Lynn's Paradise Cafe. ©2008 Doug Rivers.Lynn’s Paradise Cafe. ©2008 Doug Rivers. 

Well, we finally had a Saturday morning when Lynda was free, so we decided to head out and find some breakfast. Rather than go get brunch and spend a fortune someplace like the Bristol or deal with the crowd at a chain like Dennys or Bob Evans, we decided to take a walk on the eclectic side. Lynn’s Paradise Cafe may be one of the most unusually decorated restaurants in town, but the food is mostly Southern in character, but usually with a twist.

It was a beautiful, Chamber-of-Commerce-ordered morning in Louisville when we set out and of course, while we gawking at stuff as we drove up Newburg Road, I missed my turn and had to circle around in the maze of streets that make up the Highlands. After a few minutes, I found my landmark — the coffeepot sculpture fronting on Barrett Avenue — and ever the optimist, I turned into Lynn’s tiny parking lot. I don’t why I do it. In all the years we have eaten there, I think we have only ONCE managed to snag a spot. As Tradition dictates, I made the slow drive through the parking lot to the far end, turned left and made my way for 80 yards to Lynn’s overflow parking lot. We enjoyed a nice, leisurely walk back to the restaurant in the mid-morning sunshine. Did I mention what a pretty morning it was?

The remaining part of the Tradition when dining at Lynn’s is to admire and comment on the parking lot artwork at this culinary landmark. Words really don’t do justice to the various sculptures, such as the Horse Toaster and the Silver Moose, so I snapped a couple of shots with my iPhone to share with you, our Gentle Readers.

Part of Lynn's Sculpture Garden. ©2008 Doug Rivers.

Part of Lynn's Sculpture Garden. ©2008 Doug Rivers.

Lynn's Silver Moose. ©2008 Doug Rivers.

Lynn's Silver Moose. ©2008 Doug Rivers.

You enter Lynn’s through a small gift shop/store called the World of Swirl; whose main product seems to consist of kitsch. Granted, places like Cracker Barrel have similar shops, but Lynn’s sets itself apart in that it doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously as a place of commerce and in a strange way is a kind of fun place to spend one’s time while waiting for a table. Strangely, there is a pair of wearable pants hanging from the ceiling, partially made out of used tea bags. There are knick-knacks of questionable taste for the adults and toys to buy to keep the kids amused. For the chapeau-challenged,  there is even a selection of hats.

Lynda tries on the chapeau du joir in the World of Swirl. ©2008 Doug Rivers.

Lynda tries on the chapeau du jour in the World of Swirl. ©2008 Doug Rivers.

Surprisingly, as crowded as the place was, we were shown to a booth in the back corner after only 20 minutes or so. While looking over the menu for our breakfast choices, we noticed that the Tea Bag Tree has been stripped of all its used tea bags and the huge tapestry of corn cobs depicting a giant lobster which once graced the front of the dining room is no more. I felt a certain sadness to see this passing of part of the establishment’s character. Now, as you can see in the iPhone photo I posted below, there is just a naked tree in the middle of the dining room. At least the mannequin legs with the tacky 70s-era bell-bottom pants remain above each of the four windows. On each of the booth tables, there stands an ugly lamp, that has no mate anywhere else in the restaurant. Our horse head lamp was also decorated with a collection of plastic toy farm animals and butterflies.

The now-naked Tea Bag Tree. ©2008 Doug Rivers.

The Ugly Lamp at our booth. ©2008 Doug Rivers

The Ugly Lamp at our booth. ©2008 Doug Rivers

The nice thing about breakfast at Lynn’s is that you can order it anytime, so there was no urgent rush to get there before they stopped serving it. Lynda decided to go the protein route and ordered the Thick-Sliced Bacon and Eggs breakfast. She ordered her 2 eggs scrambled and besides the bacon, the meal comes with couple of buttermilk biscuits (with sorghum butter) and a choice of sides (cheese grits, home fries, fresh fruit) from which, she chose home fries. Unfortunately, her eggs were left on the griddle a little too long and had acquired a pale brown skin, which she didn’t much care for. (Myself, I would rather the eggs be just a touch overdone, than not-quite done; but that is just a matter of aesthetics.) She also didn’t care much for the sorghum butter that came with the biscuits — can’t say I disagree with her, as I can’t abide sorghum — but the very much-harried waitress quickly brought some real butter along with some honey and Lynda was very happy with the substitution. I tried a piece of one of her biscuits and found them to be dense, yet fluffy in the Southern-style with a very crunchy top.

I, on the other hand, went the carbohydrate route. I decided to try an order of the Paradise Pancakes while ignoring the warning on the menu of the meal consisting of two giant cakes. The pancakes are made with whole wheat flour and Weisenberger stone-ground yellow corn meal, which is made at the Weisenberger Mills over in Midway, Kentucky. I also decided to add an order of home fries. I was shocked when they brought my order out; the cakes nearly covered the large plate and they were quite thick. After spreading some butter on them and pouring on some very hot maple syrup, I took my first bite. They are denser than what you get at a Dennys or an IHOP, but that denseness is not a detriment, as it helps the cakes to soak up the butter and the syrup and do not become a crumbly, gloppy mess that lesser pancakes quickly become. The corn meals adds a unique taste to the pancakes and may be what gives the outside a crispy texture that the syrup doesn’t diminish. A very nice variation on an old breakfast staple. My home fries were nice, with a slight oniony flavor, but were just a tad overly salted.

After paying our tab (with a generous tip for the patient wait-staff) we pushed off, with our hunger sated to continue with our Saturday rounds (wound up at the Zoo). Just be careful when you leave Lynn’s; while driving down Bardstown Road I nearly ran over Anne Northup (former US Congresswoman) who was jaywalking away from the Farmer’s Market they have on Saturday mornings at the Presbyterian Church. Some people need to pay more attention to where they are walking than worrying about bothering people for their vote. Had I not been attentive, the election would have had an added complication.

Regretfully, I do not remember the price of the dishes we ordered that morning as they weren’t listed on my receipt nor does the restaurant have prices on the online menu, but our meal (with tax, but excluding tip) came to $24.28. Also, my apologies for forgetting to take photos of our meal, but we were starving and dug into them before I remembered to snap a couple of shots. Besides, they didn’t look out-of-the-ordinary — compared to your surroundings — they were just huge portions and you really go to Lynn’s more for comfort food fixes and to get in touch with your inner kitsch.

8 out of 10 stars.


984 Barrett Avenue


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