Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Columns

September 29, 2013

PRESTON: Dumplins on a Sunday, $4.50 a day, KY Cobb Club and a new cafe

ASHLAND — I was out kind of early chasing skateboarders and video moments last Sunday morning, although there was no way I could’ve even tried to get out of taking my wife to The Lunch Bucket for their Sunday-special chicken and dumplins. And, yes, I do know there is supposed to be a “g” at the end of dumpling, but I don’t care for it.

We arrived just after the after-church crowds had come and gone, and considered ourselves lucky to get the country classic after noticing the “while they last” notice on the board out front.

Stacy and Dwayne Burke were sitting down for their own lunch when we got there and my wife immediately started smiling and giggling as she listened to young Kasey Burke make her daddy read everything on the menu (rejecting each option with a resolved “No!” as he went). We ordered the chicken and dumplins with green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy and a slice of cornbread.

I was enjoying my meal and shooting the breeze with the Burkes for a few minutes before I even realized my wife had been totally silent the entire time. Fearing I might have been oblivious to something wrong, I scanned the situation and realized her quiet spell was instead sponsored by an A-Plus effort on behalf of the Clean-Plate Club. She hadn’t touched her cornbread, but left hardly a molecule of dumplin juice behind. I knew this particular batch would score well on her 1-to-10 “Granny” scale.

 We left with a sample of The Lunch Bucket’s peach cobbler and blackberry cobbler to enjoy later (also delicious), and with the Granny-scale rating undeclared. I knew I liked the chicken and dumplins, but still wasn’t sure if she would rate them above a 7, which is the highest score anyone has ever earned. Curious as a cat, I asked and, as if she had been reading my mind about the whole 7 thing, she explained she can’t imagine anyone will ever get a “10” because that number was established by her great aunt, who raised the chicken, killed the chicken, cooked the chicken and made the dumplins from scratch.

As to her rating for The Lunch Bucket’s dumplins?

“I give them an 8, maybe a 9,” she said, noting she really liked the size and texture of their dumplings, as well as the quality of the “soup” portion of the entree. High praise, indeed!

 The new menu at The Lunch Bucket features daily breakfast and lunch specials, with an alternating dinner special for every day of the week. Monday’s special is slow-roasted pot roast; Tuesday has turkey and dressing; Wednesday will get you chicken-n-noodles deep-dish dinner; Thursday is reserved for country-fried steak; Friday finds buttermilk oven-fried chicken breast, and Saturday’s special is their spice-rubbed pork chops. Sundays, of course, call for the chicken and dumplins.

For more information or to place an order for carry out, call (606) 929-5222.

For $4.50 a day

I was talking to the director of River Cities Harvest last week and she mentioned many of their people (including our editor-in-chief Mark Maynard) had taken “the SNAP challenge” the day before. Basically, the challenge asks participants to spend only $4.50, the amount a person enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has each day, to feed themselves for an entire day.

People applied different strategies and by all accounts it was an enlightening experience. Most agreed it would be a real challenge to pull it off every day for a week, and even more so for a month. Possible, yes, but not easy and requiring considerable budgeting and meal planning. Speaking for myself, the comment which resonated (and reflected our own household food budget) was “Carbs are cheap.”

Remember, we’re not talking about $4.50 for lunch. That’s relatively easy in a town where “dollar menu” bargains are everywhere. This is $4.50 per person for an entire day, every day, day after day. I’ve attempted the challenge, but so far haven’t been able to be true to it (Lee Ward brought ham sandwiches and sides one day, and I was otherwise faced with “free food” the following day as well).

I will try again next week, and invite readers to give it a shot as well. Win, lose or draw I will be interested in hearing how you allocated your $4.50.

I’m going to try fighting the cheap-carbs factor by first going to Artrip’s Market on 13th Street in Ashland (where I haven’t stopped by in ages, even though the “Peaches Are Here” banner has been up for weeks), and seeking their guidance to get the best bang-for-the-buck on some tasty produce.

Great sandwiches

I spent a lot of time on the street during this year’s annual Poage Landing Days celebration in downtown Ashland. Despite what I believe to be a record number of food vendors, however, I couldn’t make up my mind about which to buy lunch from, or where to eat it. As I was struggling with the decision, we happened to be crossing 15th Street and heard music coming from the patio at The Lamp Post Cafe on the corner at Greenup Avenue.

It had been weeks since we enjoyed a meal there and the place didn’t appear to be crowded so it wasn’t hard to skip the street scene and pull up a booth. I spent too much time looking at the menu (yet overlooked the fact that they had their smoked meatloaf sandwich as a special that day) and eventually decided to try the Ky Cobb Club with sliced turkey, ham, bacon and cheese on wheat bread with a side of chips, while my wife went for the French Dip with fries.

My sandwich was great, and arrived at the table neatly quartered. I have to confess that my wife’s French Dip also looked fantastic and smelled delicious and I fully intended to try “just a little bite” before she got too far into it. In spite of my brilliant scheme, the sandwich was apparently so good that she never set it back down after taking that first bite.

We both got full, but glanced at the dessert menu anyway. There’s no way I could have tackled it, but I was thrilled to see they still have that most-excellent strawberry croissant (I wrote about it back in June) on the menu. I haven’t made it back to get one of those delicious treats loaded with fresh strawberries and some kind of magical whipped cream/cream cheese filling, but I promise it has been appearing in my dreams on an almost nightly basis.

New cafe at Pendleton

I know it’s only a block or so from the office, but I haven’t yet had a chance to investigate reports that one of the area’s favorite restaurant owners has opened, or is opening, a new cafe inside the Pendleton Arts Center on Winchester Avenue in downtown Ashland.

I have to get this column filed, but I will take a stroll down there this afternoon to see what I can see and report back next week.

Late note — I just went to lunch and saw a sign saying the new place will be open as of the 30th.

And, in Flatwoods

Add to the list of destinations to check out — the Dawg House, near Food Fair in Flatwoods. According to the word on the street, the family restaurant has exceptional hot dogs as well as excellent pulled pork and beef barbecue.

If anyone has a chance to check it out this week, let me know what you think.

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