With New Alcohol Options, Downtown Danville Expands Its Delights
Danville, Kentucky, has always been special, with its handsome homes and the sweet liveliness that acclaimed Centre College adds through its excellent performance and presentation schedule. And then there's the Great American Brass Band Festival, where I once thought my soul might lift on out of my body in the joy of processing through the streets while surrounded by members of world class jazz bands. That one half-hour nearly erased the misery of five years in a public school marching band.
And then there's Danville's famous downtown people magnet, Burke's Bakery, a fifth generation family owned "scratch" bakery, as Patty Burke explains in less than two minutes in Antony Boshier's video, below: So it's not like food is a new feature of downtown Danville, but it took a wet/dry election in March, 2010, to expand the options Danvillians and their lucky visitors have to eat, drink, or eat-and-drink, or buy alcohol, or buy take-home food-and-alcohol downtown. One result, in addition to an array of appealing new restaurants and bars, is $800,000 in investments in beautifully done renovations to downtown buildings.
Adam Johnson, the dynamo who heads up the Danville Convention & Visitors Bureau, shared that figure as he guided nine Kentucky food bloggers on our inaugural field trip in late August, 2011. We visited six charming, hospitable businesses that have opened or expanded since the wet/dry vote. Each business HAD business late on a summer afternoon, and each is a place I could happily visit often, bringing other eaters and drinkers along for the fun:
V the Market: An emporium for carefully curated cheeses, chocolates, Bourbons, and craft beers from around the world. Proprietor Mary Robin generously shared her research on her store's fine stock, and her enthusiasm made me want to come back for a lot more learning and tasting.
Mermaids Bar & Bistro (facebook): Old house dining with new flair, focused on seafood specialties and proudly offering locally grown premium beef. The internally lit bar, also locally sourced, throws out a captivating, underwater-ish sea-blue light that automatically calls "Party, Party" to a hungry, thirsty diner.
303 W of Danville: This beauty of a pool hall greeted us with a long table of bar food favorites, freshly prepared. The restored interior, including the pressed tin ceiling, glowed as we crunched on tasty fried bits. The pool tables are 100+ years old, and they were in constant use as we enjoyed the hospitality.
Bluegrass Pizza & Pub: Packed on a weeknight, and every night, we heard. Locals enjoyed telling us their families' favorite pizzas and oohing over the array of breadsticks, cheese-toasts, and white pizza offered to us outsiders.
Beer Engine: No bottles here. At least 12 brews are on tap, apparently. Some are brewed in-house, and some are "guested." Four just-right small glasses came on a chalked piece of slate, each offering a different take on the theme of beer.
The Hub Coffee House & Café: This wonderful reuse of an old department store, credited with helping launch Danville's downtown renaissance, stayed open past closing time so our food blogger field trippers could taste our gift cupcakes from Twisted Sifter (our flavors were a bit more traditional than the Maple Bacon flavor they sometimes offer), peek into our packed Burke's Bakery and Karamel Kreations gift bags, and say proper thanks to our hosts and our fellow bloggers, Mindy Wilson and Lori Rice, who had organized the field trip.
One thought kept recurring as I made my way through this delightful Danville experience: In their books, writers like Garrett Oliver and Ray Oldenburg make the case for the community-building and health-building impacts of family-friendly businesses that serve alcohol (especially beer) with food. A teetotaler for the first 5/6 of my life, I found those assertions stunning the first time I read them. Lovely downtown Danville, with its warm new food-and-drink establishments, might have convinced me even if I had not already changed my ways.
My fellow food bloggers have written extensively about our Danville outing. Enjoy their detailed descriptions and fine photography from the first Kentucky food blogger field trip. Bloggers, If I have omitted your post, please let me know and I will add it.
Kentucky Food Bloggers in Danville, from Crazy Englishwoman Cooks
Danville, KY—A Hidden Gem, from My Fiancé Likes It So It Must Be Good
Kentucky Food Bloggers Tasting Event in Danville, Kentucky, from The World in My Kitchen
Food and Fellow Bloggers in Danville, Kentucky!, from Fake Food Free
Take a Danville Restaurant Tour, from The Goodness of the Garden...All Year Round
Kentucky Food Bloggers Night Out, from Mirabelle's Creations
For more posts from the more than 50 Kentucky food bloggers, visit Kentucky Food Bloggers Association on facebook.
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