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Kentucky Storytellers: Food

The Beaumont Inn, which is celebrating its centennial in 2019, has been a revered dining and lodging destination in Harrodsburg since Dixon Dedman’s great-great grandparents first established the business in 1919.

“We like to think the Beaumont Inn is a bit of a Kentucky icon,” said Dedman, who is the fifth generation of his family to help run the business.

The Beaumont Inn operates out of a historic former school for girls constructed in 1845. Generations of Kentuckians have made it their go-to destination for celebrating life’s happy occasions, from engagements and anniversaries to birthdays and retirements, thanks to its reputation for serving classics with a side of Southern hospitality.

“Our menu changes seasonally,” Dedman said. “We’re very active in local flavors and local ingredients. But for 100 years, the mainstay in our restaurant has been our fried chicken and country ham, along with other favorites like our corn pudding.”

In addition to the Main Dining Room, the inn also includes two options for more casual dining: the Old Owl Tavern and the Owl’s Nest. Beaumont Inn’s long commitment to culinary excellence earned it a James Beard Foundation American Classics Award in 2015.

Recently, Dedman has been able to weave another thread of his family’s heritage into the Beaumont Inn story thanks to his resurrection of his family’s pre-Prohibition bourbon brand, Kentucky Owl, in 2014.

“I was born and raised to have a deep understanding and appreciation for history and legacy, and taking pride in not only your work but also your reputation,” Dedman said. “It’s very cool to be able to have two very storied brands in our family and to be able to represent them both.”

Dedman said he enjoys being on the front lines of the hospitality industry, especially in the heart of Kentucky’s bourbon country, because it offers him a chance to greet visitors from across the country, many of whom are experiencing Kentucky’s Southern charm for the first time.

“I just love talking to people about the nature of Kentucky — the generosity and the hospitality and the genuineness of people here,” he said. “Our guests often comment on how kind everyone is here,” he said. “It makes you proud to be a Kentuckian.”

Brown Hotel

A Louisville landmark since 1923, the grand Brown Hotel has hosted generations of guests drawn to its Georgian Revival elegance and sophisticated Southern charm. Famous as the birthplace of the Kentucky Hot Brown, a signature state dish that features an open-faced turkey sandwich typically served with bacon, tomatoes and Mornay sauce, the Brown Hotel’s English Grill remains one of the city’s most elegant and romantic dining options. The hotel’s J. Graham’s Café offers more casual a la carte and buffet dining, and the Lobby Bar offers an excellent venue for a craft cocktail or a bourbon flight.

Holly Hill Inn

Lauded as a “gem of a restaurant” by the New York Times, the Holly Hill Inn in picturesque Midway, right in the heart of Bluegrass horse country, is owned by celebrated Kentucky chef Ouita Michel, a frequent James Beard Foundation nominee. In operation since 2001, Holly Hill specializes in fresh farm-to-table menus using locally sourced ingredients that change according to the season.

Patti’s 1800’s Settlement

Situated in quaint Grand Rivers — population under 400 — Patti’s 1800’s Settlement is a re-created historical log cabin village known far and wide for the delicious Southern-style fare served at its flagship restaurant. As the result of a fire in early 2018, the restaurant is being rebuilt and is scheduled to reopen this fall. In the meantime, the Settlement’s famous dishes, including its one-inch porch chop and Patti’s strawberry butter, are still being served on-site at the village’s Grist Mill Outdoor Café. In addition to delicious food, the Settlement offers a full day of fun thanks to an array of unique shops and boutiques, miniature golf, gem mining and more.

Beaumont Inn

The Beaumont Inn, a historic bed-and-breakfast in Harrodsburg is celebrating 100 years of serving fine food and authentic Southern hospitality. The inn has three restaurants: the lauded Beaumont Inn Dining Room, the Old Owl Tavern and the Owl’s Nest pub. Dining Room specialties include Southern classics like corn pudding, country ham and fried chicken. Winner of numerous honors, including the James Beard Foundation America’s Class Award, the Beaumont Inn is routinely voted among the South’s best places to stay and dine.

Claudia Sanders Dinner House

Built on the site of the Dinner House opened by Col. Harland Sanders and his wife, Claudia, in the late 1960s, the Claudia Sanders Dinner House in Shelbyville is a go-to destination for classic Southern fried chicken as well as other regional favorites, including catfish, chicken and dumplings, baked country ham and the restaurant’s famed yeast rolls.

Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn

Routinely voted among the best barbecue restaurants in Kentucky and the South, the Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn in Owensboro is known for its lunch and dinner buffet that offers an array of barbecue dishes. Guests will enjoy meat such as pulled pork, brisket and ribs, as well as country-style vegetables, the restaurant’s signature corn muffins and a full desert bar with fresh fruit cobblers and soft-serve ice cream.

Kentucky Castle

Undeniably one of the most unusual venues in the state, the Kentucky Castle looks like an authentic European-style castle complete with turrets, built right in the heart of Kentucky horse country in Versailles. Created as a private residence, the Kentucky Castle now operates as an inn and restaurant, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. The menu prioritizes locally sourced ingredients and offers an array of main course options, from duck and lamb to pork and steak.