When Lilly’s Bistro, the venerable establishment on Bardstown Road with famous chef Kathy Cary at the helm, comes to mind, you think of eating there for special occasions and fancy dinners. Lose those preconceived notions, and head over to Lilly’s for lunch, where you can get a five-star meal for an incredibly reasonable price.

Lilly’s has one of our favorite lunch menus in town, so it was only fitting that we picked it for our recent StyleBlueprint holiday lunch. It was a perfect intimate setting for us to feast on entrées and desserts. Turns out that half of Louisville was onto our idea, as well, with a packed dining room for lunch on a Thursday.

Kathy Cary has reopened La Peche to the delight of Louisvillians. Image credit: Adele Reding Photography.

Kathy Cary shown here making her famous chicken pot pie, crimping the crust by hand. Image: Adele Reding Photography

Chef Kathy was nice enough to come out from the kitchen to visit with us. After we chatted with her, she went around the room saying hi to guests and friends before returning to the kitchen. As always, she was calm, cool and collected, in spite of a packed house in the middle of a busy holiday season. There’s a reason she has been one of the most successful chefs and restaurateurs in Louisville for so long: she is a consummate professional.

Instead of a typical restaurant review, I had our team write up their thoughts on our meal. Unfortunately, we forgot to take pictures of the desserts (yes, that was plural!), but just know that we licked the plates clean. Lilly’s has wonderful specials every day for lunch, usually including changing seasonal soups and entrées. They also have a prix fixe lunch for $19 that includes a salad, entrée and dessert. You would be hard-pressed to get a three-course lunch this delicious anywhere else in town for this price.

Here’s a rundown of everything we had for lunch:

First, just going out to lunch is great, but going to a white tablecloth restaurant is such a treat. We started with homemade bread with olive oil and pink Himalayan salt that was delicious and simple.

sb lillys bread and himalyan salt

Homemade bread with olive oil and pink Himalayan salt to start

Warm Thai Shrimp Salad

This dish is far from your classic idea of a salad, but in the very best way possible. Served in a shallow bowl, the shrimp were cooked to plump perfection and presented swimming in a slightly spicy, warm soup of coconut curry. A bed of wilted napa cabbage brought along the “salad” element and was spiked with a sweet mango salsa. A final shower of crispy won tons added a welcome crunch and the ideal texture to round out a very satisfying lunch experience! — Lindsey McClave, contributing writer

sb lillys warm shrimp

Warm Thai Shrimp Salad with fried won tons, warm coconut curry, sautéed Gulf shrimp, napa cabbage and mango salsa, $12

Chicken Pot Pie

Lilly’s has one of the best chicken pot pies in town. So good, that on the menu, just one description is needed: “Chef Kathy Cary’s classic dish.” It is small, but mighty, and very filling. When Kathy says classic, she means classic. As with any other chicken pot pie, this one has shiitake mushrooms, haricots verts, sun-dried tomatoes and, of course, chicken, in a deliciously creamy rosemary sauce topped with a golden brown crust. It’s so good that Lilly’s café, La Peche, sells them frozen so that you can pick up a few and pop them in the oven for a delicious dinner. — Krista Walker, photographer & contributing writer 

sb lillys chicken pot pie

Chef Kathy Cary’s classic dish: chicken pot pie, $13

Caesar Salad

I’ve had a lot of chicken Caesar salads in my life. Me, being the picky eater that I am, when I find something I like, I tend to order it everywhere I go. Chicken Caesar salad happens to be one of those things. While it seems to taste relatively the same everywhere I order it, it’s different at Lilly’s.

The moment the plate was placed in front of me, I wasn’t intimidated by it. You know how you can be working on a salad for a solid 20 minutes and it seems like you haven’t made a dent in it? This isn’t one of those salads. Both the lettuce and the chicken tasted fresh, and the dressing was so creamy. The colors blended so naturally, and as silly as this sounds, this salad brought a smile to my face. — Elizabeth Gerber, Client Success Representative & contributing writer

sb lillys caeser salad

Caesar salad with romaine hearts, grits croutons, pickled onion plus chicken, $12

Curried Broccoli Soup

The curried broccoli soup, $6, was delicious!  I love curry in about any dish, and the texture was phenomenal! It tasted rich, but not heavy, like it was weighed down by a gallon of cream. The broccoli was still in soft florets. I never would have thought to add curry to my soups at home, but now I have been inspired! Mmmmm. (Unfortunately, we forgot to snap a picture of this beautiful soup.) — Meghan Tinker, sales manager

Fish Tacos (Daily Special)

Blackened fish with homemade tortillas grilled to perfection were the special this day. They were topped with fresh, crunchy cabbage, aioli and an avocado cream sauce. — Meghan Tinker, sales manager

sb lillys fish tacos

Fish tacos were the special of the day, with blackened fish topped with cabbage, aioli and an avocado cream sauce. The prices of the daily specials are subject to change.

Lilly’s Frites

Kathy is a genius for putting these frites on the appetizer menu, because they are definitely best shared at the table. Friends, when you are sharing fries, the calories don’t count. Also genius is pairing these crisp, but tender, perfectly seasoned, fried potatoes with the best condiment on the planet, green goddess dressing. These frites, topped with truffle sea salt, were not long for this world. — Heidi Potter, editor