The weather in January can make most of us hibernate like grizzly bears, not wanting to leave the warm comfort of our abodes to traverse the cold, slippery and unforgiving terrain of snow-covered roads and sidewalks. Why leave a 70" TV with Netflix? You'd have to be crazy, right? Well, not so fast. While everyone can benefit from a day in, disconnecting from people can lead to depression and the "winter blues". We have the perfect prescription to cure you and it can be found along the back roads of our beautiful state.
A little drive south of Lexington down US 27 will take you to the lovely and picturesque town of Irvine, Kentucky. Population 2,432. Just go down I-75 and take a left at Richmond (or at least that's my way of giving directions). Now, it's a charming, quaint Kentucky town like so many others around these parts, but what you will find here that you won't find elsewhere is a fabulous restaurant called House of 'Cue that serves up the most delicious BBQ that makes the drive well worth it.
We first heard about this place from one of our followers, Sean Curry. Sean is a great guy who just happens to have been bestowed with some mad cooking skills by the culinary gods. He reached out to us and asked us to come on down the road to try out the offerings at House of 'Cue. Leigh and I, always eager to hit the road like Thelma and Louise, took the afternoon off from our day jobs and made the trek, and I'm so glad we did!
Siri took us directly to the location on River Drive, just east of the Kentucky River and across the railroad tracks, an inviting little establishment there on the side of the road. A large sign told us we were in the right place. After the obligatory pics outside, we scurried inside to fill our bellies. Taking our place in one of their large booths, we took in the scenery and were pleasantly surprised. It was clean and inviting. (And clean is always a big plus in my eyes!) Our server, Tara, a homegrown girl from Irvine, was extremely friendly and made sure we had all we needed. The menu had an abundance of offerings, so we were having a hard time deciding. Thank goodness Sean arrived at our table and after introductions and hearing a bit of his background, he vanished back into the kitchen with the promise of bringing us a variety of dishes for us to try. It wasn't long until an army of soldiers advanced on our table brandishing armloads of dishes. As the feast was set before us, Sean quickly gave us a rundown on what he had for us: fried green tomatoes with jalapeno pimento cheese, BBQ pork egg rolls consisting of smoked Cheddar, coleslaw, and their sweet sauce, Cajun corn, smoked BBQ baked beans made with 12 different spices, smoked wings, and the brisket nachos. Our only thought: How in the heck are we going to eat all of this?
Not ones to back down from a challenge, Leigh and I dove in, sampling everything and exclaimed after every bite, "Oh my gosh, this is so good!" And there's no secret as to why the food is so scrumptious. Everything is made in-house, from the ranch dip to the desserts. They even cut their own steaks! We really loved everything we tried, but my favorite were the egg rolls. I just thought it was so unique with the smoked Cheddar, and the dipping sauce just put it over the top. We also loved chatting it up with Sean, a man who loves his family and is very passionate about his work. He introduced us to his business partner, Wes, who just happens to be a lawyer as well as a restauranteur. Wes is also involved with the Steam Engine Pizza Pub in Irvine, and Apollo Pizza in Richmond. Pizza and BBQ? It's the best of both worlds, right? Hooking up with Sean to open House of 'Cue, he's obviously a very smart person!
A feast is never complete without dessert, or at least that's our belief. The grand finale of our experience came in the form of something Sean calls the Chocolate Overload Cake, a warm, moist and spongy cake covered with mini chocolate chips, drenched in a bourbon chocolate sauce and served with a ginormous scoop of vanilla ice cream. If you're a chocolate lover (and who isn't?), you have to get this dessert. I'm not quite sure how we were able to finish all of it, but we most certainly did. We rolled out of that place relishing in our new-found discovery, eager to return to Lexington and start telling people to get down to Irvine ASAP!
And before you think to yourself, gee, I'm not driving an hour down the road just to eat some BBQ, let me throw this idea at you. The EKU Center for the Arts in Richmond, Kentucky, has an incredible line-up of shows this season. If you have never been, it's a high quality venue that hosts Broadway musicals/plays, famous comics like Jerry Seinfield, as well as musical artists. Valentine's Day is coming up, so why not get some tickets to a show, leave a little early and go to House of 'Cue to try for yourself BBQ like none other? (And by the way, I hear the ribeye on Saturday night is the talk of legends!) What better way to show the love of your life how much you care than some brisket nachos and Cajun corn?
Remember, Leigh and I love exploring these type of little-known places, so reach out with your comments and suggestions. We can't wait to see where else we go this year!