A lot of restaurants describe themselves as having a “Southern flair.” But some restaurants just are Southern. And traditional. Country, even. Mammy’s Kitchen & Bar in Bardstown has a place in that niche.
And in its own way, it’s established Southern simply because of the legacy of the building in which the restaurant operates. On the site back in 1885 there was a stable, a business known as Shewmaker Bros. Feed and Livery Stable. As the menu reads, “There’s a good chance that where you are sitting … there was probably a horse and carriage right in that spot.”
Some years later, the business became the Bardstown Transfer Line before it finally became an eatery called The Old Stable Restaurant. The interior of the space is lined with wood from several tobacco barns, a corn crib and an outhouse, while two logs from a former log home were used to create the bar.
The owners of Mammy’s Kitchen took over the space in 2014 after having operated on Third Street in downtown Bardstown. Completing the downhome Kentucky history of the restaurant, floor and furniture were made from a razed local distillery.
The business name, of course, also speaks to the country in the restaurant’s background and roots. The name Mammy’s came from a maternal head of owner Christy Clark’s family, Lucille “Mammy” Hourigan, from Gravel Switch, Ky. The tradition of grandmothers being called “Mammy” carried down through the family. Thus, “Mammy’s Kitchen.”
Tin roofs linger overhead, while the main dining room is decked out with booths styled with brick and corrugated metal and trimmed with throwback photos and signage. At one end is a dessert counter with painted lettering that says “Fresh Baked Pies Served Daily”; this faces off with the façade of a classic red barn, complete with statues of a cow and calf and is flanked by a corner built to estimate an old general store.
The narrow bar space is awash with bourbon barrel heads and life-sized horse head plaques, a small lounge area on one end and of course the antique bar. Huge wall lettering over the lounge reads, simply, “Bardstown.”
Meanwhile, there’s a partially covered, brick-lined and foliage-adorned patio facing Stephen Foster Avenue that gives visitors another cozy place to enjoy a meal or drinks with friends.
More of the Southern flair, if you will, can be found in the Kentucky themes on the menu. While much of the menu is basic Americana — think burgers, sandwiches, steaks and the like — what awaits is a tour of the bluegrass and the general South.
The first sandwich on the menu is a Kentucky BLT, made with pimento cheese, a Kentucky staple. A house chicken sandwich is coated with a bourbon glaze, and if you’re craving an old-fashioned fried bologna sandwich, Mammy’s has that covered.
Entrees include a take on a Louisville favorite called The Downtown Hot Brown, chicken and waffles, bourbon-glazed pork chops, “chicken-fried” fried chicken with gravy and country-fried steak. Even the “Best Burgers in Town” menu veers into offshoots like the Southern Burger (topped with pimento cheese and fried tomatoes), the bourbon burger with bourbon sauce and onion straws, and a hot brown burger with turkey, country ham, parmesan mornay sauce and more.
On one recent afternoon, the daily plate special was an open-faced roast beef with two sides. And behind the bar, diners can choose from several dozen Kentucky bourbons.
There’s also an extensive breakfast menu with choices such as biscuit sandwiches, a variety of omelets and entrees like a classic country breakfast (biscuits and gravy, two eggs and choice of bacon, sausage or country ham) and the Hangover Skillet, piled with eggs, peppers, onions, bacon, sausage and cheese, served over potatoes.
Mammy’s Kitchen, located at 116 W. Stephen Foster Ave., is open Sunday and Monday, 6:30 a.m.-3 p.m., and Tuesday through Saturday, 6:30 a.m.-9 p.m.