Lexington: Farewell to the Original Ramsey’s Diner
When I visited Ramsey’s last year before I moved back to Kentucky I had no idea it would be the last time I would eat in what for years had been my favorite restaurant. The original Ramsey’s on Woodland & High closed suddenly in Spring 2014 after a dispute with the landlord, relocating to the Zandale area. The food and service may be the same, but the atmosphere of the original location will never be replaced. Below is the review I wrote after that final visit in Fall 2013.
The great thing about going to Lexington is that my two favorite places are just around the corner and across the street from each other. When one is famished from browsing at Black Swan Books you will find that Ramsey’s Diner is only a quick walk away.
Ramsey’s Diner opened around the same time I started at the University of Kentucky, although I didn’t eat there until a fellow editor at the student daily The Kentucky Kernel took me there for lunch during my senior year. I’ve been devoted to Ramsey’s ever since. They’ve blossomed into a local Lexington chain while maintaining their quality. I’ve eaten at most of their locations across town, but for my now rare trips to Lexington I prefer the original.
Ramsey’s menu is anchored by a meat and three menu, and I’m a particular fan of their chicken fried steak. But the vegetables are the real stars here. Ramsey’s does an excellent job of sourcing locally grown fresh vegetables. When I was there it was their annual “Corn Daze” when corn is in season and featured in all its culinary forms.
Living in an agricultural region of the South, it’s frustrating that more restaurants won’t do this. The food is far fresher, the taste better, the local economy stronger. It shows respect for the customers they serve and the community they profit from. Ramsey’s has it right.
These days I get to Ramsey’s so seldomly, maybe twice a year, I can’t resist ordering my favorite thing on the menu: the Hot Brown. The Hot Brown is a Kentucky tradition, and hard to find outside the Commonwealth. It also happens to be the world’s most perfect food, a combination of bread, ham, turkey, mornay sauce, cheese and bacon.
Since corn and tomatoes were in season, I added on fried corn and fried green tomatoes. I didn’t regret the choices in the least. In fact, one can have an incredibly fine meal at Ramsey’s with their vegetable plate.
And did I mention that Ramsey’s has its own attached pie shop? Well, it does, and Missy’s Pies knows what they’re doing. Again, my order is preordained. I can’t not get the key lime pie. The new waitress brought it without the whipped cream, but I sent it back for the necessary garnish.
It’s hard for me to give Ramsey’s an entirely objective review as there is quite a bit of my old Kentucky home nostalgia tied up with it. But I don’t know anything on the menu that I would change. I never leave disappointed, and I imagine if you go you won’t, either.
Farewell, original Ramsey’s. You are missed.