Berea was hosting its 19th Annual Spoonbread Festival this weekend, so my daughter and I headed south very early one morning, hoping to get tethered rides in one of the hot air balloons. We knew that if weather conditions weren’t right, they wouldn’t take the balloons up and that’s how it turned out–a bit too breezy, so not safe.
Since it was still pretty early in the morning, we decided to go to the Historic Boone Tavern Restaurant for coffee and breakfast. Good choice!
I’d heard of Boone Tavern Hotel & Restaurant and had admired the beautiful 1909 building whenever I’ve been down to Berea, but had never stopped in. It was built by Berea College as a guesthouse after the wife of the president of the college had entertained 300 guests of the college in just one summer. Can’t say I blame her for saying “enough”! Well played, Mrs. Nellie Frost!
The restaurant is known for its “blend of traditional and creative southern cuisine,” utilizing locally-grown and Kentucky Proud ingredients, often grown by students in the college’s gardens and greenhouses.
The restaurant was elegant, the food excellent and the service amazing. Especially worth mentioning were the cheese grits. Of course, I’ve tried grits here and there since I moved to Kentucky, but this was the first time I can truly say I understand why Southerners love grits. Also very special were the jellies: plum, pineapple and blueberry.
The hotel and restaurant are part of Berea College’s work-study program, so students work and serve in various capacities there. Students don’t pay tuition at Berea, but participate in the work-study program to pay for books, room and board.
Boone Tavern is named for its location on the Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail through the southern Appalachians. First used in 1775, the trail ran from North Carolina to Kentucky.