Huckleberry lives up to the hype


While Louisville’s Huckleberry serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as afternoon tea, arguably its most popular meal is weekend brunch. At least that was my impression after waiting 45 minutes for a table on a recent late Sunday morning. Friend Tertia and I used the time to catch up before being ushered to a sunny window-side two-top in a room that’s a more contemporary take on the country kitchen. Think a little less Holly Hobbie and a little more David Hockney, and you’ll get the picture.

As it should be, the menu isn’t terribly surprising, with the expected assortment of pancakes, breakfast
burritos and egg dishes. Standbys like chicken-fried steak and biscuits
and gravy lend a Southern feel, while lunches consist of such stalwarts
as burgers, Reuben sandwiches and macaroni and cheese. Homemade baked
goods, namely fruit pies and cakes, also occupy pride of place here.

We ordered a $5.25 starter of fried green tomatoes off the lunch menu, which becomes available at 11 a.m. While we puzzled over how the Huckleberry was able to find green tomatoes this time of year, we found the quality far less ambiguous. These thick, silver dollar-sized items featured a crisp and piping hot breading encasing a subtly tart and velvety tomato slice. The balanced tartness was similar to that of a well-executed vinaigrette, and the creamy qualities of the accompanying lemony tartar sauce provided a tasteful contrast.

main course of a $9.25 chicken pot pie, another lunch item, came sided
with lightly roasted tomatoes. This preparation exceeded Marie
Callender or frozen Swanson’s versions by a country mile. It consisted
of tender morsels of poultry in a light but bright-tasting — free of a
surplus of flour or cornstarch — gravy redolent with sage. The classic
vegetable trio of onion, carrot, and celery were also present,
thoroughly cooked, but retaining some firmness. Surprisingly, the whole
affair didn’t come confined in a bowl, and the only vessel containing
this pie was the crust itself. Despite the crust’s obvious
architectural heft, it was still light and flaky with decidedly buttery

Light and
flaky aren’t necessarily positive qualities in potato pancakes, and I
found the $8.75 latkes with chicken sausage and eggs were dense and

deliciously filling patties possessed an endearingly crisp crust and
appealingly hot and fluffy interiors. Garnishes included sour cream and
apple compote, which had the pleasant effect of resembling a
not-too-sweet piefilling.

of pie, we couldn’t pass up $3.95 pie slices for dessert. Tertia
ordered the cherry, while I went for a combination of huckleberry and
peach. We restrained ourselves by bypassing the à la mode option, and
simply requested that our desserts be heated, which helped bring out
the fruit flavor. It took a while for our pie to arrive, although it
was worth the wait.

cherry was a reminder of how proper pie should taste, with a subtle
tartness amidst a backdrop of pleasingly flaky crust. The huckleberry
flavor resembled that of a blueberry and tempered the peaches’ sugar in
an exemplary blend of sour and honeyed sweetness. One might say that
the Huckleberry is just the huckleberry, particularly for baked goods
such as the fruit pies. Although wait times may be long, it lives up to
its weekend brunch reputation.

Clay’s Obscurity Corner:
Huckleberries in Hollywood

Perhaps the greatest moment in 1990s B-movie history involving huckleberries took place in Tombstone, the 1993 historical Western epic. In one of the film’s climactic moments, outlaw Johnny Ringo (played by Michael Biehn, best known for his portrayal of Kyle Reese in The Terminator and as a Navy SEAL in every film with Navy SEALs) expects to meet up with Kurt “Captain Ron” Russell’s Wyatt Earp for a put-up-or-shut-up duel. Unfortunately for Ringo, Val Kilmer’s Doc Holliday (a more accomplished gunfighter than Earp) shows up in his place, announcing his presence with an ominous, “I’m your huckleberry.”