Gastropub is an elusive term. A British device, at its core, a gastropub is a bar or tavern or (since we are talking about the English) pub that specializes in high-quality beers (or ales or lagers – remember it is the United Kingdom) and serves food beyond fish and chips. But that definition doesn’t begin to capture the restrained pomp of true gastropubs, which skew toward the swanky side while trying not to betray the musty romanticism or nostalgia of an authentic English pub.
To this effect, The Village Idiot does a pretty brilliant job as a downtown Lexington gastropub.
Quartered in the completely renovated historic building that was once home to Metropol (perhaps an unintentional nod to the bygone Franco-British cross-Channel rivalry), the establishment boasts options for both upstairs and downstairs dining and imbibing, as well as a beer list, both draft and bottled, longer than stops on London’s Tube. If you’re unfamiliar with Trappist beers or Belgian darks or lights or lambics or even the more venerable domestic craft breweries, you might want to visit the restaurant’s website, which lists their inventory, and do some quick reconnaissance. Of course you could order Miller Lite or Bud Light, but that’s not the Old Country spirit, and you’ll probably get the stink eye from your barman.
If you’re peckish, needing some nosh while you’re on the lash, The Village Idiot has a small, but novel, menu of light bar snacks, small plates for sharing, salads, sandwiches and entrees.
The bar snacks include items such as bread and butter pickles ($4), black truffle popcorn ($6), Scotch egg ($7) and bourbon trail mix ($4), while the small plates get even more inventive, with dishes such as lamb sliders ($11), pork belly en croute (wrapped in a pastry dough; $11), shrimp hushpuppies ($7), mussels ($8 - $18) and a harvest platter of artisan cheeses and charcuterie ($14). The Village Idiot’s house-cut chips (French fries) are also very popular, and can be ordered with an assortment of unique sauces.
The entree options are very interesting. You won’t find bangers and mash, but there is a “French interpretation” of the shepherd’s pie (the heresy). There’s also duck and waffles, the Anglo answer to the South’s chicken and waffles ($17), a crab macaroni and cheese dish (with Lexington Pasta Co. conchiglie and truffle peelings; $14), scallop and foie gras benedict ($19), ham hock ragout ($17) and pan-roasted airline chicken ($16).
Before dinner, we ordered the harvest platter and lamb sliders, and both were excellent selections to get things rolling. The platter was a large and highly assorted tray of various cheeses (I remember a bleu cheese and drunken goat - my favorite) and charcuteries. For our meals we tried the duck and waffles, mac and cheese, and the shepherd’s pie, and each of these dishes was well prepared and tasty.
Be sure to connect with The Village Idiot via Facebook or Twitter if you’re interested in hearing about their ever-changing rotation of draft or bottled beers.
The Village Idiot
307 W. Short St.
5 p.m. - 12 a.m. Sun. – Wed.
5 p.m. 1 a.m. Thurs. – Sat.