This past Saturday, we ventured to the Baxter Avenue area for a meal at Baxter Station. Located on 1201 Payne Street in a 100 year old tavern in historic Irish Hill, this cozy and eclectic bistro is truly one of Louisville's hidden gems. Upon entering, you might notice the black and white tiled floor, reminiscent of a 1950's diner seeming to immediately invite you in. The restaurant doesn't fail to live up to its title with a railway theme featuring an antique train whizzing around the edge of the ceiling. We requested a patio table, the waitress proceeded to lead us past the front dining room to a similar back dining area adorned with train photographs against choo choo train red walls, however in the narrow hallway in between, the tables featured quirky lounge-like chairs out of place with the other rustic wooden chairs and tables. She brought us to our table on the enclosed patio that rolls back for the warmer months. We agreed the patio offers a down home ambiance of Southern charm. Our good friend Meg who joined us shared that she felt like she was dining out in a friend's back yard.
The atmosphere is so comfortable and saloon-like that one may think the menu would be limited to pub fare, when, in fact, it offers a much more gourmet selection. We thought about ordering the specials, which included the catch of the day, a grilled salmon fillet in a bourbon glaze or a cup of butternut and squash soup but decided against it. Instead, we were between the potato cakes, mussels, or shrimp and grits. Beth had previously sampled the shrimp and grits, and she liked what she tasted so much, she was tempted to give it another go. With a touch of jalapeno juices, she felt it offered just the right amount of spice with a great creamy texture to cool it down. We decided, instead, on the mussels, which was a mistake. All three of us agreed they were a bit mushy instead of steamed to a firmness, however the garlic-wine sauce soaking them provided a decent flavor. Meg went for her favorite there, the red beans and rice, which she whole-heatedly claims to be Louisville's best. They are unique in that the beans and rice are accompanied by a mix of zucchini and celery with the option of adding Andoli sausage for an even spicier kick. We split the Bourbon Fried Chicken and agreed the chicken breast was perfectly breaded. The juiciness of the chicken was present in every bite along with just enough of that crunch necessary in every fried chicken dish. The light bourbon glaze accented the tenderness of the meat well. It came with a side of mashed potatoes and vegetables, which were nothing special. Michael even poured some of the Bourbon glaze over to liven them up.
Baxter Station offers quite an extensive Bourbon menu, as it is a member of the Urban Bourbon Trail. They run a special on Mondays for Bourbon flights, which Michael is tempted to hit up. Their tap offers 24 beers. The wine list offers 30 for under $30 and is much more helpful than most, denoting more descriptive categories ranging from "Rich and Full Bodied" to "Crisp and Refreshing," even recommending certain wines that go well with spicy foods or ones that are more supple.
The menu is affordable enough if you're on a budget with prices ranging from $8 for appetizers and sandwiches to up to $20 for entrees with service that was, at times, on the slower end in our experience.
And remember for your next Holladay platter, when Uncle Allen starts bringing up those awkward adolescent years when you still wanted to be the lead singer of [insert any embarassing 80's or 90's band here] in front of your new love interest, and all you want to do is grab a heaping glass of bourbon and egg nog and crawl under the table... there's always the option of dining out with your brother or sister. That's what we prefer. Until next time... live to eat!