Keystone Bar & Grill in Covington (313 Greenup St., 859-261-6777) is known for its mac and cheese. In fact, they offer a mac and cheese menu. My mission on a recent Sunday, however, was brunch. We arrived just after 11 a.m. to find the restaurant nearly full and met up with friends. The space is bright and welcoming, unlike many bars in the light of day. It’s large and comfortable, and outdoor seating is available. Keystone's libation menu (prices range from $5-$8; a regular bar menu is also available) provides several varieties of Bloody Mary, mimosa concoctions and cocktails, and the brunch menu offers everything from the traditional (frittatas for $8.99) to the colossal (the Paul Bunyan at $9.99).
If you arrive closer to lunchtime, burgers, soups, salads and wings are available ($4-$9), and, for the nostalgic foodie, Keystone also brings back the legendary Inn The Wood Potato Crisp (three varieties for $7.99-$8.99 full, $5.99 half). We ordered up the vegetarian version of the full potato crisp (spinach, tomatoes, onion, cheese and sour cream) for the table, a Paul Bunyan (home fries topped with buttermilk biscuits, goetta gravy, eggs and cheese), a Breakfast Sandwich (a BLT with fried egg, onion and horseradish mayo, $7.99), the Keystone French Toast (graham cracker and ginger snap-encrusted Texas toast with Grand Marnier whipped cream, $8.99), Biscuits and Gravy (buttermilk biscuits with goetta gravy, $7.99) and a vegetarian Frittata (artichoke hearts, spinach, roasted red peppers, $8.99).
We all agreed that the Paul Bunyan was by far the best dish that day. Even though we all ended up stuffed to the gills, we wanted to order another one. Every bite was a revelation of biscuit, gravy (not goetta but the vegetarian version you can substitute for no extra charge), crisply cooked home fries, egg and cheese. I could see it being perfect hangover food, and one plateful is enough to keep you full until dinner. The biscuits and gravy were exactly what they were supposed to be: filling and comforting, if a bit under-seasoned.
I enjoyed the French Toast but perhaps a thicker cut of bread would be a nice change. The Grand Marnier whipped cream was clearly made fresh that morning and was delectable, and the crunch of the graham crackers and ginger snaps was a lovely change from traditional French toast. The Inn The Wood Potato Crisp was wonderful, full of flavor and was devoured quickly. The hash browns were perfectly browned, and the vegetable filling was bright and tasty.
Sad to say, however, I wasn't as impressed with the Breakfast Sandwich — the table as a whole found the Frittata disappointing. Through every fault of my own, I didn't think to ask how the fried eggs on the sandwich would be prepared. I assumed that they would be over-easy, allowing the yolk to saturate the sandwich when it was cut. True to the menu description, the eggs were simply "fried" — the yolks were broken in the pan and allowed to cook through. The horseradish mayonnaise was delightful, however; sharp and spicy and delicious.
As a whole, the Keystone does brunch beautifully. I would return time and again just for the Potato Crisp and the Paul Bunyan.
CONTACT CANDACE MILLER-JANIDLO: [email protected]