- 738 York St., Newport, KY, 41071
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- 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Art gallery open during restaurant hours.
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The building that currently houses Newport icon York St. Café has been home to several institutions since it was built in the late 1880s - a pharmacy and a family-run furniture business to name a few - but its current iteration has to take the prize for its most creative use yet.
Under the conduction of Terry and Betsy Cunningham since 1997, York St. has become a bit of an artist's mecca. Music, art shows, specialty parties and even the occasional ballroom dancing class have been found on one of its four floors.
The café also has outdoor seating and recently opened a shop next door to showcase more items that demonstrate the vibrant feel, including some impressive art by Betsy Cunningham herself.
A personal favorite for several years running, I was only too eager to revisit it in order to enjoy the atmosphere.
My mom and I met for lunch there on a recent Thursday afternoon and as usual, we didn't leave disappointed.
We were whisked to our table quickly, finding ourselves amidst a busy dining area filled with chattering patrons.
So many things could catch your eye first. Large, classical shelves line the walls, filled with everything from books and lamps to Pez dispensers and stuffed toys, all trinkets of the Cunninghams' clear love affair with the vintage American collectible.
The tabletops are covered with cloths of varying design - ours had a koala - along with unique pictures and postcards.
Our waiter Carl truly knew his stuff, not only relaying the daily specials, but being kind enough to tell all about the history of the building and the café's events, some of which he creates and coordinates - York St. Café not only attracts artists, but employs them as well.
When it was time to order drinks, I went with a Coke (served in a classic glass bottle) and Mom requested orange ginger mint tea, for $2.25 each. York St. also offers a wide selection of domestic and foreign beer, as well as various wines.
I kept lunch on the basic side of things with a cheeseburger ($7.95) and subbed in a small side salad ($3) for the chips. Mom went in the other direction, choosing the stylistically presented smoked salmon ($9) with capers, onions, sour cream and baguette.
Our food was brought out promptly and accurately, despite the busy lunch crowd the wait staff was contending with. My burger was cooked perfectly and was tasty to the last bite, and Mom enjoyed her salmon. The decision was unanimous: the food did the trick.
I had to at least ask about what the dessert menu looked like, even though I was more than full. Carl mentioned a few of the must-try items: the opera cream cake and the chocolate hazelnut flourless torte at $5 each. Beverage options include café mocha ($3) and breve for $3.25.
York Street Café set the bar high for unique dining experiences quite a long time ago. Next time you're looking for charming dining or are simply in the mood for a pick-me-up, consider a trip here.
Appetizers: Flippin' good shrimp with pomegranate and butter sauce ($9)
Boards: Samplers for the table, including the Mediterranean board of hummus, tabouleh and babaganoush and served with a side of Greek salad, spanakopita and warm pita bread ($18)
Vegetarian: Veggie burger ($12)
Entrees: Free range Amish chicken with applewood-smoked bacon with hard cider cream sauce ($23)