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|l||Favoritism among Favorites
As Ms. Reeves likes to say, the "Best of" Lexington competition is really about "favorites." It may be difficult to truly quantify "best," but we all know what our favorites are.
Since I have not seen any of the "real" results, this is the only chance I get to be completely non-objective, self-gratifying, and to express my current unmitigated gourmand predilection.
New restaurant: I feel that I should tell you initially that I will be cheating in this category. I do not have a favorite new restaurant; I have a new favorite restaurant, Paisano's (Nicholasville Road). There's something about sitting in high-back rolling chairs while eating spaghetti and meatballs.
Business lunch: Keeneland (Versailles Road). I have seen many well-dressed people during April and October escorting well-dressed associates to what must be a business lunch. It's during working hours, cups of burgoo are involved, and money is changing hands. What's not to love?
Date restaurant: Dudley's Patio (Maxwell). Everything was perfect: a beautiful moon, warm breeze, delicious wine, and carapaccio. Each course was better than the last and timed so that we had great conversation and laughs between each.
Fancy fine dining: a la lucie (North Limestone). This is the only, and I must repeat, the only place in town to wear a beautiful, see-through, clingy black silk dress with appropriately placed hints of discretion here and there while being fed escargot en brie by a steamy young man. It's excellent food in an inviting atmosphere with liberal overtones. Be prepared to be just as comfortable in jeans.
Ethnic fare: Miyako Japanese Restaurant (Richmond Road). This is probably not my favorite sushi bar in town (for reasons that I will divulge at a later date) but one of the reasons that I keep going back is because of their appetizers. Little plates of delicious (and sometimes bizarre) food, beautifully arranged. They have not only edamame and gyoza with which we have become comfortable but tako-su (octopus salad), broiled mussels covered with smelt roe, and (shudder) ankemo (sliced monkfish liver).
Bar/restaurant patio: Emmett's Restaurant (Tates Creek Road) for Sunday Brunch. It's up on a slight hill and well designed so that your views are mostly of sky and other slight hills. It has a translucent cover so that you are shaded yet warm while eating from the beautiful buffet inside. This is where we take out of town guests for a brunch treat.
Gourmet-carry-out: Cosmo's Fine Foods (High Street) for selection and convenience. The thing that I enjoy about going here is that many times I have no idea what I want to eat or drink and seeing something already prepared really helps. It's easy to get in and out fairly quickly and they respond well to call ahead orders for the charcuterie.
Dive: I will not tell. (Ever). Due to the homogenization of the Lexington edifice landscape (decisions made by a few for the greater good I suppose), I cannot in good conscience make others aware of one of the few remaining establishments that I can only imagine is clinging on to its last remaining years.
Veggie-friendly restaurant: Everybody's Restaurant (South Limestone). This category was difficult because we do have quite a bit of delicious vegetarian food in town. Everybody's offers food to eat in or take away, like hoppin' John and tofu scramble, along with vitamins and smoothies and foods specifically leaned towards vegan and special diets.
Coffee house: Natasha's Café (Esplanade). This may not seem like a coffee house, but the Turkish coffee that is made here reminds me of what coffee is supposed to taste like - rich and awakening. The café is gorgeous and the retail section is interesting to look at while you're waiting for coffee to be made in its ibrik and then served in a demitasse cup.
Cosmopolitan: The Gallery Lounge inside The Campbell House Inn (Harrodsburg Road). Make that any mixed drink. Walking into this bar is like no other in Lexington. The red carpet, leather chairs, and tiny red lights in the ceiling make the whole atmosphere, very appropriately, straight out of the late sixties to early seventies. It is one of a kind and the bartenders are well-versed in providing old favorites such as an old-fashioned, rusty nail, or gimlet.
Place to shop for wine: Le Matin Cellars (East High Street). I try to go here for occasions when I need a very specific wine and I do not have any idea what it is. For example, I am serving coq au vin to eight people in thirty minutes and do not know what wine to offer with an already sauced dinner. Thank goodness the people here are so well-informed and helpful and patient.
Again, I would like to point out that this is how I would fill out only my list of favorites. There is no rhyme or reason to favoritism but the "Best of" Lexington is free PR, and as a former business owner, to be named in the "Real Best of Lexington" is very exciting. Congratulations to all of the winners.
Please email your culinary heads-ups to Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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