By Blake Hannong
Photos by Keni Parks
People’s love of food may be universal, but the way we talk about it is something that continues to evolve. It’s no longer just, “what do they serve?” It’s also, “what’s the concept?”
Furlongs has been a familiar name in Lexington’s dining culture since the early ‘90s. But for this restaurant, the more things (or locations) change, the more things—in this case, Lousiana-inspired cuisine—stay the same.
“Obviously, I’m passionate about it, or I would have gone with another concept,” said Emilee Walters-Sierp, owner/operator of Furlong’s. “I know this concept works.”
Counting the number of locations Furlongs has resided at in Lexington is like going to the arcade and playing a game of Whack-A-Mole. Once you’ve hit it and it goes away, it pops up somewhere else.
Walters-Sierp said the times Furlongs had to shut its doors were for family reasons. Whether it was the original location in 1992, at the former Coach House on S. Broadway, both times it resided at 735 Main St., or at its current location in the Tiverton Plaza, Furlongs has been a welcome sight for Lexington diners.
On their logo, you’ll find a picture of a jockey riding a crawfish, which is a pretty good representation of the place’s interior. The walls are either adorned with horse racing memorabilia on loan from Louisiana jockeys or original artwork from New Orleans-based artists. When you walk in, make sure to make a sharp left and check out the gorgeous bar, made of cribbing boards from Saxony Farm.
When you try any of Furlongs’ dishes, you’re basically tasting the Walters’ family history. Walters-Sierp opened this newest incarnation of Furlongs with her father, Tommy Walters, who originally hails from Lafayette, Louisiana. He learned everything he knows about the state’s distinctive cuisine from working with his father, Chef
Roland Walters, at the original Don’s Seafood restaurant before later shadowing the region’s other experienced chefs.
Furlongs was Lexington’s gateway to Southwest Lousiana cuisine when it opened in 1992, and if you can remember that menu, the one at the new Furlongs is strikingly similar. Practically everything on the menu is a Walters’ family recipe, right down to the soups and homemade salad dressings. You’ll find plenty of the Pelican State’s signature delicacies and dishes, including Andouille sausage, Po’ boy sandwiches, catfish, Cajun boudin (i.e. ground pork and spices in a sausage casing with Creole honey mustard), gumbo, jambalaya and shrimp or chicken creole.
There are lots of dishes featuring blackened seafood, which is flown in fresh three times a week. Of course, there is crawfish, which can be found in étoufée, pasta or fried on top of a Caesar salad or as an appetizer.
Furlongs still may be the only place in Lexington you can chow down on some frog legs, but for you red meat fans, you’ll have your pick of New York strip, ribeye or two sizes of filet mignon.
What I like
First of all, I like Louisiana food. A LOT! There’s just something about the spices, emphasis on seafood and how everything has a little kick on the back end that I can’t get enough of.
I think anyone would be silly not to start off with the appetizer platter, with bites of Andouille sausage, mushrooms stuffed with shrimp and crab and fried starters coming in the form of sweet crawfish tails or bite-sized catfish. The blackened shrimp were a good size and thoroughly seasoned. It was served with a side of clarified butter (which I didn’t even need) and served over jambalaya (which I ABSOLUTELY needed). They’ve got all the Louisiana staples down, like the shrimp Po’ boy served on a thick, flaky soft baguette.
Then, there are slam dunks like the mignon ecrivesse. The menu states it’s a nine-ounce filet “topped” with crawfish étoufée. I don’t think they know what “topped” actually means. Instead of just putting it on top of the tender piece of meat, they topped it and also surrounded the steak in a moat of crawfish etoufee. I, for one, was not complaining.
Actually, it’s hard to complain about a place like Furlongs. Considering how many times it has opened in a new location, Walters-Sierp is determined to keep bringing the restaurant’s Louisiana-style comfort food from the bayou to the Bluegrass.
“I want them to feel like they’re in Louisiana at my grandparents’ kitchen table,” Walters-Sierp said.