Sunday, August 8, 2010

Restaurant Review: Holly Hill Inn

Holly Hill Inn
426 North Winter Street
Midway, Kentucky 40347

Holly Hill Inn is a charming restaurant in the middle of Bluegrass Horse Country. The old inn was built circa 1845 and is set in the most romantic countryside with with lots of low-hanging trees and beautiful gardens. The owners, Chris and Ouita Michel purchased the inn back in 2001. Holly Hill Inn has been a Kentucky treasure since it's opening. Chef Ouita has been featured in Southern Living Magazine and just this year she was up for a James Beard Award in the category of Best Chef Southeast. Her husband, Chris, has garnered the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence every year since 2002. The New York Times called Holly Hill Inn "a gem of a restaurant".

I had the opportunity to meet Chef Ouita a couple years ago during a cooking class at Williams-Sonoma. She prepared an exquisite meal for us in which everything was prepared to perfection. It was as if everything she touched turned to gold. When she told us about her restaurant, Holly Hill Inn, I knew right away that I wanted to go. For almost five years I have been wanting to go to Holly Hill Inn and I finally got around to it earlier today. I took my daughter to Sunday Brunch at Holly Hill Inn to celebrate her upcoming year as a 4th grader. We were happy to leave the boys at home!

Sunday Brunch is from 11-2 every Sunday. Full bar and wine list is available after 1pm. A three-course brunch for adults is $16 and children under 10 are between $6-8. Appetizers are available at an extra cost.

There is seating both outside and inside.

Menu options for brunch include: Eggs Benedict; Eggs Sardou; Greek Omelette; Lisa's Famous Shrimp and Grits; and Trout Meuniere and a few others.

We did not have a reservation, so we were lucky to get a seat inside. I think next time I would prefer to sit outdoors.

Each table receives a basket with the cutest little mini biscuits, about the size of a half dollar, and mini cornbread muffins. I think those little mini biscuits were the best I've ever had. They were super fluffy and light. I would have loved to take some of them home. My daughter and I gobbled them up happily.

For my first course, I chose the Chilled Watermelon Soup. I've never had a cold fruit soup before and was anxious to try it. I expected to love it, but wasn't a big fan. I think the soup had some wine mixed in, but there was something in the finish that reminded me of vinegar. It was really throwing me off.

For my entree, I ordered Lisa's Famous Shrimp and Grits, sautéed shrimp in Crystal-and-butter pan sauce with Weisenberger cheese grits. The entree also came with a side of green beans. I have been craving shrimp something fierce and was so happy to have such a wonderful plate of shrimp and grits. The cheese grits were creamy and thick, the shrimp were flavorful with just the right amount of heat and the Crystal and butter pan sauce was to die for!

For dessert, I ordered the Lemon Basil Pound Cake with Whipped Cream and Blackberries. There was quite a bit of basil in the pound cake. I noticed that there were little holes in the cake where maybe a basil simple syrup had been poured on top of the pound cake. I love basil, but I'm gonna have to say that it was a little overpowering.

I much preferred my daughter's dessert, Peach Sorbet. Not only was it a gorgeous color, but it was light and refreshing with little teensy weensy pieces of peaches. Had it been available on the adult menu I probably would've have ordered it in place of my dessert.

All in all, I would give Holly Hill Inn mixed reviews. I loved the gorgeous setting and the staff really goes out of there way to make sure you're taken care of. My daughter loved her entree, buttered orzo with a side of green beans (not pictured). I loved the mini biscuits as well as my Shrimp and Grits. However, my soup and dessert were a little lackluster. I was hoping to walk away 100% wowed with Holly Hill Inn, but I'm sad to say that isn't the case. I much prefer Chris and Ouita Michel's other establishment Wallace Station (recently on the Food Network's Diners, Drive-In's and Dives). See my review for Wallace Station HERE.

What about you? Have you ever really wanted to love a place and left a little underwhelmed?

And, if you happen to be local and have dined at Holly Hill Inn I would love to hear about your dining experience. I believe every place deserves a second chance!


  1. wow this is the cutest thing to do with your little girl it looks like a lovely place

  2. I does look like such a lovely place. I like a touch a basil in baked goods but it does have a big flavor so I can see where it could be overpowering. The peach sorbet looks delicious!

  3. Love this review! I felt similarly about Crumbs Cupcakes. My family raved and raved about them but after I tasted them I found them to be seriously lackluster. I'll make my own, thank you very much!

  4. It is always tough when a place doesn't live up to the hype and your expectations. Bummer on the soup and the cake. Your shrimp and grits look pretty yummy though and your daughter looks adorable and so grown up! ;-)

  5. How fun! You're daughter looks like the perfect little lady (think she can give my dtr some lessons?hehe) That is too bad about the soup cause it really sounds good.

  6. O, it looked so pretty and everything was so nicely presented..too bad it left you disappointed.
    I think that the greater the anticipation sometimes, the greater the chance of disappointment.

  7. Aw, what a great Mom to take your daughter out for brunch. She's adorable! I've been underwhelmed before when I was really looking forward to a place too. Glad you had fun anyway though, it sounds like a lovely day out.

  8. What a lovely back to school treat! I attended a workshop led by Ouita at Woodford Reserve earlier this summer and loved her! There were a couple of things she prepared there that I wasn't crazy about, but I wasn't crazy about the ingredients used in those dishes to begin with. My husband and I ate at Wallace Station for our anniversary last month and I loved it!

    Years ago, my friends and I went to Spalding's Doughnuts here in Lexington after being told by everyone how good they were. We literally spit them out after taking a bite in the parking lot! I still won't eat their doughnuts but everyone else I know loves them.

  9. You know, there is nothing I like more about a restaurant than one who serves a yummy bread basket. I want some of those little biscuits!
    *kisses* HH

  10. Great review and the food looks delicious! I was in L'ville not too long ago but haven't been to Midway in a good while. This restaurant reminds me of Old Stone Inn in Simpsonville. Your daughter is a cutie!

  11. awesome! i love that you got to eat all that delicious food outside too, that's always so appealing to me. and how sweet to take your daughter out.

  12. It's so disappointing when your food isn't how you expect it to be. What I can say for it is it looks delicious. Despite the disappointing flavors, you were able to have a wonderful afternoon spending time with your daughter and that definitely counts for something positive!

    Yay for tasty jalapeno chicken! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. If you want me to add it to my reviews page with a link back to your blog, just let me know and I'll get it on. I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

  13. What a fun day! We actually lived in Louisville for 3 years, but that was 12 years ago. A little town called "J-Town". Never heard of this place, but we really enjoyed some of the places we visited in our time there. Lexington was absolutely beautiful!

  14. What a great and special treat for your 4th grader.

    I'd expect to be wowed after those cute little biscuits. Sorry the remainder of the meal wasn't as fantastic.

  15. I love it when fellow bloggers post reviews of eateries and other places; it helps us know where to go whenever we get to that area. Don't you just love brunches (that are good at least, huh)? This chef duo sounds wonderful from the accolades that they've received . . . wonderful setting too! The selections that you've shown look incredible! Great job reviewing and the photos are super too! Roz

  16. Yes, I have been in those situations when you REALLY had high expectations and were so looking forward to it and then it just turns out "okay".

    Great looking place though. I like my grits thick like that mound on your shrimp and grits. Nice!

  17. The pictures are making me hungry. Too bad the food didn't live up to your expectations.


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