Review: Talbott Tavern continues long history of offering great food & service

The Old Talbott Tavern has provided travelers with quality food and lodging for more than 240 years.

Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Sunday, March 12, 2023 — Last week, my wife and I were both in downtown Bardstown at lunchtime, and we decided to “do lunch” — at the Old Talbott Tavern.

Admittedly, I’m not a professional food critic. The only thing that qualifies me to write a restaurant review is six decades of experience with dining out; I know what I like and I know good food when I taste it.

I haven’t eaten at the Tavern in many years; and yes, I’ll admit I’m guilty of bypassing the Tavern for lunch in the past. With its rich history and tradition, it is easy to dismiss the Tavern as just another “tourist stop.” I was leaving the Old Courthouse when my wife called, so her suggestion of the Tavern for lunch was a convenient choice.

One thing I had forgotten about the historic Tavern was the unevenness of its floors. From the entrance to the dining room, the floor rises and falls, sometimes pretty sharply. I didn’t notice if there were signs posted, but anyone with mobility or balance issues should be warned in advance of just how uneven floors are, they may be a trip hazard.

My wife and I joined several other lunchtime patrons in the dining room. Our server took our drink orders and left us with time to browse the lunch menu.

Our orders arrived promptly; my wife opted for the Daniel Boone Pot Roast ($15.99), and I ordered Abe’s Country Fried Steak, ($13.99) with mashed potatoes and gravy. For my second side, I ordered roasted squash.

My wife’s pot roast looked delicious. She said it was fork tender, and came with slices of onion, diced carrots and chunks of potato, all mixed together with pan gravy. It was a generous serving size and included two cheese biscuits.

My wife cleaned her plate and actually asked for another biscuit; she wasn’t about to let the gravy go to waste.

My family will tell you that I’m a big fan of country-fried steak, and the Tavern’s country-fried steak was one of the best I’ve had in a very long time. The steak was fork-cutting tender, and covered in milk gravy seasoned with just enough pepper for taste.

The mashed potatoes arrived as a nearly round ball, as though an ice cream scoop was used to scoop them from the pan. I assumed that the potatoes were what I call “sudden” potatoes — you know, the kind that come as flakes in a box and you mix with water, butter and milk in a pan.

I was happy to find that the potatoes’ texture made it clear they more than likely began as whole potatoes that were mashed in the restaurant kitchen and not from a box. They certainly didn’t taste like the “sudden” Idaho spuds I’ve “reconstituted” on our stove at home; they tasted great with the steak and buttered, roasted squash.

The table service was second to none; the young man who waited our table kept our glasses full of Coke Zero (for my wife) and sweet tea for me.

One thing the Tavern has that you can’t put a price on is the atmosphere. The place just oozes many decades of history. The Tavern has hosted many, many dignitaries — including outlaws — in its 240-plus year history. When you consider the passage of time, along with the devastating fire that destroyed part of the building 25 years ago, its survival and continued operation is a testimony to the long line of owners and operators who have made the Tavern an anchor business in downtown Bardstown.

Tasty food, great service, and ambiance second to none put the Old Talbott Tavern in a league of its own.

Lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; dinner is served starting at 4 p.m. Click here to see a pdf copy of the LUNCH menu or click here to see the DINNER menu. And as always, check them out on Facebook to find out the live entertainment appearing on weekends.


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