Blessings in Disguise
Bridge closing helps New Albany discover its own treasures.
Just six months ago, downtown New Albany merchants and restaurateurs shook their heads in dismay as the city was cut off from the rest of Louisville when the Sherman Minton Bridge on Interstate 64 was closed. But something good happened: Those of us who live in New Albany began sticking a little closer to home for our dining options, and we’ve been rewarded in the past few months with some lovely newcomers to the local scene.
In fact, it is entirely possible to spend a day in downtown from breakfast to dinner and well past that… and now it’s time to share the good news with readers on the other side of the Sherman Minton!
Quills | 137 E. Market | New Albany
Breakfast: Toast on Market and Quills Coffee are next door to each other at 141 E. Market St. and 137 E. Market St., and are both offshoots of Louisville restaurants by the same names. I spend many a morning with my laptop working at Quills, drinking China Black Tea from their beautiful little tea service and enjoying a banana chocolate chip muffin. For those who need a more robust breakfast, Toast’s menu boasts a bounty of options including omelets and French toast. If you’re a carnivore, don’t miss their bacon, which is thick and crisp and tastes like meat heaven. (Note: Writer has a particular fondness for bacon.)
Lunch: Quills in New Albany has a few sandwiches, and Toast is open, too. You can also try out Wicks (225 State St.), another Louisville-based group that has hopped the Ohio River. But lunchtime gives you a chance to sample my very favorite New Albany eatery: Habana Blues (148 E. Market St.). This Cuban restaurant has a wonderful tapas menu and perfect portions for lunch and dinner. In the evening hours, I love having tapas and a pitcher of mojitos in their lounge area on spacious sectional couches, with a large TV for keeping an eye on the game (if you must). In warmer months, the restaurant’s courtyard is the perfect place for lunch or an evening drink. Don’t miss the goat-cheese-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon. (See note above!)
Dinner: Beer buffs often make the journey to the New Albanian, and I can’t blame them. Proprietor Roger Baylor has built a stellar business. Though I’m not a beer drinker, I love the atmosphere and the menu. I’ve been known to start an evening there and continue my more earnest imbibing at Habana Blues, or River City Winery (321 Pearl St.). The Winery’s food is just as good as its wine, which is made right there in the building. Though most of the wine tends towards sweeter, fruitier flavors, ask your server to point the way to a drier white or red, and they’ll gladly help. I haven’t had the chance yet to enjoy the latest newcomer to New Albany’s dining scene: Louis Le Francais (133 E. Market St.), which by all accounts is a stellar addition to the dining scene.
Havana Blues | 148 E. Market | New Albany
In between: Just as restaurants have flourished, so have locally owned shops. I’m partial to Colokial, which has terrific jewelry and clothing from around the world, and its next-door-neighbor, Dress & Dwell (both at 138 E. Spring St.). The Dandy Lion (310 Bank St.) is a vintage store full of some unusual finds. Creative Boutique (302 Pearl St.) hosts many handmade items, and has the cutest collection of kids’ knit winter hats I’ve ever seen. Keg Liquors (302 Pearl St.) just opened a well-appointed liquor store in downtown as well.
Now that the bridge is open, you’ve got no good excuse. And if you’re in Quills, say hi. Chances are, I’m there. Robyn Davis Sekula is a freelance writer, marketing and social media consultant who lives in New Albany and is Director of Social Media for Edible Louisville. You can follow her on Twitter @itsRobynwithay and find her online at: www.robyndavissekula.com.