Now Reading: Chicago Trib’s Take on the Best of Lexington

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In Lexington Lets the Games and the Feast begin, Chicago Trib food critic Phil Vettel writes, “Forget Louisville, Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby. This state’s real hooved hot spot is Lexington, which immodestly bills itself as the ‘Horse Capital of the World.’”

He goes on to cite three favorite meals in town from three chefs who will all be part of the James Beard Celebrity Chef series in Lexington September 25 thru October 10. 

Chef Ouita in a 1999 interview with Ace

 He names his best meal at Holly Hill Inn, writing “Ouita [Michel] nominated for James Beard Foundation awards for three years running, cooks with Southern charm and local ingredients, but this is no simple country inn. A pile of perfectly crisped frog legs are served with mussels and saffron cream, quite a different approach to surf and turf, and a light-as-air spoonbread souffle is fortified with chunks of lobster. Her free-form napoleon, layering chocolate-mint-julep mousse with crunchy walnut-phyllo squares, is worthy of a magazine cover.”

Chef Ouita’s James Beard series evening is October 9.  She is teamed with Louisville’s Dean Corbett; NYC’s Christopher Lee; and LA’s Michael Cimarusti.

The next favorite he characterized as a “Thoroughbred” was Chef Jonathan Lundy of Jonathan at Gratz Park. He writes, “chef Jonathan Lundy cranks out contemporary versions of classic dishes, with the occasional playful Kentucky reference. Ale-8-One, a local ginger-ale soda, braises uncommonly meaty hunks of pork belly, which are then topped with a confit of shallots and crystallized ginger. Lover’s Leap blackberry wine, another local product, glazes the barbecued quail, served over scalloped potatoes; Caesar salad features grilled romaine leaves and crisped black-eyed peas. A dish of shrimp and grits plays absolutely straight, with large shrimp jutting proudly from a bed of white cheddar grits. You don’t mess with shrimp and grits down heah.”

Chef Jonathan will be the Kentucky chef who kicks off the celebrity chef series on September 25. He will be paired with Miami’s Michael Schwartz and Traci Des Jardins. You can view his Menu for the evening Here. It includes Ale 8-braised pork belly and shrimp corndogs with Kentucky Ale cornmeal beer batter.

He characterizes Dudley’s in its new post-move incarnation as “a champ” saying, “The menu is simple — a burger here, a Reuben there — and the dish to try is the Downtown Debbie Brown, a variation of the classic Kentucky Hot Brown sandwich that piles ham, turkey and tomatoes on a slab of toasted bread and slathers it with Mornay sauce; it’s then topped with bacon and finished under a broiler. Good stuff.”

Dudley’s Chef Erik Fowler will participate in the series on October 1, paired with Marc Vetri and Tim Byres.

In the annual Ace Best of Lexington Readers’ Poll, Dudley’s has been voted Best Veteran Restaurant three times by the Ace Readers, while Jonathan at Gratz Park and Ouita Michel’s Holly Hill Inn have been voted Best Fine Dining on multiple occasions. (The 2010 Ace Best of Lexington issue goes on stands September 16, just before the World Equestrian Games.)

Recent similar Ace Posts:

Sunday Supper on the Farm with Proof’s Chef Michael Paley. (Chef Paley of 21c’s Proof on Main will be part of the Beard series on October 7, teamed with Santa Fe’s Mark Kiffin and New Orleans’ Frank Brigtsen.)

Heirloom Veggies to be Auctioned at Sotheby’s

UK Professor Erik Reece on Lexington in Garden and Gun Magazine. 

James Beard Celebrity Chef Menus at World Equestrian Games.

The Best Daily Blogs in Lexington, KY for 17 days of WEG.

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