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The Brown Barrel Written by Patti Nickell

The newest addition to Frankfort’s burgeoning dining scene is already gaining a loyal following.

Brown Barrel/Blind Harry’s, which opened in February on West Broadway, follows the flagship restaurant in Midway, which moved to its current location in 2022.  A third location has recently opened in Georgetown as well.

In keeping with the concept of owner J.P. Gibson, Frankfort’s newest eatery will specialize in “fine dining in a casual atmosphere that patrons have come to love.”

On the Brown Barrel side, the décor features a brick wall and portraits of Thoroughbred horses, while next door at Blind Harry’s another brick wall backs up the bar, ceiling fans whir overhead, and large glass windows provide a view of the Capital City Museum.

According to general manager Wendy Quire, in warmer weather there will be a third dining option – a 12-table patio.

If diners love the food and casual atmosphere, it’s also a pretty sure bet that they will come to love the moderate prices as well. At the Brown Barrel, sandwiches are priced from $13.49 to $15.49, and come with one side.

On the lower end of the price spectrum are the Club Sandwich and the Fried Catfish, lightly breaded and served on a Hoagie bun, while the highest priced sandwich is the Salmon BLT, a grilled cider-glazed salmon filet served on a Brioche bun with Cajun brown sugared bacon, lettuce, and tomato.

Sides to choose from, all priced at $3.49, include Southern black beans, white truffle herb mashed potatoes, green beans, Mac & Cheese, sweet potato waffle fries and a vegetable of the day.

The sandwiches can be ordered to eat in or as a grab and go for those who don’t have time for a leisurely lunch.

Prices in Blind Harry’s are also modest compared with those you will find at many restaurants in the area. 

A Surf and Turf (two beef medallions over white truffle mashed potatoes, topped with beer-battered shrimp, and served with a salad and vegetable of the day), is $25, as are Southern style Crab Cakes served over baby bok choy and finished with a sweet Thai chile glaze and a salad.  The most expensive item on the menu is the 12-oz. ribeye at $31.

The restaurant has a large selection of appetizers – from ahi tuna to Country Boy beer-battered mushrooms – as well as salads and a “build-your-own” burger bar. 

There are also daily specials at both lunch and dinner, so don’t be surprised if you find elk filet, sea bass or lobster on the menu the night you come in.

Among the dishes featured on the to-go menu are grilled beef skewers served over a loaded potato cake with a port wine reduction and a Kentucky Hot Brown.

In case you might be interested in knowing how the Brown Barrel and Blind Harry’s got their names, according to Gibson there is a story behind both.

The choice of Brown Barrel honors his grandfather Winston Eugene Peace, who spent 25 years as a cooper making barrels for Bluegrass Cooperage, a division of Brown Forman.

That resulted in the barrel part, and brown came from Winston singing his favorite ditty “Little Brown Jug” to his children and grandchildren.

Blind Harry’s has an equally heart-warming story.  It’s named for Harry Clay Anderson, a Midway resident who built two houses still standing in the town – one without any assistance.

The truly remarkable part was that Harry was blind, but that didn’t stop the man whose motto was “there’s always a way if you try.” That would seemingly be the motto for Gibson as well, who has tried – and succeeded – in bringing good, affordable food – along with the admirable qualities of two special men – to Frankfort.