Derby City Date Night: Mesh

A few weeks ago, we went to dinner and a show to see Wicked, which is probably the best show in the history of shows. It’s so good!

  

For dinner, we went to a newish restaurant off of Brownsboro Road–Mesh. The restaurant itself is perfect for a date night: soft lighting, nice table settings, a fancy feel without being pretentious, and really good food.

We started off with the bread and butter appetizer with local artisan bread and real butter topped with sea salt. It was delicious! The portions were more than enough for two people–I just wanted more butter! 

  
 
The Bread Man opted for a bone-in pork chop with apple slaw and a sweet potato side…that I’m honestly still not quite sure exactly what it was! It was crunchy and delicious, though. He loved his meal and found it to be more than enough food.

   

I got a sandwich with country ham and a triple-cream cream cheese spread with sliced apples and fries. It was so delicious and so rich! I could hardly eat half of my portion. 

  
  

Our service was quick and very friendly. We had a great dinner and will certainly go back in the future!

Disclaimer: The opinions share in this post are mine and mine alone. I have not been compensated for this review. 

Derby City Date Night: Stoney River

After the purchase of our lovely new home, our mortgage broker and college friend sent us a gift card to Stoney River.  I was really excited because Stoney River is a restaurant that I’d heard of, but never actually been to.  Honestly, I’d always heard that it was really expensive, and homey don’t play that.  The Bread Man and I planned a date night and off we went!

My first impression was that my original assumptions were not exactly accurate.  Being from a small town, Stoney River was in the big city and was the place you took your prom date, so I assumed that it was super fancy.  It’s definitely a nicer restaurant, but the other patrons didn’t really follow that.  It surprised me, but made more comfortable because I’m not highbrow.

We started our meal with the Steak Roll appetizer, which was described to us by the waiter as a Philly cheesesteak in an eggroll.  That description is both completely accurate and a little misleading–the flavors are exactly what you would expect from a Philly cheesesteak in an eggroll, but it. was. amazing.  Much more gourmet than you would think, and it was perfect. The portion was a little big for an appetizer, but we ended up taking it home for lunch.  So yummy!


For my entree, I had the Hong Kong Style Sea Bass and the Baby Kale Salad.  The salad was really good and very simple–chopped nuts, dried cranberries, baby kale, and a light herb dressing.  It was tasty and satisfying but not at all filling, which was great because I was excited about the sea bass.  The fish was steamed and dressed with an Asian sweet and sour sauce on top of a bed of sauteed spinach.  It was so good!  A little too much spinach for me, but I’m not a big fan of cooked greens in general.  The fish was so good!  I’m not usually into steamed fish because it’s not enough flavor, but the sauce was the perfect complement. I actually forgot to take pictures of the entrees because we were so excited to eat them!

The Bread Man got the coffee rubbed steak and twice baked potatoes.  He loved it!  I had a bite of each, and the potatoes were seasoned very well, and the steak was amazing.  I don’t even like steak.  Seriously.  I’ve always thought it was too tough and dry (sorry, Dad).  This steak was the best steak I’ve ever had!  The Bread Man approved.

We were too stuffed for dessert, but there were some lovely options.

Stoney River certainly doesn’t need me to give them any plugs, but they were excellent. The price point is pretty high, so you need to expect to spend $100 easily for a full meal for 2, especially if you get drinks.  I would love to go back, but probably for apps and desserts instead of entrees.

It was a lovely dinner with a lovely guy!

Derby City Anniversary: Cincinnati Weekend

The Bread Man and I got married on the 4th of July at his request.  I think he just really liked the idea of it at the time, but it’s worked out nicely for us because no matter what, he always gets a day off of work when we can celebrate.  It’s become our tradition to go out of town for at least a weekend, and this year was no exception.

Since we just got back from Myrtle Beach, we didn’t want to travel too far, so Bread Man planned a relaxing weekend in Cincinnati to go to the Soak City water park at King’s Island.  We went to Holiday World for our first anniversary, so it was a nice throwback anniversary event.

We left a little later in the afternoon and planned on just going to dinner and checking out some big grocery store Bread Man had been to before and thought I would enjoy as a foodie.  We found a local dinner place called Troy’s Cafe and it was AMAZING.  They advertise that they are a casual place with a professional chef, and you could tell that the food was created with care and expertise.  I had their famous fish tacos, and Bread Man had a grilled chicken sandwich.  We both shared their homemade chips with their secret sauce.  It was so good!  If you’re ever in the Mason/Cincinnati area, I highly recommend it.  Good food, nice atmosphere-it was casual, but felt like fine dining.

   
 After dinner we headed to this crazy grocery store–Jungle Jim’s.  If you’ve ever been there before, you understand why this was a special trip!  If you haven’t been there before, you need to figure out a way to get there.  It was great!  There was a regular grocery section when we first walked in, but then we kept going.  This place has everything!  Deli, bakery, seafood counter, international sections–it’s ridiculous.  The international section is split into different nationalities, too, so there is literally something for everyone there.  I even found cans of haggis in the Great Britain section! There was also a whole aisle of chocolate. Oh, yes, these are my people.

   
   
The next day, we went to Soak City.  We really enjoyed it!  I had been there once before, but it was Bread Man’s first time.  We had a great time!  We rode all the slides (even the scary ones that make you feel like you’re just falling down), did the wave pool, and Bread Man even rode the surfing simulator.  Unfortunately there are no pics of that–it was pretty hilarious.  Obviously, it’s hard to be successful, and he gave two valiant efforts.  While he was in line for his second try, he was asking the middle schoolers in front of him for some tips, but just couldn’t fight the current.  I did not attempt it because I’m a wuss!  The slides were about as adventurous as I could get.

After the day at the water park, we headed to a place called Pappadeaux.  Neither of us had ever heard of it, and we were really impressed.  The service was good and the food was great.  We shared fried alligator for an appetizer and it was phenomenal.  I had never had alligator before, and honestly I felt a little weird eating it, but it was delicious.

  
I had grilled scallops and shrimp with sauteed spinach and a mushroom risotto–oh. my. word.  It was amazing!  The risotto was creamy and well-seasoned, and there were bits of mushroom that added so much more flavor than I expected.  The spinach was great, too, which surprised me because I generally don’t like cooked greens–too bitter for me.  I’m sure the spinach was cooked with butter or wine or something unhealthy, but I chose to believe it was healthy.

  
Bread Man got pan-fried fish with green beans and a cheddar risotto cake.  He loved it all, too.  I had a bite of his risotto cake, and it was so rich and so good. It was a dish that you have a hard time finishing because of the richness, but that you really want to finish because it’s the most amazing thing you’ve ever had.

  
I definitely recommend Pappadeaux, but you have to know going in that you’re going to spend a lot more money than a typical night out.  The entrees were all priced around $22 minimum, which is more than I am comfortable with, but, hey, it was a special occasion.

What a great, relaxing weekend with my husband of 6 years.  It’s been a wild ride, but I wouldn’t want it any other way!

  

Derby City Date Night: Lunch at Eggs Over Baxter

Last week, the Bread Man and I went for a date day lunch at Eggs Over Baxter deep in the Highlands on Bardstown Road.  We had never been there before, although we had tried to eat at Eggs Over Frankfort once but the wait was too long for Little Man to wait.

Their menu is a breakfast/lunch menu that has several options regardless of what you’re in the mood for: they have sandwiches, pancakes, french toast, omelettes, and platters that will certainly fill you up.  There are decadent options and healthier choices, as well.  The Bread Man got the “Everything” platter, which really did come with everything; he had french toast, scrambled eggs, breakfast potatoes, and bacon.  It was a lot of food, but somehow he managed to finish it off.

  
I was in the mood for lunch, so I got a portabella sandwich with mushroom, arugula, pesto, and goat cheese.  It comes on a brioche bun, but I swapped that for whole wheat bread.  You have the option to get chips or potatoes, but I just wanted more pickles!  I was one spear shy of a whole pickle.  I also got two eggs over medium for some protein–they were perfectly cooked!  The sandwich was really yummy dipped in the yolk.

  
We both really liked our food a lot.  The prices were comparable to other brunch options in the city, and we felt like we got a decent amount of food for the cost.  I loved the goat cheese/mushroom combo–it was filling without being too heavy, and the arugula gave the sandwich a fresh taste.  The Bread Man liked his breakfast, as well; the french toast was his favorite part, of course.  He wasn’t a huge fan of the potatoes; they were a little bland.  They were cooked really nicely, but lacked seasoning.

The restaurant was not busy at all when we went, but it was a 11:30 on a Tuesday.  Weekends are much busier!  Our server was really helpful and answered all my questions about the menu.  I always feel bad for our servers because I make so many changes to my order from what is listed in the menu.  But then I don’t feel that bad because making those changes has helped me get back down to my pre-pregnancy weight!  Woo hoo!  I would definitely recommend Eggs Over Baxter, but I also recommend that you try it out on a weekday rather than a weekend to beat the crowds.

Stay tuned for a post about how to navigate eating out when you’re trying to eat clean!

Derby City Mother’s Day

Happy belated Mother’s Day!

My Mother’s Day was great!  We had dinner with my mom and my mother-in-law before Sunday, so I was able to spend Sunday with my little family unit relaxing.  The Bread Man had a sweet card and a cute gift “from” Liam.  It was so sweet!

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We went to church and then to the mall where I had a really good Panera lunch.  They have a new Mediterranean Chicken Salad with kale and quinoa–it is really light and pretty healthy!  It’s my new go-to Panera meal.

We really went to the mall because I needed new pants–in a smaller size!  I’m actually in the size smaller than what I was wearing when I got pregnant, which is really exciting.  I’m still in my pre-pregnancy skinny jeans, so now I’m working toward needing the smaller size in those!

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Our afternoon at home was so relaxing: just Breaking Bad, meal prepping for the week’s lunches, and playing with Little Man.  It was the recharging that I needed!  I did a comparison picture of Mother’s Day last year and this year and realized that although Little Man and I look very different, I’m wearing almost the same outfit.  Some things never change!

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What did your Mother’s Day look like?  I’d love to hear from you!

Derby City Date Night: Strati

The Bread Man and I went out for a date night last week, and I knew pretty quickly where I wanted to go. We had gone to Strati in the Highlands on Bardstown Road with some friends once before, but it was so good I ate it all before I could take any pictures for the blog! Oops. 

Strati is an Italian restaurant with a made-to-order counter where you can create your own pasta dish with all of their options. They have regular pasta and spaghetti squash, which is amazing since I limit my carbs. They have spicy marinara, regular marinara, and a creamy Alfredo sauce. You can top your pasta with chicken or sausage, and they have lots of fresh herbs and veggies to add in. Whether you want something rich and decadent or you’re watching what you eat, everyone can find something at Strati. It is fast, fresh, and really tasty.

I ordered spaghetti squash with sausage and the spicy marinara, and topped it with onions, chopped tomatoes, artichoke, mushrooms, and basil. The small serving is plenty of food!

  
The atmosphere and casual and kid-friendly, too, which makes it great for a weekend lunch or a quick weeknight dinner. Being in the Highlands, there are also lots of great dessert options in walking distance if it tickles your fancy.

What quick, healthy meal is your go-to when you eat out?

Derby City Date Night: Staying In

It’s so nice to get out of the house, dress nicer than normal, and have a beautiful meal that someone else cooks for you. No kids, no less to clean up; just focusing on your date and the conversation.

But let’s be real; it doesn’t always happen as often as we would like. Even though I am blessed to live near both my parents and my in-laws, we don’t get to leave Little Man at home to have a date night with just the two of us whenever we want. In those situations, how do you make a night in special?

This past weekend, I tried to create a date night ambiance by recreating a delicious meal I had the night before. Little Man and I went to Frankfort Ave with some friends to ride the trolley and eat at El Mundo while Bread Man was golfing. El Mundo is amazing, by the way. I had never eaten there before and was really impressed. I’m sure most of the Derby City knows about this amazing restaurant already, but it deserves all the shout-outs!

Since the Bread Man missed out on the deliciousness, I tried to mimic the grilled chicken fajita with roasted garlic that I had enjoyed. I got some bell pepper and onion, chopped it up instead of slicing, and mixed it up with some steak strips that were labeled for stir-fry. Anything to reduce my prep time! I tossed some asparagus in because I had some that was about to go bad; it sounds kind of weird, but it was really good and the Bread Man and I both agreed it didn’t taste any different than the peppers.  I added a few whole, peeled garlic cloves and tossed it all together with a can of fire-roasted tomatoes and 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning (I make mine homemade from Annie’s Eats, but it’s the equivalent of one seasoning packet from the grocery). I baked it all in a 9×13 glass dish at 400 in the oven for about 15 minutes.


Once out, I put the roasted garlic into the garlic press to make it a paste so we could spend it on our tortillas (if you’ve never had homemade tortillas, you need to try these, also from Annie’s Eats. So amazing.) add in some store-bought pico de gallo, some lime juice, and chopped avocado, and we had a really tasty nicer-than-normal meal.


Even though it’s always nice to get out of the house, the best part of a date night in is being able to share the good food with Little Man. I love it when he tries new things and likes it! It gives me hope that maybe he won’t be a picky eater like his dad!


How do you keep date nights special when you can’t leave the house or kids behind? I’d love to hear your ideas, so leave me a comment. Don’t forget to sign up for my email updates! 😊

Derby City Date Day: Doc Crow’s

The Bread Man and I had a long-overdue lunch date today while I’m on spring break. He has been talking for months about taking me to Doc Crow’s, a barbecue and oyster restaurant downtown (1st and Main). With all of the construction going on downtown, we missed the exit we should have taken and ended up in Indiana. Oops. 

  

Once we made it back into Thr Derby City, it was still a little difficult to get to the restaurant: there is a building being worked on across the street, and the sidewalk right beside Doc Crow’s is blocked off. If you know this ahead of time, it’s not a big deal and totally worth the extra effort! The service was great; you get a service team as opposed to one server, and everyone in our team made us feel like we were their only customer, despite being busy with the lunch crowd. The menu has something for everyone, from apps to salads to sandwiches to entrees to desserts. They even have a kids’ menu!

I ordered the House Salad with beef brisket; I needed protein and veggies, and this fit the bill. The salad is comprised of field greens, red onion, tomatoes, and a tomato vinaigrette. The brisket was sliced thinly and was so moist and easy to cut through with just my fork. The salad was the perfect mix of light and satisfying. I loved that the dressing gave a lot of flavor without weighing the salad down. I didn’t eat many of the Doc Crow’s croutons, but they were really tasty. They are made in-house with thick Texas toast and some kind of delicious seasoning mix. So good!

  

The Bread Man got BBQ wings and green beans on the side. I tasted the wing sauce, and it was amazing. Though not quite as sweet as I had expected (I guess because I’ve had too much store-bought sauce with all of the added sugar!), it had a really nice spiciness that makes it unique. The Bread Man had nothing but praise for the wings, and was actually a little bit covers with sauce. He had to ask for one of the moist towelettes you get at BBQ places! That’s our litmus test for good wings. 

  

I had some of the green beans, and they were amazing. They still had a little crunch to them, which I don’t really prefer, but the flavor made up for that. The green beans were cooked with bacon, onion, and tomato in a sauce that tasted like a white wine butter sauce. I’ve never tasted a sauce like that with green beans, but now I’m inspired to try and recreate this dish at home, which is saying a lot for a girl born and raised on canned green beans. 

 

I really can’t say enough praise for Doc Crow’s. It is a great atmosphere for a lunch date or a dinner date, with lots of locations nearby for before- or after-dinner entertainment. If you haven’t been, you are missing out! 

Derby City Date Night: Mussel and Burger Bar

The Bread Man and I had an overdue date night a couple of weeks ago. We actually had to postpone it because my father-in-law had some scary health issues that landed him in the hospital for 24 hours, but once we knew he was fine and back home, and after another long week at work, I needed some quality time with my other half. 

I’m always trying to choose local places for our date nights, and I usually want to venture out to places we’ve never been before. We usually have a lot of ideas between my Pinterest searches and my husband’s customers through his food-industry job, but this time I was craving a familiar menu.

Mussel and Burger Bar in Jtown is one of the best local places I’ve been to in a while. I feel like at this point it’s a mainstream restaurant for Louisvillians, but it is so good. The restaurant atmosphere is going for a unique feel, with butcher paper tablecloths and mason jar beverage glasses. Their menu is pretty simple and filled with gourmet dishes, like a C.E.O. Burger with fois gras. (There are also good, old-fashioned burgers for the les adventurous.) 

The Bread Man got a grilled chicken sandwich with the house pomme frites and I went with the C.E.O. Burger sans fois gras, with cheese, confit tomatoes, and caramelized onions. My meal came with steak fries, which were gigantic. Each one had to have been 1/4 of a while potato. It was kind of ridiculous, and it was just too much potato flavor for me. I much prefer the seasoning and crunch of their house fries or sweet potato fries. 

The burger itself was delightful. The confit tomatoes tasted like a gourmet ketchup, which sounds kind of weird, but it was my favorite part.

Mussel and Burger Bar always has consistently good food with great service. It was so good, I forgot to take a picture until my food was gone! Oops.

  

After dinner, we headed to the mall for a quick trip to one of my favorite stores. I got a cute shirt, but I probably won’t be heading back to that mall any time soon. So many teenagers! We actually walked in on a brawl that had just been broken up by 5 or 6 police officers. No thanks.

To finish out a great date night, I fit into a pair of pre-pregnancy weight! It’s nice to know that I can still see progress on my fitness goals and not have to be perfect with my eating all of the time.

  

Hopefully, our next date night will be soon! 

Derby City Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day changes when you have kids.  Well, I guess the expectation of what Valentine’s Day will be changes when you have kids.

I’ll admit, I used to be one of those “What are you going to get me?!?” girls when it came to holidays and my birthday.  I like being made to feel special–who doesn’t?–and I looked forward to seeing what my husband would get me to commemorate whatever special occasion might arise.  But now that we have L, those things just don’t matter as much.  Often, holidays are a reminder that, crap, it’s been a while since we had a date night, hasn’t it?  I guess we better have dinner or something.

This year, I didn’t have any expectations other than to have dinner at a Louisville restaurant (read: not Olive Garden) and go look at the next size up in car seats.  Romance is in the air, people!

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My husband surprised me with reservations at Martini Italian Bistro, located in The Paddocks (martinilouisville.com).  I LOVE this restaurant!  This is where we had our rehearsal dinner, and we had only been back one other time for an anniversary.  I was actually really surprised to learn that this was a locally-owned restaurant; it seems like a franchise, and it apparently started out as a corporate-owned business that ended up being purchased by the general manager, making it local.

We got to Martini around 4:40 (we’re old, okay?) and it was already pretty busy.  Our cozy 2-seater table was a little small for the food we ordered, but the ambiance was perfect.  They had a live pianist in the bar area, which was really nice.  Their in-house, freshly-made foccacia bread was delicious, our fried calamari appetizer was the perfect proportion of breading and meat, their dipping sauces were perfectly paired with the calamari, and our entrees were amazing.  R got the Chicken Milanese, which is a fancified chicken Parmesan dish, and my  Shrimp Garganelli with spinach and goat cheese was probably the best pasta dish I’ve ever eaten.

The two best parts of my dinner.

The two best parts of my dinner.

All of their pastas are handmade, and the quality of food and service was impeccable.  All of the servers were even bringing flowers to the ladies they were serving.  It was especially sweet to see how excited some of the older ladies were to get flowers from their servers.

After dinner, we ran some errands.  Blah.  L is outgrowing his current car seat, so we needed to get a bigger, convertible car seat that will last until well after he switches to front-facing in another year.  My sweet husband is so cost-conscious, sometimes to a fault.  After looking at all of our options in the store, he wanted to research online reviews before we made our final choice.

This is my "Are we seriously still looking at car seats?" face.

This is my “Are we seriously still looking at car seats?” face.

For the record, we ended up purchasing my first choice, the Graco My Size 65 in grey with some green detail.

My smallest Valentine had a great time with his Nana and Papa while we were having our date night.  I think he’s probably the cutest Valentine I’ve ever had!

We haven't quite mastered posing for a selfie.

We haven’t quite mastered posing for a selfie.

I definitely recommend Martini Italian Bistro to my Derby City peeps.  It makes for a great date night, no matter the occasion!