As we move into the Mother’s Day weekend, we focus on the table of our youth. The tireless work of nourishing their children has provided us with memories our moms from a PBJ in the lunchbox to fried chicken and biscuits after church.
This Friday’s lunch suggestions appeals to the comfort food lover in all of us – meals that were favorites when we lived at home have become menu items that we crave when feeling nostalgic, homesick or even a smorgasbord for a good old-fashioned pity party.
Perhaps I tend to focus on the Boomer generation and the precedent the post-war families set for dining traditions. As a school-aged kids in the 60s, me and my siblings saw the era of processed foods rise over the suburbs like a flash-frozen sun. (Ruh-ro!) Yet our mom made sure we knew how our family’s bread was buttered!
Even though she was raised in the country down in Rockcastle County and saw her own mother stoke an iron stove with wood for some of the best pies, cornbread and soups you ever tasted. My mom did not let the trends of the Birds-Eye nation taker her down when she moved to city life with her husband and three kids. We had down-home cookin’ in the middle of urban sprawl.
My brother, sister and I can cook and bake but not like Mom, who is currently 82 and gardens, cans and cooks with no end in sight. As much as we’d love to take her out to eat for Mother’s Day, we’d rather stay at home and watch her cast her magic over the stove. Is that just wrong? Then again, you know how it is as an adult child who journeys home to the mixed message of “Get in here, the food’s gettin’ cold!” and “You’ve put on some weight….”
If you’re hankerin’ for some cookin’ like mama’s, there are a few independent dining establishments that should fulfill the longing for anything from dumplings to meatloaf, mac-and-cheese to pork chops. Hold on to your hamhocks, here we go!
This is a true story of a Mother who made a dream come true – for her family and for the loyal crowds longing for homestyle soul food in the middle of Hike’s Point. Visit Queenie’s and enjoy some pork chops and chicken (baked or smothered), collards, cabbage, black-eyed peas. peach cobbler or banana pudding with a tell glass of sweet tea. I recommend a brisk evening constitutional later on, perhaps twice ’round Seneca Park.
Why bother with suppertime when you can have Mom’s Meatloaf from Lynn’s Paradise Cafe for lunch? As the menu says – made with Kentucky grass-fed premium beef and garnished with our spicy marinara sauce. Chomp into a BLT or get lost in some buttery grits as long as you’re basking in the glow of an ugly lamp. I doubt your family’s dining room was decorated like Lynn’s but if you close your eyes and hold tight to your fork, your taste buds will take you back home to, well, wherever it was.
Come on down to catch the gravy train at Baxter Station whose creative cuisine is delicious and their sense of “blue plate specials” are wholesome as ever. Plate lunches prepared daily and served with a salad and two sides. Frankly, I see the mashed taters and gravy as the main course with some mac and cheese and Lima beans on the side.
In Kentucky, the times have changed for home-grown and cooked meals. Health and local wealth is taking over, thank goodness, but so many of us still need that familiar fix. Homestyle veggies! If you remember green beans from the garden, they didn’t look like that by the time the bowl hit the table. Moms in the country would cook ’em for hours and stir in that slab of bacon while they’re at it.
Potatoes any way you can get ’em – mashed, fried, hash browns or in a soup. A pone of cornbread or fried corn cakes puts the iron skillet or griddle to task.
Deep friend chicken with no apology and certainly no doctor’s note. Hot refills on coffee and someone to call you “Hon” might be the hallmarks of a place that reminds you of Mom. Here are a few more suggestions of such local dining traditions:
If breakfast for lunch is what you like, D. Nalley”s will serve up biscuits and gravy for as long as they last.
A Germantown tradition, Flabby’s is back with all-American favorites from catfish to cheeseburgers. Also the pride of Schnitzelburg, Check’s Cafe has a basket of chicken or a bowl of bean soup with cornbread waiting at the bar or a table.
A drive southwest is worth it for the home-cooked bounty of Granny’s Apron. This best-kept secret is out. They cater to your sense of nostalgia as well as cater your event.
The small house with a big taste, Cottage Inn is known for its fried chicken, grilled chops, beans and slaw.
Chicken fried steak, chicken pot pie, chicken livers and gravy – does the Goose Creek Diner do justice to the hen or what?
Late Breaking Bread! Is you mother Italian? Was your grandmother from Sicily? Share Pauline Anselmo’s inspiration in the Highlands. Anselmo’s Bistro & Bar is test-driving a lunch menu for Mother’s Day, so call in a reservation. By June, they’ll open for regular lunch to mark their first anniversary. ‘Bout time!
Hungry Facebook friends are waving their napkins! Some folks miss a few old haunts and others agree on the basic button-buster dishes. Let’s see what they have to say:
Carrie Morrison Shoaf Queenie’s off Taylorsville in Hikes Point. Guuuud fried chicken, corn bread, and mashed potatoes.
Victoria SnellingJessie’s Family Restaurant or Goose Creek Diner for veggies and corn bread. If you’r up for a nice drive in the country, Westport General Store has great food. I miss Melrose Inn! Sounds like I need to check out Queenie’s
Ruth Neunlist-Conn Fried green tomato/portabella mushroom sandwich at Goose Creek is amazing! Love Cottage Inn, but Granny’s Apron has them beat.
Jon Hardy Goose Creek Diner.
Mason RobertsHammerheads had great comfort food, but if you’re looking for something a bit more traditional The Cottage Inn and Wagner’s Cafe are gems. Barbara Lee’s is a classic diner, and Jerry’s in Jeffersonville. And nothing comforts me like the bisque at Mayan Cafe.
Thanks for feeding the local economy! Thanks to all the moms out there with a warm heart and a hot kitchen!