by Michele Pam Wright
Fort Thomas residents Rick Zumwalde and wife Roxanne hatched a great idea, a casually elegant southern bistro that specializes in Rick’s famous fried chicken while also offering an outstanding choice of bourbons, an international selection of wines, and local craft beers.
Rick, the executive chef, said he wanted the cuisine to be reminiscent of Charleston and New Orleans with a Kentucky infusion. The restaurant, located in Dayton, KY, had its grand opening on March 15th, and has been pulling in foodies from all over Greater Cincinnati.
When you walk through the doors, you’re instantly captivated by enticing aromas as well as the friendly French Country décor. Two charming chandeliers hang at the front of the restaurant and the tables are set with white linen tablecloths and purple napkins. Touches of purple, a rooster motif, and some beautiful reclaimed wood from a Campbell County barn are seen throughout the restaurant along with a few bourbon barrels in one corner next to a highly polished wooden bar. Photographs of Bourbon distilleries hang on the walls to complete the look.
For nine years, Rick was the executive chef at the Milan Railroad Inn in Indiana which is known for their award-winning fried chicken. His previous experience also includes chef at the Cincinnati Club and Banker’s Club downtown, executive chef at the Quality Inn revolving restaurant in Covington, U.S. Foods, Christ Hospital, The Beaumont Inn in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, and Wood Brothers (formerly Town and Country in Ft. Wright).
Rick’s wife and partner, Roxanne, works full-time at another job while also working as the restaurant’s house manager. Rick said her hard work and support played a huge part in making this dream a reality.
The Purple Poulet has a large selection of appetizers and side dishes on the menu including the popular “”Sweet Potato Beignets” which are fried sweet potatoes drizzled with maple syrup, sprinkled with crumbled bacon, some Mascarpone cheese, and a touch of ganache.
There are four different options of oysters to choose from as well as four options of fresh baked biscuits. Rick recommends the country ham biscuit which includes Mascarpone and bourbon pepper peach jam along with the ham. Soup and salad are also an option including Turtle Soup “Au Sherry.”
While Rick’s claim to fame is his fried chicken, the menu also includes catfish, salmon, pulled pork, and a vegetarian dish called Farmers Market just to name a few. The two favorites are The Bird, which is Rick’s ultimate fried chicken, and the Fried Chicken and Waffle, described as fried chicken, a sweet potato bacon cornbread waffle, pecan butter, and maple-bourbon syrup. Every entrée will give you something to crow about.
Rick also recommends the Bourbon Fried Catfish and the Voodoo Salmon with Saffron Purloo. Some interesting sides are the Bourbon Mashed Sweet Potatoes, the Bloody Mary Infused Root Veggies, and the Grilled Asparagus with Pecan Butter. He stressed that revising items on the menu to meet dietary needs is usually not a problem.
Desserts include a Cola Cake with peanut butter fudge frosting and served with fresh strawberries. Also available is Blood Orange Sorbet, Coconut Layer Cake, Bread Pudding with warm caramel bourbon sauce, a flaming butterscotch Creme Brûlée, Kentucky Tiramisu which is ladyfingers marinated in bourbon with a sweet potato custard, Cobbler, and regionally made ice creams with names like Honey Bourbon and Buttermilk Blackberry.
Rick has an expansive knowledge of bourbon and uses it throughout the menu. He’s looking forward to adding “Pappy Van Winkle” bourbon to his generous selection as soon as possible and describes it as having a cult following. When a large local party store had some shipped in, a huge crowd of people camped out similar to buying tickets to a popular music concert. It sold out in one day.
The quality bourbons offered are described as “sipping bourbons.” One of Rick’s favorite bourbons available is Booker’s. Rick said his dad went to high school with Booker Noe, Jim Beams grandson, who created Booker’s. It’s a small batch bourbon produced by the Jim Beam distillery, has the highest alcohol content of the Jim Beam brands, and is aged between six and eight years. Bookers won a score of 95 from Wine Enthusiast Magazine in 2014 and Proof66 put Bookers in the Top 90th percentile of all whiskies.
Along with quality bourbons, The Purple Poulet offers an international wine selection as well as craft beers from the Greater Cincinnati area and Lexington, Kentucky.
Visit soon and you’ll agree that The Purple Poulet rules the roost with a totally Southern experience that will pamper your taste buds. You can easily find them on 6th Avenue in Dayton, Kentucky in the heart of the Central Business District.
They’re open from 5-10 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday at 603 6th Avenue in Dayton, Kentucky. Tip, you may want to call in a reservation.