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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 on the Park
369 W. Vine St. at the Radisson Plaza Hotel. (859) 231-9000. With a wonderful view of Triangle Park, Café on the Park is one of downtown Lexington’s hidden treasures. Breakfast 6:30am until 10:30am daily; breakfast buffet served in season. Lunch 11am-2pm, (pasta bar on Thursdays until 1:30pm). Dinner offers affordable upscale American cuisine and a wonderful wine list 5pm-10pm. 90 minute complimentary parking. Open 365 days per year. Private dining available.

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.

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.

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. in downtown, 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.

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.

Starbucks Coffee
University of Kentucky Student Center. Lexington's first full size Starbucks location. Stop in today for fresh brewed coffee, espresso drinks, Frappuccinos, delightful pastries, and Starbucks merchandise. A supremely comfortable atmosphere 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. 257-1209.

l A glorious 15 minutes

One afternoon last fall, I put on a little extra makeup and met two friends downtown for a dirty martini and some great conversation - all because I wanted to be a fill-in patron during the taping of a segment for a nationally aired television show. I am normally a very shy person, but to have the side of my face or even an ear poking into view on the Food Network was really a chance that I could not pass up. Fortunately, the taping was open to the public, otherwise I would have had to resort to some sort of classic sitcom disguise to get inside.

The restaurant awarded this network airing is a la lucie on North Limestone. This seventeen-year-old restaurant was selected to appear on The Best Of, a half hour show that recognizes "the best of" in different categories from all fifty states. In each episode, they visit five states and showcase different chefs and unique restaurants, like a la lucie.

It was chosen for an episode entitled The Best Of "Date Plates," which airs February 4th at 9:30 P.M., then repeats on February 9th at 2:00 P.M. and February 18th at 1:30 P.M.

It was really interesting to see behind the scenes. The restaurant is a long and narrow space that ends with the bar and the kitchen is behind that wall so they had priority patrons who were to be interviewed in the tufted booths along the side walls and those of us who had invited ourselves were packed at tables in the middle - NOT looking at the camera, of course.

The show's crew was small, only three people. I watched them interview Lucie Slone, the owner, in the dining room, and she was (naturally) completely calm, a true professional. I asked her later about the interview and she said that she had already been working with them in the kitchen, demonstrating the preparation of several entrees from the dinner menu: veal marsala, paella, smoked salmon with vinegar potato chips and chive Chantilly cream, and bourbon-Tabasco marinated pork chops. Which will be used in the show? We do not know.

Lucie Slone is not only the owner of her namesake but also, Pacific Pearl in Chinoe Centre on Chinoe Road, and Nadine's in Palomar Centre on Harrodsburg Road. In the ads, Pacific Pearl is an "Asian American Bistro" and Nadine's is "Contemporary American Cuisine" which contrasts with lucie's "Hip Continental Cuisine." Each is distinct and fun, but a la lucie, with its leopard print carpeting, large framed paintings, and warm colors, has a sensual feel about it, and is my favorite of the three by a slim margin.

With the opening of the new courthouse just across the street from a la lucie, this cosmopolitan restaurant is now open for lunch. The lunch menu is extensive and includes appetizer favorites from the dinner menu such as escargot served in a special cupped plate, broiled with brie and garlic butter, fried oysters surrounding wilted spinach, and lump crab cake resting on herbed crème fraiche.

You will not find your typical lunch salads. They are decadent, beautiful and difficult to choose. Maybe poached pears over greens with crumbled blue cheese and port dressing or the baby spinach leaves tossed in berry vinaigrette and topped with a grilled chicken breast and slices of warm brie. Even the Caesar salad, with its traditional creamy garlic dressing, is enhanced by the shiny-skinned white anchovies that rim the outside of the plate.

Sandwiches and entrees for lunch are ample and cover a variety of tastes: from the light fried eggplant and roasted tomatoes in pita bread, to the hearty, shaved tenderloin with peppers, mushrooms, onions, and swiss on French bread. Petite versions of some items on the dinner menu (bouillabaisse and beef tenderloin with mashed potatoes) are alongside newer items (veal liver and onions with a red wine sauce and chicken ferreri, a pan-fried chicken breast with bordelaise sauce, topped with artichoke dressing).

Dinner at a la lucie is always something to look forward to, whether it's for a special event and you are having the buttermilk fried quail or just meeting a friend for cocktails and enjoying the fallen goat cheese soufflé on greens with blueberry vinaigrette. Roasted lamb chops Provencal, pastas, and nightly specials are also available and it's sure to be presented beautifully.

Although almost all of the books are full for Valentine's Day, the restaurant is still taking a few reservations for that evening's meal - call soon if this is your destination.

It's exciting to see our local chefs represented nationally and, according to the Food Network representative that I spoke to, although there is not anything in the works at this time, they'll be back in our area soon. Be sure to watch The Best Of "Date Plates," and support our local eateries.

I will be excited to see if maybe my shoulder or the back of my head makes it on camera.

Please email your culinary heads-ups to Karen at