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Lexington Ky Restaurants


Your Guide to Fine Dining



Glass Garden

Call it American, Traditional, Comfort Food or Family. Whatever we call it, there's still a place for those good old restaurants serving fried chicken, hot roast beef sandwiches, mashed potatoes and gravy, peas, apple pie, pancakes and all the other foods most of us grew up with. Fortunately, Lexington still has some very good restaurants that more or less fit into that category. Some serve traditional items with new twists. Some specialize in one kind of traditional fare, such as vegetarian. Some emphasize the Southern aspect of Kentucky's heritage, while others lean toward a more national menu. But they all feel vaguely familiar. You don't have to ask the waiter how to pronounce an entree, or what's in it, or how hot it is. Some of these restaurants have a historic feel. Ramsey's is in a house that looks like one we remember from our youth, whether one of our relatives lived in it, or just a neighbor down the street. The Springs is the oldest continuously running restaurant in Fayette County, having opened in 1948. Buddy's was known for most of a century as The Saratoga, the famous neighborhood social center when Lexington was much smaller and the Chevy Chase / Henry Clay area WAS the residential neighborhood. But these restaurants are not listed here simply because they have been around and serve familiar food. They are recommended because they are the best at preparing these foods. They fix them as well as Grandma used to. Some fix them better.


Buddy's took over the old Saratoga, which for a century had been the hangout for the Chevy Chase - Henry Clay crowd. Although they totally stripped out the old restaurant and updated it for the 21st Century, Buddy's is again becoming the local hangout. Mostly that's because of the great menu. No Grandma's cooking here. This is 21st Century New South. It starts with appetizers : Fried Pickles, Potato Ribbons With Garlic Dip, and Blue Corn Tortilla Chips. The new menu separates entrees by price. Traditional Hot Brown surfaces here as Buddy Brown, which includes sourdough and mornay sauce. Rather than a thick slice off the larger one, they fix your very own compact Meatloaf, which does tend to concentrate the flavor. We've liked the Salmon Croquettes each time we've ordered them, but the real star of the seafood show is the Scallops, which they grille with prosciutto, basil pesto and tomato caper concasse. There is, however, Salmon and Tuna, which they prepare very well either grilled or seared. If you're in the mood for steak, they offer Stuffed Sirloin, Chile Rubbed Strip, and Saratoga T Bone. 854 East High. From downtown, go East on High into Chevy Chase. At the main traffic light look for Buddy's on the corner to your right. A parking lot is on the backside of the block.

Ramsey's keeps its menu simple: 13 entrees, seven salads, a soup of the day, 21 vegetables and 15 sandwiches. If you've been hankering for good Chicken N Dumplings, this is it. Few restaurants still serve this item and it's so good you have to wonder why. You want to order the Soup of the Day when it's Chicken & Rice, Corn Chowder or Cheese. Among veggies, go for Honey Mustard Carrots, Fried Green Tomatoes, Yellow Squash and Onions, Apple Fritters, Creamed Corn and Mashed Potatoes & Gravy. Kids like their Macaroni & Cheese. The entrees are a more difficult choice. They're all great. In true Blue Grass Tradition, you can get Classic Hot Brown, Veggie Hot Brown or an Open Face Pot Roast Sandwich. If you like Chicken Livers, these are some of the best you've ever had. The Meat Loaf is outstanding. We like their Catfish (fixed as you'd like), Skillet Fried Pork Sirloin, and Pot Roast. Pork Chops in Ramsey's Red Sauce are memorable. One Grandma never fixed is Lemon Yogurt Chicken. For lunch, order Traditional Reuben, Zucchiniburger, or Meatloaf Sandwich. And here, above all other places, you MUST save room for the best pie in town. You order by the slice or the whole pie. There are 13 flavors, all served hot. They range from Peanut Butter to Butterscotch to Black Bottom and Black Cherry. 219 Woodland. East on High, left a block.

Hyatt Regency's Glass Garden is inside the atrium of the hotel adjacent to Rupp Arena. It's a great place to eat if you're on the way to a basketball game. Their one page menu is New Orleans influenced. The Soup Of The Day is always good, but their permanent Five Onion Soup is reliably delicious. Of the appetizers, we like the Seared Crab Cakes, sauteed lump crab with fire roasted red pepper sauce and yellow pepper minuet. They promote the Big Easy, a bowtie pasta mix of chicken, sausage, vegetables and Cajun cream. But we like the Gulf Coast, fettucini in garlic cream, shrimp, scallops, herbs and crabmeat. If you have kids, they'll be impressed with one of the three Flatbread Pizzas, especially the Formaggio, four cheeses with herbs and garlic oil. Among entrees, we recommend the Blackened Catfish, Shrimp and Grits, and Kentucky BBQ Pork Loin, tenderloin medallions seasoned in a Maker's Mark sauce. The Glass Garden lists its desserts on a separate menu which changes seasonally. Whenever their Key Lime Pie, Cheesecake or Mississippi Mud Pie are available, order them. Follow High Street to the Hyatt, turn left and park across the street.
Furlong's is back on East Main after starting there, trying two other places and deciding to come home. Furlong's considers itself a Louisiana restaurant. Among appetizers, we like their Bite Sized Catfish, Grilled Andouille, and Fried Crawfish Tails. There are several creative salads, like Crawfish Caesar, Pecan Spinach, and Zydeco Cobb. Furlong's offers four soups, all delicious : Crab Com Bisque, Red Beans and Rice, Jambalaya, and Seafood Gumbo. Their house specials are superb: Crawfish Etouffee, Crabmeat Augratin, Broiled Seafood Platter and Baked Duck. Entrees include 24 seafood items, more than some seafood restaurants. The Froglegs (sauteed or blackened) and Grilled Amberjack are the best. But they also include five poultry items, the best of which is the Quail, five pasta items, the best of which is the Crawfish Pasta, and five steaks. There are 10 side items which you can mix and match with whatever meal you order, and you also get the Furlong Salad. Save room for the Homemade Bread Pudding, surely one of the best desserts in town. 735 East Main. From downtown, drive east on Vine, then Main, and look left at the Ashland Avenue light.
Winchell's is famous for Fried Green Tomatoes, the best version in town of this classic dish. But we also endorse the Pork Quesadillas. The Tomato Basil and Loaded Potato Soup are excellent. This is one of the last stands of Kentucky Hot Brown: roast turkey, country ham, toast, Mornay cheese sauce, cheddar and parmesan cheese, bacon and tomato. Their Catfish Dinner ranks up there with Hall's. It's a hand breaded catfish filet with jalapeno cheese grits, vinegar slaw and homemade tartar. For lunch try the Grilled Portabella Sandwich. Save room for Bourbon Pecan Pie. 348 Southland Drive. From downtown, use South Broadway / Harrodsburg Road to Rosemont Garden, turn left, then turn right onto Southland. Winchells's is on your right over in the shopping center just before the Oleika Temple building.

At Alfalfa you know you're in for an adventure as soon as you see the drink list: Ale 8, Ginseng Ginger Ale, Seltzer, Cinammon Coffee, Twig Tea and Soy Milk. Among various eccentric appetizers, we recommend the Spinach Mushroom Quesadilla. Order the Soup Of The Day. It's often quirky but always great. The best salad is the Phoenix, a mix of greens, apple, raisen, cucumber, red onion, alfalfa sprouts, and sunflower seeds. Chalk Boards list daily specials. Entrees rotate by season, but when available, we like their Meat Loaf, a hearty blend of ground chuck, red bell peppers, garlic, red onion, eggs, worcestershire, bread crumbs, spices, roast red peppers and chipotle. If you saw Cat On A Hot Tin Roof and remember Big Daddy's love for Hoppin John, but never got to eat it yourself, this is your chance. Alfalfa makes the best Hoppin John of any restaurant in Kentucky. It contains black eyed peas, brown rice, creole tomato sauce, diced onions, green peppers, and cheddar cheese. That's the classic Southern recipe. If you go for lunch, three sandwiches stand out. The Grilled Avocado on Whole Wheat is a concoction of hummus, swiss, cheddar, avocado and tomatoes. The Smoked Turkey adds lettuce and a cranberry herb pesto. The Original Dagwood (from the comic strip) stacks city ham, country ham, turkey, bacon, lettuce, cranberry herb pesto, and white cheddar. Lunch or dinner, save room for Carrot Cake, which includes whole wheat and honey, or Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake. Alfalfa's is on Main Street, four blocks east of Triangle Park, across the street from the Public Library.

DeSha's reigns over Triangle Park, queen of the Victorian block beautifully restored around it. It's a classy and historic restaurant, great before or after an event in Rupp Arena. Try to get a window seat so you can look out on the park and downtown. Among appetizers, we like the Sampler, which includes potato skins, stuffed banana peppers and coconut chicken strips. They offer their own excellent versions of Kentucky Hot Brown and Fried Green Tomatoes. But they add a delicious Hot Prime Rib Sandwich, and Shephard's Pie, a deep dish pie of ground beef and vegetables baked in a flaky crust and topped with mashed potatoes and a Carbernet bordellaise. Kentuckians have been fixing this on the trail since the days of Daniel Boone and eating it in a fine restaurant is a real treat. Their Roasted Pork Loin features medallions of slow roasted pork loin glazed with a red currant sauce over mashed potatoes with fresh vegetables. DeSha's offers a 12 oz. ribeye and an 8 oz. filet mignon, both very competitive with full scale steak houses. If you stop for lunch, they change their Chile with the season. In Winter, it includes beef and red tomatoes. In Summer, it includes chicken with yellow tomatoes. There's a half pound Broadway Burger you won't find at any fast food outlet. Or try the Gardenburger, char grilled on a toasted onion bun with roasted garlic, red pepper, lettuce, tomato and onion. We're not big fans of Reubens, but theirs might convert us. 101 North Broadway. Directly across the street from Triangle Park. Avoid noon hour.

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