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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." Live music. Free evening parking behind the building. Daily specials. Lunch, Monday - Friday 11-2. Dinner, Tuesday-Thursday 5:30-9, Friday & Saturday 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 on the Park
369 W. Vine St. at the Radisson Plaza Hotel. www.cafeontheparkcom. (859) 231-9000. Wonderful view of Triangle Park. Breakfast 6:30am until 10:30am daily; breakfast buffet served in season. Lunch 11am-2pm, (pasta bar on Thursdays) Affordable upscale American cuisine and a wonderful wine list 5pm-10pm. 90 minute complimentary parking.

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.

Dudley’s Restaurant
380 S. Mill Street in Historic Dudley Square. 252-1010. A Lexington tradition, with adventurous takes on regional cuisine and an award winning wine list. Patio, bar, and dining room each provide a unique atmostphere. Open everyday: Mon-Sat 11:30-2:30 for lunch; Sun 11:30-2:30 for brunch; and dinner Sun-Thurs 5:30-10 and Fri-Sat 5:30-11. Reservations recommended.

Ed and Fred’s Desert Moon
148 Grand Blvd. 231-1161. Affordable American Cuisine. Gourmet pizzas, fresh pasta, specialty salads and sandwiches, and a wide array of entrees. 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, 245-4444, 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.

255-2431. It’s all about the food at this continental eatery where Chef Jim Plymale builds his menu around fresh, seasonal ingredients. For lunch how about Black Bean Cassoulet or Crispy Polenta Napoleon? Imagine the dinner fare. Located on (that’s right) 431 Old Vine St., the atmosphere is smart and cozy. And the bar is the swankiest in town. Dress: As yourself. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; Dinner: Mon-Thurs 5:30-10; Fri-Sat 5:30-11.

"Food with Character" 735 E. Main Street (859)266-9000. Full-blooded, dipped in the Bayou, authentic Southwest Louisiana Cuisine at Furlongs! PO-Boys, Burgers, Creole, Etouffees, Gumbo, Pastas, Salads, Seafood, Steaks, Fresh Fish, great daily dinner specials and extensive wine list. Open for dinner: Mon.-Sat. 4-11.

The Homestead
3955 Harrodsburg Rd, 219-9922. Why not tonight? 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. Open for dinner six nights a week. Open Sundays during Keeneland and holidays. Dinner: 5:30 Mon-Thur, 5:00 on Fri & Sat.

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. 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.

The Mansion
at Griffin Gate
1800 Newtown Pike. 859-288-6142. Lexington's landmark of good taste. The elegantly restored antebellum mansion offers traditional American and regional southern cuisine with European flavors. Experience gracious dining at Lexington's first Four Diamond rated restaurant. The Mansion is open daily from 6pm-10pm. Reservations are suggested.

Merrick Inn
3380 Tates Creek Rd. (Top of the hill in Merrick Place.) We pride ourselves on being the establishment of choice for over 30 years. Enjoy Chef Jeremy Ashby’s savory nightly specials and superb signature southern cuisine all served in our Kentucky manor house. When the weather’s warm, enjoy Lexington’s favorite patio by the pool offering a more casual menu. Mon.- Thurs 5:30 to 10:00, Fri and Sat 5:30 to 10:30.

Natasha's Cafe
112 Esplanade 259-0203. An array of tastes from Kiev to Cairo in the elegant atmosphere of a Parisian cafe. World cuisine buffet for lunch. Fine dining for all income brackets evenings after 5:30. Tour buses, business meetings and accordion players welcome. Voted Lexington's Best Ethnic Fare (ACE Weekly Readers’ Poll, 2001). Lunch Buffet 11A-2P, M-F and Noon to 3P on Saturday.

Scarborough Fare
355 Romany Road. 859.266.8704. A gourmand’s delight, featuring an array of entrees that will tickle your fancy. Menu changes daily. Deli dining, or gourmet carryout for those on the go. Open Monday-Saturday 10-8.

Starbucks Coffee
University of Kentucky Student Center. 257-1209. Lexington's first full size Starbucks location. Stop in today for fresh brewed coffee, espresso drinks, Frappuccinos, delightful pastries, and Starbucks merchandise. Conveniently close to downtown. We are a cyber-café; come surf the 'net on our laptop computers. Open Mon.-Thurs. 7am-9pm, Fri. 7am-4pm, Sat. 9am-4pm.

Yamamoto Japanese Grill
& Sushi
130 West Tiverton Way. 859-272-6668. Call for reservations. Prepared before your eyes!! Come enjoy our Fresh Sushi and a variety of Sushi Rolls and fantastic performance and taste in Habachi Grill. Lunch Specials and Lunch boxes available $5.95-9.95. Mon-Thurs 11-2, 5-10; Fri 11-2, 5-11; Sat 5-11; Sun 12-9.

l The Simple Things

Working in a professional kitchen is to love the cool chrome of the worktops, the always-present slight smell of the pilot lights, and stacks of white cutting boards, towels, and cookbooks. In the morning, when it is calm and kempt, sleepy chefs begin ordering, organizing, and heading up a team that after many, many small steps will produce a cohesive product intended to satisfy hungry, appraising patrons of an undetermined number with inconsistent tastes. The job of a chef is a tough and stressful one, but when the evening runs smoothly like a machine, it seems not only worth it but also incredibly gratifying as a creative endeavor.

For young chefs today, with the advent and popularity of celebrity chefs, there are more real opportunities to learn more about the trade, enjoy the gratification, and make a name for themselves in this profession. I recently spoke to two young chefs, Eric "Abe" Lansdale and Graham Waller of Emmett's Restaurant, and asked them about their past training, their work at Emmett's, and food trends that they foresee.

They attended The Culinary Institute of America (the CIA), which is a dream for many working in kitchens and foodies alike. The CIA began in 1946 in Connecticut as a cooking school for the vocational training of veterans of World War II with 50 enrollees. As the student population rose, the college moved near Yale University, then on to it's campus St. Andrew-on-Hudson in Hyde Park, New York and then a second location in Greystone, California. There are many great culinary schools out there, but this one is really growing by leaps and bounds due to its reputation. "38 kitchens, unprecedented libraries, and they keep building more and more," said Waller.

Lansdale adds, "Yeah, it's fun. You have classroom work, but a lot of it is hands-on. You start off by classes that are three to six weeks, the history of food, why we have a fork, and slowly get into skills. They teach you sanitation and your first kitchen class is skill: how to sharpen a knife, etc."

Waller and Lansdale, who have been friends since high school, became interested in the CIA when they were 19-years-old working at Dudley's with several prominent area chefs who helped train and prepare them for attending culinary school. This was very interesting to me because there does seem to be a point after working in the food industry that you need to make a decision; to go to school or work with mentors. There has always been somewhat of battle in the kitchen between the hands-on trained chef and the culinary school-trained chef, often quite vocal. Each side will gladly tell you the pros of their decision and the cons of the other. For Graham, though, the culinary school path led him to work in California, which he describes as the best thing he could have done.

"Passion is not the word. This was his life, his restaurant," recalls Waller of his externship semester with Roland Passot, the multi-awarded French master chef and owner of La Folie in San Francisco. "This is what he had done since he was 12 and this was his in San Francisco. I had never seen anything like it, the food and the way they handled it. They put me right on the line and when I got back to school, I was ready."

Abe was also able to work in California right out of school at Pacific's Edge in Carmel, an award-winning restaurant as well. "It was almost as good as the education at the school. Working at my restaurant, eating at Club 19 where a friend works, then up to Graham's restaurant in San Francisco, was a great education."

What they brought back to Lexington from their travels seems to be an excitement for food and how they can bring what they have learned to the table. They started at Emmett's in January and have since then have worked on food and labor costs to the point that they can focus on other projects such as upcoming wine dinners, a lobster feast, and as Abe points out, "get sockeye salmon instead of, well, salmon."

Which leads me, naturally, to current national trends in food and how they are prepared to incorporate this into a Lexington dining experience. Lansdale is the first to say "simplicity" and I agree.

He continues, "I know in the 80s and 90s there was more of a built tower nouveau cuisine, kind of contrived and I think that especially here in Lexington, people are focusing on a better quality product cooked with a better technique, not so contrived."

"You take the best ingredient that you can and let that ingredient speak for itself. All you do is season it a bit. You take the best lobster, fish, tomatoes that you can get instead of putting seven squeeze bottles of reduction or oils all over the plate. You just get a really nice extra-virgin olive oil, aged balsamic vinegar, cracked black pepper, and salt and you're going to lighten up the whole dish, and fresh herbs," adds Graham.

Sitting with handsome young men has never been a chore, but to see how excited they are with this fairly new project and how they want to create better and more creative food product was especially fun. The love of the food is the name of the game and whether it is the up-and-coming chef or the seasoned, highly esteemed veteran, we can only benefit from their cumulative knowledge in this field.

Please email your culinary heads-ups to Karen at