- 202 E. Main St., Jeffersonville, IN, 47130
- Overall User Rating:
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- 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. Monday through Saturday
Three decades ago, I spent a couple of years as a welder at Jeffboat. I say I was a welder because that was my job title, but the foremen, Scotty and Skip, and Butch the steelfitter, often told me different. Their position, which they expressed in vivid terms, was that any vessel I worked on might sink at any moment, at great loss of life and property. One thing is for sure: If I’d worked on the Sherman Minton Bridge (and I did not!), it probably wouldn’t have held up for 50 years.
Memories of welding came back to me not long ago as I was sitting across the street from Jeffboat at the Lighthouse Restaurant & Lounge (which 30 years ago was called Leo’s Pike Inn).
The Lighthouse is one of those old-school bar/restaurants that prioritize substance over style. I’d call it blue-collar except that it draws a mixed crowd that includes welders, teachers, government workers, business folks and every kind of person you can imagine. As far as I can tell, the customers have two things in common: They want good value , and lots of them smoke. Also, I should note that you won’t find people under the age of 21 at the Lighthouse. (I’m told this has to do with the way that Jeffersonville’s smoking ordinance defines bars.)
Inside, the neat but spartan accommodations include a bar, dining room, performance space, plenty of televisions and a few video games.
The owner, Allen Clark, who tended the bar for a decade before buying the operation in 2010, has been steadily upgrading the interior, but everything else is quite traditional, including a beer list made up exclusively of mass-market options and a menu that’s positively cheap, but performs way beyond its price point.
Hand-breaded fried goods are a focus of attention, and the fried fish is exemplary. Visit on Wednesday or Friday and you can have all the fried fish, fries and slaw you care to eat for $9.99. And this is good stuff: big planks of whitefish in a classic breading that hits on all three cylinders: salt, pepper and crust. You won’t find any residual oil on your plate, and the fish itself is firm and moist.
If you eat the fried goods every day, your cardiovascular system may end up as congested as the Kennedy Bridge at rush hour, but you’ll have good memories of the hand-breaded onion rings ($3.75) and chicken strips ($7.25), and though I haven’t yet sampled it, there’s a hand-breaded pork tenderloin on the menu that’s calling to me ($4.95).
The pizzas (from $9.99 for a 12-inch cheese pizza to $22.99 for an 18-inch supreme) are as well made as they are picturesque. There are also burgers, soups and salads, of course. And one night I dined on a meltingly tender 12-ounce ribeye that was cooked perfectly to order and barely fit on the plate. It was $11.95. I’m not sure what happens when you order the 16- and 20-ounce versions, which are $15.95 and $19.95, respectively; either the Lighthouse has some gargantuan platters stashed in the kitchen, or they cut the steaks thicker. I may go back soon to find out. Maybe I’ll run into Butch.
Contact freelance restaurant critic Marty Rosen at email@example.com.