Friday, August 26, 2011

Take a Danville restaurant tour

One of the benefits and curses of chain restaurants is that you can travel throughout the United States and find the same menu, the same taste, often even the same dining room set-up. It’s reliable but can be boring and anonymous.

Adventuresome travelers more often seek out the locally owned eating establishments that provide fresh, unique flavors. Danville, Kentucky is full of them.

Last night I joined eight other Kentucky food bloggers to tour six of Danville’s finest eating and drinking establishments. Since I live just down the road from this small, college city, I was thrilled to visit some of the locations I hadn’t yet made it to on my own. Here’s a rundown of places we went that you should try the next time you’re driving through central Kentucky.

V the Market – This specialty liquor and food store carries unique items you won’t find at the average big box retailer. The owner stays informed about the products and has the knowledge to helps anyone who walks in asking for specifics as they look at the rows of bottles. I especially enjoyed the unique cheeses that can be a creative accompaniment to a meal.

Mermaids—This is a restaurant I’ve been wanting to try and now I’m even more determined to make a reservation and spend an evening there. Situated in a house that provides seating in a nicely decorated interior, screened porch or patio, the menu here was my favorite. This restaurant recently earned its Kentucky Proud title because it buys meat and produce locally. Hurray! That combines with a unique ambiance and menu filled with variety to make it a good choice for Danville dining.

303W—I’ve had two meals at this classy restaurant and always enjoyed the atmosphere. Last night we walked into a table of appetizing food to try: crudités, pretzel breadsticks with warm pimento cheese (delicious), barbecued chicken, chicken tortilla pizza and one more meat item I couldn’t quite identify. The menu at 303W is varied so anyone in the family should be able to find something to put a smile on their face.

Bluegrass Pizza and Pub—Onward we trekked to the downtown pizza place that has become a habit for many people. I must admit that I’m extra critical of pizza places. I like to make creative pizzas myself. I also still carry with me the memory of the spinach pizzas I so loved when I lived in New York (I haven’t yet found one to compare in Kentucky) and the Italian take on pizza I fell in love with in Florence. But this place pulled through with a uniquely-flavored Mediterranean pizza that wasn’t run-of-the mill.

Beer Engine—Anyone who likes brew pubs would love this small place with its variety of beers. Located off the Main Street and through a parking lot, it’s a bit difficult to find but when I told my husband about it, he immediately asked for directions. He’ll be stopping there on his way home from work to give the beers a try.

The Hub—We ended up at the restaurant that started the food revival in Danville. This coffee shop has long offered great sandwiches, salads and soups along with coffees, teas and scrumptious desserts. Our hosts (the folks from the Danville Boyle Co. Convention & Visitors Bureau) had done such a great job of gathering items for us to try from throughout the downtown district that we sat at The Hub enjoying cupcakes from the Twisted Sifter. Since the cupcake craze began I’ve been into a cupcake shop or two but never had anything that tasted as good as the two varieties they served us – pumpkin and champagne. Both were totally worth the calories. We also went home with gift bags from Burke’s Bakery and Karamel Kreations.

Are you tempted to try one of Danville’s local restaurants? They have plenty of fun activities coming up that you can check out at for information on that, as well about the restaurants listed here. If you visit, be sure to support the local food establishments and enjoy the hospitality.

In the meantime, I’m checking my calendar to see when I can make it over there again.

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