Off the Kentucky Bourbon Trail
is a review of things to do, places to stay
and honey holes to visit off the
Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
Equus Restaurant | Jack's Loungeby Jeremy Schell
Tucked away off the busy Shelbyville Road in eastern St. Matthews, Equus Restaurant and Jack’s Lounge offer a quiet getaway from the traffic congestion of Louisville. Both Equus and Jack’s share a common entrance with an inviting and causal covered patio outside, perfect for an afternoon cocktail, appetizer and unwinding with friends. Jack’s Lounge has a dark, upscale, speakeasy vibe with casual couch seating, high top tables and semi-private dining off to the side, Bar seating isn’t abundant but comfortable and perfect to pull up a chair and get lost in conversation, enjoy a game on the television or just savor a cocktail. Whether you're at the bar or hanging out on a couch, Jack's has that friendly, Cheers feeling. Plenty of regulars can be found every evening where everyone seems to know their name.
Inside Equus, the restaurant features another bar with eight or ten seats along with a comfortable dining area. Touting they offer contemporary American cuisine with a little something for everyone, they live up to their brand promise. Appetizers range from $8 - $18. The Crispy Calamari ($11) were especially good, along with the Asian Meatballs ($12) which were prepared in an Asian bourbon BBQ sauce. You must try the Housemade Tater Tots ($8). These deep-fried cheese tots are addictive, and you cannot just eat one. Fortunately, the basket came with seven or eight.
When you’re ready for a meal, Equus definitely has something for everyone. Entrees range from $14 - $39. Enjoy a Thin Crust Pizza (starting at $16), signature Fried Chicken ($21), Bourbon Mustard Pork Tenderloin ($23), Bourbon marinated Smoked Chicken Alfredo ($18), New York Strip with house made Henry Bain’s sauce ($36) or their Filet Mignon with Woodford Reserve demi-glace ($39). My favorite was the Blackened Sea Scallops with bourbon tomato jam ($30).
It is almost impossible to visit Equus or Jack’s and not enjoy a bourbon or a cocktail, and they have a few to choose from. Most self-respecting bars and restaurants throughout Louisville offer a standard selection of bourbons and rye whiskeys and Equus and Jack’s are no exception but with a few surprises. Featuring over 50 bourbons on their menu, bourbon-themed cocktails along with a few pre-selected flights. I was not overly surprised at their offering as they had just about all the main selections available and at affordable prices. Maker’s Mark ($7), Maker’s Mark 46 ($10), MM Cask Strength ($16), Henry McKenna ($10), Eagle Rare ($10), Old Forester Signature ($8) and Woodford Reserve Double Oaked ($14). After looking for a few minutes, you may find a few special bottles catching your eye and more importantly, the prices won’t empty your wallet. E.H. Taylor Small Batch ($13), Blanton’s ($16), George T. Stagg ($25), Old Rip Van Winkle 10-yr. ($12), Pappy Van Winkle 15-yr. ($25), Pappy Van Winkle 20-yr. ($40), Pappy Van Winkle 23-yr. ($75). I noticed a King of Kentucky ($29) and a few Willet Family Reserve Releases ($30).
There are plenty of restaurants Off the Kentucky Bourbon Trail to enjoy a great meal and a dram or two. Check out Equus and Jack’s and you won’t be disappointed.