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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

557 S. Limestone 253-0014. Voted best pancakes by Ace readers in the Best of Lexington poll year after year. Winner of 2001's "Best Veggie Friendly Restaurant." Vegetarian, chicken, and seafood entrees available. Homemade baked goods and desserts. Weekend brunch. Live music. Free evening parking behind the building. Daily specials. Open for lunch, Monday - Friday 11-2. Dinner, Tuesday-Thursday 5:30-9, Friday 5:30-10. Brunch, Saturday and Sunday 10-2.

Billy's Bar-B-Q
101 Cochran Rd. At the corner of High St. in Chevy Chase. 269-9593. Genuine Western Kentucky style pit barbecue and fixins. Dine in/ carry out/ catering/ bulk deliveries. We're the home grown guys. Open M-Th 11am-9pm, F-Sat 11am-10pm, Sun 11:30am-8pm.

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.

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.

Happy Dragon Chinese Buffet
1510 Newtown Pike, 859-388-9988. All you can eat chinese buffet. Over 120 items daily, featuring fresh seafood, beef, chicken, pork, soups, salads, fruits... and much more! Open Sun. to Thurs. 11am - 10pm, Fri.& Sat. 11am - 10:30pm.

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

Scarborough Fare
355 Romany Road. 859.266.8704. A gourmand’s delight, featuring an array of entrees that will tickle your fancy and menu changes daily. Sample the mouth-watering desserts and you’ll be back to feed your newest addiction. Special dinners prepared daily. Café dining, or gourmet carryout for those on the go. Open Monday-Saturday 10-8.

l Answer Me This

I have been questioned lately as to why I have given so little space to restaurants specifically, so I thought I should reply with a relatively short explanation of what I have seen from both sides of the counter and the expectations that I have in restaurants and myself.

To review a restaurant in Lexington is to potentially cut its throat. In a small town with too many pret-a-porter type food chains, slingin' hash is a tough business.

Comparing a new restaurant to an established or legendary one with the same inane grading scale is not only ridiculous but unfair to an industry that just wants to see us with full bellies and no spinach in our teeth. This last sentence may make you think that maybe I'm an old softy or on a food association's payroll, but please understand that I will bring the hammer down when it's deserved. Restaurants with a few years under their belts can expect a public tongue lashing if their standards slip and new restaurants, well, they are probably still reeling from the amount of money they just dumped into a statistically losing project, so I will try to help as far as my conscience allows.

There are a few local eateries that I will never review. For them, either my doting love or pure rotten disdain will keep me from it, so I feel that I must apologize quickly and initially to those who will, purposefully, always be excluded.

What are the consistent, necessary priorities for a good food experience and how can I describe them to you every week so that you will either want to run to the reviewed to beg them for a morsel, or to spit on their doorstep? Okay, that is a bit extreme but, really, what is it that those of us who love to speak of food, and often do, speak of?

Well, I think that the concentration really must be on the three most important limbs of the food tree: environment, taste, and presentation. This is what people talk about and what keeps us coming back, right? These three ideas are the heart and soul of the matter and their balance is essential. I promise no extended discourse on the vitals - i.e., location, price, reservations, etc. unless it is something particularly astonishing.

The idea of how to review and compare restaurants was given to me, unknowingly, by restaurant catering, and hot-dog stand workers. From the perspicacious tattooed line-cook to the glass-eyed, empty glass gentlewoman at a catered event, everyone has a story to tell about food and their contributions are immeasurable. These are the people who taught me how to care about food.

I already had a certain passion for the taste - distinct likes and dislikes - but to see others' versions of the process of food thought to dinner table is very interesting. Everyone has different priorities. My former housemate's priorities included using as few dishes to cook as possible and then eating out of the pan whereas I have another friend in the food business whose concern is that wonderful first aroma when you walk into her house for a dinner party (never broccoli or fried eggs).

What sort of review would cover enough for these two opposites and intrigue them enough to spend their hard earned cash in a restaurant unfamiliar to them? I hope one that is mostly unbiased, from an insider's point of view, and gives an overall picture of the whole experience, not just a subjective like or dislike flag.

"The primary requisite for writing well about food is a good appetite. Without this, it is impossible to accumulate, within the allotted span, enough experience of eating to have anything worth setting down. A good appetite gives an eater room to turn around in." According to this quote by A.J. Liebling listed in Southern Belly by John T. Edge, I have the qualifications necessary to write about food. I will try to bring to you my experiences of new foods and restaurants that my appetite has led me to try, in hopes that you will give our local eateries the benefit of your appetite and views as well.

But remember, this is a food column, not a restaurant column per se.

Several people have also been asking me questions about cooking; where to find culinary instruments; and even how to explain to the food pyramid established by the USDA. I am really enjoying answering these questions and will print them as soon as possible. Please feel free to keep sending questions in. I will research the answers and get back to you post-haste.

Please email your culinary heads-ups to Karen at