Friday night in Lexington, KY means one thing... eating out. Lexingtonians love food, so much so they view dining out as a form of entertainment. There are lots of wonderful gastronomic choices, and you can find really great food in some less than stellar environments. However, we love it when we can find a place that can combine a beautiful setting with delightful food. Welcome to West Main Crafting Company!
Located on, you guessed it, West Main Street, in downtown Lexington, just adjacent to another one of our favorites, the 21c Hotel, the West Main Crafting Company is a new addition to Lexington's culinary scene having just opened its doors in May of this year. We came on a referral from our friend, Allyson, someone who is in the know when it comes to great places to visit. With the promise of hand-crafted cocktails and locally sourced ingredients, we knew this place would hit the spot and we were not disappointed.
There is so much we could tell you about this place, but let me distill it down to two components, the presentation and the service (thus the P.S. in the catchy title). How something is presented, whether it's food, a cocktail, or a product, affects a person's reaction to it. If you have a lackluster product, but you present it in such a way that it seems exciting and unique, people are more apt to buy. (Exhibit A, the Snuggie) Luckily, this place has it all and presents it in such a way that it entices you to come in, relax and enjoy your dining experience. The decor is beautiful with warm, rich wood floors, a beautiful bar that seemingly goes on forever and a lounge area with a 14-foot long, purple velvet, Chesterfield sofa. Twin crystal chandeliers set off this area and frame the view out the front window expanse. Being a bibliophile (that's a fancy word for book lover), the different sets of bookends on each table that held the cocktail book (a visual dictionary of all the wonderful drinks they offer), caught my eye. Even the bathrooms had great attention to detail with their white marble sinks and antique hardware.
Fine decor isn't the only way this place presents well, they also do it with their food and beverages. The place is obviously known for its cocktails. It's hard to miss the giant "Cocktails" sign out front. Building on the "mixologist" trend now sweeping the nation, West Main offers a revamping of old drinks and crafts them the old-fashioned way. They make their own syrups, tonic, sodas, tinctures, bitters, etc. There are other places in town that do this as well, but what really got me was the presentation. Just as there is the right tool for the job, there are the right glasses for the drinks. The Sherry Cobbler was expertly mixed and then poured into a beautiful copper mint julep cup, garnished with a strawberry on a metal skewer with two slices of orange, and a brown and white striped paper straw. Perfection! And check out this picture of the gin and tonic. Now, would these taste the same in a different container and without all the garnishes? Probably! But see, it's the presentation that elevates it to the next level, going from simply a really good cocktail to a FABULOUS cocktail.
The food is equally as amazing as the drinks. It was suggested by our very knowledgeable server that we try the fritto misto consisting of shoestring fries, chickpea fries and tempura shiitakes. Okay, so this is interesting. Number one, it's a vegetarian dish so for a lot of people this is a definite plus. They also have gluten free choices as well. We like options, so this is great news. Number two, I'm not a huge fan of mushrooms, except for this one portabello mushroom I had served under a perfectly cooked steak that was topped with Bernaise sauce prepared by our friend Jim. And what the heck are chickpea fries? We were hesitant, but said, why not give it a try? Well, we had no reason to worry. The bountiful platter arrived and the server explained each item as well as the mysterious sauces that accompanied them. The colors, textures, smells, and visual appeal were off the chart and we dove in. I personally believe that the sauces were the stars of the show and the mushrooms, chickpea fries and shoestring fries were just the vehicles to get them into my mouth. They were the perfect accompaniment to the cocktails.
Now for the service. We've all been to restaurants and had terrible service. In Lexington, because there are so many restaurants, it is difficult to find enough service people. There is high turnover and many are simply not afforded the opportunity for sufficient training. West Main Crafting Company does not have this problem, or at least that was not our experience. From the minute we arrived, we were treated as if we were honored guests. The well-informed servers made great suggestions and seemed eager to make us happy. While our visit lasted over three hours, we were never rushed or made to feel as though we had overstayed our welcome. In fact, while standing near the front door waiting for the rain to stop, we were invited back in by the manager to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee on the house. Funny side story: Since West Main Crafting has such a strong belief in doing everything from scratch, when we noticed someone at the end of the bar pounding away at a bag with a wooden mallet, we were convinced they were crushing the coffee beans for the coffee we had ordered. I also remarked that they probably have a cow out back from which they get the milk to make the cream! Okay, so we felt like idiots when we found out he was actually crushing ice, but at the time it seemed completely plausible.
Finally, our enjoyable evening came to a close. I deliberately didn't take many photos or delve deeper into the menu because I want to make a return visit ASAP. This place should be a staple for anyone who works downtown for after-work happy hours and for those who appreciate a place that offers interesting food and drink options served in an environment reflecting urban sophistication and good ol' Southern hospitality.