The weekend had been a Bonnaroo whirlwind, but the Sunday morning raindrops over Manchester, Tennessee fields, put us on the road earlier than we intended. We may have missed some Bonnaroo shows as a result, but foregoing rainy concerts meant more time for lunch along the way. Thanks to Nicole, we decided upon a quaint patch of Louisville, Kentucky called Hillbilly Tea.
“At its core Hillbilly Tea is an Appalachian themed “Tea Café”, which offers a variety of fresh organic whole leaf teas and boast a full menu of wholesome mountain inspired comfort foods.”
From my first peek through the door, I knew we had made the right decision. There was an abundance of brick, rustic wood, old metal and mason jars. On top of the visual welcome, our waiter was brimming with positivity and personality. We all exchanged Bonnaroo stories and a few traveling tales before even discussing the menu. I told the waiter I was ready to move into the space, and his enthusiasm for the place just beamed. It was so apparent he genuinely adored the cafe, and it made an amazing cafe all the more memorable!
pork & pone
w/ garlic mayo red cabbage chow chow & choice of side
Sweet, tangy, tender chunks of pork atop slightly sweet and spongey corn pone…
…very quickly became a picked over plate!
w/ house bacon, caramelized onions, greens & cheese
Additionally there was a cakey biscuit with local honey, smokey greens that taught me how proper southern greens can really steal the show, sweet potatoes and endless mason jars of Nettle tea from the Hillbilly farm outside of town.
Our charismatic waiter said “dessert,” and I was going to pass, but he kept talking, and when he did, he uttered the words “bourbon bread pudding.” We ordered it without hesitation. We did it for us, and we did it for Nicole, knowing she would surely be on her way to some celestial paradise if she could have taken just one bight of the warm caramel-topped bread chunks with a meringue topping and BURSTS of bourbon flavor! Our charismatic waiter also suggested a hot tea pairing similar to a chai but made with a smoky black tea, milk and sorghum syrup. It was the type of tea that conjures views of bluish-green hills shrouded in low, dewey clouds, when time is timeless and the quiet is invigorating. It was an entire scene of calming respite in a sip of smokey tea.
I could have stayed there all day, just sipping tea and enjoying the waiter entertain each table with his happy attitude, wild gingery beard and blonde hair. I could have, but alas I, for some reason, continued on the journey toward home.