Epicurious Louisville

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Rather Disappointed at Proof on Main


My bestest best friend Teacup decided that before my birthday party at Meat and Zanzabar (because we are best unimaginative and at worst budding alcoholics) she wanted to take out her dainty coin purse and treat me to a four star restaurant. I chose Proof on Main, the restaurant in 21c downtown. I had been to Proof twice before, once a LONG time ago with a gorgeous and brainless boyfriend who drove a very nice car and thought that made him a man, and once with the love of my life for dessert on our second anniversary. The gelato and sorbets at Proof remain in my mind as some of the best and simplest desserts I have ever had, and I was eager to try Proof with my new found amatuer critic’s palate.

Proof makes the BEST gin and tonic in the city and possibly in the wide world, they make their own tonic water and are liberal with the lime. I had this frippery of a cocktail with clove syrup in it that tasted like Christmas morning, then we set out with the charred octopus and the cured meat tasting.

The charred octopus was quite good, the I really think it could have used a sauce, or at least a lime half that hadn’t already been squeezed dry! The cured meat tasting was—and I know I blaspheme my love of all things meaty—kind of bleh. I mean, it was good (who doesn’t like a little bison tongue now and again) but I always feel like I’m getting ripped off whenever a meat tray comes to the table looking like something I could put together myself from the Whole Foods Deli.

Not discouraged, we got the parsnip soup with pear kimchee, crisp veal and hazelnut crema; it was UNBELIEVABLE, the warm soup around the delicate cold cream in the middle, what a flavor! The kale salad was good too, I love the combination of grapefruit chunks and parmigiano, umami everywhere! Excited about how our meal was going, we awaited our entrees: a seasonal pasta for Teacup and a fish with mussels for me. 

and we waited. 

and waited. 

and waited. 

After about half an hour we flagged our (very busy, but very nice) waitress down and asked about our food. She assured us it would be out soon.

and we waited. 

We then realized we were actually missing my own birthday party. Teacup was already throwing icy glares across the room like chilly daggers. I was frantic;the manager came over and said, again, our food would be out soon.

and we waited. 

Finally, after a FIFTY FREAKING MINUTE WAIT here came our entrees, along with the to-go boxes we had requested. We started to scoop our entrees into the flimsy cardboard boxes, taking a couple hurried bites. The fish was cold on the bottom and red hot on top: a dead giveaway that this thing had been sitting underneath a heatlamp for a good long time, or had been zonked in the microwave very quickly before hitting our table.

When I scraped away the mussels and grapefruit chunks over the fish, I was shocked to see the skin was tough and blackened; not with herbs, mind, or dark fishy skin, but actual burned flecks. Teacup’s pasta was a colorless lump of squiggly noodles on her plate, and it looked, HONESTLY, like ramen. We looked at each other, the same thought passing between us “Did we seriously just lay down like fifty bucks for ramen and a teensy piece of burned fish?” 

Now, I have to give credit where credit is due. The waitress was sweet, the manager was really understanding, and she did deliver two glasses of champagne to our table. The first few courses were good, the drinks were top notch, and you cannot beat Proof for atmosphere. We asked for a serving of gelato to go, and it was provided—without to go spoons. Then, we got the bill and I got really angry. Despite Teacup’s attempt to hide it from me, I glimpsed it, and let’s just say—it was way too much to pay. The restaurant ABSOLUTELY should have comped our entrees. I understand that super nice places are super expensive, we knew that going in, but to receive such a disappointment, to be late to my own birthday—it was too much for little Teacup, it really ruined her night. 

Visiting Proof, on my 23rd birthday, no less, was like a date with a super super hot boy you’ve been dying to go out with again. Prince Charming shows up, gorgeous as ever, gives you half an hour of good conversation; then spends the next hour crying into the napkins about his ex girlfriend, calls you “mommy” accidentally, and reveals his unfortunate history of armpit cysts. I want to go back to Proof and let them redeem themselves, but seriously, we don’t often have that kind of disposable income to blow. We will be returning to Proof for drinks and gelato, but it’s lost the rosy glow it once had.

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