On a recent trip over to Lexington, I was needing some nourishment and wanted to steer clear of any chain restaurants, nor was I interested in barbecue or a dive cheeseburger. With those parameters in mind I ended up taking a short drive north out some of Lexington’s prettier back roads through horse country in search of a sandwich shop.
Unfamiliar with this route, it was amusing to navigate Muir Station Drive in the dark along its rolling countryside. About when I thought I’d taken a wrong turn lights appeared at the crossroads with Bryan Station and there sat the Windy Corner Market.
This is chef Ouita Michel’s latest addition to her family of restaurants that includes Holly Hill Inn, Wallace Station, Midway School Bakery, Smithtown Seafood and Glenn’s Creek Cafe at Woodford Reserve Distillery. With the sidings and floors all constructed from reclaimed wood, Windy Corner appears like an old country store and is welcoming in its simplicity.
Upon entering there is no mistaking you are standing in horse country, as numerous jockey silks are fixed to the upper reaches of the walls, with the horse farms they represent proudly displayed. This is a go-to stop for many folks that work on the farms, so expect to see patrons in riding gear dropping by, but the gourmet nature of Chef Ouita’s reputation has a steady stream of locals pouring in, along with foodie tourists.
As a New Orleans advocate and former resident, I loved the indoor signage of “Be Nice or Get Out.” It’s very reminiscent of the acerbic Nola folk artist, Dr. Bob’s, sentiment of “Be Nice or Leave.”
As with all Chef Ouita’s outposts, this one is locally sourced as much as possible and decidedly a proponent of Kentucky Proud products. Windy Corner is similar in feel to the sandwich-centric Wallace Station deli, but with shelf space throughout the dining room to provide a dedicated marketplace of local arts & crafts, recipe items and candy.
There is a respectable amount of indoor seating, but it fills quickly. As the warmer temperatures approach, it will be lovely to take advantage of the outdoor and back porch seating with its countryside views.
The standout essence at Windy Corner is its take on country Creole cuisine. There is a full selection of Po-Boys, including oyster, catfish, shrimp and crawfish, along with Kentucky-fied renditions such as the Kentucky Colonel Boy with crispy all-natural chicken fingers, griddled Browning’s country ham, melted Swiss and honey Dijonnaise.
I was here for oysters. It’s hard to find New Orleans fare up this way, much less anyone that can prepare it properly. I had heard enthusiastic reviews about Windy Corner from my brother, Geoff, and had faith in Chef Ouita doing this up right, and I was not disappointed.
There were around a half-dozen succulent oysters fried in Weisenberger cornmeal lining a French bread roll, fully dressed with lettuce, tomatoes and pickles, accented with Lisa’s remoulade. Technically this is a half-sandwich, but its a healthy sucker. I needed both hands to tackle this puppy and I had remoulade running down my arms before I was done, but isn’t that how eating a proper Po-Boy goes.
I substituted fries for the chips and they were outstanding. Together, the sandwich and fries are plenty. The price was $12.95 plus $1 for the fries. It’s a tad steep and about double what a similar Po-Boy would run in New Orleans, but we ain’t in the Crescent City.
It’s worth every penny if you’re jonzin’ for some quality Creole fare. I would add that the Windy Corner might want to have more bottles of Louisiana-style hot sauce around, in addition to all the exotic ones, for those expecting the standard bite this cuisine has in its natural habitat.
Like at any quality short-order joint, you will wait a little longer for the food to arrive, but it’s fresh and made to order. Plus it gives diners a chance to observe the scenery and peruse the market offerings. Local beer and other varieties is available, and a well paired wine list compliments the menu.
I can only judge from this one tasting how the rest of the menu must be, but certainly all the seafood baskets and other Cajun delicacies are odds on for being delicious. The soups and salads are accented with similar flare. The menu also has an ample selection of interesting burgers, barbecue and healthy options. And the kids are not left out either.
But I’ll warn all ahead, watch out for the tempting baked goods from the Midway School Bakery at the order counter. That could wreck any appetite right quick and in a hurry.
WINDY CORNER MARKET | 4595 Bryan Station Road | Lexington, KY | 859-294-9338