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a la lucie
159 N. Limestone. 252.5277. Lexington’s special occasion address. Regarded as one of the region’s best. Award winning menu with extensive wine list. Open 6-10, Mon-Sat. Reservations recommended.

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 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. 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.

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. 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.

255-2431. It’s all about the "Food with Character" 735 E. Main Street (859)266-9000. Full-blooded, dipped in the Bayou, authentic Southwest Louisiana Cuisine is now being served for lunch at Furlongs! PO-Boys, Burgers, Creole, Etouffees, Gumbo, Pastas, Salads, Seafood, Steaks, Fresh Fish, and great Daily Lunch Specials. Dinner features specials and extensive wine list. Lunch: Mon.-Fri. 11-3. Dinner: Mon.-Thurs. 3-10, Fri. and Sat. 3-11.

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
3955 Harrodsburg Rd, 219-9922 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. Closed on Sundays, except during Keeneland. 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.

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-Sat 11am-8pm.

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.

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 Whaddaya Know Joe?

I was having a lovely dream about Juan Valdez. It was a chilly blue morning, the kind that you find in the mountains when a rain cloud has enveloped most of the landscape. We were sitting on a veranda somewhere in Columbia sipping coffee and he was telling charming stories of his adventures traveling the world with his donkey as the non-speaking spokespersons for Columbian coffee. He charmed, I laughed, and the whole time, I noticed the smell of coffee getting stronger and a horrible air-raid type siren sounding off in the distance getting louder and louder.

"Must be time to leave," I said sadly. "Yes. Have a nice day and thank you for drinking Columbian coffee," he said. "De nada."

For many of us, coffee gets us up in the morning, gets us through work, and then is an aperitif to end the day. But not only is it the cure for the savage morning beast and a stimulant for brain cells, it is a social beverage in coffeehouses around the world– coffeehouses that encourage creativity, the exchange of ideas, intimate conversation over a bistro table, and enjoying pulp fiction in a secluded corner. For our small corner of the world, Common Grounds is one such coffeehouse and has the necessary comfortable atmosphere that encourages people from all walks of life to enter and order an espresso from the barista (coffee bartender) or pour a steaming cuppa joe for themselves and have a seat.

If you have been to a coffee specialty shop in the past few years you may have noticed a change: there are pedantic coffee snobs with their cupping (very detailed, slurping taste tests for coffee quality), lipid percentages, and soil temperatures in Martinique, who may pop up from time to time to educate the apathetic. Ignore them and drink your decaf fat-free double white chocolate cappuccino; coffee is still for the masses.

I am giving the industry a bit of a jab there, but with so many coffee choices, it can be difficult to order and get exactly what you want. Fortunately, Melissa, a barista at Common Grounds, gave me a quick lesson, so I am now more prepared to explain it a little better.

Espresso is the beginning and is a dark, roasted bean, finely ground and tightly packed, that has pressurized hot water forced through it. The goal of delicious espresso is the perfect crema–the aromatic tan-colored thin layer of foam that lies on the top of the drink. Just the look of the crema can tell the barista whether the shot is too weak or bitter.

The next steps are just variations and additions: a Cubano is espresso brewed with sugar in the grounds, an Americano is espresso with hot water added, and a Red Eye is a shot of espresso added to coffee.

Many types of coffee are served at Common Grounds, but the cafe lattes and cappuccinos have become the most creative of the coffee drinks with so many extra ingredients added. Lattes are espresso with steamed milk, and cappuccinos are topped with frothed milk, but the extras added can be syrups such as hazelnut, vanilla, and Irish cream, or toppings such as chocolate, cinnamon, caramel, and whipped cream.

Those coffees may sound like dessert, but there are actual baked goods served that are large and delicious. Ruth Ralph is the baker for Common Grounds and she fills the glass case with beautiful treats: cinnamon rolls (about 8" in diameter) covered in icing and whole pecans, thick walnut brownies, homemade scones, muffins, pies, and cakes. All of which can be special ordered for pick up.

One of my favorite foods at Common Grounds, (because I am still at heart around six years old) is the Urban S'mores. It is a wooden sectioned bowl with a small iron urn in the middle that is filled with sterno and set on fire. Marshmellows are on wooden skewers ready to be charred and Hershey's Chocolate Bar pieces and graham crackers are waiting in the wooden bowl. Recently, a Girl Scout troupe had a very nice time making s'mores in this coffeehouse.

All of this coffee hoopla began with the discovery of coffee which involves an East African (probably Ethiopian) goat herder in 600 A.D., named Kaldi who, while watching his goats, noticed that they were more playful after eating berries from a particular bush. He naturally tried them himself, felt rejuvenated, and told others of this amazing berry. Monks, upon hearing about this, dried the beans inside the berries to ship them so that they could be rehydrated later at other monasteries for enhanced prayer. This led to better transportation and the eventual cultivation of coffee berries which began in Yemen. Today, Kaldi's berries have become the world's most popular beverage, a multi-billion dollar industry and that sweet cup waiting for me as I awake from a lovely dream in the morning.

Please email your culinary heads-ups to Karen at