Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

April 28, 2013

Tim Preston: Whiskey, smoked meatloaf and a shirt: 04/28/13

Tim Preston
The Independent

ASHLAND — I popped by the patio at the Chimney Corner Café on Carter Avenue after work recently to enjoy some fresh air and live music performed by a talented duo when Chef Paul Runnels took me by the arm and said, “Walk with me,” as he pointed out the surrounding area, which he has dubbed “the new downtown Ashland.”

It took me a moment to understand what he was talking about, but then realized the amount of work and investment that have gone into nearby and adjacent properties. In addition to the nearby Hospice building and a new bank under construction, Runnels made a point of directing my attention to renovations at the longstanding Gene Jackson Tire Co., as well as other shops within a block or two. I had to admit I had overlooked much of this, and salute the efforts of all involved.

In fact, I will try to share a little more about some of the new businesses in the “new downtown,” as well as improvements at existing business locations during the weeks ahead.

Along the way Runnels also casually mentioned he has again opened for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. We found a lunch menu inside and I was pleased to see the choices were plentiful, with healthy options as well as burgers, bisque and burgoo, and only two items that cost more than $6.95. At the top of the lunch price list, for $7.95, you can have either a crab cake and fried tomato sandwich, or the lemon-herb salmon entree, with rice and veggies on the side. Runnels also lists Appalachian Peach Chicken Mornay, which sounds so good I just can’t wait to have it for lunch sometime this week.

And, perhaps the most exciting change Runnels has in store will be for fans of good whiskey and bourbons. I’m not sure if this will be a full-time thing, but Runnels has his whiskey selections sitting on the bar with a short stack of shot glasses at hand allowing fans to pour their own libation.

Runnels said the whiskey-on-the-bar practice is common out West, allowing patrons to help themselves to a short or tall shot and pay a uniform price regardless of the brand. I appreciate the Chimney Corner has an excellent selection of top-shelf bourbon made here in Kentucky, and told the chef I would not be surprised if the simple move does not attract fellow bourbon hounds from all around.

For more information about the Chimney Corner at 1624 Carter Ave., call (606) 324-7500.

10 years at TUG

The Upstairs Gallery on Winchester Avenue remains one of my favorite places in the city’s downtown arts district, and the gallery welcomes new and familiar guests to help celebrate 10 years of exhibits, music and art events during the upcoming Downtown Live and First Friday Art WalK from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

To help celebrate, authors Virginia Monti and Andrea Monti, of Ashland and Louisa, will be signing their new book, and live music will be performed by a crew from Paintsville, featuring Brian Brown and the amazing Josh Daniels. Artist Lisa Smith, one of the gallery’s resident artisans, will demonstrate pencil drawing.

Downstairs from The Upstairs Gallery, Bill and Sally Salyers will have an art showing at The Thoroughbred Gallery at 1430 Winchester Ave. For more information, call (606) 325-2470 or (304) 633-4401.

Lamp Post Café reviews

The manager at the Lamp Post Café recently thanked me for sending many customers his way. I told him he was welcome, but cautioned I will be the first to know, and probably say something about it in print, if they fail to make readers happy. I got to work Monday and found a customer review about the Lamp Post already waiting, and have to say the place continues to rack up good reviews.

“My wife and I had breakfast at Lamp Post Café the other day and came away highly impressed with the stuffed banana French toast and a STACK of fluffy pancakes that had to be 6 inches tall,” the reader wrote. “Both of us had perfectly cooked bacon (crisp but not burned) and coffee with our order. We also ordered our dinner to go — a pair of smoked meat loaf sandwiches. There was so much meat loaf it was enough for four meals and it was delicious. The only complaint was how long it took to complete the breakfast meal, although they did a great job of keeping our coffee cup from ever being empty. Besides the long wait, and we figured it was because of the stuffed French toast, it was a wonderful culinary experience. We will be going back — especially for that smoked meat loaf sandwich. Total cost for the meals was around $30 — not too bad considering we got four meals out of the smoked meat loaf.”

I will add my own review following a recent sampling of the Lamp Post’s Downtown Hot Brown during a recent dinner visit. The Kentucky-born classic was delicious, and prepared in such a way that I got a bit of every ingredient in every bite. The portion was also generous, and the sauce was so rich and creamy I enjoyed about half and reheated the other half at home later that evening. I served up my leftovers with an icy-cold American pilsner and I promise it was good to the last bite.

The Lamp Post Café is at the corner of 16th Street and Greenup Avenue at the former location of Katie’s Corner Café. For more information or to place an order, call (606) 325-5283. Detail-oriented folks may notice the last four digits of that phone number still spell out K-A-T-E, which makes it much easier to remember.

Cool T-shirt

I’m a big fan of Kyle Robinson at Print My Threads, a small business that has added an excellent dynamic to downtown Ashland. Robinson and crew were again hard at work last month during the first Downtown Live and First Friday Art Walk of the warm season and it was the first time I had a chance to see their latest T-shirt design.

In my opinion, the shop has created an almost perfect local message with the word Ashland in the middle of a big red heart. I plan to wear mine on stage when I get to play out of town this summer. For more information about products and services by Print My Threads at 613 Winchester Ave., call (606) 571-0297.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2651.