Dubbing itself “the little restaurant that could,” Orange Clover Kitchen & More has been quietly serving breakfast and lunch to eager diners since late 2011 just across the Clark Memorial Bridge in Jeffersonville. It’s a draw, not just for Indiana folks but for downtown Louisville workers as well.
My friend Stephanie recommended it as a long-timer who, when she worked downtown, went there regularly, so I had to accept when she invited me to meet her for lunch. She didn’t steer me wrong with the little orange-themed space with the big sandwich, soup and salad menu and a few breakfast items.
Stephanie told me how she originally began having lunch in the space when it was a business called Lunch Today. When that spot went out of business, the daughter of an employee, Rachel Smallwood, decided to take it on, giving it its current Orange Clover moniker and taking the food to new places.
A dedication to fresh ingredients and a nod to Southern and Americana classics helped her create a menu that seems to have something for everyone.
Items include three soups that rotate daily, an LT’s Salad as a nod to the restaurant’s predecessor, and sandwiches ranging from a BLT to the Primo Panini, stacked with pepperoni, salami, ham and more, with a twist in the raspberry preserves that top it off.
Breakfast consists of favorites like biscuits and gravy, grits of the day and breakfast sandwiches.
A few plate meals like poutine and the requisite Hot Brown also grace the menu, along with a handful of wraps and even pulled pork tacos. On the day we dined, one of the specials was a bacon cheeseburger with jalapeño aioli.
Needless to say, deciding wasn’t easy, but Stephanie opted for her go-to — the grilled cheese sandwich, along with one of the soups of the day, broccoli cheddar. I noted that one of the soups was egg drop, so my curiosity took me there, alongside a turkey panini.
We ordered our pairings as “Pick Two” combos, which are a choice of some combination of half-sandwich, half-salad and a cup of soup for $10.
The clean space is located in a strip center and is actually sort of two spaces in one — the main dining area is a fast-casual style place, but with table service for refills and other services.
An adjacent space called the Copper Room is open for dining overflow but has a completely different vibe, a tad fancier if you will, and is also rentable for private parties.
Our food came out pretty quickly, and the portions were more than fair for the price — our soups were far bigger than I expected and would have made a light lunch on their own.
The sandwiches also came with a small side of potato chips, while the soup was served with a pretzel baguette.
My turkey panini was nicely grilled, the bread crispy and the slab of cheddar cheese perfectly melted. The turkey was thin-sliced and richly flavorful, and the red onion slices and tomato were tasty and fresh.
But I think what put the sandwich over-the-top was the pesto aioli, which was bold and clearly freshly made.
If I had a do-over, I probably would choose another soup, as the egg drop soup was actually a vegetarian version made with tofu. I took a chance, and while it certainly was intriguing, with scallion and crispy wonton strips, I should have joined Stephanie in the broccoli cheddar, which she described as “hearty.” (Other options included loaded potato and tomato basil.)
Meanwhile, her grilled cheese was no usual version, served on wheatberry bread with a tomato slice, arugula, balsamic mayo and a deep red sun-dried tomato pesto.
Sure, you could go to Subway or Penn Station, but why not eat local and fresh? Smallwood certainly knows what she’s doing with the food, and the service and atmosphere are on point. Carryout, delivery and catering also are available.
Orange Clover Kitchen, located at 590 Missouri Ave. Suite 100, is open 7 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays.