610 Magnolia was in a 125-year-old carriage house in Old Louisville – the creation of Chef Edward Lee. In 2003 he wanted a modern take on the Southern Table and so offers a 5-course tasting menu with 2 options on 4 of the courses. Wine pairings are available as well as a full bar. Since there were 2 of us we decided to each order one of the options so we could try the whole menu. The menu focuses on seasonality and locally sourced produce including their own greenhouse and farm. It’s a medium-sized place with rock music in the background. A large bar filled one area but it did not have seats. The nice-sized tables were bare wood set with white cloth napkins and windows to the outside helped with the otherwise dim lighting. They do 2 seatings a night and reservations must be made by calling. We were in the early seating and as such the noise level was good at first but then became difficult as the later crowd arrived and more drink was consumed. The food was mixed but Chef Lee was in the house and did come around to visit with guests. We tried their pairings which were okay and small pours.
The amuse bouche was a BLT made with a paté of bacon, sun-dried tomatoes and gouda cheese on cereal bread. There were more ingredients but these were all I got down. It was a wonderful couple bites filled with textures and lots of flavor.
Fava Bean Pave was with asparagus, frisee, tarragon, orange and hazelnuts. The orange was in small pieces as well as in the vinaigrette that lightly dressed the frisee. The toasted hazelnuts were a nice accent. The tarragon seemed a small influence. The smooth and mild pave was topped with tasty asparagus pieces. It was mild but good.
Scallop crudo was with buttermilk, kombu, chive, corn, and ramp vinegar. The kombu was used to cure the scallops and some toasted breadcrumbs topped the dish and added a good crunch. An actual mini corn shoot topped the dish which overall did have corn flavor. The sweet scallops made it another mildly flavored offering but it was good.
Bread service was the house sourdough with a sorghum butter topped with bourbon salt. The bread had a good crust and a nice doughy fresh interior. The sweetened butter was tasty on it.
Sweet pea risotto was served with rock shrimp, snow peas, uni butter, mint and Magnolia blossoms and was the only course without a choice. The shrimp were lovely and the risotto was nicely runny. It tasted like some lime had been added which gave it a bit of tartness.
Halibut cheeks were with parsnip and spring onion puree, marble potato, Taiwanese spinach and Beech mushrooms. The marble potatoes were in crisp thin chips that added a texture. The fish was cooked a bit more than I’d preferred but it wasn’t dried out. However, it made the texture more like skate and pulled into shreds rather than chunks. The parsnip puree was delicious as was the overall plate.
Charred octopus was with rice cakes, carrot, Baby Bok Choy, scallion, sesame and Gochujang. The rice cakes were in slices that matched the shape of the carrot slices and were slightly spicy and chewy. The glazed octopus was wonderful as was the whole plate.
Lamb rack and neck was in a Goan curry with Fregula, carrot, fennel, pickled Golden raisins, and tamarind jus. The neck meat was mixed with the Fregula and accented with bits of the fennel plant. The rack chops were nicely medium rare and tender. The sauce held the golden raisins which made a wonderful combination of flavors. Some cabbage was on the green sauce. This was the better of the 2 entree plates.
Duck breast was with wheatberries, salsify, kale, black garlic, pomegranate and fig. The figs were reconstituted dried ones and very tasty with a slightly chewy texture. The lamb was cooked medium but a lot of the fat was not rendered, however, it was tender and good. A nice plate.
Lemongrass panna cotta was with pineapple ginger jam, coconut mango, passionfruit and lime meringue. The Key lime meringue was the white tube on top. Some ginger was in the pineapple chutney which had tons of flavors. Lots of sweet flavorful fruit in this one but the wine pairing with it was off.
Bourbon Aficionado contained drunken banana cake, butterscotch, chocolate, Pappy maple syrup, corn, brown butter ice cream and smoke. The smoke was an interesting twist with lots of creaminess in this one. Both desserts were sort of a mishmash of flavors and textures without a focus. Sweet but too much of a jumble for me.