Recent years have proven that Louisville is a force to be reckoned with on the culinary scene. Locals are perpetually keeping an ear to the ground for the latest and greatest, and long gone are the days when a white tablecloth was enough to qualify a restaurant as â€œgood.â€ Despite the contemporary competition, however, our fair city is still part of the American South â€“ rooted in the geniality that brings families together and the kind of slowness thatâ€™s all about appreciating whatâ€™s in front of you.
Itâ€™s no surprise then that Finnâ€™s Southern Kitchen, which opened this spring at 1318 McHenry St. in Germantown, seeks to merge Southern hospitality with modern ambition. Owned and operated by Steve Clements, a Derby City restaurant veteran, Finnâ€™s puts every effort toward letting patrons savor an airy space with a gob-smacking menu.
â€œThis is one of those meccas of life,â€ Clements says. â€œPeople love to eat, people love to drink. People love to be around each other having a good time. I get to be a part of that.â€ With that in mind, heâ€™s created a gathering place thatâ€™s just as likely to attract nearby residents looking for a weeknight family meal as distant suburb-dwellers trekking into the center of the city on a Saturday night.
The menu boasts Dixie classics like deviled eggs, fried chicken and biscuits served any number of ways but still caters to the discerning 21st-century palette with offerings like the Germantown Mill Veggie Club and the entrÃ©e-size Detox Salad, a mix of kale and quinoa topped with a number of harmonious flavors. Any diner can rest assured that whether theyâ€™re eating heavy or light, the ingredients are guaranteed fresh and sourced locally whenever possible. â€œEverybody has to work hard here,â€ notes Clements. â€œWe make fresh stuff every day.â€
The restaurant is open seven days a week for three square meals. From 7 to 11 a.m., they serve a concise but hearty breakfast, which is even available to the morning commuter in a hurry via a sleek walk-up window just inside the front door. Lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner from 5 to 10 p.m., (11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday). The portions are generous and the prices reasonable.
Indoor seating accommodates 116, and the picnic tables resting under crisp, striped umbrellas on the patio another 160. Unlike most other restaurants in the older parts of town, Finnâ€™s allows for space between its tables, granting diners the under-valued ability to be close to those they came with but not so much adjacent strangers. The comfortable distance is also a bonus for diners with children, whom Clements says are not just accommodated but encouraged. His goal, he says, is to make visitors feel their money was well-spent on whatever meal theyâ€™ve enjoyed.
Finnâ€™s operates on the notion of embracing whatâ€™s good and making it even better. The location itself began as the administrative building for Fincastle Fabrics, which thrived in tandem with the old Louisville Cotton Mill next door â€“ now, the Germantown Mill Lofts. Derelict before Clements capitalized on its potential with silent partners behind him, itâ€™s now a repurposed gem at the heart of a renewed neighborhood. Anyone searching it out need only spot the solid black water tower declaring â€œFINNâ€™Sâ€ in a tall, white font.
â€œThereâ€™s no place like it in Louisville,â€ Clements beams. Indeed, there are very few stand-alone independently-owned restaurants in the city. After migrating from Anchorage to Germantown himself, Clements not only found a lucrative location surrounded by potential customers within walking distance but also paid attention to what made the area special.
â€œNobodyâ€™s really made Germantown happen,â€ he observes, noting that generational diversity is bringing new life into well-worn space. His own familyâ€™s input is strewn throughout the interior and the menu, a comfort and clear source of pride for the seasoned restaurateur.
If the kitchen is the epicenter of the Southern home â€“ the pulse that keeps it running and the space where everyone gathers even subconsciously to enjoy the camaraderie as much as the food â€“ Finnâ€™s is doing its name proud. Even during the busiest dinner service, Clements, ever the attentive host, can be found checking on his guests and ensuring their contentment.
â€œI donâ€™t want anyone to leave here unhappy,â€ he insists. â€œIf you leave here unhappy, you werenâ€™t happy in the first place.â€ VT
Finnâ€™s Southern Kitchen is located at 1318 McHenry St. For more information, visit finnssouthernkitchen.com or call 502.708.2984.
By Kellie Doligale, Contributing Writer