Nashville / Louisville
I am a New Yorker who loves Louisville and holds it in very high esteem. I visit there about 6 times per year for business, but also for pleasure because I have a lot of friends there.
On my visits to Louisville I have eaten at some of the better restaurants. Here is my unvarnished take on a few of them (please don't be offended)
Oak room good but too stuffy for me - I give them props for knowing who they are and sticking to it
Vincenzo's - ok, but a little run of the mill Italian from a NewYork Perspective
Equus - the food was pretty good, but I think it is too expensive and stuffy for such an ugly building behind a strip mall
Lily's - I have eaten hear three times over the last 5-6 years, and it is always good- but it is one of those places that I think should be incredible and needs a little freshening up or a rebirth. I have so much respect for Lilly's because it made one of the first marks on the national culinary scene for Lousiville I hope it gets its groove back.
I haven't tried Le Relais, Park Place, or 610 Magnolia but they are on the list for my next trip.
Proof and Asiatique are great for cocktails and a snack, but I don't love the food at either one. Proof is in the new 21C Museum Hotel - stay there if you can - and it is owned by the Myriad group which owns Nobu and Tribeca Grill in New York. It is good, but at those prices there are better options. They are trying to be new american with an emphasis on KY, but I think they just need a bit more kick or Drama - the room(s) is so beautiful it overwhelms the food, but the service is Kentucky friendly and fairly knowledgable
Asiatique - I love the vibe and their new patio for warm weather, but I was pretty non plussed by the food.
My Favorites are:
#1 Jack Fry's (Highland and Bardstown Where B'twon becomes Baxter)- I absolutely love the food, service, and atmosphere. They have a well thought out wine list and the servers are extremely friendly and very knowledgeable. I also like it because it isn't too formal or stuffy, but is fine dining.
#2 Seviche (Bardstown Road, further out from downtown)- I have had wonderful experiences here, and it is such a welcome escape in Louisville. Their wine list is good and unique, and I have always had great meals there. If you go, one wine on their list that I recommend is a Spanish wine by Osborne that is a Tempranillo Cabernet Blend - I love this wine and haven't found it in NYC.
#3 for a hole in the wall experience - Vietnam Kitchen. It is cheap, and the food is excellent and authentic. I always ride with friends when we go there so I have no idea where it is - I think it is in the South end but someone else will have to provide directions.
Enjoy your trip.
In Louisville, Lily's is amazing.
Our favorite is Le Relais at Bowman Field--a 1920's era airport.
The Oakroom at the Seelbach is very nice.
Jack Fry's is a Louisville original--fabulous atmosphere, great food.
Vincenzo's would probably be my pick if money were no object.
In my opinion, skip Lynn's.
A while back we went to a restaurant in Nashville called The Wild Boar. To me, it was a very interesting place-- super old-school American-French near the Vandie campus. Maybe someone else has been more recently and can vouch for it? It was very upscale and I remember our meal being excellent, though I can't remember what we had!
In Louisville, depending on if you want good homey cooking in a very kitshy environment there is Lynns Paradise Cafe on Barrett, upscale is Lily's on Bardstown Rd. Last time I was down there with an oportunity to have dinne I got out voted but really wanted to go to the Brown Camberly hotel. They have an amazing chef with an amazing menu. Next time for sure.
I would not recommend either Rotiers or Hard Rock as excellent places to eat. Rotiers, although good, is some place to go for a burger and Hard Rock is, well Hard Rock (mediocre food, loud).
The trick is finding restaurants open on Sunday night. What kind of food are you looking for, and where will you be staying?
In Nashville I know of three places, I have been to all three.
Rotier's,they are open till 10:00. Excellent french bread cheeseburgers. The Palm. They are known for their steaks, but they do have seafood. The service is top notch and the Palm is downtown. It's down the street from the Grand Ole Oprey and across from the Gaylord Center. It is sort of hidden. They do have a Hard Rock that is also downtown, near the river. Sorry I don't have anything for Louisville. You can view pictures of Rotier's on choppedonion.com. It also has reviews. Google choppedonion.com for your info. Hope this helps. I would include the Elliston Place Soda shop, but they are closed on Sunday.
I went to the Palm and spent way too much money. Thanks for the tip. I didn't know it was a chain and a-la Smith and Wollensky (SP?) the first was in NYC. They have like 20 locations.
Good service, good wine, food was excellent although it was late and they had run out of a number of things.
They have two in Chicago, hometown, one in the Burbs and one by the Hyatt Regency downtown. It's weird to bump into a chain that I didn't know about, especially one that's good.
Normally I don't like chains, but I will always make an exception for the Palm. I am glad that you enjoyed it. The service there is great and there is always a chance that you may see someone famous at the Palm. I go to the Palm for the steaks and the cheesecake. Their steaks are excellent. I am glad I could help. Sorry about recommending the Hard Rock.