Thursday, June 1, 2017
Kirchhoff's Bakery in Paducah, KY
While some parts of small town America are becoming homogenized and others are dying out, some seem to thriving. The secret seems to be small business, whether breweries, an arts scene, breweries, dining foodies can appreciate, or breweries. I can only speak from a single afternoon as a tourist, but it seemed Paducah, Kentucky is one if those small towns finding its place in contemporary times. The true measure for me, of course, is the dessert scene.
Wandering Paducah’s easily walkable downtown, we passed a homemade ice cream shop, a soon-to-be-open rolled ice cream purveyor and a bakery. But Kirchhoff’s Bakery & Deli is not one of those “iced brownie with your white bread sandwich” places; it is an institution bubbling over with superior offerings, crowded with folks there for a quality lunch and delectable sweets at shockingly low prices. The only thing I didn’t like about the place was how I could never try it all in such a short trip…which, among problems, is a good one to have.
Looking in the display case, it is awfully tough to make a decision. I always like to ask the workers, who are often local authorities on what is best vs. merely popular. I was directed to the very item that had caught my eye, the Chocolate Chip Cheesecake bar, my favorite of the four desserts I purchased. The bar was a unique take on the more common cheesecake brownie, swapping in cookie bars for the brownie. Pairing of cheesecake with cookies? Of course it’s good! I started nibbling it while my friends were getting coffee and, even though I tried to pace myself, discovered the futility of trying to do so with such a delicious treat; I had scarfed it in full before my friends made it to the café table. The turkey pesto sandwich on homemade ciabatta with a cup of chili was also excellent and the price a steal. I ate my half of that before moving on to the next dessert. Additionally, we brought back two mini pies (a mere $3.50 each) which made our evening so much more delicious.
So if you find yourself in Paducah, or just passing by on I-24, stop in at Kirchhoff’s and treat yourself. You can enjoy your items there, sitting at one of the café tables out front on the market street, or you can take it with you on a walk over to the river front, enjoying the flood wall’s many historic murals. Perhaps you’ll wander over to Allen’s Music to play some of their unique and vintage stringed instruments. Or visit the National Quilt Museum, where arts and crafts are synonymous. Just know that Kirchhoff’s isn’t the only reason to stop in Paducah; the still ticking heart of small town America is there, waiting to be heard.