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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. www.cafeontheparkcom. (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.

Dudley’s Restaurant
380 S. Mill Street in Historic Dudley Square. 252-1010. A Lexington tradition, with adventurous takes on regional cuisine and an award winning wine list. Patio, bar, and dining room each provide a unique atmostphere. Open everyday: Mon-Sat 11:30-2:30 for lunch; Sun 11:30-2:30 for brunch; and dinner Sun-Thurs 5:30-10 and Fri-Sat 5:30-11. Reservations recommended.

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.

Good Foods Coop
455-D Southland Dr. (859) 278-1813. Good food fast.
Eat in or carry out. Self-serve hot bar, cold salad bar,
grab & go deli goodies, free range chicken, hormone-free
beef & pork, fresh fish, cheeses, homemade breads, muffins, bagels. Coffee, juice & smoothie bar. Breakfast, lunch & dinner. Mon-Sat 7:30 am-9 pm, Sun 8 am-9 pm.

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.

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 Culinary Criss Cross

It's hard to find purity in food these days. Not purity in the safety and cleanliness meaning of the word. That's pretty much assured since we have people like the Health Department, Department of Agriculture, FDA, and the Busybodies of America looking out for our welfare. In fact, if anything we need to keep them in check, since if it was up to them our food would be so squeaky clean we wouldn't want to eat it.

Remember a year or so ago when they passed a law in California outlawing Caesar salad made with raw eggs? Luckily less hardboiled minds prevailed and it was later revised so now you can get a real Caesar salad as long as the waiter or waitress gets your prior approval. In triplicate. Unfortunately this means you have to bring your lawyer to dinner with you to review the release form. On the bright side though, eating Caesar salad in restaurants has become the hottest diet aid sweeping the state, since it turns out most people lose their appetite when a lawyer's sitting at the dinner table with them.

No, my concern isn't with the health purity of food, it's with the ethnic purity. I'm afraid that with the way current cooking trends are going, the line between ethnic cuisines is blurring faster than an eye chart after a bottle of tequila. America may be the melting pot of the world, but that doesn't mean it's necessary to throw anything that's handy into the double boiler, does it? This is, after all, the same cooking method that led us to Slim Jims, Spam, and Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cereal.

This culinary miscegenation is pretty much a restaurant phenomenon. At home, people still seem to be perfectly content to keep the boiling bag spinach souffle separate from the microwave French toast and apart from the Toast-R-Pasta. But go out to eat and it's another thing altogether.

The biggest of these combo trends may be Pan-Pacific cooking, which earned its name because chefs calmly throw anything they want in the pan and people will not only eat it, but will stand in line and pay big bucks to do so. Pan-Horrific was the original, more accurate title, but lucky for them the marketing people prevailed.

Pan-Pacific shouldn't be confused with side-by-side menus, like the Chinese-Japanese restaurant I recently came across. No, the idea here is to mix and match any and all Asian food items in the same dish so you end up with things like sushi egg foo young over soba noodles in green curry sauce (patent pending).

I'm not sure what it is about Asian food that brings out this urge (Iron Chef?), but I suspect it stems from the American thinking that anything eaten with chopsticks is more or less the same thing anyway.

Pizza has also become fair game. Gone are the simple days of sausage, mushroom, or maybe even the Zen pizza, "one with everything." Now you can get your pie topped with barbecue chicken, lamb curry, and Thai noodles in peanut sauce. Luckily it's easy to spot these restaurants since their signs proudly proclaim that they have gourmet pizza, which is an oxymoron that ranks right up there with quality network TV.

Then we have those wonderful food items which Mexicans have been calling burritos since the first Mayan Bell restaurant opened, oh, about a thousand years ago, only now they've been reincarnated under the name wraps. At least that's what they call them when they fill them with Caesar salad, corned beef and cabbage, and chicken soup with matzo balls, all things which god wouldn't have created had he known someone would end up stuffing them in a tortilla.

And bagels, now there's an area where cross-pollination has achieved new heights. Or is that lows? Bagels now come in more flavors than Baskin-Robbins ice cream (and I suspect they share test kitchens). While luckily they haven't started making bagels mixed with other ethnic foods-not that I've seen, anyway-they've certainly blurred the line between bread, pastry, and candy. I'm not being a total purist about this-though I could since my mother claims I teethed on stale bagels-but wouldn't it be better if they spent their time doing something more useful than dreaming up bizarre bagel flavors like pumpkin-pesto-carob-swirl? You know, like say, learn how to make a decent bagel?

If this cross-pollination trend continues we can expect to see restaurants opening up featuring a whole slew of new food styles, like NATO-Fusion cooking (schnitzel pizza, escargot and kidney pie, and back-bacon borscht), Mexi-bird (a charming buffet featuring tacos, gravlax, and lutefisk mole), and those ubiquitous California combo Chinese Food/Donut shops which will go totally hog wild by selling sweet and sour donut holes.

Interestingly, all of this comes at a time when the Associated Press reports that chefs are increasingly up in arms about the Americanization of food. They're upset because French dressing shouldn't be creamy and made with tomatoes. They claim pepperoni pizza is a shuck since there isn't any such thing as pepperoni in Italy. And they bemoan the fortune cookies we get at the end of Chinese meals because, well, they're an American invention.

Make up your minds, Chefs of America. Which will it be, purity or total fusion? Gee, it's enough to make you drown your sorrows in a loaf of Wonderbread and a jar of Cheez-Wiz.