EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was written and was scheduled to run just as the pandemic required businesses to close, which was just as Barn8 was supposed to open. The restaurant is now open, though, and the article has been appropriately updated.
Tucked away on a quiet street in Goshen, KY, there sits a 19th-century structure originally used as farm storage. It was later transformed into a dairy barn and eventually became building number eight of Hermitage Farm’s horse stables. The gorgeously restored barn has since received a fresh, black coat of paint, and a bold red “8” is affixed just above the upstairs window.
Now known as Barn8 Restaurant, the carefully designed building boasts aesthetics chosen to reflect the heritage of Hermitage Farm, which owners Steve Wilson and Laura Lee Brown purchased in order to save the 683 acres of land from being developed. Exposed wood and a wrought-iron handrail, combined with the barn’s original tin roof and rafters, offer an authentic farm feel — while art from Steve and Laura Lee’s personal collection is sprinkled throughout, elevating the look of the space.
With one of the property’s three-zone, climate-controlled greenhouses just a stone’s throw away, Barn8 is a true farm-to-table eatery. Inside the nursery, scents of citrus from Calamondin orange trees permeate the air, while a living wall adorns the space above a set of saloon doors.
Designed by Josh Samples, a horticulturist based in London, KY, the wall features everything from ivy and asparagus fern to spider plants and pothos. The bulk of the Barn8 flora, however, is one room over; horticulturist Stephanie Tittle sees to it that the plant life here provides the restaurant’s kitchen staff with plenty of fresh ingredient options. “This is where we’ll grow things for the restaurant,” she says, gesturing toward the rows of various herbs, teas and other potted plants, including bay leaves. “The kitchen staff can come in and pop a leaf off.”
RELATED: 10 New Louisville Restaurants to TryStephanie says some of the greenhouse plants will eventually be put into the ground, while others will be on a rotating schedule, providing the kitchen with a constant, varying supply. “We just really wanted to try to highlight what we do,” she says. “I hope we can provide [the restaurant with] more options and ingredients.” She adds that with plans to add so many different fruits and vegetables as time goes on, the greenhouses will be in a constant state of development for at least the next five years. “Each time you come to visit,” she says, “it should be more and more lush, and you should see change.”
“The summer will be fun,” Steve adds, “because it’ll all grow in. It’s exciting to finally come together.”
“Based on what’s growing is how they’re going to draw their menu,” Stephanie says. This means fun new flavors and dishes for patrons to try — with changes not just seasonally, but almost daily. While focusing on sustainable ingredients from the property gardens and greenhouse, Executive Chef Alison Settle is also working with neighboring farms to incorporate bison, beef, pork and chicken into the ever-changing menu.
Barn8 Restaurant’s seating options include long, communal, reclaimed wood farm tables in the center of the barn, individual dining rooms that have been adapted from the barn’s original stalls, a private dining area and an open kitchen area with a chef’s bar.
Dinner might start with vadouvan sweet potato bisque, with cellared potatoes, parsnip, house vadouvan, crunchy lentils, and nasturtium and watercress raita. The tasty soup could then be followed by Wiesenberger Grits campanelle, sherry-roasted oyster mushrooms, fermented shiitake, greenhouse marjoram and Parmigiano. Finally, for the main course, Alison may prepare a pan-seared Groce Family Farm pork chop with duck fat fingerling potato salad, tarragon and Italian salsa verde. For dessert, a tahini cheesecake with oat crust, lime confit, cinnamon spice brittle, Thai basil and mint.
Of course, a meal here wouldn’t be complete without a libation. The Bourbon Bar & Lounge at Barn8 includes rare whiskeys, select spirits — and of course — bourbon. In addition to guided bourbon tastings offered throughout the day, full bottles of whiskey are available for purchase in the one-of-a-kind bourbon library. This curated collection contains every brand available on Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail, as well as certain selections from craft distilleries and other popular brands.
There’s also an innovative cocktail program that utilizes foraged ingredients Alison has also incorporated into her dishes. Guests can enjoy Southern-themed cocktails such as a “The Hissy Fit,” with el Jimador Reposado, lime, acacia honey syrup, grapefruit liqueur, pink Himalayan sea salt and cinnamon bitters; or a “Bless Your Heart,” with vodka, cava and Calamondin orange syrup made from the greenhouse fruits.
After postponing its March grand opening due to COVID-19 then offering curbside carry out in April, Barn8 finally welcomed its first in-person dining customers on May 22. “We’re delighted to be open now,” says Steve. “It’s a beautiful time of year to be out in the country — and it’s important to realize the country is not so far away.”
He feels that Barn8 is at an advantage for social distancing due to its partitioned horse stall dining areas, and its picnic tables on the terrace are especially beneficial. “Outdoor dining restrictions are not as stringent,” he explains.
Steve adds that all staff members are carefully following regulations, including checking temperatures, wearing masks and providing masks to guests who do not have their own. “We’re doing everything we can to make sure it’s a healthy atmosphere.”
Barn8 Restaurant and Bourbon Bar is located at 10510 West Highway 42 in Goshen, KY. Hours of operation are Wednesday through Sunday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Reservations can be made online or by calling (502) 398-9289.
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