Shakespeare and Co. - A stylish world cafe featuring one of Lexington's most diverse menus.
While many restaurants design their concepts around what’s on your plate, Shakespeare and Co. is focused on sumptuous style and na inviting atmosphere. But that’s only at first glance. This world café offers one of the largest and most diverse menus in the Bluegrass region, and they take pride in crafting every morsel from scratch.
Sales and Marketing Manager, Jessica Coomes, commented, “Above all, we want people to be comfortable. This is the type of place where you can sit and read, enjoy a coffee, study, meet friends for lunch, or watch a ball game. It’s a casual dining experience that is intended to be a home away from home for our guests.”
The downtown location at the corner the of Short and Broadway has been open for three years and houses a full service bar, a private outdoor seating area, and a banquet room on second floor that can accommodate up to 150 guests. A second location in the Chinoe Shopping Center opened last year. According to Jessica, Chinoe hosts a number of nightly events, such as live jazz, trivia, and ladies night. The location boasts almost twice the square footage, an exclusive bar menu by Chef John Murphy, and an additional glass enclosed outdoor dining area. By the beginning of 2016, a Hamburg location is expected to open as well.
Dubai native Dr. Edward Saad founded the restaurant chain about 15 years ago. Currently, about 30 locations exist throughout Europe and the Middle East. Dr. Saad attended the University of Kentucky, and like many before him, fell in love with the area and relocated to Lexington.
While on their honeymoon in Paris, his wife Aline fell in love with the Shakespeare & Co. bookstore, and decided to bring a similar design concept to their line of restaurants. She also owns Georgettes and Chiffons, a textile boutique on North Broadway. It offers a world class selection of custom window panels, draperies, valances, cushions, window and fashion accessories, in a style similar to the decorative items found at Shakespeare & Co.
“The décor is a combination of products from Georgettes and Chiffons, plus items Mrs. Saad has found overseas or has purchased at auction,” explained Jessica. The rich color palette, ornate details and artfully mismatched fabrics come together beautifully to create a warm and vaguely exotic space. At the same time, Shakespeare and Co. is truly a place where anyone can feel welcome. The outdoor patio at the downtown location is perfect for casual outdoor dining, while the plush sofas and fringed chandeliers inside make an ideal backdrop for a special lunch or dinner date.
When asked about a distinctive menu feature, Jessica said, “We actually serve breakfast all day. We open at 7:30am and are open late. Breakfast and brunch are so popular in American culture, and we want to offer those foods to our customers throughout the day.”
Another unique aspect of the menu is the Mediterranean-inspired dishes, many of which aren’t available anywhere else in the area. Saj, a Mediterranean flat bread, is served with a variety of toppings such as spicy sausage, strained yogurt, Halloumi cheese and an assortment of fresh vegetables. A traditional Mediterranean breakfast is also offered.
Diners at Shakespeare and Co. can find just about anything they’re in the mood for: sweet and savory crepes, full traditional American and English breakfasts, a wide variety of egg dishes, soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers, and pasta, plus a selection of chicken, fish, and steak dinners. A mouth-watering array of desserts and pastries is also available, including customized boxed chocolate assortments. Any of the menu items can be paired with fresh-squeezed juices, teas, fresh smoothies, hot chocolate, Turkish coffee, and a variety of other beverages.
Executive Chef Michael Bradley relocated from Tullahoma, TN to lead the culinary team at the Short Street location, and appreciates that every day offers a new challenge. He said, “This is the most extensive menu I’ve ever worked with. We have about 130 dishes and everything is made completely from scratch. It’s incredibly labor intensive, but it gives us the ability to ensure the quality of our product from start to finish.”
Up Close with Chef Michael Bradley
When did you first learn you wanted to be a chef? My grandfather owned a catering business when I was a kid. By the time I was 10, I was working in his kitchen, and by 13, I was being paid for it.
What’s your go-to ingredient? Benton’s Bacon. I’m a Tennessee native, and Alan is a gentleman from Tennessee who makes arguably the best bacon in the world.
Where do you go for a good drink? I live in Frankfort, so I love going to Capital Cellars or Bourbon on Main. In Lexington, I generally end up going to Rosebuds. They serve cheap beer and it’s open late —the perfect combo for restaurant people.
What is your junk food obsession? Krispy Kreme doughnuts.
What kind of music do you listen to in the kitchen? Mostly classic blues or rock. I spent a good amount of time in Memphis growing up, so the blues has always fascinated me.
What is your most treasured possession? A cast iron pot that belonged to my great grandmother. It travels with me everywhere.
If you weren’t a chef, what would you be doing? I love to fish, canoe, kayak, and hike. That’s usually what I do with my family during time off, so maybe something involving outdoor sports.
What’s a food trend you’re in favor of? Preserving southern foodways and food culture. Specifically, making sure we are using food that comes from Southern farmers and artisans. I think that regional food in America is often overshadowed by international influences. When chefs focus on foods that they grew up with and that come from local sources, it makes it easier to find their voices.
A food trend you want to disappear? Deconstructing classic dishes. I understand there is time and place for that, and presentation is important. But I want my staff to demonstrate that they know how to make the classic dish first. Don’t show me crumbled bacon, a poached egg, and pasta separated on a plate. First, show me you can make a carbonara.
4 oz. white quinoa (boiled)
4.5 oz. spring mix lettuce
2 oz. chickpeas
½ cup grape tomatoes
1 oz. red radishes (sliced)
2 tablespoons mint leaves and parsley (chopped)
1 oz. English cucumbers
1 tablespoon spring onion
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all Ingredients above and toss in a bowl with Lemon Sumac dressing.
Lemon Sumac Dressing
2 cups olive oil
2 cups lemon juice
4 tablespoons sumac spice
Salt and pepper to taste
In a bowl, add lemon juice and sumac, begin to whisk and slowly add oil until emulsified.