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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 animus revertendi
(an intention of returning)

While walking down a slender cobblestone roadway anywhere overseas without an unromantic thought in your head and staring with that fabled wide-eyed-wonder at completely everything, the chances that you are absorbing more sights and sounds and smells than you ought to be are pretty good. But, you want this to soak in. You want it to change you. To enlighten your normal existence and latch on, hoping that when you land at Bluegrass Field, you will still be glowing with that, "I have just eaten guinea pig in Ecuador and I have slides to prove it," look about you.

Granted,you may find it difficult to find prepared rodent in Lexington to serve to your amazed and delighted friends, but to set a full table of exotic repast while exchanging tales of journeys abroad is very easy in our increasingly ethnically diverse town.

The food in other countries is amazing. Whether it is amazingly bad or amazingly good is really up to you, but that first experience with another culture's typical dinner fare is so exciting. If you are dining out, what do you order? Do you run way out into left field and take the food advice of a local, ordering something you have never heard of, much less could never spell - or do you play it safe and not stray too far away from the steak and potatoes?

As the guest at someone's home, choices are obviously limited to what you can try, but it is so much more exciting in this instance to know that someone who assumes that you are a first timer has chosen a meal that should seduce you into a love of their country's cuisine. Let us say that they choose the perfect lighting, maybe the high noon orb filtering through the trees or chubby little oil lamps on a mantle. Add the perfect music and lots of nostalgic chatter to accompany the initiation and like a child hearing a particularly naughty expletive for the first time, you must try to repeat it.

Before the aura fades and the memories are replaced with dot matrix ramblings, you will want to find out how to recreate your experience. I bring all of this up to tell you what I have lately been telling anyone who will listen; we have wonderful markets representing many corners of the world, right here in Lexington. They are overfilled with not only interesting ingredients, but cooking supplies, cookbooks, ready-to-eat meals, and an extremely helpful staff that will assist you in finding what you want.

But that is the real question, right?

What do I want?

Going into an unfamiliar grocery store with new smells, strange cans of who knows what, and someone speaking another language in the background can be a little intimidating, but not knowing what to ask for once you get there may send you over the edge.

First of all, start with what you know. If you had chicken curry at one of our local Thai restaurants and you know that you would like to make it at home, then a Thai grocery store is what you need. It is a fairly simple dish, the ingredient list is small, and it will get you into the grocery to see what else they have available.

In many cases, these specialized stores are the only places that you can find some of the ingredients that you may need to recreate your adventurous meal. If you look into your shopping bag and find quail eggs, baby bok choy, fermented black beans, or nori, then you have probably not been to the local chain.

I have seen more than one person walking around a Japanese grocery store with a basket on one arm, an open cookbook on the other, and a please-help-me look on their faces. They have jumped in with both feet and will soon be running home to test their skills and possibly new favorite recipe.

I really enjoy these markets. For me, this love affair started in a Turkish neighborhood in Amsterdam. I was standing on the sidewalk, on a bleak but film-noir-beautiful kind of day, trying not to stare into a shop that had pheasants, feathers and all, hanging from their ceiling. I was trying, but it was really difficult because the birds were so beautiful. I probably could not go into that store even today but give me one with odd-looking fruit and spices that I have never heard of and, well, I am transported.

Reluctantly, I am not able to include every type of ethnic grocery store in town right now due to space and time, but I wanted to recommend the concept. In coming weeks, I will get around to them (and neighborhood groceries, and country groceries, and the produce markets, etc.) and bring back news in more specific detail - along with recommendations and reports from the front.

Please email your culinary heads-ups to Karen at