The Taste of Home

Staff Writer

While the seemingly unstoppable trend for restaurants using locally sourced and organic ingredients and dishes steamrolls further, there are few establishments as committed to the cause as RIVUE Restaurant and Lounge in downtown’s Galt House Hotel.

With virtually every element on the menu showcasing the freshest ingredients Louisville and Kentuckiana have to offer, RIVUE, under the guidance of Galt House executive chef Brian Riddle and general manager David Rankin, is on a quest to wow diners one organic leaf and choice cut of meat at a time. And, until the end of October, it offers a set menu where two diners can enjoy an appetizer, entree and dessert each as well as a bottle of wine for $89.

We stopped by to sample some of the exquisite fare and spectacular views from its 25th floor location.

To begin we were served an appetizer of the RIVUE salad: a mixture of seasonal greens (in this instance bibb lettuce), with pickled carrot, cucumber and roasted cherry tomatoes. One thing that was instantly noticeable was how fresh the dish tasted. A reason for this might be that all the greens at RIVUE are sourced locally from Louisville’s “Groganica,” an aquaponic farm where plants are grown over water, with live fish acting as a fertilizing agent and living feeders. The salad was topped with crumbly myzithra cheese, a heartier and wholesome alternative to its sheeps milk cousin – feta. Served with fresh bread from the city’s Blue Dog Bakery and butter topped with garlic and pesto as well as olive oil garnished with parmesan cheese, it proved to be a fantastic appetizer.

Indeed, when it came to the entrees, the opportunity to eat elite tasting dishes continued. One option available was a roasted boneless chicken served with sweet blackberry compote demi-glace. The roasted chicken, which came courtesy of Louisville’s French Fields, was succulent, but not overly tender with a unique texture and smokiness thanks to the chicken being flambéd just prior to serving. French Fields, who  is the only place in the country producing chickens from a unique and carefully regulated French breed, offer a type of poultry unseen in most restaurants and adds another feather to RIVUE’s cap as it offers the chance to taste a chicken not readily found elsewhere.

Other entrees that we sampled were a more than generous slab of 12oz. New York strip steak with a dollop of white cheddar and pimento cheese, drizzled with a port wine sauce and served with wafer thin fries seasoned with a snappy, terracotta colored bourbon smoked sea salt, while a “Portobello Veggie Tower,” constructed from an added plethora of more local harvests was a brilliant vegetarian alternative. Especially with the fragrant parmigiano reggiano wedged between the slow roasted vegetables.

One of the highlights of the evening though was unquestionably the dessert course – the work of pastry chef Shelby Cook whose cookies and mousse was a far more nuanced affair than the popular parts suggest. Again, seasonal ingredients and flavors were at the heart of the construction of a strawberry and rhubarb mousse lathered in between two crisp ginger cookies. The stand-out startling element however was the pool of almost neon green basil syrup concocted by Cook to attack and fight the sweetness of the ginger, washing it away and replacing it with unexpected zest. The effect is disarming, intriguing and delicious.

The filling in this finale may change with the seasons but the creativity will likely go undiminished.

Before leaving the lofty and revolving confines of RIVUE, it’s highly recommended to pay a visit to the cocktail bar. While not part of the set menu, the suggestion is predicated purely on the fact that like all the edible fare, the libations are equally freshly prepared (fruits are squeezed individually for each drink with zero concentrates in sight) and dangerously potent. While there we were able to sample, courtesy of mixologist Bobby Ridenour and his colleague Lucy Paez, flavorful drinks such as a peach mojito, that came with simply syrup, freshly squeezed sour mix, with a dash of ginger ale. All cocktails are priced at a reasonable $12 but on Wednesday’s are even more handsomely priced at half-off.

All in all RIVUE Restaurant and Lounge is a paean to local produce, prepared lovingly with creative flourishes aplenty and with a  new chef arriving soon Dustin Willett – formerly of the Hotel Monaco and Four Seasons in Washington DC, the craft of serving up lovingly sourced eats is likely to flourish further. All organically of course.

Galt House Hotel, RIVUE Tower, 25th Floor

140 North Fourth Street, Louisville, KY 40202

  • Mon: Lounge Open 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. Dinner 5:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Tue: Half-priced bottles of Wine (Manager’s Wine List)
    Lounge Open 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.
    Dinner 5:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Wed: $6 Handcrafted Featured Cocktails
    Lounge Open 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.
    Dinner 5:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Thurs: Half-off First Flavors
    Lounge Open 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.
    Dinner 5:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Fri & Sat: Lounge Open 5 p.m. – 1 a.m.
    Dinner Menu 5:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.
    Late Night Menu 10 p.m. – 1 a.m.
  • Sun: Brunch 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Call 502.568.4239 for reservations.

Photos by CHRIS HUMPHREYS | The Voice-Tribune