|Le Relais inside Bowman Field's Historic Airport Terminal in Louisville, KY|
On our anniversary, Kurt and I decided to take our high-falutin' butts over to Le Relais, the swanky French restaurant inside Bowman Field's historic art deco airport building. We were celebrating after all, so why not enjoy a lavish four course meal inside a cozy and romantic French bistro?
It was the perfect atmosphere - beautiful and elegant, but not pretentious. The restaurant seems to be frozen in the 1920's, with windows overlooking the small airport's runway and a row of single-engine airplanes and biplanes parked neatly beside the hanger. Inside, muted mustard colored walls and dark wood trim were illuminated by glowing art deco fixtures. 1920's era travel posters hang on the walls and live jazz filtered through the quiet conversations of people settled into bowls of bouillabaisse or steamed mussels piled high with pommes frites.
This was a celebratory budget buster, but the fantastic food, atmosphere and service made our bill more than justified. A steal, if you ask me. First we shared a charcuterie plate of cured meats, grainy mustard and cornichons. Then we each had the salad special, mixed greens with candied apricots, crispy prosciutto and goat cheese tossed in a cherry vinaigrette. For an entree, Kurt had the rich, safron infused bouillabaisse while I tried the seared scallops with grilled leeks and beurre blanc over risotto. We drank all the way to dessert: Rosé and a Bellini for me, Basil Haydens for Kurt. Profiteroles for me, creme brulee for Kurt. Everything was delicious in the way that makes you close your eyes between bites. That warm and cozy feeling lingered hours after the meal was over.
Unfortunately, I didn't have the guts to take any pictures, thinking that it would be bad manners to fiddle with a camera at a formal dinner table where elbows and phones were already banished. We did, however, snap a few instagrams of Bowman Field.
Bowman Field is a neat place in Louisville that is often overlooked. It was Kentucky's first commercial airport and is the oldest continually operating airfield in North America. Charles Lindbergh landed the Spirit of St. Louis here in 1927 to a crowd of 10,000 spectators. During World War II, it was home to the Air Force's school for flight nurses, flight surgeons and medical technicians. In 1964, it was here where they filmed Pussy Galore's flying circus in the movie Goldfinger. In its hey-day, for cheap entertainment, people would gather at the terminal just to watch the planes come and go.
Now reserved for smaller aircrafts, the two-runway airport is home to several flight schools and hundreds of privately owned single-engine planes. The art deco buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places, the terminal's right wing has been transformed into a schmancy restaurant and the tiny planes seem somewhat antiquated and novel. We're going to take a hint from the olden days - we're already planning to walk up here on summer nights just to see the planes take-off. Cheap entertainment even today - that is unless our vantage point includes a four course dinner. I have a feeling we won't be able to resist.