By SOPHIE HOTTINGER
There’s no shortage of delicious dinner options in the River City. Whether you plan to indulge in a world-class meal at one of the city’s fine culinary institutions or are in the mood to try an authentically-prepared international dish at the latest hot spot, there are enough appealing restaurants in town to keep any foodie on his or her toes.
But one local feasting event offers far more than just the promise of a satisfying meal. On Sunday, March 10, the Old Louisville Chamber of Commerce will present the fourth annual Dining at the Mansions, a progressive dinner held in some of the neighborhood’s most well-known, spectacular historic mansions.
The concept for the festive feté, held to raise funds and support for the Old Louisville Visitors Center, was inspired by “A Feast for the Eyes,” a cookbook by David Dominé that features prominent Victorian houses of Louisville, alongside recipes connected to their notable inhabitants. Each year, guests dress in their finest for an elegant meal that begins with wine and hors d’oeuvres in the ballroom of the Frazier House, a Richardsonian Romanesque-style mansion built in 1887 and now owned and managed by The Woman’s Club of Louisville. Sumptuous fabrics and stunning antiques accent the house’s elegant interior, decorated by Bittners, which diners can
explore at their leisure.
After being welcomed to the Frazier House by Robert Wessels, president of the Old Louisville Chamber of Commerce, this year those attending can peruse tempting silent auction items that include dinner at Buck’s Restaurant in Louisville and on My Old Kentucky Dinner Train in Bardstown, Ky., as well as baskets filled with treats from Knob Hill Bourbon, Work the Metal, Why Louisville, J. Shepherd Cigars and other local businesses. After enjoying their fill of hors d’oeuvres by Jarfi’s Catering, guests will then step outside to board executive busses that will carry them to their next destination: one of 14 spectacular mansions where a specially-prepared, themed dinner awaits them.
“These homes are such treasures,” enthused Earlene Bisig Zimmlich, executive director of the Old Louisville Chamber of Commerce. “And the homeowners share everything about the homes – some of them will even get out their albums and show you how the house looked when they purchased it, and what they’ve done. The hospitality is just true southern hospitality.”
As long as tickets still remain, those who plan to attend can select a unique, three-course dining experience from a list that includes a 1924 dinner enjoyed by President Calvin Coolidge at the Waldorf-Astoria, served at Inn at the Park; a French meal comprised of recipes by Julia Child, served at the Carson House; a Kentucky Bourbon-inspired meal at the Coleman home; and several others. “There’s something for everyone,” Bisig Zimlich commented. “There’s an Indian vegetarian (dinner), a Mardi Gras meal that’s going to be flown in from Louisiana and even an authentic Chinese New Year.”
After dinner, everyone will be transported back to the Frazier House to enjoy sweet frozen treats by Comfy Cow as they mingle and make their final bids on silent auction items. “It’s so festive! People come back and they’ve had a wonderful meal, they’ve left in good spirits and they come back and have dessert,” shared Bisig Zimlich. And, she added, each guest receives a special token when they leave – a wine glass emblazoned with a fleur de lis design to commemorate the special evening.
Diners will walk away from the experience having enjoyed not only an exceptional meal in a beautiful mansion, but also a wonderful opportunity to learn more about Louisville history while getting to know other members of their community.
“It’s the neighborhood residents working together with the chamber members,” Bisig Zimlich smiled. “Old Louisville is so special because everyone works together – it’s a great partnership, beyond words.”
The fourth annual Dining at the Mansions will be held March 10 from 4 to 9 p.m., beginning and ending at the Frazier House. To view houses and menus visit www.facebook.com/DiningAtTheMansions. Tickets are $175 per couple or $90 per person, and can be obtained by calling 502.637.2922 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.