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a la lucie
159 N. Limestone. Lexington's special occasion address. Regarded as one of the region's best. Award winning menu with extensive wine list. Open 10-6, Mon-Sat.Reservations recommended. 252.5277

Cafe Jennifer
111 Woodland Ave at the Woodlands Condominiums, 255-0709. A cozy restaurant featuring Kentucky favorites, using locally grown produce. Lunch and Dinner daily, Mon.-Sat. Pub room atmosphere in the well-stocked bar and private room available for small gatherings.

Common Grounds

343 East High Street 233-9761 Voted #1 coffeehouse year after year by ACE readers. Fresh treats available daily in the bakery. Night life is great, too: Open mic Mondays, vinyl record night on Tuesdays (Bring your own jazz or blues!). Call about art exhibits.

Daniel’s Fine Food and Spirits
243 Broadway (across from the Old Capital in Frankfort), (502) 875-5599, Voted “Best Place to Have Dinner in Frankfort.”One of the region’s newest upscale fine dining adventures set in 150 year-old buildings. Enjoy “Traditional with a Twist,” extensive wine list, outdoor dining, private dining room, and the frequent special events. Check out our website for calendar, menu, map, and more. Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; Mon-Sat 5 p.m.-10 p.m.

The Depot
128 East Main St., Midway 846-4745 Eclectic creations with a down home flavor serving Central Kentucky and beyond. Good times abound at “The Depot” in Midway, six days a week for lunch and Thursday, Friday & Saturday for dinner.

Ed and Fred’s Desert Moon
148 Grand Blvd. 231-1161 American Cuisine at affordable prices. Enjoy gourmet pizzas, fresh pasta, specialty salads and sandwiches, and a wide array of entrees in an informal yet elegant atmosphere. Wonderful wine list! Patio dining and banquet facilities. Lunch: 11a-3p Tue-Fri; Dinner: Tue-Sun.

Emmett’s Restaurant
Off Tates Creek Road, south of Man O’ War, offers innovative Southern cooking in a renovated farmhouse featuring a cozy bar, casual patio dining and seven lovely dining rooms. Dinner served Mon.-Sun. beginning at 5:30 PM and Sunday brunch from 11 AM-2 PM. Reservations accepted. 245-4444.

521 West Short Street. 455-9660 Where tradition meets style. Five course tea service at noon and 3 pm Wed-Sat. in an atmosphere of understated elegance. Reservations required. Greentree also offers graceful service and imaginative cuisine demonstrating fine Southern hospitality for professional meetings, club events, and every wedding occasion.

The Homestead
The Homestead Restaurant offers superb regional cuisine in a classic and beautiful setting. A warm and cozy ambience naturally complements the traditional southern dishes prepared by Executive Chef Tony Cortez. With a charming bar, a romantic patio, and laid back live entertainment, The Homestead is the perfect spot for any occasion. The Homestead is open for dinner six nights a week. They are closed on Sundays, except during Keeneland and on some holidays. Dinner: 5:30 Mon-Thur,, 5:00 on Fri & Sat.

Imperial Hunan
Woodhill. 266-4393. One of Lexington's oldest and finest Chinese restaurants. Voted Best Kung Pao by Ace readers. Don't forget the Sunday Buffet. " Hours: Sun-Thurs 11:30am-10pm, Fri 11:30am-11pm, Sat Noon-11pm

Jonathan at
Gratz Park

120 West Second Street 252-4949 Redefined regional cuisine served in our Southern dining room or in the English pub room. Signature items and daily specials, every entrée a Jonathan original. Festive Sunday brunch from 11:30-2 pm. Reservations suggested. Also call us for intimate dinner parties, fabulous banquets, business lunches, pre-wedding events to the reception.

Mancino’s Pizza
& Grinders

1590A Leestown RD. 253-2299. First in Kentucky with HOT oven grinders! A taste of New York right here in Lexington. Everything from the traditional Mancino’s Pride pizza to the “New” Zesty Ranch Pizza. All Grinders are oven baked and served Hot from the oven. Everything made to order. Mon-Fri 11am-8pm; 11am-3pm Sat

Natasha's Cafe
112 Esplanade. A look and a feel of the Bleeker Street in the Village. A taste of Mediterranean cuisine interpreted by talented poet and chef Johnny Shipley. Lunch Buffet 11-2, Dinner 5-9. Lighter fair and exotic coffees in between. Fine dining for any income bracket.

Pacific Pearl
Chinoe Plaza. Boldly fusing Asian and American flavors. Coconut fried lobster, King Crab legs in ginger butter, and Grilled Yellowfin Tuna are just a few of the items that represent this extensive menu. Dining room, patio and bar offers elegant decor. Open 5-10 pm, Sun-Thu. and 5-11 pm, Fri and Sat. Reservations recommended. 266.1611

Phil’s Cookshop
on romany

342 Romany Road 266-0099 Seriously good food for the gourmet on the go. Artisan bakery, hot entrees, freshly prepared salads, made to order sandwiches, absolutely exquisite desserts, pies and cakes. Incredible selection of wines Join us for wine tasting Wed and Fri 4-8 pm. Open Monday-Saturday 8-8:30 Call the Cookshop catering, too!

l Food of the Gods

My vision, as a child, of faraway places either resembled England, where everyone was royalty, sleeping on stacked mattresses to evade peas, or Greece, which was a chain of rocky white islands surrounded by the deepest blue and inhabited by gods and goddesses always causing each other trouble. Now that I am older and have traded fairy tales and mythology for the newspaper, I suppose I am a bit wiser, but my love and romantic ideas of these two countries have not changed. My food preference between the two has.

I adore Greek food. The taste is clean and unaffected by the haute cuisine tamperings of edible fads. This food has been created by necessity, heightened by creativity and tradition; and to make Greek food is to use many ingredients that you have cooked with before. A fragrant kitchen filled with fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs; yogurt and goat or sheep cheese; lamb, chicken, and seafood.

By request, my mother would make pastitsio, Greek salad, and hearty bread for my birthday dinner. Pastitsio is a layered casserole with egg and pasta on the bottom, topped with a spicy cinnamon tomato meat sauce and covered with rich béchamel sauce. It is one of my favorites and was certainly delicious this past weekend when the Panagia Pantovasilissa Greek Orthodox Church served it at their annual Greek festival.

I was sitting in the Red Mile Paddock at the Greek Festival with a friend who is equally as dreamy about this country and we watched (over our heaping plates of food) children in traditional dress dancing to music and then adults enveloping the crowd into a large circle of dance. It was not only difficult to sit still but led us into an evening of Hellenistic ruminations.

Covered tents housed the lines of food and the menu was large for an outdoor event. One tent included Greek chicken, roasted lamb, pastitsio, lamb souvlaki (marinated and skewered), and spanakopita (spinach and feta cheese in filo dough). These meals were served with a Greek salad, green beans cooked with tomatoes and spices, and rice pilaf. Another tent provided gyros and loukanico sandwiches (a spicy sausage sandwich with tzatziki sauce). A trackside patio served desserts including baklava (buttered filo dough layered with honey, nuts, and spices) and kataife (shredded wheat surrounding pecans and spices then dipped in honey) among others.

As you can see, there are many reasons to enjoy eating Greek food but cooking it is also entertaining. I currently have two excellent cookbooks/reference books from which I experiment and read.

The Greek Cookery Book by Sofia Souli is straight from Athens and is full of beautiful pictures with dressed tables and platters of colorful food. It is a little tricky because of the metric system and a few translation problems but it has been essential for basic food recipes such as dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) and photos of what should be the end result. There is one recipe called aubergine (eggplant) slippers that looks so good and fun to serve but might be a little heavy so I will probably get a little closer into fireplace weather before trying it. Halved small eggplants are oiled and baked until tender, topped with a sauce of onions, beef, and dry white wine, and finished with béchamel sauce piped into a circular design on the top. The whole thing is browned and then looks like those slippers with the curly toes. Not normally a "cute" food person, this one makes me laugh.

The Food of Greece by Vilma Liacouras Chantiles is really a book of recipes in essay form. She details every recipe with its history, variations of ingredients in geographic regions, or just interesting facts that you should know. For example, she writes that Greek cooks know that okra should be soaked in vinegar for between thirty minutes to an hour to draw the slime out, then rinsed, dried, and used in recipes. I did not know that. She uses this technique before she makes Bamyes Yiahni (Okra braised with tomato and parsley). This recipe is fairly easy and can be summarized as this: Whole okra and scallions sautéed in olive oil for about two minutes then removed to a casserole. Peeled and chopped tomatoes are then added to the sauté pan along with garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. After just a few minutes this is poured over the okra, add a little water to cover, and cook until the okra is tender.

Maybe it was watching Walt Disney's Moonspinners as a child that initially peaked my interest but as an adult I am really enjoying learning more about Greek food and culture. Still dreaming. Still planning on visiting.

Please email your culinary heads-ups to Karen at