There are restaurants in town that have a favorite dish, drink or appetizer of mine, but there are few restaurants that bring it all together and give you a wonderful meal the whole way through. Butchertown Grocery did that for me last weekend.
I made a lunch reservation for two at about 1:15 because I wasn’t sure what to expect. There was a small scattering of people, but most of the brunch and lunch goers had already left. I had never been to Butchertown Grocery and had heard mixed reviews.
It’s a nice quaint restaurant with a good vibe. It’s in an interesting spot on in a growing area of Butchertown catty-corner to Play Dance Bar and Copper & Kings Distillery. The awning is black and white striped, and it has a home-like feel from the outside. Inside the floors are tiled black and white and the walls are mainly brick. There’s a very impressive bar over to the right after you walk in with a nice selection of liquor behind it. Next to the bar is a wall with shelves of all the oils, jellies, jams, spices and other ingredients they use in their dishes, which is nice to see for any foodie.
I got to the restaurant early before my friend so I could have plenty of time with the menu. Upon sitting down, I picked out a few possible entrees and went through their extensive spirits menu that’s over 20 pages long! I don’t often go for a drink, but I decided to try out the New York Sour – Buffalo Trace Bourbon, lemon, sugar, egg white and red wine. It seemed like an odd cocktail, but different is what I was looking for that day. It was amazing and happened to be one of the better cocktails I’ve had in years. I had high expectations (with a bit of skepticism) for this place before I stepped foot in the door, and they’ve done well so far. I didn’t see them being able to keep it up.
After my friend arrived and started on her strawberry mimosa, we looked over the menu. We both had our eyes on the same two dishes, the New Orleans BBQ Shrimp and the Chicken and Waffles. Their Chicken and Waffles I remembered had been featured on the Food Network, so that’s certainly worth a shot. We went with both and decided we’ll try a bit of each. They make their own bread and pastries in house, so we opted to get a biscuit on the side as well.
The server was very attentive, and the restaurant is a nice intimate environment good for a date, special occasion or even a casual meal. It’s a bit more expensive than you’d want to pay if you happened to just roll out of bed, but it’s casual enough to accommodate you on any day, particularly for breakfast or lunch.
We got our biscuit with a side of apple butter first and it was absolutely delicious. The biscuit wasn’t too crispy nor was it falling apart. It was fluffy, baked perfectly and the apple butter was a great compliment. A nice start to the meal and a display that this place doesn’t mess around with its breads and pastries.
We didn’t have to wait long for our server to bring out our entrees. She sat the New Orleans BBQ Shrimp in front of my friend and the Chicken and Waffles in front of me. We both looked at each other in amazement because the meals looked divine and were stunning. The New Orleans BBQ Shrimp is seven or eight plump shrimp marinade in some kind of subtle BBQ and laid with pickled carrots and herbs over a bed of grits surrounded by a brown gravy. My Chicken and Waffles looked amazing as well. Three large portions of roasted chicken laying over top of four sections of waffles with herbs and greens draped on top of it and laid on a wood board for presentation.
My biggest problem with chicken and waffles is when restaurants put too much maple syrup on it and the syrup overtakes the flavor of the dish. Butchertown Grocery used the perfect amount. The syrup was delicately spread overtop to compliment the chicken and allow the chicken to take the spotlight and the waffles to absorb some of the flavor as well. The baked herbs and greens they put on top even added an addition flavor to add some nice depth to the meal. What separates the Butchertown Grocery’s Chicken and Waffles from some establishments is that the chicken is dark meat and roasted to perfection. This was the best chicken and waffles I’ve ever had hands down.
While enjoying my meal so much I had to know, how’s the New Orleans BBQ Shrimp? My friend was very pleased with her meal as well and told me to try it, so we swapped parts of each other’s meals. The shrimp was delicious, but surprisingly that’s not what had me stunned. I’m not much of a grits fan so I waved her off when she told me to try some of the grits and gravy. I went ahead and thankfully I was sitting in a booth instead of in a chair otherwise I might have flown back and went head over heels. Their grits are simply fantastic and I’m going to have to give grits another shot and hunt down places that make them similarly. The grits themselves were very creamy and flavorful and the gravy packs a ton of flavor.
The meal had been so good that we decided that there’s no point in stopping now. We ordered the Bourbon and Maple Sundae – Old Forester butter pound cake, maple ice cream, toffee, candied pecans and bourbon cherries. The sundae was good, but it was truly the only thing I wasn’t blown away by upon tasting. It was as good as it needed to be, and it had no chance of topping the meal I had just enjoyed.
If there’s one complaint I have, it’s that I didn’t have two stomachs and more time because I could have gone on enjoying their food all day. I didn’t come close to finishing my meal, so I took part of it home and enjoyed it quite a bit the next day.
It’s impressive when a dish at a restaurant blows me away, but it’s a rarity to go to a restaurant where more than one dish or part of a meal makes searching for reasons to go back. That’s how I feel with Butchertown Grocery. I want to go back, and I want to go back soon. The meal was not cheap, but it shouldn’t be for this quality. This was one of the best meals I’ve had in years.
I highly recommend Butchertown Grocery to anybody in Louisville looking for a delicious meal and a memorable experience. I will be back soon looking to be blown away again.