Archive for February 9th, 2009

Saturday’s day trip added a few pounds

Our Best Restaurant in Smithfield

Our Best Restaurant in Smithfield

We needed a road trip after the past couple of weeks of ice and snow.
Along with my brother Gary and sister-in-law Dianna, Bob and I headed to Our Best restaurant in Smithfield on Saturday morning for breakfast.
Our Best, located between Eminence and LaGrange, serves country-style food such as bean soup, fried cornbread, roast beef and gravy, pork chops, and cream pies with meringue.

We wanted to try breakfast, since Gary and Dianna had eaten lunch and dinner there. The menu was the usual – biscuits, gravy, eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes and country ham -  and delicious.

The restaurant is owned by the Way family and their story is printed on the menu. Kenneth and Kay Way bought the old Smithfield Milling Company to preserve its history, and then decided to open a restaurant to showcase flour and cornmeal that was once produced by the Milling Company.

The original restaurant was in a small building and seated only 36 people, and their customers would wait in their cars for a table. Menus were printed on the original “Our Best” flour sacks. In 1991 Kenneth’s son Kenny, who had restaurant experience at the Galt House, Executive Inn in Louisville and the Florenz Restaurant in Lexington, was recruited to help run the business. In 1995 the restaurant was expanded to a seating capacity of 120. Kenny’s son Aric joined the family business when he turned 16 and he’s the one who makes the pies.

The Smithfield Milling Company was established in 1896 by the Watkins family and operated through June, 1987. The Mill no longer produces, but the Ways bought the Mill in 1988 and began to preserve the exterior in order to protect the turn-of-the-century technology and hand-crafted equipment still housed in the facility. Many old timers remember going by horse and wagon to deliver corn and wheat to the Mill and returning home with sacks of freshly ground cornmeal and flour. Originally powered by steam, electricity was installed in 1932, but even today the boiler rooms and mill pond still exist.

The Sack Room Gift Shop is located in the room where the sacks were stored on lofts along with large rolls of wire pull ties. It’s normally open on weekends, but was closed on Saturday.
The restaurant is at 5728 Smithfield Road and there are other locations in Louisville and Jerffersonville, Ind. Go to www.ourbestrestaurant.com.

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After breakfast we drove to Westport, which is home to the Westport General Store, which we found last fall. Westport is on the Ohio River in Oldham County and was founded in 1780. There was always a Westport General Store except for a period between 1998 and 2003. Will and Laura Crawford bought the building in 2003 and turned it into a restaurant, serving upscale southern cuisine such as jumbo shrimp wrapped in country ham served with grits and collard greens, and chicken breast saltimbocca.
It seems like Westport is out in the middle of nowhere coming from Lexington, but it’s only a few miles from I-71 and the Louisville suburbs.

After a drive along the Ohio River, we drove back to LaGrange to visit gift shops and have lunch at Big R’s Barbeque Shack, 109 Walnut Street.  We weren’t hungry, but we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try a barbeque place that has a meat smoker in its yard.

Big R’s uses homemade rubs on its pork butts, briskets, and ribs. According to the menu the ribs are slow-smoked for 4 to 6 hours and a glaze added just before serving. Only one sauce was on the table and it was sweet with rich tomato flavor. Take a look at their menu at  www.bigrsbarbeque.com.

On the way back to Lexington, we stopped by Our Best to pick up an order for dinner – fried cornbread, bean soup and chocolate pie.

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We would have stopped for dessert in Shelbyville had we known about the Pie Kitchen at 1732 Midland Trail. At the office this morning, an editor raved about her trip to the bakery that serves every kind of pie from Dutch apple with caramel to key lime. The store also makes cheesecakes, cookies, 4-layer banana pudding, Italian cream cake, and fresh churned ice cream. Go to www.piekitchen.com for other the menu and locations.