For the record, Over the 9, I want to love you. I’ve been waiting for that intoxicating moment when trendy restaurateurs would start taking up shop along the stretch of road west of 9th Street into Portland, where developers like Gil Holland have been screaming the gospel of cheap real estate and prosperity from dilapidated rooftops. I’ve been yearning for a yummy brainchild of chef and business mogul to conceive a vision I could eventually go to bed with; perhaps even fall in love with a new and creative restaurant or watering hole in West Louisville. Frankly, however, Over the 9 was like a super attractive dude with a man bun that left me sweaty and unsatisfied. I’ll probably try you again, enjoy the façade, and this time, try to show you exactly where my vagina resides.
At the last week of September, Louisville enjoyed our final Waterfront Wednesday of the season, and my friends and I decided to meander down to Over the 9 (120 S. 10th St.) for pre-show drinks and eats. Over the 9 opened in July of this year when ownership of Falls City Beer, Louisville’s oldest brew, shifted and Old 502 Winery owner, John Neace, took the reigns of the buildings inhabitants. The first floor, previously only a tasting room for the myriad beers and wines being birthed on premises, is now revamped into a restaurant, with kitchen overseen by Chef Griffin Paulin (Hammerheads, Roux).
Over the 9’s food concept is upscale pub fare with an emphasis on burgers and (house made) beer. Gourmet burgers and beer. In Louisville. No fucking way. Yes, burgers are delicious, and if you don’t enjoy a burger in some form — be it cow or chickpea — you can just get out. However, I refuse to believe that the sheer artistry and talent of chefs and restaurateurs in our fair city cannot come up with something outside of piling ingredients on a bun. Amidst minimalist décor with rustic metal chairs and random bourbon barrels seemingly strewn about, no less. C’mon, Louisville. In a city where you can literally eat locally for a year and a half and not visit the same restaurant twice, let’s scope some new seating options.
Alternatively, the booze (let’s be honest, my real dinner) is something to get excited about. With various Falls City beers and Old 502 wines available (including bourbon barrel sangria — let’s sell that by the pitcher, y’all), the real pitch hitters were the cocktails. I was delighted with my “Ballyhoo” (bourbon, Salerno blood orange liqueur, Allspice, orange and cherry bitters), a spiced mix-up that still allowed the spirit to be the star. My friend, Chana, enjoyed the “Rebelution” (vodka, hand squeezed juices, Crabbies ginger beer), which the server described as their take on a Moscow Mule, and my comrade, Seth, described the “Through the Roots” libation as “absolutely phenomenal” (vodka, raspberry/cucumber/cayenne simple syrup, cucumber, heirloom carrot). All signature cocktails were $9, which is quite high for Over the 9’s geographical location, yet we all thought was fair for their quality. My friends, Jess and Jay, knew immediately upon seating that they wanted a bottle of the Bourbon Barrel red wine, a subtly sweet red with a hint of oak char, which the server was only mildly perturbed to repackage for them to take home when our meal was over.
Over The 9 clearly has a few kinks to work out, which is a common plague for a new restaurant in its infant months, yet it seems the bones are there for something stellar. Word on the street is, they’re revamping their menu this fall to accommodate vegetarians better (woo!), and have begun hosting live music on Trolley Hop nights and other events, including trivia nights on Mondays and service industry nights on Thursdays after 10 p.m. (score). My industry brethren, there’s a DJ spinning and $3 craft pints … that’s hard to beat. I still want to love you, Over The 9, because you’ve got talent and your heart is in the right place. You’re certainly not flaccid but you haven’t reached euphoria, either. You’re just … breathing hard. Let’s meet for cocktails in a few months and try this again, shall we?