Tuesday, January 25, 2011
120 South 1st Street
Louisville, KY 40202
Today’s adventure was just a hop, skip and a jump away from our home base to Hillbilly Tea (HT). A few of us had been before, but for the rest of the gang this would be their first experience with this unassuming downtown eatery. With so many interesting things to share about HT this entry will be broken down into 3 parts; tea, entrees, and last but certainly not least, desserts!!!
Considering that “tea” is included in the name of the place, one would expect nothing less than to have a great glass (in this case jar) of ice tea or cup of hot tea. HT certainly did not disappoint on this front. They have an eclectic selection of teas and in addition to those listed on the website there are a number of other specialty teas that vary daily. I ordered traditional sweet tea, Man 1 & 2 ordered the lemon basil tea, and our co-worker (Candypants) ordered the jasmine green tea. As I have come to find restaurants that make sweet tea as good as mom’s are few and far between, but HT may have actually done it! Of course, if you happen to share this comment with my mom I will certainly deny it! The lemon basil tea, the overall group favorite, had just the right amount of lemon and was a perfect complement to our desserts (more about those tasty treats later). Candypants, a jasmine tea connoisseur, felt the jasmine tea needed more jasmine and less sugar and in a word was “disappointed”
HT has a seasonal menu consisting of a small but diverse collection of down home favorites with an unexpected twist. Vegetarians & vegans need not shy away from HT as it as has several vegetarian and vegan options (even a vegan dessert of the day) to satisfy your non-carnivorous dining needs.
After much discussion, Man 2 and I decided on The Appalachian Trail Tea Platter, served in a wooden box, came with a sampling of fried frog legs, braised greens, chow chow (a sweet, pickled relish traditionally made in the south that utilizes vegetables left over at the end of the summer's harvest), a cup of bison chili, corn pone (corn bread), and a hillbilly dessert. At $28 for two, including tea The Appalachian Platter may seem a bit pricey for lunch, but it was well worth the cost. The platter offered a way for us to try many of the menu items that we may have otherwise overlooked and in this case introduced us to some new favorites, especially the hillbilly desserts!!
Please note: the tea platter for two is served in two separate boxes. Man 2 nearly had a panic attack when our server presented us with one box of food and explained that this WAS the platter for 2. In the few minutes before our server returned to straighten this out, I watched the fear/anxiety build in Man 2’s eyes while he contemplated two things: 1) How in the world could they charge us $28 for this and 2) How can I convince Chickadoo that she would be much happier walking across the street for a delicious sack of White Castles, so that I can have this platter all to myself. Luckily the server returned just in time to save me from a trip across the street!
Once we were able to each enjoy our own box of food, both of us agreed that the frog leg was our least favorite. The batter was too thick, but on the bright side the sauce that was served with it was great. The greens were perfectly cooked until just wilted with tiny bits of bacon, mmmmm bacon. The corn pone and chow chow were equally as good, but by far the best of the Appalachian Trail Tea Platter was the bison chili. Thoughts of enjoying more of this amazing chili have eased my longing for the warm sunny days of spring. Everyone in our group excluding our vegetarian friend, who for obvious reasons did not try the chili, loved it.
Man 1 was a fan of the bison burger and our vegetarian friend was equally pleased with her marinated portabella mushroom sandwich. Both commented that the biscuit on which their sandwiches were served was a nice touch. Sandwiches come with sweet potato chips which were also very good. Vegetarian friend subbed her chips for pit roasted sweet potatoes. I did not get to try those but I definitely have my eye on them for my next visit. Candypants had the smoked chicken salad on a bed of greens with apple and stale bread, and added a side of corn pone. The chicken salad looked great and I heard no complaints.
It takes a very special place to get the Lunch Pail Gang to do its first dessert review, but try as we might there was really no avoiding those tasty treats that HT had to offer. Walking into HT your eye is instantly drawn to the counter where the desserts of the day are charmingly displayed in various glass containers. When you place your order at the counter you can hear them calling out to you, begging you to take them home. As mentioned earlier the Appalachian Platter included dessert, so Man 2 and I had no choice but to get dessert. I had my eyes on a lemon sandwich cookie, but was informed that the platter included any dessert except for that cookie because it was the vegan dessert. Disappointed, I “settled” for the chocolate torte. Man 2 went with the apple pie. Once settled into our seats and while waiting for our food I was happy, in fact may have even squealed with delight, when I found out that Man 1 had ordered the hillbilly tea cookies. An order of cookies includes 6 cookies, 2 of each of the cookies of the day. On this day the cookies were a peanut butter no bake cookie, a chocolate brownie cookie, and a shortbread cookie with strawberry preserves. Although, Man 1 initially did not want to share his cookies, he eventually gave in and let us all try a bite of each. All of the cookies were fantastic and each of us had our own personal favorite. I do not have words to describe the deliciousness that was the chocolate torte; perhaps life changing is too strong. The apple pie was good but serving it warm would have been a game changer. As we were enjoying all of our tasty treats and thinking that things could not possibly get any better, our server mistakenly brought us over a lemon sandwich cookie (yes, the same lemon sandwich cookie I had pined for earlier). We explained that we did not order it but he left it for us anyway. The lemon cookie was as good as the rest of the treats, but may get extra props for being delicious and VEGAN!
Obviously, The Lunch Pail Gang thoroughly enjoyed our lunch at Hillbilly Tea, and I know that you will too. Just remember to save room for dessert or two or three!