- 11505 Park Rd., Anchorage, KY, 40223
- (502) 708-1880
- Overall User Rating:
- (0 ratings)
- Weekdays 7:00am-7:00pm Saturday & Sunday 8:00am-7:00pm
- Official Web Site:
Startled. That’s what I was after taking the first bite of a meal at the Anchorage Cafe.
Maybe I shouldn’t have been. The Anchorage Cafe had been on my radar screen for months — ever since last winter when former Courier-Journal food editor Sarah Fritschner (now editor of Edible Louisville magazine) sent me a wildly enthusiastic note claiming that chef Andy Myers was concocting — of all things — the best chicken salad in the world, a concoction featuring local poultry (including the rich, moist dark meat) and house-made mayonnaise made from local, free-range eggs.
On the night I was startled, Myers was greeting his customers with an amuse-bouche, one of those complimentary opening bites that signals the palate to get ready for goodness. This offering was as wonderfully fragile as a spring day: a delicate squash blossom and a dab of smoked pimento cheese wrapped in a thin, crisply fried batter that yielded up a juicy burst of intricate flavors. It was a pretty good way to start a meal.
Because it sits next to the Village Anchor — a grand, glorious spectacle of a restaurant — it’s easy to walk past the Anchorage Cafe without realizing that Bruce and Courtney Lake, chef Myers and sous chef Paul Skulas, and baker Loryn Kipp (I’m told she may be departing for other opportunities) have put together not only a superb cafe that features fantastic farm-to-table breakfast and lunch dishes, but a seasonal small-plates menu that changes weekly but is as entertaining and innovative as any place in the city.
We followed our little fritter with thick slices of crusty house-baked multigrain toast and radish butter ($4). That radish butter was as simple and brilliant an idea as I’ve seen in a long while — a creamy, refreshing fusion of butter and radish as pink as a blushing cheek.
An order of Kentucky dolmathes ($7) was just as clever: perfectly tender cylinders of collard greens wrapped around Cajun-spiced dirty rice, along with a dipping bowl of peppery olive oil. And a spicy bowl of gazpacho (made with regional veggies) was served with cornbread croutons that I could eat by the bagful ($5).
Great risotto is rarely achieved in a restaurant kitchen (because split-second timing is required to take the rice off the heat and get it to the table at the moment of peak texture), but an order of risotto studded with garden-fresh English peas and infused with the bright scent of mint pesto arrived at the table with every grain ready to burst ($9).
Two judicious diners would be content with a total of four small plates, said our quick, friendly and very knowledgeable server — but we exceeded the limit, and ended up with food to take home. We ordered a fine, house-made flatbread topped with a delicate layer of cheese and sprinkled with roasted trumpet mushrooms and caramelized Marksbury Farms ham – a combination of ingredients that made for superb visuals and great flavors.
Then we finished up with what may be the finest sliders in the city. The chefs start with Marksbury Farms ground beef. They flavor it with garlic and house-made Worcestershire sauce, cook the small patties medium rare and slather them with smoked pimento cheese slaw. Then, using little pretzel buns (made by Claus, Louisville’s pretzel bread master), they build dangerously tall columns of bread and meat that are as amazing as they are juicily undignified ($9).
The small plates are on the menu Thursday-Saturday, 5-9 p.m; during that time, the cafe offers table service. But never fear, the daily cafe menu (not to mention an outstanding assortment of house-baked goods) offers plenty of reasons to drop in for breakfast and lunch (during cafe hours, customers order at the counter, and dishes are delivered to tables).
Breakfast items ($4.50-$6) feature local eggs and great regional bacon and pork products. The smoked pimento (made with smoked peppers and Kenny’s Aged Cheddar Pimento spread) shows up as a lunch sandwich, served with delightful house-made pickles that have the fresh, crisp texture of half-sours, but have the faint sweetness of tangy bread and butter pickles ($8). And, of course, there’s the chicken salad ($8), a burger dressed with house-made mayo ($9), and an assortment of soups and sandwiches.
Perhaps the best way to appreciate the Anchorage Cafe is to visit on a Saturday or Sunday and linger outside, surrounded by flowers, stately trees and greenery (there is inside dining, as well, though the setting is more functional than attractive).
On weekends, brunch menus are very alluring. On a busy Sunday, we visited with our pals Paula and Londa, and feasted on items like a baked egg perched on Weisenberger grits with a green, piquant pool of arugula pesto ($6), sunny-side-up eggs with potato hash and Vidalia onion jam ($9), and cinnamon-laden French toast with warm maple syrup and Benton’s bacon ($10). Though a salad included some greens that were past their prime, our big mugs of Argo Sons Coffee were sublime — as was a tender scone studded with bacon, cheddar and scallions.
You can email freelance restaurant critic Marty Rosen at email@example.com.