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! ūüėä

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!

Blog menu pic.jpg

 

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!