Home Best of Lexington Nick Ryan’s Saloon opens on Jefferson

Nick Ryan’s Saloon opens on Jefferson

story and photos
by Tom Yates

The Jefferson Street dining corridor has welcomed a new option to its expanding dining and bar scene with the opening of Nick Ryan’s Saloon. Housed inside a beautiful 2 story veranda-fronted building (restaurant downstairs, rentals upstairs),  Nick Ryan’s Saloon offers contemporary southern/American food along with a full bar.

The original Nick Ryan’s Saloon was opened at 120 North Mill Street in 1905. Nicholas Ryan was the son of prominent Lexington saloon man, John Ryan, who had run saloons in town since the early 1880s. Nick and brother J. Edward Ryan worked with their father and, after his death helped run the family saloon and billiard room on South Limestone next door to the “original Levas’s restaurant” (CentrePointe Block).

The new incarnation of the saloon is perched just above street level on Jefferson Street located between 2nd and Short Streets. The dining room is beautifully appointed in relaxed muted tones accented by strong dark wood floors and woodwork. The interior opens up to a cozy veranda through floor to ceiling french doors (open for last night’s preview and unseasonably warm weather).
Last night’s preview buffet included cheesy celeriac gratin, beef tenderloin with chimichurri sauce, huge tender sauteed scallops, and cured salmon on micro arugula with capers, minced onions, minced eggs, and sour cream.
Signature cocktails include Nick’s Tonic with Gin, Pear Gimlet, Homemade Bourbon and Ginger, and Kentucky Pain Killer.
The menu is thoughtful, diverse, and imaginative offering soups, starters, entree salads, entrees, and sandwiches.  A few of the starters include: Chicken Doros, chipotle marinated chicken, cabbage, avacado, crema, and homemade salsa, sit stop puffed wheat duros; Thai Peanut Shrimp, crispy shrimp served on a bed of rice  noodles in a coconut peanut sauce; and a Basket of Truffle Fries, hand cut russets crisp fried and lightly drizzled with truffle oil.
Entrees include Butternut Squash Ravioli (homemade ravioli stuffed with roasted butternut squash topped with shitake mushrooms, and sage brown butter); Shrimp and Grits (Weisenberger Mill cheese grits with sauteed shrimp, fresh herbs and seafood veloute); and Braised Beef Short Ribs, braised in a homemade red wine veal stock served atop cauliflower mousseline and natural jus.
Ace Wine +Market coverstory March 2008

Offering an ambitious/casual menu in a beautiful downtown setting, Nick Ryan’s Saloon joins additional Ace culinary neighbors, Wine + Market (Ace coverstory March 27, 2008); the Grey Goose; Stella’s; and Cuppa Tea in an expanding dining corridor.

The restaurant opens Monday, November 15 for dinner, and plans to be open for lunch by Thanksgiving Friday.