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Lexington Ky Restaurants


Your Guide to Fine Dining



Cafe On The Park
The Dish
Holly Hill Inn
Melting Pot
Contemporary restaurants see themselves as 21st Century cutting edge purveyors of the culinary arts. They employ chefs who have trained, been certified, and interned elsewhere. Menus tend to be shorter, often only a page, so the kitchen can concentrate on a few items done very, very well. Presentation becomes as important as the food itself. These restaurants draw from all modern cuisines, mixing Mexican, Indian, French and whatever else they find appropriate. Portions tend to be smaller, as they try to impress with exquisite taste rather than volume. Creativity is on display, as they take common dishes and prepare them in new and unanticipated ways. Since fresh ingredients are needed for their artistry to achieve its fullest effect, they place emphasis on locally raised meat and produce, so these restaurants have worked out relationships with farms, wineries, cheesemakers, orchards, and other suppliers within 100 miles of Lexington. In many ways, these restaurants take food back over 100 years, when all restaurants bought from farmers markets and area sources the day they prepared the food. Prices tend to be somewhat higher , because these chefs demand higher pay, the locally bought food brings higher prices, and the kitchens require sophisticated equipment. The Melting Pot is the offbeat member of this group. It's fondue rather than gourmet and is not chef based but the way it reinterprets fondue cooking with a contemporary flair still places it here.
Azur is the most upscale restaurant in Beaumont, with a very New York style decor and a cutting edge menu. Finest of the appetizers is the Fondue. You'll get a dipping pot with breads and fruits. The Asparagus With Crab is delicious. Six salads are headed by the Lola Rosa (lettuce, beets, gouda cheese, cucumber and buttermilk dressing) and Napolean (mushrooms, avocado, tomatoes, red onion, goat cheese, tomato marmalade). Azur's entrees are all great, but the stunners are the Roast Elk (asparagus, squash) and Braised Rabbit (smoked bacon, mushrooms, pasta, asparagus). Their Pan Roasted Scallops are among the city's best, and the Ahi Tuna (glazed and wrapped with shrimp, calamari pad thai, citrus carrots and ponzu dipping sauce) is close behind. The other entrees include Roast Duck, Idaho Salmon, Alaskan Halibut and Gnocchi (a potato dumpling filled with chicken or shrimp, mushrooms, goat cheese and herbs). Desserts rotate each day, but are almost always outstanding. If anyone in your group just wants a sandwich, Azur's Lamb Burger (roast red peppers & feta cheese, served with lemon cabbage slaw) is one of Lexington's best. From April through November, there's a great patio. This is one of South Lexington's most popular establishments, so on a Friday or Saturday night either eat early or expect a wait.
Buddy's replaced the old Saratoga as the local hangout for adults living in the Henry Clay section of town. Mostly that's because of the great menu. 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. Right on the corner of Euclid - High Street.
Cafe On The Park is the Radisson Hotel's ground floor restaurant, with big picture windows looking out on Triangle Park's fountains and trees. There's also a three season patio opening onto the sidewalk, seen at right. This could be the most neglected and underrated restaurant in Lexington. It's suitable for a business lunch or a romantic dinner. The food is very, very good. You MUST try the Onion Soup (four onions, three cheeses and a bowl made of French Bread). It's one of the best soups in town. Of their salads, we like the Fruit Plate (with cottage cheese and a honey yogurt dressing). They have a crossover entry they label their Rib Eye Steak Salad (lettuce wedge, bacon, blue cheese, served on an 8 oz. rib eye) that can serve as a meal in itself. The Shrimp Sausage Pasta and Chicken Quesadilla are both good, but of the regular entrees we prefer the Turkey Hot Brown (open faced smoked turkey, cream sauce, cheddar cheese, hickory smoked bacon, tomatoes). They offer an intriguing Trio Sandwich : it includes a mix of angus burger, pulled bbq pork, and grilled chicken. The Flatbread items are worth trying : BBQ Chicken (with onions, onions and white cheddar cheese), Philly Cheese, and Italian Vegetable Cheese Array. The best options, however, usually come off the specials.
The Dish replaces Le Bistro on South Ashland. It's a three room restaurant, with a bar in the middle and eight tables in each wing. Many items are quite creative in the New South style. Appetizers include Corn Bread Jalapeno Crab Cakes, Chicken & Race Stuffed Chile Rellenos, and Thai Curry Scallops. The Soup of the Day is always worth ordering, and there are five salads, of which we especially like the Surf & Citrus (mixed greens, fresh grapefruit wedges, grilled shrimp, pistachio and mint). The menu offers eight entrees. We favor three. Fire & Ice is pepper rubbed tuna with noodles, soy sauce, Daikon relish and wasabi - cucumber sherbert. The Peach Brandy Pork Chop is grilled in a peach brandy sauce and topped with fresh peach slices. Our favorite is their Halibut pan seared over ravioli filled with asparagus, ricotta and pine nuts in mushroom broth. The others are Steak & Potatoes, two Pastas, BBQ Salmon, and Citrus Herb Chicken. Desserts vary daily. There's a front patio facing the Euclid - Ashland intersection.
Holly Hill Inn. When national championship debater Ouita Papka announced that instead of going to law school she would attend the New York Culinary Institute and become a chef, coaches thought she was joking. Now they bring their teams to her award winning restaurant. The 1812 Holly Hill Inn is an antebellum mansion 20 minutes from downtown Lexington. Most foodophiles rate it the best restaurant in Kentucky. Ouita and husband Chris Michel are chef and sommelier. They use fresh, locally grown ingredients in a fixed menu of three, four or five courses at $35, $40 or $45. Their halibut and scallops are wonderful, but when available, the rabbit and squab are the stars of the entree show. Make sure the cornbread accompanies whatever you order. And while you can order your own wine, we suggest you let Chris choose one for you. Save room for dessert; Ouita's are special. Midway. 859-846-4732. From downtown, take Broadway north to !-64, go off at Midway, turn right on 421 and immediately turn left on North Winter Street. Holly Hill Inn is at 426, a block up the hill.
The Melting Pot is certainly one of Lexington's more unique eating experiences. It is a fondue restaurant. You prepare your own meal at your table by skewering items and dipping them in cheese, oil or chocolate. If you order the Cheese Fondue, for instance, you receive a platter of breads, vegetables, and fruits for dipping, and your choice of Cheddar, Jalapeno Cheddar, Buttermilk, Swiss, Gouda or Gran Quesa cheeses to dip them in. With an oil fondue, you can order various combinations of steak, chicken, shrimp, ravioli, pork and lobster. The oil is cholesterol free canola. The entrees and prices are set up for couples so if you have an odd number in your party adjustments are needed. Ample salads arrive before your fondues. Desserts are assortments of strawberries, bananas, apples, marshmallows, and cheesecake squares for you to dip in dark, white or milk chocolate. Half of the 13 page menu is devoted to drinks, which The Melting Pot takes great pride in. These drinks include not only wines and alcoholic beverages but coffees, malts, cappucinos, lattes and espressos. There are ports, brandies, cognacs, champagnes. This is one of the more extensive dinner wine lists in town, offering brands from around the world. Your evening is very dependent on your waitress, who sets up your fondue apparatus, explains how to use it, and guides your choice of menu packages. If she is informed and energetic, this will be a very special experience. If she is clueless or indifferent, your evening will fall flat. The other restaurants on this page will appeal mostly to adults, although children are welcome. However, The Melting Pot would make a great special occasion stop for children. They enjoy skewering their own food and cooking it themselves, and they love the desserts. West Tiverton. From the Hyatt, go east on Vine to Upper, follow it as it becomes Nicholasville Road, go half a mile past Fayette Mall and turn right on West Tiverton. At the top of the hill, look for The Melting Pot in the square to your left.

A. P. Root's is the newest Chevy Chase restaurant. Order breadsticks, which may be the best in town with tomato and olive tapenade and Blue Moon garlic scape pesto. Notable appetizers are the Vegetable Canneloni (eggplant, squash, tomatoes with ricotta), Chile Pepper Shrimp in White Wine Sauce, and the Smoked Sausage Array. One item which recurs throughout the menu is Sourdough Bread. Chef Robert Myers has made a specialty of this in his career, and it's here in sandwiches, appetizers and entrees. There are four salads and nine sandwiches, of which we like the Tea Smoked Chicken with tomato relish and gouda cheese, Grilled Cheese with pear chutney, gouda and cheddar, and Andouille Sausage & Smoked Chicken. Wild Mushroom, Squash and Tomato Pasta is worth trying. The eight pizzas are all unique, like the Sweet & Spicy Tea Smoked Chicken Sourdough Crust Pizza. Of the entrees, we like the Garlic Roasted Lamb and Smoked Sausage Platter. . South on High, left on Providence, right on Romany, look to your left.

Rossi's has a stark, hypermodern entrance. Don't let it deter you. Inside, the decor is sleek and warm and the patio, partially seen at left, is very pleasant. The menu is certainly an adventure. This is the best appetizer list in town. It looks like a full menu scaled down, with bite sized versions of Scallops, Tuna, Grouper, Squid, Lamb Chops and Pork Tenderloin , plus Bleu Cheese Chips and Dumplings (pork stuffed won tons steamed in spicy oyster sauce). There is a Soup of the Day, four impressive sandwiches, and six salads, of which we recommend the Warm Goat Cheese Salad (mixed greens, panko crusted goat cheese, and candied nuts in a champagne raspberry vinaigrette). These entrees are all tempting, but the Chicken Saltimbocca (sauteed chicken with sliced prosciutto, spinach, mozzarella cheese and marsala wine sauce), Duck (roasted in cherry and chocolate wines), and Beef Gnocchi Pasta (blackened prime beef melds in wild mushroom, julienned sweet peppers and scallions inside potato dumplings) are recommended. 1060 Chinoe. Off Richmond Road, take Chinoe south, turn left into shopping square, and look left.

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