Friday, September 12, 2008

Sutton's of Danville, KY

A year or so ago Woody’s, a Chicago-style steakhouse, opened in Danville, much touted as Danville’s first upscale restaurant. But it never lived up to its advertising and not surprisingly it was closed a few months ago. I went there a few times, thought about writing a post about it, but as the cliché goes not worth writing home about.

Woody’s problem was quality, both in the food and the service they provided. I have eaten in Chicago, many times and Woody’s steaks were not even close to the quality in taste of most Chicago restaurants. And Woody’s service was not up to scratch either. It’s a pity because Danville really needs a good restaurant or two. Yes we have the chains (Applebee’s, O’Charley’s, etc.) and a few so-so independent restaurants, and Lexington with many goods restaurants is just down road.

I, for one, and I know there are many other people that feel: Why drive 40 minutes for a good meal and then 40 minutes back again. And at today’s high gas prices it all adds up to a costly meal. Also, most of the time when you go to a restaurant in Lexington there will be a waiting time of 30 minutes or so before you get a table. So to my delight Sutton’s opened its doors this week in the old Woody’s location and last night I went to give a try.

Very little of the décor was changed. It still has that steakhouse feel, lots of leather and stone. The place was packed, but we didn’t have to wait for a table. (We were there early at 6:00 pm before the usual 7:00 pm rush.)

The menu offers a little of everything. Steaks: And I am glad to see all the good cuts like prime rib and filet mignon, so often restaurants don’t offer prime rib and after all Kentucky is a steak and potato state; Southern: Grilled chicken in various forms (Cajun, blackened, etc.) and of course Kentucky’s own contribution to the American cuisine, Hot Brown; Italian: Pastas and several classic Italian dished like Chicken Masala (not the Indian curry one) and Chicken Parmesan to name a few; And surprisingly and to my delight a nice selection of seafood: Clams, shrimps, white fish, salmon, and even lobster. Yes it’s a wide variety, but I can understand why. Any restaurant specializing in just one cuisine will not make it in Danville. Purely a numbers game. Nevertheless it is a well put together menu with lots of good choices.

I was also impressed, well kinda, with their wine selection. At least it is far more than what is usually on offer in other Danville restaurants (if offered at all) and even many Lexington restaurants. It is nearly an all American wine list, except for the lowly Australian Yellowtail, but no Chianti’s, Bordeaux’s or Rojas’s. But I am glad to see they have some of the best local Kentucky wines on the list, Jean Ferris, and a strong presence too. (See a previous post about a visit to Jean Ferris winery.) Speaking to one of the owners, Gordon Lewis, he said it was a specific goal to support Kentucky Proud, a “buy local” initiative to support Kentucky farmers. Buy local, eat international is of course also a green earth initiative.

I tried out the Jean Ferris Chardonnay with my green salad and Catalina blue cheese dressing (what a combination, but it was good.) The chardonnay was very woody (the way I like chardonnay) and had a bit of an after taste. It also lacks the hint of butterscotch that is sometimes in good chardonnays. However, it was still enjoyable. I ordered prime rib, Tuscan style, because my argument is: If they can’t do a good job of preparing a prime rib, they will probably be terrible at all the other dishes too. I know it sounds stupid, but that’s just they way I measure a steakhouse. I was not disappointed. The rib was excellent, exactly as ordered with the right amount of Tuscan herbs and buttery soft. I had the Jean Ferris Cabernet Sauvignon with my prime rib and it was better than the chardonnay, but then I will always pick a red before a white. Monica had salmon, which was nicely grilled, right amount of spices, but just a tad too dry (overcooked) for salmon. We shared an Apple pie for dessert, which was very good. According to Lewis it is one of several desserts that are made everyday in the restaurant from scratch and what we like about it was the fact that the taste was very balanced: Not overwhelmingly sweet or bludgeoned with cinnamon. It was also in the British pie format, half moon and one could taste the freshness of the dough. Really something different than the usual mass-produced Apple pie you get at most restaurants.

Lastly, the service was good and friendly and it was a nice touch that one of the owners actually took time to introduced himself, talk and listen to what diners had to say about his restaurant. Refreshing…for Danville. Let’s hope it stays that way.

Overall, we give Sutton’s two thumbs up. Hell that sounds like rating a movie or something. And we’ll be back. If I could mention anything negative and it’s not serious, but the atmosphere could be improved: put the music a bit louder (could hardly hear it) and drop the big screen TV (Sutton’s is not a sports bar in an airport; differentiate yourself from the Applebee’s of the world.) I have to mention we were in the back dining section. They also have a bar area, which is decorated differently and also an “al fresco” dining area next to the bar. While the weather is still good I will certainly give it a try next time.

Congratulations Sutton’s and welcome to Danville. All that Danville must do now is to support Sutton’s.


bob said...


BluegrassBaobab said...

Update to my Post: 3/15/2010

Suttons has closed their restaurant in Danville and moved it to lexington.