Larry Rice, Louisville’s Silver Dollar and Route 23

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Larry Rice The Silver Dollar in Louisville where Bakersfield Tunes are always spinning!

Click to Read In Search of Hillbillies and Banana Pudding
    by Joyce Pinson Appalachian News Express

“Inn” Step with Larry Rice and The Silver Dollar in Louisville, KY

It is the time of year when my newspaper editors ask for a writing schedule for the upcoming months. That makes me giggle. Oh sure, there are some features that I know need to go at certain dates; but I roll with the flow. One story leads to another. Stories evolve over time; they don’t always unfold all at once.

Back this summer, Pointy Toed Shoes Sister Tracy and I made the four-hour trek to Louisville. The event? A media kickoff for The Bourbon Classic a weekend “cocktail lifestyle” celebration coming to Louisville this spring. Chef Edward Lee   and   Matt Jamie worked up the appetizers. Behind the bar, Susie Hoyt and Larry Rice of The Silver Dollar were the featured “Cocktail Concoctionists.” (Note to Steve Coomes I did NOT use the word “Mixologists” Bahahaha)

Louisvilles Bourbon Classic will feature Bartender Competitions;look for Larry Rice from The Silver Dollar

Larry Rice captured my heart and my imagination! Not only does he shake a mean bourbon cocktail, it turns out he has ties to the mountains. When I told him I was from the Appalachian News Express he laughed. His “Poppy” Grandpa Lee DeRossett was from Prestonsburg.

The interview went great. But the photos? Well they just did not tell the story I wanted to tell; the tale spun by Dwight Yoakum “Reading, Writing and Route 23 on Hillbilly Deluxe album that conveys a sense of being in the city, but having a piece of your heart tucked safely away up Pike Floyd holler. (The big red barn is only a few miles from that holler)

For my story to breathe, I needed neon and the music of Bakersfield swirling around my head. I needed textures that speak to history, to that sense of urban living. I needed the rawness of the city but warm sanctuary too.

At The Silver Dollar I found what I was looking for.

Silver Dollar Whiskey by the Drink Neon Sign Louisville KY

There was neon.

The Silver Dollar in Louisville spins old vinyl records featuring the Bakersfield Sound

There was The Bakersfield vibe.

Larry Rice at The Silver Dollar in Louisville knows music and bourbon and good food

There was Larry Rice who sat down with Charlie, Rick and me for a long chat; just us hillbillies trying to reconnect the dots.

As a writer, my most joyous times are when I can feel “a sense of place.” The Silver Dollar is all about the Bakersfield Sound, which was birthed in the 1950’s a few years after the Great Depression when field hands from the Oklahoma Dust Bowl had made their way to California in search of new dreams; but with that longing for the familiar.

The Silver Dollar; I get it. It’s home away from home It’s cozy and intimate. It’s very here and now yet whispers of another place; another time. In my newspaper article I described The Silver Dollar as “a place where California and Kentucky intersect on a table of hillbilly dreams.”

Consider the menu composed by executive chef Jonathan Schwartz.

Executive Chef Jonathan Schwartz of The Silver Dollar in Louisville KY

A thoughtful chef, behind wire rimmed glasses and a shy smile, Jonathan Schwartz brings the Silver Dollar concept to the table in a playful melding of tastes and styles. The flavors are all about California and Kentucky, a collision of cultures and foodways that teases the palate and tickles the senses.

Hand battered onion rings with smokey house-made catsup, empanadas, and fried okra are Silver Dollar favorites

Appetizers include hand-battered onion rings served with a smoky tomato catsup, that finds me wanting a gallon or two for home. There are empanadas begging to be paired with a cold beer. And there is okra…fried just right! (I’m picky about my okra; this appetizer rocks it!)

Silver Dollar entress incude grilled flank steak, chicken and waffles, and country fried steak

Chef Jonathan’s grilled flank steak rubbed with coffee and spices plated on roasted poblano sauce was the star of the three entrees we devoured. I loved the chicken and waffles with maple syrup, and the country fried steak with mushroom gravy and a hunk of cornbread takes me back to Friday night supper with Charlie’s parents.

Check out Sous Chef Dave Hawkins

Taters? You want taters? The Silver Dollar's Sous Chef Dave Hawkins dishes up taters with 'tude and swagger!

Dave Hawkins is what we down here in the mountains would call “a character.” Back in the kitchen he takes it all in stride moving dishes down the line. His eyes spell out trouble and his swagger pushes the Silver Dollar dining experience over the top. Dave is a giggle!

That brings me back to Larry Rice

Night's end with Larry Rice at The Silver Dollar in Louisville KY

When he laughs his eyes crinkle. There is an easy going attitude about Larry; one that welcomes all to the table. He is comfortable in his own skin and even more so in a honky tonk restaurant hunkered down in a renovated firehouse on Frankfort Avenue.

As we finish up our evening, he brings us coffee and a most amazing dish of banana pudding. Our conversation quieted, but we were comfortable and content. That’s the way it works when you are amongst friends.

Follow the neon to The Silver Dollar where the past, the present, and the future are all doing just fine thanks to Larry Rice. At Louisville’s Silver Dollar you really can go home again.

As Thanksgiving approaches I am thankful that Route 23, The Country Music Highway, runs both north AND south. I wish all those transplanted hillbillies who will come home to the mountains safe travels, full bellies, bushels of giggles, and hundreds of hillbilly hugs from the folks that love you best.

Disclaimer we paid for meal and drinks at The Silver Dollar

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About Joyce Pinson

Joyce Friend Pinson is a regional farm-to-table columnist for the Appalachian-News Express. She is a local television host. Her column show and blog, Friends Drift Inn, explores food, gardening, and real life farm-to-table stories from the perspective of a baby boomer in Appalachia. Joyce has a background in agriculture, media, and small business. Joyce is an heirloom gardening addict and home canner. She has a penchant for big hats, pointy toed shoes, and bourbon. Along with her husband Charlie, Joyce really does live in a barn where they ballroom dance. And laugh. And cook. And giggle.