Only open on weekends when the rest of us 9-to-5-ers are off, Newport’s 27 Bar + Kitchen is a stylish new brunch and dinner spot on Monmouth Street (aka Route 27, hence the name). The restaurant, which prides itself on being as farm-to-table as possible, is an extremely promising addition for this established stretch of the neighborhood’s business district.
When my husband and I stopped in for brunch late on a Saturday morning, there was ample seating in the restaurant — which includes everything from regular tables and high-tops to bar seating along windows and a cozy little carved-out booth — but we chose to take two seats at the bar. I often prefer bar seating over table seating, especially when I’m in a fun mood that can be complemented by cocktails and casual side-by-side conversation.
The gentlemen taking care of us from behind the bar were both as handsome as they were helpful — they attended to our food and drink orders quickly and accommodatingly, and they answered questions, made suggestions and kept everything moving in a clean and orderly fashion. What more could you ask for in terms of service?
Posting up at the bar also allowed me to take in my surroundings. I found myself crushing hard on how fresh and inviting 27 Bar + Kitchen is. Everything about the remodeled space, which used to be a thrift shop, fits the modern mold of hip restaurant styling — clean lines, minimalist decor, exposed brick, white granite, black trimmings — all aesthetically pleasing and sharp. The layout, plus the view into the kitchen and the subtle coffeehouse jams playing out rhythmically in the background, put me in my happy place.
After enjoying the aesthetics and indulging in some beverages — a mimosa for me and a bloody mary for my husband — we decided on food. As a couple that likes to share, we considered both of our moods before deciding on what to split.For an appetizer, we immediately gunned for the elote ($5; pronounced e-low-tay), a fire-roasted corn dip served with housemade tortilla chips. This was by far the very best thing we had. It was creamy, with a bit of a kick, and the perfect blend of sweetness and corn crunch. We ravaged every last chip to scoop up every last lick. The dish was so flavorful and satisfying.
After the elote, we split two entrées: the chef’s frittata ($10) and the breakfast tacos ($8). The frittata-of-the-day featured steak, onion and red pepper. The breakfast tacos had black beans, scrambled eggs, sautéed pepper and onions and chimichurri sauce placed on top of two tortillas.
Of the two, the tacos were my favorite. Each ingredient tasted fresh, and you could tell each was prepared by the kitchen to stand and shine on its own. And when put together on the tortillas, the combination was light and tasty. Nothing about the tacos felt overwhelming, dense or messy.
While the elote was killer and the tacos were great, the frittata can best be described as fine — it might have simply been the fact that it was overshadowed by its two predecessors, or it might have simply been a little too simple. The egg didn’t particularly shine, even though the steak itself did. But seeing as the ingredients in the frittata change at the will of the chef, I would give it another try because, much like the tacos, it wasn’t cheesy or heavy. So for that, I have to give it credit.
The roasted potatoes, which accompanied both dishes as a side, were as good as you could hope for. I was scooping bites of potato into my frittata, and also using a wedge or two to do a final savory sweep through the elote remnants.I was very impressed with 27 Bar + Kitchen; I would love to recommend it to friends and/or treat them to an easy brunch here one weekend this summer. And seeing how impressed I was with brunch, heading here for dinner (only offered on Friday or Saturday nights) is also now on my must-do list.
27 BAR + KITCHEN is located at 720 Monmouth St., Newport, Ky. More info: 27barkitchen.net.