Whimsy and history coincide in walkable New Albany

by | Places, Featured Destinations

Culinary Crossroads is heading back to the New Albany area for our third On the Road dinner in Southern Indiana. The May 21 collaborative chef dinner takes place at Huber Winery’s Plantation Hall and features three of Southern Indiana’s top chefs: Logan Hostettler of the 1894 Lodge, Vanessa Felix-Goode of V’s Gourmet to Go and Prosser Career Education Center and Liz Martino of Mesa Kids Cooking School. With that in mind, we thought we’d take another look at New Albany with this piece from 2023.

With a rich history, an array of global dining experiences and many attractions for all ages, the walkable downtown of New Albany offers a great example of ever-evolving small-town America, where history and creativity coincide. The eye-catching Lady Tron restaurant offers the perfect example of this juxtaposition – a delicious experience in an architecturally incongruous location. The pre-fab diner, built in 1957 and situated on a busy downtown corner, began as a burger joint called Little Chef, but owners Summer and Alexa Sieg have created a whimsical sci-fi-themed restaurant that is sure to make visitors smile.

Outside the small building, a lifesize, Jetson-like waitron beckons passersby. Inside, the 10-seat diner is decorated with memorabilia from sci-fi movies and TV shows from the last 60 years. While it might seem museum-like, a sense of fun and whimsy permeates with Darth Vader figurines holding the napkins amid the lava lamps’ glow. The owners will even pop-in DVDs like 2009’s “Monsters vs. Aliens.”

Both Summer and Alexa have backgrounds in the food and hospitality industry. Summer is the chef, while Alexa waits on the customers, serving the fresh-made soups and sandwiches.

The small but varied menu features popular sandwiches with names honoring well-known female science fiction characters. You’ll find the LT for Lady Tron (“Tron: Legacy,” 2010), a hamburger with bacon and a green chile-cheese sauce; the Ripley (“Alien” series, 1979 – 2018), a pulled chicken tossed in a blueberry molasses and topped with sesame slaw; the Jane (an homage to Jane Fonda’s “Barbarella,” 1968), a grilled cheese stuffed with smoked gouda and provolone; the Starbuck (“Battlestar Galactica,” 2004 – 2009 ), a Polish sausage with five-bean soup and a jalapeno corn cake; and the Uhura (Star Trek’s translator and communications officer), crunchy deep fried cod, coated in a creamy garlic and jalapeno slaw. And for dessert, patrons can enjoy sweetened grilled cheeses, the Leia (“Stars Wars, “1977) or the Scully (TV’s “The X-Files,” 1993 – 2002).

It’s fitting that the restaurant provides such a creative take on comfort food, as New Albany is also a hub of the arts in Southern Indiana. Strolling around the area, visitors discover that the area abounds with art galleries and studios showcasing the works of local creators. The Carnegie Center for Art and History stands a block away, highlighting the city’s commitment to freedom of expression and providing exhibitions that celebrate the region’s cultural heritage.

But beyond its restaurants and galleries, New Albany also offers Underground Railroad history. A few blocks from the center, the Town Clock Church provided one of the first stops for those fleeing slavery. Additionally, the train station provided access and passage to those heading further north for safety.
Whether exploring New Albany’s history, culture or restaurants and nightspots, the town leaves an indelible mark, making visitors look forward to the next tasty visit.

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