Friday, November 25, 2011

The Finest Dive in America

So says the welcome banner on Rick’s White Light Diner in Kentucky’s capitol city, Frankfort. Quite honestly Rick could probably greet internet visitors with “Come for the food, stay for the lecture.” Yep, owner/chef Rick Paul knows a thing or two about just about anything you can imagine. And he’s not afraid to tell you about it either. 017
Rick, a graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America has owned the White Light Diner off and on for years. He’s left for other ventures but has always returned. A little older, a little wiser and a little grayer in the beard. When not manning the kitchen or harassing employees, Rick can often be found perched on the back counter with his feet up on the front counter. Espousing his thoughts on life, politics, other restaurants, the weather and, well, you get the idea. He’s attracted a lot of attention from local media outlet and even CNN but what put the diner on my “To do” list was a visit from Triple D gang.012
The tiny space perched on the side of a steep hill is the oldest restaurant in the state. Dating well back into the 19th century. The porcelain tiled two story building was once part of the “White Light System” which near as I can tell was a local hamburger chain. Much along the lines of White Castle.013
8 stools line the counter and 3 four seat tables round out the dining room. The walls are covered in souvenirs, stickers, slogans and a whole host of other memorabilia. The perilous walk down the stairs to the restroom in the basement would make a mountain goat sweat. Flat out, this place oozes character.

Enough about the place, how was the food you wonder. First off, let me tell you that Rick uses local meats, dairy and anything else he can get his hands on making him Kentucky Proud.
We opted for the daily special, Jambalaya with a side of Mac and Bleu Cheese. As well,  the Triple D Sample Platter featuring Crawfish Pie, Fried Oysters, BBQ Pork, French Bread and side of Fried Green Tomatoes.

I’d have passed off the Jambalaya except that it tasted pretty good. The presentation was rather odd in that it was an unattractive amalgam of rice, sautéed veggies, chicken and sausage. It’s then topped with a Creole sauce. It was a strange way of doing things based on my knowledge of the dish. Again, it was good but odd.
The side of Mac and Bleu Cheese was an interesting and quite good retelling of the old diner standard. Good job here.015
One thing not mentioned on the menu that showed up on the Sampler Platter was the “Salad.” A small wedge of lettuce with some salad dressing. It was pretty tasty. The oysters were good but ultimately relatively “Dime a dozen” deep fried oysters. Nothing wrong with them but not outstanding. The BBQ had an interesting flavour (all spice??) and was good but again, nothing mind blowing. The Crawfish Pie was excellent IMHO. Crawfish etouffe baked into a pie shell. Delicious. Rick’s home made French bread was very good too.
The side of Fried Green Tomatoes were much like the oysters. Good but not special.014
A little sign behind the counter advertised Deep Fried Oreo’s. Okay, I’ll bite. I mean, how could I not. Anyway, 3 chocolate Oreo’s battered with pancake batter and deep fried. Very good.019
The Bourbon Pecan Pie was fantastic. A pecan pie laced with some of Kentucky’s finest.018
If there wasn’t enough booze in the pie for ya, an atomizer of bourbon is at your disposal. To kick things up even more.020
So all in all a good meal but in the pantheon of Triple D places I’ve visited, this one is at the bottom. Rick himself is worth the visit if not the food.

You can find Rick’s White Light Diner at 114 Bridge Street in Frankfort, KY.
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You can find then on the web, on facebook and twitter as well.
 Rick's White Light Diner on Urbanspoon

Well that’s all for now in the food court.

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