Hardly a week goes by that I don’t find myself dining in the sturdy graceful surroundings — a mill, factory or warehouse — that we’ve inherited from the architects, brick masons, carpenters and businessmen who worked more than a century ago.
The Booker Building is a case in point. Once home to the Louisville Cotton Mills, it’s now the home of Goss Avenue Antiques & Interiors. Built in 1889 — when electric lights were still a newfangled technology — it’s a vast monument to 19th century design, with limestone roots, 18-inch brick walls, floors of pine and maple, and some 10,000 window panes — windows that let in a particularly gorgeous light.
The Booker Building has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1982, and for decades it’s been home to one of the largest antique malls in the country.
Whether you love antiques or not — and who doesn’t? — a stroll through the building will bring home to you the value of these old structures. And whether or not you’re in the market for antiques, you should drop in around lunchtime, Tuesday through Sunday, when That Place on Goss, a cafe that opened a few months ago, is dishing up lunch or brunch.
Owned and operated by William and Amy Enix, That Place occupies a splendid portion of the building. It’s a calm, spacious, well-lighted place. Artworks hang from the walls. The furnishings are stately and comfortable. Tables are set with vintage elements — like ancient salt and pepper shakers. And if you happen to like something you see, you can almost certainly buy it to take home.
Chef William Enix (whose experience includes a stint at The Brown hotel) is one of those fellows who believes in shopping locally (though he doesn’t belabor the point on the menu) and making things from scratch. He has a knack for making interesting cafe fare — soups, salads and sandwiches. And his Sunday brunch (at $10.95 one of the best values in the city) is outstanding.
You want a savory pan-seared meat loaf sandwich spiced up with pepper Jack cheese and a spicy house-made mayonnaise? Enix has the answer: the Meaty Jack (like all the sandwiches, $6.95 with chips; $7.95 with a side, like blue cheese coleslaw).
You like beer cheese and pretzel bread (especially the hand-crafted pretzel bread made locally by Klaus Riedelsheimer)? Enix will indulge you with grilled pretzel bread filled with house-made beer cheese, American cheese and bacon.
If you’re in the mood for a plant-based lunch, he’ll take care of you with a hummus wrap, a black bean burger or a platter of hummus and vegetables ($5.50). And if you want to pay culinary tribute to Germantown’s heritage, he’ll whip you up a fried bologna sandwich with lettuce, tomato, American cheese and chips ($5).
Soup offerings vary from day to day. This time of year you might find a superb tomato-basil soup (its creamy texture owing to the use of JD Country Milk from down in Logan County, Ky.) or you might find something made from seasonal root vegetables harvested from one of the local farm markets (soups, served with pretzel bread, run $3.75/$5).
A half dozen salad offerings ($5.75, plus $2 for the addition of grilled chicken) include the colorful B.E.L.T., a conglomeration of Romaine, bacon, hard-boiled eggs, cherry tomatoes, dressed with a tangy/sweet thousand island dressing; and the crisp, refreshing Apple Ranch — Romaine, apple slices, cheddar, almonds and ranch dressing.
The lunch menu is commendable, but it’s the Sunday brunch that got my inbox all aquiver with reports from happy diners. And here are some of the reasons why they’re happy: a crustless cheddar vegetable quiche (so light and fluffy I’d call it a souffle) sporting a delicate layer of jade green vegetables on the surface; a very fine Southern-style sausage gravy for spooning over biscuits; a Monte Cristo casserole made from eggs, ham, turkey and Swiss; a very nice Caprese salad dressed in a slightly sweet balsamic vinaigrette; pancakes studded with bacon; and a well-stocked omelet station.
If some items struck me as uninteresting (an innocuous batch of shrimp and grits; some home fries that lacked pizazz), well, it is ever thus. Besides, those items were balanced by a great array of sweets, some imported from Nord’s Bakery (like those infamous Bacon Long Johns) and some made in house, like cinnamon-peach bread pudding, Mexican wedding balls and an extravagant chocolate-strawberry cake.
And the Sunday atmosphere is enhanced by Richard Matteson’s fine classical guitar stylings, which include everything from Albeniz’s “Leyenda” to excellent arrangements of the American songbook.
I should note also that while the early bird captures the worm, thanks to our liquor laws, it’s the late bruncher who gets the Bloody Mary. That Place on Goss has a full bar and specialty cocktails — including a Bloody Mary.
You can email freelance restaurant critic Marty Rosen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THAT PLACE ON GOSS
Address: 946 Goss Ave.
Telephone: (502) 409-5409
Alcohol: Full bar; specialty cocktails, a handful of wines; draft and bottled beers (including popular lagers and Southern Tier on draft).
Vegetarian: Several options; ask your server.
Price range: Inexpensive; exclusive of alcohol, two could lunch for under $20 and brunch for under $25.
Reservations: Accepted for parties of 10 or more; catered events are also welcome.
Credit cards: D, MC, V
Children’s menu: Yes.
Smoking: Outdoors only.
Access: Ramps at the rear of the building will accommodate some people using wheelchairs, but the ramps look steep enough to present challenges for those trying to ascend (or descend) without assistance; the rest rooms also seem rather narrow for most people using wheelchairs without assistance.
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; Sunday brunch, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.