The food is simple and straightforward, but it points to a time when horses were the dominant mode of transportation, when some families still owned slaves and when Kentucky's most famous native son, Abraham Lincoln, once walked the streets of Lexington.
As part of Lexington's celebration of Lincoln's 200th birthday, a handful of restaurants are serving dishes from Lincoln's Table, a cookbook of recipes from Lincoln's life. The event was organized by the Lexington Public Library, and the dishes are being served through September.
Lamb shank and scalloped oysters
A la lucie offers a different Lincoln special every night. Though the restaurant is out of peaches now, the most popular summer offering was Miss Mary Speed's peach pie. The peaches aren't glazed or precooked. They're just put in the pie shell and baked.
"It was actually quite basic, but just absolutely delicious," said Alan Schmidt, who bakes the pies for a la lucie.
This weekend, they've been cooking up lamb shank and scalloped oysters. The scalloped oysters "you just bake with cream and soda crackers," said restaurant owner Lucie Sloan Meyers. The shank is baked with carrots, onions and celery until the meat basically falls off the bones.
The President's Chaire
Next week at Alfalfa, try President's Chaire, which chef Paul Nowacki explains is "just a fairly standard chicken casserole," and Kentucky Wonders, finger-shaped fried dough.
During August, Nowacki has served rail splitters (tangy corn muffins), Sally Johnston's Hasty pudding (polenta) and mushroom soup. "They're all very, very simple," he said.
By the time Dudley's signed up for Lincoln's Table, there weren't many recipes left to choose from. "There's a lot of things, like tongue and aspic, that I'm like, we're not going to be able to move here," said Jonathan Gossett, the chef.
So he chose sorghum cake, a moist spice cake that he serves with a blackberry compote.
So far, the dessert hasn't been that popular. It's competing with more modern flavors like mango pound cake and avocado ice cream.
Pressed on what he would do to invigorate the recipe, to make it more amenable to modern tastes, Gossett paused, and then decided to change the recipe, giving the cake a butter cream icing.
"It needs a little bit of a lift to be attractive," he said.