Lexington: Stella’s Kentucky Deli Gets It Right
There are rare times when one goes to a restaurant and all things are “right”. For me, Stella’s Kentucky Deli was that kind of experience.
Stella’s is in a converted Victorian house—you may notice it’s yellow—with generous gingerbread trim on downtown Lexington’s Jefferson Street, which has seen a gastronomic renaissance over the last several years. The ceiling in the main dining room is lovely with a tin tile ceiling and vintage style hanging light fixtures. If you’re in an old converted house, then embrace that you’re in an old converted house. Stella’s does, and I love them for it.
Stella’s is a “Kentucky Deli,” emphasizing a commitment to locally produced food. Not too many menus have credits, but Stella’s does in the form of thanks to their different local producers. It lets me know my hamburger came from Colcord Farm and the bread from Bluegrass Baking Company (the latter is where I stop by every week to grab a loaf for home use).
My wife and I couldn’t resist the lure of fried green tomato options on the menu (admittedly, we didn’t even try to resist). I ordered The Revro burger with cheddar cheese, my wife went for the fried green tomato BLT. We had them split so we could swap out halves.
I had heard raves about Stella’s burgers, and mine did not disappoint. Stella’s burger patty tasted like an idealized memory of homemade burgers from my childhood. The waitress said the meat is only seasoned with a bit of salt. Stella’s approach is to win the day with high quality ingredients sourced locally. They add a twist, in this case the fried green tomato, and let you savor a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Stella’s burger must rank as one of Lexington’s best.
The BLT, also with fried green tomato, was just as delectable as the burger. Again, Stella’s is letting each ingredient shine through. Nothing is trying to hide. Stella’s BLT is what you might have hoped a BLT would be, but feared it could not in this vale of tears.
We finished things off with a slice of Stella’s Mary Porter pie. The pie is a cloud like concoction of ganache, slivered almonds, whipped cheesecake, toffee, and drizzled with bourbon chocolate. I’ve never met Mary Porter, but she deserves a big Kentucky bear hug. Or maybe a statue. If you’re tempted to skip dessert you’ll thank me later if you don’t.
In addition to its lunch menu, Stella’s also serves brunch and dinner. View it as an opportunity, a challenge, or simply an excuse to go back and eat more. Why, I’ve not even tried their hot brown yet.
Stella’s Kentucky Deli
143 Jefferson Street