The Old Kentucky Tavern is officially open at 223 Broadway in Eagle.
The restaurant features extensive lunch and dinner menus, with hours from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.
"I've wanted to do this for a long time," said chef/owner Steven "Juice" Morrison, who has been a chef for 20 years at various restaurants in Vail before moving to Eagle with his wife, Monica Mattingly, and their two little boys.
Why southern cuisine?
"It's something different for the area and my wife is from there," Morrison said. "Kentucky is not exactly southern, either - it's surrounded by several states, so it has a lot of different influences."
The menus range from fried steak, gorgonzola crusted tenderloin and burgers to bourbon plank salmon, spaghetti and clams, fish and chips and grilled pizza.
"I try to do some homestyle, fill-up-your-belly kinds of things and some lighter dishes, too," Morrison said.
A classic example of a Kentucky-type item featured on the menu is a Hot Brown. Made famous by Louisville's Brown Hotel, the dish is an open-faced sandwich on wheat bread with turkey, ham, tomato and bacon, smothered with Mornay (cheese) sauce and broiled.
"For $13, it's a good value, considering you get 4 ounces of ham and 4 ounces of turkey," Morrison said. "It will fill you up."
Also for $13 on the lunch menu is a grilled Ahi tuna club sandwich with pickled ginger, wasabi mayo, lettuce and tomatoes on toasted ciabatta bread.
A half-pound wild turkey burger is $8.99 and the Kentucky Tavern Burger is $13, featuring a half-pound of certified Angus beef with sugared bacon, melty cheddar and the restaurant's wild turkey barbecue sauce.
"All our beef is certified Angus," Morrison said.
Dinner patrons will discover that the Tavern makes its country fried steak a bit more decadently than usual. It's made with rib eye steak, tenderized in-house, breaded and fried, then smothered in homestyle country gravy for $17.
"The rib eye has more fat, which is good for that," Morrison said.
For veggie lovers, the dinner menu goes beyond the six salads with Kentucky Fried Rice, a dish with fresh-cut vegetables stir-fried with a protein-packed five-grain blend and marinated tofu for $15.
The salad options include Kentucky wedges, Carpaccio, southern Caesar and Nicoise salads in addition to a spinach and house salad. Prices range from $8 to $13.
Southern cocktails such as mint juleps for $8.99 are also featured at the restaurant.
"We will have a happy hour with food and drink specials from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday," Mattingly said.
For the young and young at heart, there is an arcade table as well.
"We want this place to be welcome for everybody," Morrison said. "Hopefully the arcade table will give the little kids something to look at instead of running all over the room."
The Old Kentucky Tavern's website - http://oldkentuckytavern.com - will soon be up and running in addition to its Facebook page. The restaurant can be reached at (970) 328-5259.