Friday, January 28, 2011

Judy’s Castle Fit For A King

Judy’s Castle
1302 U.S. 32W Bypass
Bowling Green, KY

Beer selection: None.

Food: Good southern cooking.

Kentucky has always suffered a major identity crisis.

Are Kentuckians Yankees? Southerners? Mid-Westerners?

The answer is yes.

A state that shares a border with both Tennessee and Illinois just can’t seem to make up its mind.

During the War Between the States, both the Union and the Confederacy claimed Kentucky. In fact, the central star in the rebel battle flag represented the Confederate Government of Kentucky, while the politicians in the state capital refused to secede.

Was Kentucky a Yankee state? Or a Confederate state? The answer is yes.

Is Kentucky the only Northern state with a Southern accent? Or is Kentucky the only Southern state that lacks a Right to Work law? Again, the answer is yes.

But no one seems to suffer such schizophrenia down here in Bowling Green, the former hub of Kentucky’s Confederate Government. A stone’s throw from the Tennessee line and just an hour drive from the meat-and-three capital of America, Nashville, Bowling Green’s roots are firmly planted in Southern soil.

If you doubt me, just carry your growling stomach to Judy’s Castle, a 43-year-old pre-interstate institution of good old Southern cooking that dates to a time when U.S. 32 Bypass was the only way to get from Alabama to Indiana.

A classic Nashville-style meat-and-three with the added luxury of a barbeque pit next door, Judy’s Castle is the place to go in Bowling Green for Southern-style breakfast or country-cooked lunch.

“No hassle at the castle” is the motto.

My “meat and three” were the pork chop with black eyed peas, sweet potatoes and baked beans.

My lunch came with a pair of the most perfect freshly baked biscuits you’ll ever find. Crunchy on the outside. Soft, warm and buttery inside.

Pork chops can be tricky. I’ve had way too many that were over-cooked, tough, dry, tasteless, or all of the above.

I’m happy to report, Judy’s Castle does pork chops right. Well seasoned and juicy, the meat in my meat-and-three was pork perfection.

The vegetables were excellent also, especially the well seasoned black eyed peas and the sweet, onion and pepper studded baked beans.

But, you know what I’ve found over these years of traveling Southern back-roads? No matter how good the meat and slow-cooked vegetables, the highlight of any meat-and-three is…


My friendly waitress told me her favorite is the peanut butter/chocolate pie. She even offered to heat it up a bit for me.

I’m glad I took her advice.

A half inch layer of creamy peanut butter under another half inch of warm chocolate under a three inch mound of delicate meringue conspired to create one of my top ten desserts of all time.

The rest of the Commonwealth of Kentucky might be on medication for schizophrenia, but one thing can be stated with certainty here in Bowling Green: Judy’s Castle is the king of Kentucky Southern cooking.

Rating: Bought the Shirt!

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