During my recent trip to Louisville, I took a couple guys from the ADI branch in Louisville and a dealer from Lexington to lunch at a place not far from the branch called b. Actually, one of the guys from ADI suggested the place and I told him that as long as it wasn't a chain, it was fine with me.
The main part of John E's restaurant is a two story log cabin built in 1850. Over one hundred years later, the building became a restaurant - Bill Bolan's. Bolan's restaurant was a classic American supper club/steakhouse and was considered one of the finest restaurants in Louisville.
In 1983, an employee of Bolan's, John Shanchuk (right), and a silent partner, Ben Edelen, bought Bill Bolan's and renamed it John E's. Shanchuk has since bought out Edelen's share of the restaurant and is the sole owner today. His daughter, Jenny, runs the day to day operation of the restaurant.
Over the years, they've added onto the original log cabin - made with hewn logs 14 to 18 inches thick. With a new enclosed seating area that was formerly a patio, John E's seats about 300 people.
And it can get packed rather quickly - especially the week up to and just past the Kentucky Derby. In fact, the restaurant pays homage to the Derby with pictures and race tickets of each Kentucky Derby from the past 25 plus years. John E's steaks are what bring 'em in.
Since we went for lunch, I knew I wasn't going to be trying a steak. In fact, I really didn't know what I was going to get. The lunch menu is pretty extensive and they also have a southern-style buffet with chicken, sausages, pasta, vegetables and salads. The buffet is what brings a lot of people in for lunch.
The other four guys decided to go with the buffet. I saw something that just jumped out of me on the menu - the hot roast beef sandwich. I'd been on the road for a few days and I needed comfort food.
The hot beef sandwich at John E's is slow cooked beef brisket, cooked in an onion broth. Then a heaping helping of beef is placed between the top and bottom of a homemade hard roll. Then it's slathered with gravy and served with a side of homemade potatoes. It was absolutely a spot-hitter.
I'm glad I got the hot beef because, quite frankly, the chicken, sausages and pasta the guys brought back to the table didn't look all that great. One of the guy from ADI even commented, "I always get the buffet when I come here because it's such a good deal ($8.95 - all you can eat). But that hot beef sandwich looks damn good. I'll have to try it next time."
I told him, "It IS damn good..."
Lunch with tip came to about $65 bucks. Not too bad considering you got a lot of food with your meal. I was stuffed after I finished lunch.
John E's has a long time reputation for their steaks, pork chops and seafood. I paused to look at their dinner menu and thought I'd like to come back sometime to give their steaks a try. The prices weren't outrageous, and the dinner items looked pretty cut and dried. But just based upon their lunch, I'd have to say John E's is a mighty fine restaurant.