Lexingtonians love their Wildcats, and they love their Winchell’s. Thankfully, I can agree.
I’ve said on this site before that Shamrock’s is actually my favorite place to watch a game. Winchell’s comes in a close second, but it’s not due to lack of atmosphere.
There are televisions literally everywhere in Winchell’s (hense the slogan “Better Food – More Televisions”.) If an inch of wall isn’t covered by a tv, it’s covered by sports memorabilia. Every sport is represented here, but there’s one ongoing theme: The University of Kentucky. UK pictures, jerseys and banners are everywhere, and why wouldn’t they be? Kentucky fans get called a lot of things (both good and bad) but no one can deny their loyalty to all things UK. At Winchell’s, there isn’t a bad seat to watch the action.
What seperated Shamrock’s from Winchell’s to me was the quality of the food. Although Shamrock’s food quality may have dipped recently, it’s still better than Winchell’s, which has some room for improvement.
The food isn’t terrible, but it’s not good enough to keep me coming back on nights where there isn’t a game. It’s southern cooking mixed in with the standard bar fare.
On my first visit I tried the open-faced beef brisket. No real complains with this dish outside of the mashed potatoes having little taste, but they were under the brisket (which was covered in gravy) and on top of the toast, so it’s not like I was going to eat them plain anyhow. Creamy, buttery brown gravy was slathered all over the meal, which made my meal perfect, even if it’s a pretty easy meal to make. Kat ordered the pulled pork, and she just couldn’t eat it. The pork was tender, but it was runny. Soon after it arrived at our table the juicy were all over everything. She said it was okay(“not anything special”), but the water may have made a texture issue with her.
I ordered this as take out, so you should take my review with a grain of salt. Yet I’m not going to bash this sandwich: it was delicious! A fried pork chop topped with country ham, bacon, a fried egg, and pepper jack cheese on a roll with fries. The waitress I talked to behind the bar recommended that I order it was some gravy, since it’s savory but a little dry. I was greatful for her advice, as it was spot on. The sandwich is tasty, but the gravy helped me out a lot. The pork I had was overpowered a little by the egg, bacon and country ham, especially the egg and ham. I couldn’t even taste the pork after a while. I can’t imagine people actually finishing this sandwich, as it’s so rich.
The only dishes patrons seem to not enjoy at Winchell’s are the chicken fried steak and the hamburgers. Customers complain the burgers are too dry and the chicken fried steak is tasteless. This surprised me because chicken fried steak is so easy to make. So on this last trip I decided to order the chicken fried steak to form an opinion.
Maybe I haven’t lived in the south (if you cosider Kentucky the South) long enough to be a worthy judge on country fried steak, but I had no problem with this dish. It was perfectly fried, with buttery white gravy that had the perfect amount of salt and pepper. Even the mashed potatoes were better this time around. I’m not a picky eater, but I know what I like, and that was just fine for me.
The service is fantastic at Winchell’s. They’re always ready to refill a drink, checking up on you to make sure you have everything you need. On our first trip, we had a waiter named Larry and he couldn’t have been better. The place wasn’t busy, but that doesn’t always mean great service (looking at YOU, Suggans). It’s nice going to a place where you don’t get the feeling you’re just taking time away from the waiter’s smoke break.
It’s not perfect, but Winchell’s has made a name for itself in Lexington for being THE place for UK sports. If you’re going to Winchell’s, you’re going for the beer, the wings, and the game, and there’s nothing wrong with that.