It’s a blessing and a curse to be the first type of restaurant to come to a blossoming, dining-obsessed city like Lexington. Do what you do well and you could become the stuff of local legend. Then again, any slip-up will give anyone that follows in your footsteps the template for what NOT to do.

The Village Idiot is Lexington’s first gastropub, and for any gastropubs that may open in Lexington in the future, I wish you the best of luck – ‘cause you’ll have a hard time topping this one.

The Village Idiot made a smart move by occupying the well-known location at 307 W. Short Street in August. It’s the city’s oldest surviving post office building and was formerly the popular dining hot spot Metropol.

Inspired by the popularity of gastropubs in cities like Chicago and San Diego, the owners of The Village Idiot decided that Lexington was due for one of its own. For the uninitiated, a gastropub focuses on offering independent, high quality craft brews (along with wine and spirits) and chef-driven pub grub.

The atmosphere of The Village Idiot is warm and welcoming, with two floors adorned with plenty of light-colored hardwood and oversized microbrew labels serving as the restaurant’s artwork. Behind those bars you’ll have one of 20 craft brews on tap to choose from that change with the seasons while the prices remain consistently reasonable.

When it comes to the menu, chef Andrew Suthers’ dishes are rustic, simple, often inventive and always flavorful—prominently featuring local ingredients. It’s perfect for a fine diner or a late-night snacker.

Instead of your usual appetizers or small plates, The Village Idiot’s menu has “Bar Snacks” and a “To Share” section with some real gems on it. Your pint of brew will find a friend in dishes like a pot of pickles or popcorn with the culinary punch of truffle oil. Suthers’ mild obsession with duck can be found in the fantastic Scotch eggs, given a twist by using a hard-boiled organic duck egg, house-made duck sausage and whole grain mustard aioli (pair it with a Goose Island Matilda for some complementary fruit notes). When it comes to items “to share,” the baked Brie is insanely good. The rich, fatty cheese comes crusted with hazelnut and wrapped in phyllo dough with fig vinegar that can double as a dessert, or get your meal started, paired with the nuttiness of a Scotty Karate Scotch Ale.

Considering we’re talking pub food here, The Village Idiot made sure to include some intriguing burgers, sandwiches and salads. However, the entrees, none of which top $19, are where you’ll really get the most ‘bang’ for your buck.

The ham hock ragout is very tender and loaded with smoky flavor. The smoke finds its way into the rich ragout drizzled over spinach gnocchi and complemented with some crunch of sautéed broccolini. The Village Idiot’s attitude towards food is best reflected in the duck and waffles. I’ve never had the classic chicken and waffle breakfast staple, but after having this dish, I’m not sure I’d want it any other way. The sweet and savory elements get upgraded thanks to a buttermilk-fried, Gunthorp Farms duck leg confit and a sweet corn and white cheddar waffle. This is the type of dish you could have with a cup of coffee, but you’d be better off going with the coffee notes and the alcoholic kick of a Founders Breakfast Stout.

The restaurant only has one dessert, but it’s a good one. Utilizing day-old pretzel buns, the bread pudding is loaded with custard and topped with bourbon-laced, salted caramel and homemade whipped cream. You’ll be hard pressed to find a flaw.

During my visit, Suthers summed up The Village Idiot by saying it’s “what you want while you’re drinking, before you’re drinking and after you’re drinking.” I couldn’t agree more. This is one “Idiot” I’ll be making a point to hang out with more often.

859.252.0099 | 307 West Short St. |

Posted on 2013-01-06 by