September 22, 2018
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Savory Delights

Henderson gastropub is flavor mecca
Dr. Mark Logan, left, stands with co-owner Jayson Munoz, in Commonwealth Kitchen + Bar in Henderson, Ky.

Take everything you know about dining out in the Tri-State and throw it out the window. Approaching Henderson’s newest gastropub, Commonwealth Kitchen + Bar, with a clean slate is the best way to soak in all the new experiences in this Kentucky restaurant.

Your bourbon will be smoked.

Your Manhattan will be sweetened with homemade apple butter jam.

Your meal is not your own, it’s to share.

Your food looks global but is sourced locally.

The word “different” doesn’t begin to describe what CKB’s owners, Jayson Munoz (who you may know from his other restaurant, Kanpai Sushi Asian Bistro in Evansville) and Dr. Mark Logan (a local ear, nose, and throat surgeon with an interest in food and wine), have created.

“Mark and I both travel all the time,” says Munoz. “And it was really all our travels that sparked this idea of CKB. We would go to Nashville, Chicago, New York, Dallas, everywhere, and have all this incredible food and then come home and say, ‘Why not here?’”

Commonwealth Kitchen + Bar opened in downtown Henderson in January with a diverse menu geared around sharing small plates (think tapas, but larger portions). Instant classics were the New Orleans shrimp, which swims in a sea of savory Worcestershire, Creole seasoning, and pepper sauce; the tender cumin-seared tuna with guacamole and a soy lime reduction; and the inventive Cuban-style pork shanks, covered in a house-made buffalo or bourbon honey mustard sauce. And, of course, I can’t mention CKB without mentioning the “not like grandma’s” Brussels sprouts. I’ve yet to figure out what the secret ingredient is that makes them so addictive, but they have their own fan following. If you don’t believe me, just read the chalkboard walls in the restrooms; there’s always at least one “I love the sprouts!” mention (two, if you count the ones I write).

I’ve dined at CKB every Thursday night since opening day in January, and I’ve learned to expect change. From the beer selection to the menu, it can and will evolve on a weekly basis, but the changes always come with an undertone of excitement and energy. Instead of questioning it, I roll with it. It’s likely because the two owners just got back from (insert city here) and have this awesome new idea for (insert dish here). I like to think of it as having two personal chefs who scour the globe to bring the back the best of the best for me to try. (And the rest of the Tri-State, too!)

What I’m most looking forward to is watching CKB grow up — literally. The second floor, which until now has served as an apartment, is currently being renovated into a private party room. When completed, the private dining room will feature an original brick fireplace, hardwood floors, private kitchen, restrooms with a river view, and an amazing rooftop deck. I’ve been on several of the rooftop patios in historic downtown Henderson, and while the views are amazing, there’s nothing quite like CKB’s vantage point. Not only can you see the Ohio River and Audubon Mill Park, you’re close enough to be part of the action when those areas come to life in the form of the summer concert series at the Riverfront Amphitheater, the Homegrown Bluegrass and Creative Arts Festival, and the W.C. Handy Blues & Barbecue Festival. Munoz says he and Logan have already devised a plan for the deck’s transformation that will include plenty of plants, comfortable lounge furniture, and a fire pit.

“When we’re done, it’s going to feel like you’re on a rooftop in New York, or Chicago,” Munoz says. “It will be first class all the way.”

And coming from these two, who pack enough creativity, energy, and ideas to fill a space five times that of their current digs, I tend to believe them.

Location: 108 Second St., Henderson, Ky., 42420
Phone: 270-212-2133
Dining Hours: Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Website: www.ckbhenderson.com
Adult Beverages: Yes
Prices: $6-9
Payment: Accepts all major credit cards

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