Louisville Gets The Highest Praise In Boston

I want to know who Gill Holland/Jason Lewellyn/Bruce Ucan/Michael Paley/Michael Crouch/et al bribed to get publicity like this!

Check this mess in the Boston Globe:

Blame the macaroni and cheese. It takes your expectations of a Louisville restaurant and tramples them as mercilessly as a horse’s hoofs on the dirt track of Churchill Downs.


Social is on the ground floor of the Green Building, a brick warehouse built in 1850 that was gutted and turned into a LEED-certified mixed-use facility that also houses offices and a gallery. It’s owned by Gill Holland, a movie and record producer and activist, who has pioneered the transformation of East Market District into an artsy strip steeped in Boho vitality.

In keeping with other urban neighborhoods rechristened when they boost their cool quotient, the area is now referred to as NuLu (shorthand for New Louisville). Here, farm-to-table is the new “meat and three,’’ a Southern term for a heaping plate of protein and three veggies.

The high-ceilinged restaurant embodies NuLu’s ethos to the max, from its menu options to share (they don’t call it “Social’’ for nothing) to the eco-conscious design. The slabs of wood that serve as the bar top, tabletops, and barstools, even the coasters, are made from American oak reclaimed from a Lexington tobacco barn.


On Lewellyn’s recommendation, I stroll down East Market street to the Mayan Café, where Bruce Ucan turns the overlooked, if not maligned, lima bean into morsels of smoked earthiness. For his signature tok-sel lima beans, he roasts them in metal barrels, then flash-cooks them with parsley and pumpkin seeds, and finishes them with scallions and lime juice.


Arguably, Louisville’s culinary transformation started with Proof on Main, the bar in the 21C Museum Hotel that opened in 2006.


We tucked into the bar, where a roster of whiskey cocktails are on offer. This is a fine place to sample Kentucky’s famous spirit. The bartender catches me pondering too long over the list and comes to the rescue. “Do you like sweet? Spicy? Smoky?’’ he says. “Yes,’’ I reply. He nods and puts together a flight of three bourbons.


When it comes to bourbon tasting, nothing rivals Bourbons Bistro, another stop on the bourbon trail and just a quick cab ride away. It opened five years ago, but with its dark wood paneling and antique bar and mantel holding upward of 140 bourbons, it has the air of a neighborhood institution. Chef Michael Crouch whips up whiskey-kissed complements.

Really. Go read it all.

Doesn’t it feel great to be a Louisvillian when you read something like that?

P.S. The Cincinnati Enquirer also heaped praise on Louisville.

9 thoughts on “Louisville Gets The Highest Praise In Boston

  1. It was a great article. There was one thing that needs to be corrected, though. Gill Holland, who has done a great job on East MArket, is not the one responsible for the area’s revival. That was begun by Billy Herz and his partner with Galerie Herz and others followed. Here’s hpoing the same thing will happen with South Preston.

  2. Blowin: I’m pretty sure the articles were primarily about food… not galleries.

    But you’re right about when development started moving into the East Market area.

  3. I read it Sunday morning–there is jsut a sentence or two that attributes the East Market development to Gill Holland and NuLu with no mention of Billy Herz. I’m sure that it was simply a connection made by the writer who does not know Louisville’s recent history. I thought the article was super and you are right that it is primarly on food. Aways like to see my former hometown newspaper acknowledge that the rest of the world exists.

  4. Great article. These are the intangibles that help sell Louisville to corporations looking to relocate. When you look ate what attracts a business to relocate to a community, they of course look for location, proximity to industry support companies and clients, tax climate, education levels, and yes….quality of life.

    Louisville already has great restaurants, great park systems, diverse cultural options, and a distinct cultural heritage.

    Maybe if we can do something to improve the quality of the school system, restructure the local and state tax codes, and take a risk in embracing change instead of resisting it at every step, we could attract more high-paying businesses to look relocating here.

    Instead, we’ll give millions and millions of dollars in tax incentives to businesses to try to keep a hundred $15/hr manufacturing jobs.

    We are blessed to have the culinary talent in this city that we do. Our support of these local restaurants is an investment in the city’s future.

  5. Well, now that Todd Blue has applied for a permit to demolish the Iron Quarter… maybe people will wake up?

    I’m not holding my breath.

  6. Image matters folks. If Louisville becomes the only city to ever expand an elevated waterfront expressway and places a massive quadruple stacked L.A. style freeway interchange on its image defining waterfront you can forget about attracting and retaining talented workers.

  7. Why would talented workers want to remain here anyway? With a crappy Third World economy full of service jobs and lower wage employment and temp agencies running everything? People move to where the jobs are not the other way around. Louisville isn’t intelligent enough to create the type of marketing plan, tax reforms, and job creation and development to get a good economy going here. Its Kentucky and Kentucky doesn’t care about being educated and well off, they would rather talk about bass kit ball bubba.

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