Tasting the Past: Recipes from closed Lexington restaurants
Lexington loves local restaurants and reminiscing about favorite dishes from closed dining spots we wish to taste again. So we’ve been digging into the Herald-Leader archives, contacting local chefs who ran some of Lexington’s most popular restaurants and reaching out to veteran recipe collectors to pull together a collection for you to bring to your dinner table. Enjoy.
Stanley Demos’ Coach House has been called the grandfather of gourmet fine dining in Lexington. For decades, beginning in 1969, there simply was no more elegant place to eat in Central Kentucky.
Movers and shakers from the president of the University of Kentucky to millionaire horse breeders dined there for lunch and dinner, sometimes multiple times a week, in an atmosphere that resembled an exclusive club with fresh flowers, gilt-framed oil paintings, and crystal chandeliers.
Lunch was “like watching a guided tour of who’s who in the Bluegrass,” according to Herald-Leader columnist Don Edwards.
The continental menu featured largely French cuisine, with some Greek offerings and Italian pasta dishes.
Demos immigrated from Greece in 1938 at age 18 with $8 in his pocket. He came to Cincinnati, where an uncle lived.
He went to work in restaurants, working his way from bus boy to chef to maitre d’hotel at Cincinnati’s famous The Maisonette before moving to Lexington to work in a downtown hotel in 1964. When he left to open his own restaurant, much of the staff reportedly went with him. He bought a restaurant on South Broadway. It burned down and the all new Coach House was rebuilt at 855 S. Broadway.
Within a few years, the Lexington restaurant was achieving national recognition. In 1991, The Coach House was inducted into the National Restaurant News Fine Dining Hall of Fame.
Demos also shared his dining insights with a newspaper column, a cooking show on TV and several published cookbooks.
One of his signature dishes was the appetizer Crabe Demos, which is the recipe we are sharing for the latest in our “Taste of the Past” series. Other recipes we have featured from our archives include DeSha’s cornbread, Hall’s beer cheese and Stanley J’s potato salad just to name a few.
In 1988, Demos’ daughter and son-in-law, Elizabeth “Tootsie” and Sam Nelson, bought the Coach House and updated the menu and the decor. But they kept the quality. Demos announced he was moving permanently to Sarasota, Fla. But he kept his hand in, running the place occasionally, until it sold in 1992 to John Dupuy III, who closed the doors in 2001.
“We brought a continental style and things rather different to Lexington back then,” Demos told Edwards in 2001. “Frog legs, (animal) sweetbreads, chateaubriand. A wine steward. April and October were our biggest months. We would do 300 for dinner, at 5, 7 and 9 (p.m.). That was a lot for a place the size of the Coach House.
“We had a local following and an international following. Customers from England, Ireland, France came to the horse sales. We had tobacco buyers from Japan. … That’s what I miss most, you know — the people.”
But times change and the white tablecloth and fine china style of dining fell out of favor. The Coach House tried go casual but it really didn’t take. Again, Don Edwards: “Many young people still thought of it as a blue-hair place, a great place to borrow a nitroglycerin tablet.”
There were attempts at revivals and other restaurants moved in. But in 2013 the contents of the building were auctioned off and the building was torn down In 2014, Cookout, a burger and barbecue chain with 38 flavors of milkshake, opened there.
Stanley Demos is still alive and recently celebrated his 102nd birthday.
From Stanley Demos’ Coach House
This article is first published on Source link