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    When I was growing up, my family didn’t prepare holiday meals. Thanksgiving, Easter, New Year’s — everything but Christmas meant a reservation at a nice hotel that served a buffet brunch, the kind splayed across runway-length tables draped in linens, where one begins with a plucking of a strawberry or two, a graze before the glut, that moment when opportunity and options fuse and modesty implodes. Portions by the pile bury a white dinner plate, order and architecture crumbling as syrup escapes waffles only to flood a curry vegetable salad that’s now teetering at plate’s edge because one must make room for lox, a bagel, couscous and fried calamari. Oh, there’s an omelet station? Damn. Hit it in round two.

    When people talk “brunch,” that’s my point of reference and preference. Save dainty for cocktail hour. Brunch, the portmanteau prince of meals, deserves decadence. 

    On this Sunday morning, the Rudyard Kipling in Old Louisville proves itself a dandy companion to the brunches of my youth. A U-shaped display offers various salads, soups, a Hot Brown casserole, bacon, cheesy grits, vegetable quiche, waffles and fresh fruit. Tables bustle with blurry-eyed 20-somethings sipping mimosas, families occupying toddlers with Nord’s doughnuts from the dessert table, and a few silver-haired folks in church finery.

    About a year ago, Amy Steinbach and husband William Enix took over the “Rud.” Previously, the two had operated That Place on Goss, a restaurant in the Goss Avenue Antique Mall in Germantown. When the mall shut down, the Rudyard Kipling, a historic home turned bar and music venue, was struggling to survive. The move felt natural. “It was a place that fit our style,” Steinbach says. (The Rud also now serves dinner on nights when live music is scheduled.)

    While the $13 brunch has proved popular (some Sundays a line forms just before 10 a.m. opening), the Rud maintains a Secret Garden feel. Where I sit, brick walls keep things snug. Sun rays spotlight a clementine orange crate stocked with old 45s. White Christmas lights sparkle overhead. Potted greenery hides the musician strumming gentle folk songs. Pay attention to the art for surprises, like the painting of a giant purple gorilla enjoying a popsicle. And say hello to Steinbach’s dad, a gregarious tanned fellow who mans the omelet station when extra hands are needed.

    Two loaded plates disappear. But complete satisfaction demands dessert. Other than the aforementioned Nord’s doughnuts and Nord’s butter kuchen — a slick, joyful cake glistening in butter and sugar — all food is made in-house. I opt for the kuchen, vanilla cake and chocolate cake, three desserts arranged in a sweet, goopy triangle. Indulgent behavior, perhaps. But I’m not alone. And I will go back for more.

    Photos by Casey Chalmers.

    This article is from the May 2015 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe to Louisville Magazine, click here. 

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