- 1201 Payne St., Louisville, KY, 40204
- (502) 584-1635
- Overall User Rating:
- (0 ratings)
- Tuesday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday, 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m.; Saturday, 4:30-11 p.m.; Sunday 4:30-9 p.m.
- Official Web Site:
“Chug, Chug, Chew, Chew!” reads the exhortation at the bottom of Baxter Station Bar & Grill’s website, and the restaurant has been inviting folks to do just that for more than 20 years.
The “Chug, Chug, Chew, Chew!” is, in part, a witty reminder that the restaurant sits near what used to be a buzzing railway hub. But more importantly — for a diner, at least — it reflects the restaurant’s exemplary beverage program and inviting menu. I wish more places would jump aboard Baxter Station’s approach to liquids. It’s notable not just for an excellent assortment of bourbons (it’s a stop on the Urban Bourbon Trail), but for its long-standing practice of offering an exemplary selection of affordable wines (“30 bottles under $30”). It’s the sort of populist wine list that sets you free to focus on friends and conversation without furtively calculating the cost of each sip.
In fact, over the years, owner Andrew Hutto has ensured that Baxter Station remains about as true to a populist spirit of hospitality as any restaurant in the city. The space is as long — and nearly as narrow — as a passenger car. The lighting is warm, sound levels don’t intrude on conversation, art and photographs reinforce a defined sense of place, and the front of the house, headed up by Lacie Monno, offers service that’s unobtrusive and well paced.
As for the “Chew, Chew” aspect, chef Brian Lynch’s menu falls squarely into the American bistro category: an eclectic list of regional dishes, fine execution and prices that constitute an extraordinary value.
Baxter Station is one of those rare places where you can feast with equal satisfaction on a bowl of red beans and rice ($8.95) or fish tacos made from mahi-mahi, on steamed tortillas with all the fixings ($15.95), where you can tuck into a wood-smoked pork barbecue sandwich ($8.95) or start with a salad made from pears poached in port wine garnished with blue cheese, walnuts and baby greens ($7.95).
The fine-grained John Barleycorn cheese spread ($7.95), a smoky cheddar-based concoction flavored with bourbon and spices, served with Klaus Riedelsheimer’s excellent pretzel bread, makes a fine starter — or an excellent, shareable bar snack.
Likewise, the quesadilla of the day (a recent example was stuffed with chicken, spinach, beautifully caramelized onions and bacon, and carried the faint scent of rosemary, $8.95) makes a fine starter (or can serve as a meal for one).
A nice collection of sandwiches ($8-$10) includes options like grilled yellowfin tuna, Benedictine and burgers.
But to tap into the kitchen’s imaginative strengths, check out the entrees and the blackboard list of daily specials. Not long ago, one of those specials had all the luxurious trappings of the gilded age — but without the price tag. An oyster-stuffed 8-ounce filet, wrapped in bacon, topped with sauteed mushrooms and onions, plated with real mashed potatoes and green beans, was perfectly medium rare — and nicely judged in terms of flavors and textures — for $18.95.
This fall’s seasonal menu includes some standout dishes: A superb Southern-fried chicken breast is kicked up with green onions, sunflower seeds and roasted red pepper, and finished with a graceful sauce, ever-so-carefully inflected with hints of bourbon ($13.95).
And for sheer visual glory, a big bowl of linguine and succulent littleneck clams, their pale shells glowing amid a light sauce of red pepper, white wine, a sprinkle of fresh herbs and plenty of garlic, would be hard to beat ($17.95).
But if anything could beat it, it might be one of pastry chef Ginna Mooser’s creations, like a recent chocolate Irish cream cake that rose up in three grand layers, and was surrounded by little clouds of whipped cream.