Maker's Mark is one of my very favorite distilleries to visit. I love how the Victorian buildings have been so lovingly restored and maintained, keeping true to Margie Samuels's original vision.
Maker's Mark's Loretto, Ky distillery is so beautiful in the springtime. I love seeing the flowering trees in the gorgeous setting.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to attend a press preview for the new Star Hill Provisions restaurant at Maker's Mark. For longtime Maker's visitors, the restaurant is located in the old Master Distiller's House.
Star Hill Provisions was named for Star Hill Farm, the original T.W. Samuels family farm and distillery prior to the establishment of Maker's Mark. Y'all, that kind of attention to hyperlocal detail is apparent in everything at this restaurant. In fact, Chef Newman Miller grew up, by his own estimation, about 7 minutes away from the Maker's Mark Distillery. Chef Newman clearly marries his love for the locale with a commitment to great food. A graduate of Sullivan University's culinary program, he worked at Louisville's legendary Brown Hotel, cooked briefly in Scotland, and then worked as a corporate chef in Chicago before returning to Bardstown to open the highly regarded Harrison-Smith House.
The first course of our tasting menu was a huge hit, even in a room of food writers. We started with one of the restaurant's signature cocktails, Maker's and Ale-8 slushies topped with just enough Angostura bitters to add spice and depth, served alongside the best sausage balls I'd ever encountered. According to Chef Newman, the secret is local sausage sold at a nearby gas station, along with house-made beer cheese and a hint of crumbled saltines. These were savory and hearty, and a perfect complement to the sweet cocktail.
Now, I never say no to a hot brown, and the Star Hill Provisions hot brown is a truly great one! Chef Newman joked that, as a former employee of the Brown Hotel kitchen, he's allowed to make a few adjustments to the recipe, serving the iconic sandwich in the Lexington style with the addition of country ham. Since tomatoes are out of season, the hot brown was topped with a roasted tomato half, which added sweetness and depth to the rich, salty mix.
The steak tartare and pork short ribs were delicious as well. The tartare mixed oh-so-well with a delightful little touch of siracha!
We finished up with a truly spectacular chocolate bread pudding served with a Maker's Mark caramel sauce. As I sat on the porch of Star Hill Provisions, taking in the scenery and discussing the Maker's Mark tradition with a few close colleagues, I promised myself I'd be back to Star Hill Provisions soon. It's a great new addition to the already-amazing Maker's Mark distillery site.
Visit Star Hill Provisions at Maker's Mark Distillery, 3350 Burks Spring Road, Loretto KY 40037. Restaurant hours are Wednesday - Sunday 11:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.