Charlie prides himself on the work that goes into his food even before you place your order. He says originally he looked at having some products brought into the restaurant, but the quality just wasn’t what he wanted. “I found myself trying to doctor it up to what I wanted it to be,” he says. “So we just decided to make that stuff on our own. I didn’t want to count on someone else to bring me an inferior product when I can make it the way we want it.”
Items such as their ranch dressing, southwest and house barbecue sauces are all freshly made. Charlie found the perfect pickle to make their hand-battered and deep-fried pickles. Smoked meats are a constant on The Heist’s menu, and all of that gets done in a small smoker behind the restaurant. Charlie uses hickory and cherry for smoked chicken and pulled pork that is used in the sandwiches and wraps.
For a unique start to your meal, order the Cannon Balls. Bite-size pieces of fresh-cut chicken are paired with slices of jalapeno, onion and Swiss cheese. The whole thing is wrapped in a slice of hickory-smoked bacon and takes a swim in a deep-fryer. It’s served with housemade jalapeno ranch.
“It’s kind of our version of a boneless chicken wing,” Charlie says. “The jalapenos are cooked so it mellows it out a little bit and balances with the cheese and hickory flavor from the bacon.”
The popular appetizer is named after the cannonball that is embedded in a column at the Lafayette County Courthouse. The cannonball has been there since a Civil War battle in the town five years before Jesse James robbed the bank.
If you’re in the mood for a wrap, you’ll have plenty from which to choose. The popular Southwest Chicken Wrap features house-smoked and shredded chicken, bacon, onion ring, lettuce, shredded cheese, tomato and the house southwest sauce, which Charlie describes as more of a spicy mustard. That smoked chicken also is used in the Chicken Que Wrap along with Swiss American cheese, barbecue sauce and pineapple chunks. The wrap is grilled before hitting your table.
Sandwiches are the star of the show here. The Reuben is a favorite among Lexingtonians, but if you’re hungry, opt for The 1866, named for the year of James’ heist. The sandwich is a Reuben-Philly cheesesteak mashup. Corned beef and finely sliced sirloin are cooked on the flattop along with sauerkraut. The meat and kraut are placed between slices of toasted marble rye with Swiss cheese and a generous portion of Thousand Island dressing.
“It’s really a huge sandwich,” Charlie says. “It’s like a Reuben on steroids, so good.”