Hospitality, good food, and bourbon. Bardstown is definitely the heart of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
Sunday, December 08, 2013
Kentucky Bourbon Trail Stay and Eat Options
For a slice of small town friendliness I recommend staying in Bardstown, Kentucky. A delightful little place with some unique shops dotted along Main Street. Everyone we met exuded genuine warmth and charm. Bardstown is located halfway between Lexington and Louisville making it a perfect home base for visiting distilleries. Every restaurant from mom and pop diner to family/country cooking to upscale establishment boasted 50-90 different bourbons to imbibe.
If you are going to be drinking that much bourbon you need to stay within walking distance of your temporary watering holes. We stayed at the Colonel's Cottage Inn. A 6 room cottage with a huge jacuzzi, living room, dining room, kitchen, bedroom was $99 a night and just two blocks from the center of town. And the Colonel and his wife Margaret Sue were a delight to meet.
The Colonel and wife also own the Kentucky Bourbon House where they serve meals on the weekends and offer bourbon flights. The flights were a great way to try different brands. We sat on the front patio with the Colonel while we tasted. (We then could walk to the drive-up liquor store to purchase our favorites). During this tasting I fell in love with Old Pogue - very smooth and Templeton Rye - very floral nose and made in Iowa.
For lunch or dinner stop at the Old Talbott Tavern. They have served up food and housed travelers since the late 1700's. There are rumors of ghosts as well. We had delicious sandwiches for lunch.
It's hard not to take advantage of Southern comfort cooking when in Kentucky. We had dinner at the Kurtz Restaurant one night which began operations in 1937. The place oozes colonial revival. All entrees are served with hot rolls, green beans (the ones cooked to death with a large dose of ham hock), and spiced beets. They satisfied me with roast turkey and all the trimmings. Hubby raved about the skillet fried chicken and fried chicken livers - best livers since his mom used to fry them when he was a kid. And then came dessert - Chocolate Meringue Pie. This was the real deal people! A fluffy cloud of soft meringue with the peaks just-browned and the creamy chocolate filling that rivaled anything that my aunt used to make when I was growing up. After dinner and dessert we could do something at this family dinner restaurant that we could never do at our childhood restaurants in Virginia - have a shot of bourbon to cap off the evening. The Willett Pot Still Reserve made me very happy.
If you tire of comfort food, hit up Circa, but make reservations. This is an upscale boite and can fill up quickly. Circa was the only place in small town/rural Kentucky where we found a selection of good wines (as well as bourbons). The Cakebread Zin paired well with our meal. We enjoyed starters (shrimp rolls), entrees (bourbon-laquered short ribs and duck roulade), and an after dinner drink with my new-found friend Old Pogue.