Discovering the BBC $5 lunch

Seems like it wasn’t that long ago that a $5 lunch was an easy thing to find. And I’m not talking about a McCombo meal, either — I mean something that actually resembles edible lunch at a place that makes food that didn’t come straight off an assembly line. Something that comes on an actual plate.

No, it seems the lunch price point has inched up to seven or eight bucks these days. Heck, even at Wendy’s you’re going to pay close to that for a fried sandwich, fries and a tall sugar water with a plastic lid on it.

So when I stumbled upon the $5 menu a few weeks ago at Bluegrass Brewing Co. in St. Matthews, I was at first dismissive. I was hungry but literally not hungry enough to buy from the regular menu. But I saw that five bucks would get me two chicken fingers and kettle chips, so I thought, “Why not?”

I expected two straight-from-the-bag, smallish tenders and a smattering of chips from a bag. What I got were two sizable, fresh-tasting, hand-breaded strips with a pile of thick and crunchy house-made chips. Not only was it far more tasty than I expected, I actually didn’t walk away hungry.

I filed the experience away and returned a few weeks later, skeptical that it had been more than a fluke. What I found was that BBC had added an item to the menu, upping the ante to eight options. The new item was the BBC Beer Brat. OK, now you have my attention.
So I ordered one, this time with slightly higher expectations, and darned if it didn’t impress equally to the chicken tenders. What I got was a big, meaty link that hung out of both ends of the bun. It was topped with crispy sauerkraut and BBC’s own house-made beer mustard. With it, the expected mound of chips.

With the first bite I knew it was a lunchtime win. The beer mustard had enough pepper and horseradish to offer some spice, and I was heartened that the bratwurst itself had plenty of flavor and some spice of its own. The casing was grilled to a charred, crisp finish, with the meat inside remaining tender and juicy.

Some of the bratwurst I’ve had over the years, quite frankly, don’t make it for me. Some of the commercial versions are less like true, ground German sausage and more like a gray hot dog, at least in texture. To me, that’s not the real deal. If the meat has the texture and mass of lunch meat, is it anything more than just that? A hot dog? Or a German-style bologna roll?

This one hit me in the right place. And did I mention it was only five bucks?

The menu isn’t short on options, either, with a quarter-pound cheeseburger and chips one of the selections, as well as a half order of BBC’s hot brown, which is an especially nice choice as long as this wretched cold weather hangs on.

You can also get a pair of barbecue sliders topped with slaw and onion straws, a classic BLT with spicy mayo, or a grilled cheese on sourdough bread (all served with chips). Finally, for five bucks you can also get half a turkey club and a cup of soup for $5, in addition to the aforementioned chicken tenders combo.

And, of course, if you sit at the bar you can enjoy the fun banter of the ever-present BBC regulars. Pretty much any afternoon you can pull up a stool and get an earful of conversation from these guys, who seem to mostly be retirees from the neighborhood. Can’t really put a price on that experience.

Both of my BBC lunches kind of have me on the lookout for more $5 deals like this. You know, five-buck meals that don’t involve food being handed to you in paper bags or on plastic trays – or that involve driving through on the way to your next stop.

If you have any favorites around the area (not just in Metro Louisville), send me an e-mail via LEO Weekly. I promise they’ll get it to me, and I promise I’ll respond. And for five bucks, there’s a very good chance I’ll go check it out.