Good luck finding anyone curmudgeonly enough to voice a complaint about our wealth of creative chef-owned restaurants. But respect must be paid to the grande dames of fine dining. The English Grill at the Brown Hotel—a mere 90 minutes away in Louisville—still turns heads.
The English Renaissance-style lobby, with its soaring ceilings, chintz sofas, and twinkling chandeliers, has hosted a long list of swells, from the Duke of Windsor to Liz Taylor, going back to 1923. The Gatsbyesque lobby eventually yields to the clubby, oak-paneled English Grill. Legend has it that Al Jolson once caused enough of a scuffle with a fellow diner to earn a black eye. We know it wasn’t the end product of too many mint juleps—the Derby-inspired cocktail didn’t arrive on the scene until 1938—but they still serve a mean rendition here. Enjoy one (or two) and you’ll be more than ready to tuck into their signature hot brown, thick slabs of toast layered with turkey, a creamy mornay sauce, and roma tomatoes, topped with crispy bacon. Looking for something a little more modern? Try the seared scallop Benedict with sunny-side up quail eggs or the duo of foie gras with poached cherries. And just when you thought the dessert soufflé had gone the way of the three-martini lunch, Executive Chef Josh Bettis whips up a chocolate take, served with a caramel crème anglaise—ideally enjoyed with a few sips of Woodford Reserve Double Oak. Wallis and Edward would have. You should too.
The English Grill, 335 W. Broadway, Louisville, (502) 583-1234, brownhotel.com. Dinner Mon–Sat