- 2437 Brownsboro Road, Louisville, KY, 40206
- (502) 893-2062
- Overall User Rating:
- (9 ratings)
- Monday-Thursday, 4:30-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 4:30-10:30 p.m.
- Official Web Site:
In 1958, a Calumet Farm colt named Tim Tam made a powerful stretch run to overtake the leader and win the Kentucky Derby on a muddy track, in a time of 2:05.
Tim Tam was a stayer. He won the Preakness, and might have taken home the Triple Crown — except that he suffered a fracture during the Belmont and only managed to come in second (the injury ended his racing career, but afterward he sired more than a dozen stakes winners).
You’d have to say that Pat’s Steak House is a stayer, as well. It’s been a family business (founded by Mike Francis, now owned and run by Pat Francis, his wife, Trish, and their kids) since the year Tim Tam won the Derby (back in ’58 it was called Min’s).
Pat’s is a place that doesn’t change much. Hank Wolf has been presiding over the bar for 37 years, and when you sip one of his Manhattans, you know that you’re in the presence of a master who knows how to hit all the right notes. As for following trends, Pat’s has made very few concessions to modernity. The restaurant now has a full-fledged website, but still resists modern financial innovations (like the credit card, though checks are accepted, and there’s now an ATM on premises).
The bar and dining areas (including upper floors that are reached via an ancient, narrow staircase) have all the graceful, gilded authority you’d expect from an accumulation of darkly shining wood, ancient photographs and lighting dim enough to satisfy your every conspiratorial instinct.
Downstairs, there’s a bar that dates to the 1860s. Upstairs, there’s an outdoor garden, a pub area that invokes the spirit of Ireland, and an attractive indoor patio room with plenty of natural light. Wherever you sit, you’re likely to hear Nat “King” Cole, Bing Crosby or the sophisticated shimmer of a Nelson Riddle-era trumpet in the background.
The menu is straight from the Gilded Age as well, though by comparison with its upscale steakhouse competitors, Pat’s relatively affordable pricing structure seems as admirably old school as everything else about the place.
Here, for instance, a 32-ounce porterhouse T-bone — a steak that William Howard Taft might have ordered for himself alone, but the rest of us would think of as a shareable portion — can be had for $55.25. A finely grained 1-pound strip steak will set you back $38.75. And what Pat’s still refers to as the Lady’s Filet Mignon (an 8- to 9-ounce portion that will satisfy even a gentleman’s appetite) tips the register at $35.25.
Pat’s is a steakhouse where the steaks are simple and reliable, cooked perfectly to order with little or no folderol. That bacon wrapped around the filet is about as fancy as it gets. And the appetizers are straightforward as well. The rim of a goblet is draped with jumbo shrimp to construct a shrimp cocktail ($14).
You’ll also find a number of seafood entrees (shrimp, frog’s legs, baked salmon, cod, $26-$29). And if you’re looking for slightly lighter fare, an assortment of sandwiches (steak, burgers, fish, salmon, club) runs $14-$19.
If steak isn’t on your agenda, fried chicken ($24 for a half chicken) merits consideration. Cloaked in a crisp, flaky batter, the firm-fleshed chicken stacked up like a heap of gold on my plate. Grease-free and crunchy, it would pass muster in most Kentucky kitchens. And though purists might feel otherwise, I was delighted to find that only a very light dose of salt had been added to my batch.
Side dishes and salads matter at steakhouses, of course. And though Pat’s doesn’t follow the pack in using sides to push up the tab (all Pat’s dinner prices include a salad, two sides and hot rolls), the kitchen does a passable job with offerings such as hash browns (on a recent visit, they were more like a potato pancake, the innards creamy soft, the top and bottom seared to a dark brown finish) or simply seasoned lima beans. Creamed cauliflower was nothing more than tender florets dressed with a cheese sauce. And yes, there are sweet potato fries (another slight nod to contemporary tastes).
Salads dressed with house-made Thousand Island and blue cheese dressing were steakhouse classics (and once the tomatoes come in, Pat’s offers a sliced tomato salad that features Dorothy Gettelfinger’s famous Floyds Knobs tomatoes. Well, those tomatoes are famous among local restaurateurs, in any event. Gettelfinger picks them herself, and trucks them around town. And she once told me that she only sells to restaurants she deems among the best in town. That’s a pretty solid endorsement.
And while you’re waiting for the tomatoes to come in, you can finish your meal with any of an assortment of desserts (though pride of place probably goes to the chocolate chip pecan pie; it’s a family thing, after all).
You can email freelance restaurant critic Marty Rosen at firstname.lastname@example.org.