Sara Bradley is the chef/owner of Freight House – Paducah. She is also Top Chef Kentucky runner-up, Top Chef World All Stars runner-up and National Chopped Champion.
I’m not going to lie. Paducah, Kentucky is a small town of 25,000 at the confluence of the Tennessee and Ohio rivers well off the beaten path. If you want to go there you plan the trip as a destination. Here’s the rub, it’s worth the trip and that’s the definition of a Michelin three-star restaurant. Michelin has no clue where Paducah, Ky is, but that doesn’t matter. I promise you will leave satisfied, with a fatter wallet than dining at one of those three star joints.
The large open dining area with a bar tucked into a corner is stylish and inviting. The casual atmosphere is down-home friendly and the menu full of culinary gems. Sara is in the house most evenings (when she is not off conquering the world in cooking competitions) and makes the time to greet guests like they are long lost friends. Wait. Most are local friends, but travelers frequent the restaurant more often these days as word of her talent spreads.
Inspired Southern is the description for her cuisine and uses as much locally grown ingredients as possible. It’s created by Sara, her kitchen staff and her mom that works alongside them.
Her renowned matzo ball soup wasn’t on the menu, but I recreated it and you can find the recipe here.
Dinner with Sara Bradley at Freight House – Paducah
Pre-dinner cocktail with bourbon, amaro, walnut bitters and a cherry hit the spot.
“Whooped” ricotta tart with brown butter, tomato preserves, pine nut pesto and fresh greens. A perfect app.
Griddled meatloaf with loaded potato salad, bacon and house potato chips. It’s a perfect example of taking old standbys and raising them to another level.
Parisian gnocchi with confit mushrooms, black garlic, preserved lemon, persilade and watercress.
Shrimp and grits with spicy pork shank, button mushrooms, bbq sauce and pimiento cheese was a heavenly take on a classic dish.
Sara’s mom makes the desserts and her signature dish is sweet pea cake. Delicious, perfect ending!