Somewhere becomes home

Amid our busy schedules, a post-workday happy hour with my mom is usually in the cards about once a month (it should be much more frequent, but, alas, life happens). As my mom often uses me as her restaurant and city guide for all things happening in Louisville, and the fact that the wontons from Dragon King’s Daughter are her only geographic reference point for The Highlands, bless her heart, choosing to visit Somewhere Louisville for our meetup was an easy decision.

“Want to go to this new place, Somewhere?” I texted her. “Sure,” she replied. “What’s it called?” She walked right into that. Sorry, mom, I’ll be clearer next time that I want to go to Somewhere Louisville, not just somewhere. And you’d better believe there will be a next time, because we loved our first jaunt into Nowhere Bar Louisville’s newborn, delightful and delicious baby sibling next door.

Somewhere Louisville has been open since just the end of April, and it seems to be the younger, yet more-mature sibling of its wild-child neighbor, Nowhere. Owner David Mattingly knew exactly what he was doing when he began plans for the neighboring space of his nightclub, as Somewhere seems to have everything Nowhere does not. While Nowhere thrives as a nightlife hot spot, perfect for drinks and dancing and all around tomfoolery, Somewhere boasts a chef-driven food menu of contemporary Southern fare and quality craft cocktails. It is a concept gem, if you ask me: a quiet(er), affordable, upscale dining experience to start off the night, which is a mere few steps away from that energetic, neon nightlife glow and rounds of shots. And, one doesn’t even have to walk outside to make the transition from restaurant to club in a matter of seconds.

Genius, I tell you.

Somewhere Louisville has not strayed from the path when it comes to the Nowhere décor theme, with an abundance of reclaimed wood and two giant industrial garage doors that open to a patio. But it also features contemporary sculpture, a penny wall and original murals that seem to take the experience a step up beyond the newly-commercialized Bardstown Road. What truly sets Somewhere apart from the rest, however, is the stellar service, and my mom and I had bartender, Tamara, to thank for that.

Upon bellying up to the bar, which plays host to a plethora of bourbons, wines and 12 draft beers, Tamara greeted us and began taking us through the menu by section. We each ordered a craft cocktail from the short, but well-curated, list: I ordered the “Bluegrass Special” (Three Olives Grape, Yellow Chartreuse, blueberry syrup and lemon juice). My mom had “There Will Be Blood,” per Tamara’s suggestion (Maker’s Mark, Limoncello, blood orange and egg white), which we both found so delectable that I had to have one, and my mom, a second, served up in a frothy coup. And while I didn’t inquire, I can only hope this libation is a Daniel Day-Lewis reference. Later, as we perused the drink menu beyond the signature concoctions, we discovered that Somewhere boasts several local brews and a variety of drink specials throughout the week, such as half-off bottles of wine on “Poppin’ Mondays,” and $2 mimosas for brunch on Sundays. Post-cocktails, I enjoyed a glass of pinot noir, and Tamara insisted we get the truffle fries. Twist. My. Arm.

The pinnacle of our service experience was when my mom presented me with a piece of art she’d had made in honor of my late, beloved pup, Sunny, who passed away May 31 (may she rest in peace). I was opening the gift as Tamara walked up and asked, “What are we celebrating, ladies?” We explained to her what happened, and she proceeded to create a place setting next to me, where I’d laid the art piece, complete with silverware, a full glass of water and a sample of wine. “This will be Sunny’s seat, all night,” she proclaimed, and she told us she’d done the same thing at a former place of employment when a longtime regular, who was an Army veteran, had passed away. This changed a regular evening out with mom to an evening I will not forget, because of an extraordinary act of kindness. Tamara and Somewhere exemplified to me what I truly love about bartending. It’s not only about creating beautiful libations and serving them up to guests (which they did well), it’s also about forming connections — talking, learning and building relationships with clientele. It’s about elevating an ordinary happy hour into an experience that makes you feel like you are home.