every day.
Follow eatinglasvegas on Twitter Follow eatinglasvegas on Twitter