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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 & 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. (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 The PB & J

Is there any better food combination than peanut butter and jelly? Quite possibly, but I personally can't imagine it. This, though, is somewhat of a biased opinion - I happen to love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I always have. In fact peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are part of my daily diet; I consume on average one per day. They're quick, easy, and nutritious.

What's not to like? A well-made PB & J has multiple levels of flavors and textures - the intense and creamy, almost smoky flavor of ground roasted peanuts layered with fresh, sugared fruit spread, and sandwiched between toasted fresh-made whole wheat or whole-grain bread.

All right, maybe that's romanticizing the ordinary just a little too much, but a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on toast is undeniably a great marriage of taste and texture.

It often surprises people when they hear of a professional cook eating such "common foods," as if it is some dirty little secret ("Joe eats peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? But he's a chef!").

It's not as if I'm sneaking into a golden-arched restaurant, which I detest on many levels (not just the crappy food, but on a larger scale how they are devolving our nation's palate).

Besides, if a chef's diet consisted primarily of what he or she cooked in restaurants -demi-glace and wine reduction sauces, cream, etc. - they would be as big as a house, not to mention have serious digestive problems.

While the peanut butter and jelly sandwich is definitely an American original it surprises me that it is such a recent addition to our culinary repertoire. Leavened bread, of course, has been in existence some 6000 years, and the popularity of the sandwich in general has been known since 1763 when one John Montague began to eat his meals between two slices of bread (good ole John was also the Earl of Sandwich, hence the food's name, as you already know from Saturday Night Live).

And the method of preserving fruits in sugar, such as jellies, jams, and marmalades, has been in existence almost as long as leavened bread. Though, historically speaking, the use of peanuts as a common foodstuff is relatively new. Peanut butter was first introduced as an inexpensive, flavorful, and good source of protein at the St. Louis World's fair in 1890, and the famous and industrious scientist George Washington Carver began researching multi uses for peanuts around 1914.

I sometimes wonder then, usually while happily eating a PB & J, why this awesome combination took so long to become popular?

Some food historians claim the famous sandwich in mention had its beginnings in the early 1930's, but as far as I can tell it originated during or around the time of the Second World War. During that time staples such as butter, cheese, and meat, were of course, in short supply, and at the same time a common snack for children was bread and butter, and sometimes jelly.

To compensate for the lack of butter, mothers began to use peanut butter, which was in plentiful supply. Not surprisingly, kids liked it. In addition, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were supposedly also on certain GI ration menus. When these GIs returned home they still wanted this sweet and savory snack. The rest, as they say, is history.

If you really think about it, a well-made peanut butter and jelly sandwich - one that is constructed of good and wholesome ingredients - can actually be a type of gourmet food (the word "gourmet," after all, is simply a matter of opinion). It can also be a very healthy meal or snack. Consider the elements. Let's start with peanut butter. In a 1999 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition nutritionists confided that a diet high in peanuts can lower bad cholesterol. In fact, it stated that peanuts could have a more positive effect on a person's cholesterol level than a "low fat" diet. In a study that compared diets high in monounsaturated fat (the fat found in peanuts) against some low fat diets, it was concluded that diets high in monounsaturated fats are far superior than many low fat diets in regard to heart health.

When purchasing ingredients for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, like any other meal, purchase the best. In the case of peanut butter buy the natural type. Read the label, the ingredient list should simply state "peanuts" (and sometimes salt). Sugar in peanut butter is unnecessary; your sandwich will be sweetened with jelly. There is sometimes a thin layer of oil floating on the top of quality peanut butter. This is actually a good sign because natural peanut butters do not contain any sort of emulsifiers or stabilizers, and some of the oil separates from the peanuts and floats to the surface of the jar. Simply stir it in before using it. One of the worst ways to ruin a good PB & J sandwich is to use low or reduced fat peanut butter. Who knows what the fat is replaced with, and personally I would rather consume a small amount of something pure than some sort of unnatural emulsion.

If jelly is of good quality, with minimal, natural, and recognizable ingredients, it too can be a reasonably healthy food - processed fruit, with a little sugar and pectin. There are even jellies available without sugar (sweetened with fruit juice), and those with pieces of the actual fruit in them, such as preserves and marmalades, are an extra boon.

The one component that can make or break any sandwich is bread; if you begin with quality bread almost anything can be made into a delicious sandwich. Of course homemade bread is the best sandwich bread - making it nurtures both the body and soul. But there are plenty of quality loaves to be had at any number of local bakeries.

This category, of course, does not include the spongy-soft, stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth supermarket bread. That type of bread has no place in serious sandwich making, unless you're planning a retro 70s party. But that's another menu.

Please email your culinary heads-ups to Karen at