Debbie and I headed to her hometown Louisville, KY this weekend to celebrate a wedding with her family. In addition, it was Debbie’s birthday this weekend and I wanted to take her out to some place special for dinner. When we travel I like to find a restaurant we have not eaten at before for us to try. This time inspiration came from an unlikely source a recent article I read in Wine Spectator about Louisville, KY entitled Bluegrass Reborn. In this article they featured a restaurant in NuLu Decca, which sounded perfect for our first night in town.
Our Night At Decca
Getting to Louisville was tricky this weekend as a Winter Storm was bearing down on us at home and one was heading to Kentucky. Luckily we did not have any delays and landed at the airport on time and without issue. Debbie’s parents were flying in from Tampa, FL and we waited for their plane to land before we made our way downtown. Once on the ground we said our hello’s, picked up the car, and made our way to NuLu and to Decca.
Now the name “NuLu” was coined to refer to “New Louisville” as this neighborhood represents the revitalization of downtown Louisville. The shops, restaurants, and architecture make this part of downtown Louisville great fun to visit. Market Street is one of the busiest streets downtown and this is where we find Decca. The building Decca is located in dates back to the 1800’s and walking up to the restaurant we get a sense of things to come.
Once inside we find the Ruben and Amy (Decca’s front of the house management team) waiting to greet us. Charming and friendly, just like the dining room, Ruben helps get us situated and shows us to our table.
Waiting to get our first drink ordered I took note of the surroundings. The dining room was well lit, intimate, and had a great play list. The bar was small but well stocked and most importantly well stocked with some great Bourbons! We all took a look at the selection and found our way to one of Bardstown’s best Bourbon’s Johnny Drum. John and I both ordered an Old Fashioned while Judy had a shot of Johnny Drum straight up with a Ginger Ale chaser (that a girl)!
Our waiter was Nate, he was very attentive and knowledgeable. What I liked about his approach to service was he let the experience come from the guest instead of telling us “customer favorites” we should try. Nate was very patient and helped walk us through the menu allowing our tastes to guide the selection process. We jumped right in and ordered several items from the “To Start” and “Middle” sections of the menu.
Everything was delicious but there were a couple of standouts I want to highlight for you. First, from the “To Start” menu was the Pan Roasted Mussels with Ras el Hanout, Garbanzo, and Labna. Oh man was this dish good… I mean really good. This dish had a unique flavor that we could only describe as Indian Curry. That flavor came from the Ras el Hanout which is the Middle Easts’ version of Garam Masala. Mixed with the Garbanzo Beans and Labna (which is a strained yogurt) gave this dish a very unique flavor profile. Only complaint that I could muster is we needed more bread to sop up that delicious broth!
The next standout from our appetizers was on their “Middle” menu, Cavatelli Pasta with Braised Rabbit, Green & Black Olives, and Meyer Lemon. This dish was so good I wish we ordered another one with the main course! Cavatelli Pasta is a ricotta dumpling (think Gnudi) that looks like a little hotdog bun. Mixed with the rabbit and olives this dish had a rustic quality that was the definition of comfort food.
Everyone was having a great dinner and enjoying the Decca experience. Nate was pacing the meal nicely and the ambience was perfect. On to the main courses…
I was able to get a taste of (and a picture of) a majority of the entrées minus one, the Slow Braised Pork Cheek. I would like to describe it in detail to you but the person who had this dish was not inclined to share. She will remain nameless for the remainder of this post as a way to protect myself from future conflict 😉
First up was the Wood Grilled New York Steak served with Cauliflower, Parmesan, Sour Cherry, and Bordelaise. What can I say about this dish other than the fact it was decadent. The Bordelaise sauce complimented the steak very well. The meat was cooked perfectly and the presentation was beautiful.
Next up was Debbie’s choice, Pan Roasted Chicken Breast served with Semolina Dumpling, Grape, Turnip, and Verjus Brodo. Debbie is the first to tell you she is not a fan of Chicken Breasts as she is a thigh woman through and through. She asked Nate if this Chicken was dry and he stated (emphatically) no that this Chicken was not dry. This became a running joke throughout the meal. The Chicken was not dry at all and the Verjus Brodo was the star of this dish… that and the super crispy chicken skin!
The third entrée (which also counts as the fourth as I got the same dish as Debbie’s Aunt Mary Anne) was the Crispy Texas Redfish served with Rutabaga, Grains, and Dates. This dish was well balanced and a real treat to eat. The Rutabaga built a bridge from the Texas Redfish to the sweetness of the Dates. Another beautiful presentation!
Chad Sheffield (one of the owners) was working the dining room that evening and stopped by the table to help with a wine selection. I wanted a wine to pair with the Texas Redfish and Pan Roasted Chicken. Chad helped me pick the Kings Ridge Pinot Gris from Willamette Valley, OR. This full bodied white wine had hints of fruit (pear, citrus) that went nicely with the dishes at the table.
A great meal would not be complete without closing out the evening with some sweets. Thankfully Decca has a full compliment to choose from.
First up was the Ice Cream Sandwich featuring Burnt Vanilla Gelato, Lemon Cookie, Lemon Caramel, and Cashew. This was a great play on the ice cream sandwich. Fun dessert for sure!
Next up was the Chocolate Devil’s Food Cake with Chocolate Mousse and Coffee Ice Cream. This was a rich and delicious way to close out the meal.
Decca is a place I will go to again and again. I absolutely loved the experience from start to finish. The food, service, décor, and ambience all get high marks from me. My only regret is we did not stay to listen to the live music and have a few after dinner cocktails. The storm was coming our way and we needed to make it home safe and sound. I did go downstairs and took a peak at their live music setup which was very cool. This is a great way to see a band play live!