When we are traveling I try to sample the local cuisine and restaurants whenever possible. There’s something about finding one of the hidden gems the locals frequent that makes the trip more memorable. Plus, when we take the advice of locals for favorite restaurants, we have never been disappointed. Our stops in Shelbyville and Harrodsburg were no exception. Although both of these restaurants are quite different in focus, they are well worth a visit if you are in the area.
Harrodsburg, the oldest town in Kentucky, is revitalizing their main street area. Not only did we find the local theater and the arts council, we found Dedman Drugstore and Kentucky Fudge Company. This restaurant is like a page out of history. Originally established in 1865, this building still has the original cherry cabinetry and soda fountain. The cafe, now owned by Tim and Jennifer Kazimer, bakes homemade treats and lunch items daily. I settled on the Gourmet Grilled Cheese Sandwich to be followed by the Kentucky Derby Pie. I expected a plain grilled cheese sandwich, but I was wrong! This sandwich was topped with three different cheeses, special topping and panini pressed with cheese on the outside. Served with their amazing homemade sour cream potato salad, which could have been a meal in itself, I was sad Dedman’s was not closer to my house!
No matter what you order, be sure to save room for one of their homemade desserts. The Kentucky Derby Pie was rich, chocolately and was warmed before being brought to my table. Although I was offered the chance to make it a la mode, it was delicious the way it was.
In Shelbyville, we stopped for an evening meal at the Bell House restaurant for a relaxing evening meal. Originally built in 1902, it was restored and transformed into a restaurant in 2007. I had the Traditional Meat Lasagna, featuring three cheeses, homemade marinara sauce, beef, sausage and fresh herbs, while Brittany was delighted to discover the Isle of Capri pasta, which could be served with gluten free noodles. Not only was my lasagna flavorful and overflowing with cheesy goodness, it was a large portion. I had enough to make two meals and took half of it with me in a to-go box.
All of the desserts are made from scratch by the Bell House’s talented pastry chef. I sampled the recommended coconut cream pie, while Brittany tried the gluten free Creme Brulee, topped with fresh blueberries. My pie was piled high with meringue, had a cool, creamy coconut center and a light and flaky crust. Brittany didn’t offer to share her Creme Brulee with me, but she declared it “very good.”
The Bell House is open for lunch Tuesday through Friday and dinner on Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays, with a brunch each Saturday. The atmosphere inside the restaurant is cozy and romantic, with small comfortable dining rooms, making it the perfect place to enjoy a special evening out.