Posted by: wrmcnutt | April 23, 2009

Restaurant Review – The Rivue at Galt House


Some of you may recall that I gave the Galt House a less than stellar review.  As a giant convention hotel, it is fine, if rapaciously expensive, but it’s no place to go on vacation.  One exception to the Galt Houe Experience is the Rivue restaurant in the tower of that name.  The Rivue  is a premium-priced restaurant with an a la carte menu and an ice-cream machine that I suspect cost more than my first and second cars put together.

The Rivue scores high on atmosphere.  The elevator door opens into an art-decor foyer done in black and white with red accents.  The entire facility is paneled with floor-to-ceiling windows that look out over the Louisville skyline and, if you’re lucky, the Ohio river.  All the glass is spotlessly clean, as well as the assortment of art-deco accent pieces in the foyer and bar.  Particularly enchanting are the tiny flecks of mica in the floor tiles that, combined with the lighting, make you feel like your walking among stars.  As soon as you step into the foyer, the music tells you where you are.  Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong serenaded me through my meal, low enough that I could clearly hear and understand conversations, but with enough umph to help season the meal with old fashioned class.

I had intended to write that those of us sufficiently chronologically advanced might remember when the old Polaris in Atlanta revolved. The last time I heard about the Polaris, it had been permanently parked, because the mechanism had grown too worn.  Apparently it’s been updated, so look to me to get back to you with a review of the Polaris in the near-but-not-immediate future.

In any case, the Rivue has a revolving section in which I was seated for my meal.  The motion is so slow that I wasn’t initially aware of it at the time, but during my meal I was treated to a view of 180 degrees of the Ohio river, and the main dining room.  The glass globe structure at the center of the revolving section looks like rising champagne bubbles at night.

 

Like Champagne Bubbles

Like Champagne Bubbles

At my visit I was seated immediately and promptly attended by my waiter.  He was knowledgeable about the menu, had an immediate recall of the specials of the day, and was able to recommend several options.  His predilection for seafood made me wonder if the kitchen was trying to unload fish tonight, but when I asked about the Chicken Baacala, he was able to tell me about it and recommended it highly.

The meal started with a specialty cocktail.  The bartender had developed a Manhattan variant specifically for the Rivue.  Sadly, it was, I fear, wasted on me. I’m just not a bourbon guy.  I suspect that people who like Manhattans would have found it an interesting and flavorful change of pace.  I should have stuck to single-malt whiskey or gibsons.  But my drink was quickly delivered and my salad and entree order taken.

Tragically – there is a little too much of me around my waist, so I skipped the appetizer course and can offer you no guidance there.

For salad I had the baby wedge salad. It’s baby iceberg lettuce, Maytag Bleu cheese, apple wood bacon dust, oven dried tomato with creamy herbed buttermilk dressing.  Now I’m not normally an iceberg guy. I don’t think it has any flavor.  I normally prefer Bibb or Romaine lettuce.  But I was not in the mood for hummus, asparagus, or artichokes, all of which came on the alternate salads.

As a dressing delivery system, the iceberg did a yeoman’s job. It was crisp, neutral, and cold.  The presentation was excellent.  Rectangular plates always startle me.  The Maytag bleu cheese was a sharp compliment to the tomato, although I would describe is as more “oven-roasted” than oven dried, and the bacon dust was a facinating varient over the typical bacon bits you normally see.  (Although bacon is, of course, never bad.)

Chicken Baccala is boneless breast of chicken, smoked mozzarella and arugula wrapped inKentucky country ham with a red eye gravy demi-glace.  I wish I could do that with chicken.  Mine always comes out drier than that.  There was sweet crust on portions of my chicken that made me think that it might have been pan-seared and then finished in the oven.  The ham was tender and flavorful and complimented the chicken.  The arugula provided just the right accent.

I rounded out my dinner with the grand mariner creme brulee. This is a rich egg custard scented with a hint of Grand Marnier topped with a crispy caramelized sugar, fresh whipped cream and berries.  Since I turned thirty, and that’s been a while, I’ve been exercising a taste for creme brulee, and I am, as they say, a connoisseur.  This creme brulee was fine.  The cream topping was handmade, rich, and tasty, but not too sweet.  The raspberrys were the freshest and most attractive I’ve ever seen, and tart to the tongue.  Alas, I can’t wax ecstatic about it.  But it was a good creme brulee.  But that night the chef was making specialty ice cream.  A bourbon chocolate carmel.  Unable to choose, my puppy dog eyes got the waiter to smuggle me a small scoop of the ice cream.  I should have gone for that instead of the brulee. 

Which brings me to the summation.

The Rivue gets the following score:

  • Four pints for atmosphere.
  • Four pints for cuisine.
  • Four pints for service.

This gives the Rivue at Galt House an average score of four pints, making it the highest scoring dining experience at Will’s Miscellaneous Musings to date.

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