I expected a relaxed atmosphere and good drinks. I didn’t expect wild boar charcuterie. But when Louis’s the Ton soft-opened on Saturday, it foreshadowed good times ahead in Butchertown.
Insider Louisville initially reported on Louis’s the Ton last January when it took over the former spot of local watering hole Johnson’s Tavern and looked poised to start doing business in the spring. But construction issues delayed the opening, and owner Emmanuel Dumigron had to make some adjustments. As expenses mounted, he found ways to keep the public house moving forward, even if it took longer and cost more than expected.
It was worth the wait, if a sneak peek is any indication; the official grand opening is this Wednesday, Dec. 31.
Dumigron set up my girlfriend Cynthia and me with a sampler of charcuterie, paté and cheese that will be among the key staples of Louis’s the Ton, and it was beyond what I expected. Dumigron is a native of France, and his plan is to provide Louisville with a place that will offer European-style small plates along with an atmosphere that invites socialization.
He also has 10 taps with a variety of beers and some select wines chosen specially to pair with the food available. And while the menu isn’t quite finished, the food samples we tried were excellent. I’m excited to see what happens with the offerings of cold small plates that will feature meats, paté, cheeses, olives, mustard, pickles, breads and more.
The space is friendly — there are various seating areas, one featuring small tables with chairs and church-pew-style benches, one featuring couches and a view onto the corner of Story and Frankfort avenues, as well as the bar area. There are no TVs, which invites interaction, a plan from the get-go. (A beer garden is planned for the back of the property, but that will come to fruition closer to warm weather’s arrival.)
The décor is sparse and bright, while the floor is raw. On a wall by the bar, there are motorcycle helmets on display. Behind the bar is a display of liquor and two huge coolers of bottled beverages. The restrooms are clean.
Back to the food: We enjoyed a selection of three meats, pickles, olives and a pair of patés, along with a delicious French cheese that paired nicely with all of the above.
The mini-pickles were sour and briny, as opposed to sweet, as we had feared, while the olives (with pits) were mild but a nice complement to the overall experience. The main paté was lightly spicy, paired well with the French cheese and would be a nice companion to anything pungent and big on flavor.
My favorite aspect of the plate was the wild boar charcuterie, with its gamey, unique flavor and slightly chewy consistency. Yeah, this isn’t bacon — it’s almost smoky and well worth your time and taste buds. Meanwhile, the duck was mild, fatty and, as expected, a bit oily. The third meat was a Spanish chorizo that was nothing like Mexican chorizo with its odd and sharp spice character.
It all came with what Dumigron called “the people’s mustard,” a spicy complement to all the flavors on the plate and something I could dip anything in. It is like a horseradish-focused, spicy version of Grey Poupon. Delicious, and I could not stop dipping the boar and duck into it.
Cynthia’s favorite of the plate was a slice of vegetable paté, made with spinach, carrots and turnips. It was like a creamy, grown-up version of Neopolitan ice cream. Still, I was happy to let her dominate it so I could focus on the meats and mustard.
Dumigron said he wants to set up the pricing so that a couple on a date can get some beers and a medium plate for $20 or $25. What we had was the equivalent of a large plate, and it was more than we could finish.
Dumigron also turned us onto a red wine by Big House Wines from Livermore, Calif., that was an added complement; that’s another aspect of Louis’s the Ton that will be fun and interesting — the wine list will be chosen specifically to go with the food.
In short, this is a public house and bar that promises to be a destination. It is next door to Sergio’s World Beers, which can only help, and Dumigron said he plans to have live music going forward in addition to the forthcoming beer garden.
If you’re looking for a place to start your New Year’s Eve, you may have just found it. Ask for the wild boar.