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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. (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.

"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.

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. 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 Meals in Minutes?

Recently, I had to very quickly plan and execute a menu for eight people who would be arriving at my doorstep within a few hours. Fortunately, the house was on the upside of clean and my husband was available for running errands and taking orders, so all that I had to do was make a menu, one that would cover all of the bases. It had to be informal, buffet style, vegetarian-friendly, able to be made on a hot-plate and grill (we ripped the old kitchen out of our house, still waiting on the new), and prepared very quickly. The solution turned out to be easy, so I thought that I should pass it on in case you find yourself in the same predicament.

Vishal International Supermarket, on Euclid Avenue, was the answer to my problem. Owner, Krishan Sehgal, noticing my wild-eyed-look as I walked in, was extremely helpful. Within a few minutes, we had decided on papadam with mint chutney, chana masala, chicken curry masala, basmati rice with garam masala, chutneys, nan, and gulab jamun. In other words, an appetizer, two entrees (one vegetarian, one not), rice, side sauces, bread, and dessert. I was out the door in a flash, with instructions and recipes in hand, ready to try out a new Indian meal on imminent guests.

The appetizer, papadam, is a round, thin bread that crisps up when cooked and breaks like a cracker. To prepare it, one only needs tongs and a heat source i.e. an electric eye, gas stove burner, or a grill. Place the papadam on the heat source or in its flame until bubbles appear in the bread, then flip it and watch for bubbles on the other side. When there are consistent bubbles all over it, approximately thirty seconds on each side, it is finished and ready to be eaten with spicy chutney.

Both chicken curry masala and chana masala are rich stews that are served over rice. They are very similar in how they are prepared except that one has chicken, the other has chick peas, and each has their own spice mixture available from Vishal. The recipe that Krishan gave me is vague but works, and is as follows: sauté chopped onions until golden, add minced ginger and garlic and sauté only for a moment, add spice mixture, sauté again, add diced tomatoes, sauté until oil separates, add chicken (or chick peas), add enough water to cover, bring to a boil, cover and simmer until tender.

Basmati rice, perfect for Indian dishes, is fragrant and delicious on its own but adding garam masala during the boiling stage makes it really something. Garam masala is a blend of whole spices used frequently in Indian cooking and usually includes cumin seeds, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, coriander, black or green cardamom, and cloves.

Nan is a flat, yeast bread that is grilled or fried so that it has a slightly crusty outside but is still soft and pliable so that you can use it as a utensil to eat rice and sauces. Vishal offers several types of nan; from plain to hot and spicy in its freezer section. Preparing it for a meal is very simple. Krishan told me his mother's secret for this process: thaw the nan completely, lightly sprinkle each side with water, then sauté in butter just until warm. This, he says, makes the nan very soft.

The sauces (chutneys, pickles, and raita) are, to me, the most fun to eat at an Indian meal and their purposes are multifold: to aid in digestion, to cool the palate, and set the tongue on fire. Just a small amount of its concentrated flavor on the side of rice is all that is needed. Chutneys can be sweet such as mango, or hot as in mint or coriander. Pickles are spicy relishes, more coarse and complex than a chutney, and come in a large variety of flavors. Vishal has many types of chutneys and pickles in jars, quite a few from Britain, that would be a nice addition to the quick and easy Indian meal. However, one sauce that is not normally bought is raita and, fortunately, it is very easy to make. There are many variations, but one of the most basic recipes is one cup of plain yogurt, one cup of sour cream, chopped fresh mint, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix and chill.

The sweet meal conclusion, gulab jamun, is small spheres of deep fried dough, soaked in a rose water syrup, which can be bought pre-made fresh, frozen, or in a can. To serve, gently heat with rose water and sprinkle with ground cardamon.

It may seem that I have thrown too many new ingredients at you and it would be impossible to create this meal quickly, but untrue. It is organization that gets a job done and cooking is certainly no exception.

One should begin cooking with the appetizer, papadam, for two reasons: first, the appetizer should almost always be prepared early so that when your guests arrive, they will be appropriately dazzled by your first course: ready and waiting for them, and second, papadam requires constant attention because it cooks quickly. So it is better to get it finished, out of the way, and on to the next project, raita. This sauce needs to have enough time to get really cold and allow the flavors to blend before serving, so it should be made early. Next, the two stews could be made at the same time and while they are simmering, begin the rice. The only remaining step is the nan ,and the whole meal is on its way to the table.

The end result of the meal was very good and I really enjoyed trying it, even under the time restraints. Krishan's help was immeasurable and I will be going to Vishal again soon.

Please email your culinary heads-ups to Karen at