262 North Limestone Street
Lexington, KY 40507
Last weekend, Fork and Spoon had the opportunity to enter the Old Episcopal Burying Ground in Lexington. If you are not a fan of historic cemeteries of the Bluegrass, you may not be aware that it takes a little effort to actually enter this cemetery. The gates remain locked and generally it is only open to visitors upon appointment. A genealogy and Find A Grave friend invited us to join her last Saturday, and (finally!) Fork and Spoon got to tread amongst these historic markers and take some longed for photographs. Longed for by Spoon, who is obsessed with family history. Fork is probably less enamored with cemeteries than he lets on, however, he is a good sport and never acts peevish about long hours spent hunched over the graves of people he isn’t even related to, transcribing inscriptions and capturing just the right shot before the information is lost to the ages. All in all, he is one trusty side-kick who supports Spoon in her efforts to identify and organize the dead.
Fork is a big ol’ sweetie and he deserves a good meal in return for his efforts. So, prior to meeting our friend at the cemetery gates, Spoon and Fork stopped at Doodles for breakfast.
Doodle’s Breakfast and Lunch is a popular Lexington eatery. Everyone we know who has been there loves the place. Everyone who has not been, it seems, plans to go soon. Fork and Spoon had not been to Doodles yet, so we were pretty excited to finally check out this popular restaurant.
When Fork and Spoon arrived, we hit a wall of customers waiting their turn to enter. That is no complaint and can be a sign of good things to come, because one would reason that if they are packing them in on a Saturday morning in a downtown restaurant, the food must be pretty good! The very charming hostess instructed us to review the very large menu situated in the entry. The menu had a number of choices – omelets, strata, corned beef hash, shrimp and grits. Breakfast dishes were accompanied by sides of potatoes or grits, biscuits, fruit was an option.
Fork selected the meat omelet because it would be a good reference point for judging the food. Fork and Spoon are big omelet fans, frequently ordering them when we go out for breakfast as well as cooking them at home for breakfast, lunch and dinner. His omelet came with potatoes and a biscuit. Spoon selected from the side menu – two eggs over easy and bacon. We both ordered coffee.
We know we are supposed to have been “over the moon” for this place. People carry on about how outstanding the food is, and heaven knows the place was certainly crowded enough when we visited, as well as two earlier times when we tried to drop in but were in too much of a hurry to wait the lines.
Let’s start with the venue. The restaurant is charming. The owners and their architect have done a fabulous job of transforming an old, forgotten gas station into a snug little diner without messing up the original building. The former garage area now serves as the dining room with kitchen toward the back, viewable over a counter that courses through the establishment. The large windows where the garage bays would have been, allow for great lighting and make the diner appear larger than it actually is. The roosters are a sweet touch. Fork and Spoon found the diner to be quite appealing.
There are quite a number of tables in this space which makes it difficult to traverse when it is full, however, this would not be so worrisome if one did not have to get up and down all the time to fill and refill one’s own drinks. Notice I had reported that the area appears larger; when the tables are full, the space does not feel larger, especially as you have to maneuver around to fill your drinks.
There is a system to eating at Doodles which Fork and Spoon did not particularly enjoy. When a table is available, the party orders at the counter, is given the appropriate drink cup, advised to grab some utensils and take an available table. There is a community table available if one does not want to wait for a private table. Fork and Spoon were advised of this but were not advised as to which table it was – we assumed the big one toward Houston Alley. It was difficult to tell which tables or seats were available, and which were merely empty for a moment while the occupant stood in line (yes, stood in line) to refill a beverage.
We do not like to belabor this point too much. This must be charming and acceptable if you are a regular to the establishment. If you are new to Doodles, however, and find yourself ordering over the din, then bumping between the tightly arranged tables clutching an empty cup and a number looking for a place to land, you might feel a little overwhelmed and foolish. This feeling will worsen if you have forgotten your utensils – they are on the counter and there is a handwritten sign reminding diners not to forget them. This sign is most easily read after you are seated and have, in fact, forgotten your utensils. The good news is your food will be delivered to your table; you however will have to do the rest of the footwork.
On to the food.
From what one hears, Doodles has the best omelets ever. We have been told this again and again and again. Fork and Spoon do not agree. The omelet was rather flat, it was dry and the chef was stingy with the meat filling. The omelet was acceptable, it was okay. It was good enough.
The potatoes were okay as well. Okay. As for the biscuit? It was okay.
Frankly, it was all okay. However, “okay” is not okay at the prices they charge. You might say, “Well, Fork and Spoon, Doodles uses local and organic ingredients and this kind of attention to quality costs more and is worth the price.” However, Fork and Spoon will point out that Doodles really makes no promise on this point. In fact they are rather vague on their menu, stating that they use local and organic ingredients “whenever possible.”
The over easy eggs Spoon ordered were also okay. A little too over easy, but I was not specific regarding preparation and they were, again, okay. I could not say whether the eggs were organic or local, or not. They tasted like the Kroger eggs Fork and Spoon keep in their fridge at home.
The bacon however, was delicious. It was crisp. It had a marvelous flavor. The bacon was far more than okay. It saved the day for Spoon who was a little cranky by the time she actually identified a table, got her coffee, and obtained her utensils.
The staff was friendly and the coffee was also excellent. Looking around at the diners, Fork and Spoon noted that they appeared chatty and as happy as clams. One got the feeling there were many regulars who knew the staff and knew each other well.
We are not impressed with the prices. If we are going to pay ~$12-15 per person for breakfast, Fork and Spoon want to have really enjoyed said breakfast. The ingredients and the preparation should be outstanding. Eggs and potatoes are not costly ingredients. The preparation of eggs and potatoes, really quite humble ingredients, need not be complicated to be enjoyable. Add in the “do it yourself beverages and utensils” and Fork and Spoon feel we were served $5 plates at inflated prices.
Doodles has a happy, quirky vibe that Fork and Spoon love. Doodles, we really, really, really want to love you. We just don’t. Fork and Spoon have learned over the years that love doesn’t come easy, so we haven’t given up on you. At least not yet.