This article appears in the February 2012 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe, please visit Lou.com.
Dining till dusk
You might expect that it’s going to be a splendid dining experience when, one week before the summer solstice, the 7 p.m. temperature is 75 degrees and you’re about to step out on the rear deck of Bistro Le Relais at gentle-on-the-ears, bygone-era-evoking Bowman Field. And splendid it was last June 12 as my wife and I set a personal time-at-table record on an evening when the sun didn’t set (gloriously) until 9:30 and dusk took another 40 minutes to settle into night, accented by occasional single-propeller planes putt-putting down a Bowman runway less than 100 yards away.
Swiss-born Le Relais owner Anthony Dike was at the top of his game, moving from table to table to chat up diners before their drink orders arrived, then stopping back from time to time after greeting people inside. Serendipitously, when we were considering white-wine selections, the label a nearby group of high-spirited French tourists had chosen proved just right. As did the lump crab cake appetizer and Caesar salad we split.
Our entrées — scallops Saint-Jacques atop mushroom risotto and grouper with haricots verts, both with rich beurre-blanc sauces — were, in a word, superb. I’m one of those public-radio listeners who are bugged by the relentlessly exaggerated food-enjoyment moans of Lynne Rossetta Kasper, but as I took in each scallop-risotto mouthful I could identify with her zeal. For dessert we split — what else at Le Relais? — a ramekin of the bistro’s much-extolled crème brûlée. Brittle and caramelized on the surface and cool, smooth and eggy within, it provided a perfect combination of tastes and textures.
Visual aesthetic hit: About 20 minutes before sunset, we watched a young couple walk out in the golden light and board a small prop before taxiing east toward a runway and taking off. Fifteen minutes later they had landed and were making their way back in the dimming light to the Art Deco terminal building that houses Le Relais.
All in all, pretty magical stuff to stick in the cranial nostalgia folder.
— Jack Welch