Each month my former co-workers and I get together to have lunch. It’s great to see and keep up with everybody who I used to spend so much time with on a daily basis, whether in meetings or working on projects. We enjoy visiting different restaurants each month and having unique adventures. For example, we recently went to the Stockyards for lunch as well as a local brewery and a bourbon oasis.
Last month we decided to visit Shakertown at Pleasant Hill in Harrodsburg, Kentucky. It’s only about a 30 minute drive from Lexington. The drive is very scenic and really pretty. As you drive to the location you can almost feel yourself going back into time. Barely two-lane roads wind down through the forest and for several miles all you see is wildlife, water and trees. It’s a lovely drive.
According to the Shaker Village website, “The Shakers were 19th century America’s largest and best-known communal society. In 1805, a group of Shakers came to central Kentucky and established a village they named Pleasant Hill. The Shakers chose a peaceful way of life.” Coming into the village you can almost feel the history. The buildings are so well-preserved and the setting is serene.
The Shaker Village website goes on to describe the Shakers: “they were celibate, believed in equality of race and sex, and freedom from prejudice.” Well, I’m not sure the ‘celibacy’ part was such an effective long-term plan for the Shakers!
There are many buildings on the property. One of the employees told us that 34 buildings were still in use. You can see the craftmanship in the buildings, the finishes, and the furniture. It’s not a mystery why the buildings are still there. They are well made and have stood the test of time. The Shakers were the original minimalists.
Shaker Village serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the building known as the Trustees Table. It is known for its great food and unique setting. When we arrived we were serenaded with a lovely Shaker hymn. What a great start our adventure!
When waiting for your table you can’t help but notice the two winding staircases that lead upstairs. As the history goes, one side was for the ladies use and the other was for the men to use. According to several sources, the only time men and women mixed in the staircases was during worship services.
Farm to table is a very popular movement these days in most places. Shakertown prides itself on a menu that features seasonal ingredients from both the on-site garden as well as from local farmers in Harrodsburg. The menu isn’t huge, but it definitely has some items that you don’t find many places. In the past, Shakertown was known for its livestock, primarily Berkshire hogs and cattle. It was said to have some of the best quality meat available for purchase in the state of Kentucky. They also raised sheep for the wool to make cloth for clothing and various items.
Interestingly, Shakertown now serves a full bar. They even have mixologists! I’m not sure how the Shakers would feel about that, but it does add a unique twist to the property. They serve southern cocktails such as the Colonel’s Cocktail, which is a mix of Makers Mark, orange liquor, sweet iced tea and lemon. I thought The Gardner cocktail looked interesting, as well. The Gardner cocktail contains Bulleit Bourbon, Bulleit Rye, Cynar (which is an Italian bitter liquor, primarily made from the artichoke), cardamom-caraway syrup and orange bitters. Who knew artichokes were used in cocktails!
As we were ushered into the dining room, we noticed the stark furnishings but could not help being impressed with the lovely wooden tables and chairs. On the wall were shelves that held candlesticks with paddle-like attachments and wooden knobs. The knobs, according to my friends, were designed not only to hang the shelves and candlesticks, but also for the Shakers to hang their chairs after the worship services. Certainly efficient design work!
Shakertown seems to be a popular place for lunch. The dining room was full of families, tourists, and groups like mine. You need a reservation for a group, even for lunch.
After we ordered they brought out a basket of cornbread muffins. I’m not really a cornbread fan, but all of my fellow diners loved it. Coleslaw served family style was also brought to the table prior to the meal. It was a nice touch.
Tomato pie is one of my favorite things. You certainly don’t find it on restaurant menus very often. I hope you saw my post about it several weeks ago, it’s a very unique southern dish. Shakertown’s tomato pie ingredients as listed on the menu contained garden tomatoes, Gruyère cheese, fresh basil and grated Parmesan. Count me in!
As you can see the portions were very large. A garden salad accompanied the tomato pie. It was excellent!
Shakertown is well known for its homemade desserts. Of course, no meal is complete without desert in my book. There was a wide variety of desserts to choose from, so we ordered several! Dessert options included, Lemon Shaker Pie, Chocolate Flourless Torte, Fresh Peach Shortcake, Vanilla Panna Cotta and of course Buttermilk Pie. I ordered the Buttermilk Pie. You can’t believe how tasty it was! Yummy! The rest of the desserts were very good as well. I can assure you that no dessert was left behind!
After lunch we walked around the grounds for a while. It’s a very peaceful setting. Naturally, I made sure we made a visit to the gift shop. Staying true to the theme, the shop contained many handmade items, such as pottery, brooms and various handicrafts.
Shaker Village is one of our Kentucky gems. You can spend the night there, dine there, or just hang out. The Shakers created a beautiful place and we should be thankful that it has been preserved over the years. You can go to relax and just enjoy the peaceful surroundings and escape for a while from the stress of today’s lifestyle.
Next week be watching for my Castle and Key blog post. You don’t want to miss it! xoxox