red river rockhouse
Here’s my food snob confession:I admit it. I live in a city where I can choose from sushi, farm-to-table fare, French bistro cooking, Neapolitan pizza, haute cuisine, Vietnamese food and any number of other options for my dinner. So I have underestimated the offerings in smaller, rural areas. I’ve repeatedly been pleasantly surprised as I travel across the state to find such excellent foods, prepared with love, and served with well-deserved pride.It’s time I stop being so surprised.
Headed over to Red River Gorge this weekend for some climbing, I of course knew to go to Miguel’s – the place is legendary for their pizza. But a friend said they’d heard from another friend that the Red River Rockhouse was good. I jumped onto their website where they had me at their burrito description, “a nice fatty burrito starting with slow cooked pork …” and was thrilled to see them note a preference for local and organic.
Rolling into town (do you call Campton a town?) on Friday night, we pointed our convertible straight for the Rockhouse. We grew familiar with the route, as we ended up eating there for every meal of the weekend (except the obligatory post-climb pizzas of course).
As a traveler, I look for more than just a nice bite to eat when I’m away from home. I like a welcoming atmosphere, friendly workers, good food, even better if it’s local, and a sense that the people care about what they’re doing. It’s not often that I’ve encountered all those things in one place, and when I do I quickly become a regular, even if only for a few days.
The chalkboard propped in a corner naming the farms that provide the food I’d be eating was a great start. It got better with the incredibly warm and friendly owners and staff (who kindly let us come on in and offered us coffee when we showed up before opening hours for breakfast Saturday), and the icing on the cake was the tasty, unpretentious, hearty, happy-making food. Between my husband and me, from Friday to Sunday we clean-plated a BLT, tacos, breakfast burrito, sausage biscuit, bacon cheeseburger and both types of fries, biscuits and gravy, bacon egg biscuit, and countless cups of high-octane, really good coffee. And a few beers. One of which was, get this, on the house.
One of the guys working there, Rob, was happy to answer our million questions about the Gorge and climbing. When we left the first night, he encouraged us to come back and tell him the next night how our climbing went – and – if I managed a particular climb without a fall, he’d buy me a beer. And sure enough, he, and several others, asked us the next day how we liked our climb, and with a big smile, he offered me the beer of my choice.
As much as I love living in Louisville, sometimes it’s a really, really good thing to get out of the city.