Events, Places to Eat

Lexington Restaurant Week 2016

lexington restaurant week 2016

Lexington Restaurant Week is such an exciting week. It was from July 21st to July 30th. There were 44 of the best locally-owned, independent restaurants participating in this event (no chain restaurants!). For Lexington Restaurant Week, there was a special menu that you could order off of.  Some restaurants were two can dine for $26, and usually it included two or three courses. For example, for that deal, you shared an appetizer, you each got an entree, and you got to share a dessert. However, each restaurant, offered different things, so some may have only offered two courses.

The other restaurants were $26 per person, and those were also multi-courses as well. For example, for that deal, you each got an appetizer, you each got an entree, and you each a dessert. Lexington Restaurant Week is another good event to try out restaurants that you may or may not have heard of before. It’s also a good chance to especially try out the fancier, more costly restaurants to see if you would like them or not. The $26 per person is a steal, because at some of the restaurants, an entree alone is $26 or more.

Like I mentioned with Lexington Burger Week, which was a little over a week before Lexington Restaurant Week, there are so many options to choose from. This is also a great event, because $1 of every meal served goes to the LexArts.

What LexArts is all about:

“LexArts is greater Lexington’s premier cultural development, advocacy and fund raising organization.

As both the area arts council and united arts fund, LexArts provides a wide range of programs and services designed to integrate the arts into our daily lives including the LexArts Gallery Hop, Lexington Youth Arts Council and ArtScope…This Week in the Arts email calendar.

LexArts’ President & CEO and board members work closely with community leaders and local and state officials concerning public funding and cultural facilities.  Through its annual Fund for the Arts, LexArts raises millions of dollars in support of local arts and distributes general operating support to its Partner Organizations, as well as offering competitive special project and programming grants to other arts organizations in the area.

LexArts also operates ArtsPlace, a former YMCA turned cultural edifice, which offers rehearsal space and office space for nonprofit arts organizations. ArtsPlace is also home to ArtsPlace Gallery, one of Lexington’s premier visual art galleries, dedicated to showcasing high quality works by Kentucky artists.”

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We decided to go to Cheapside (two can dine for $26) for an early dinner. We usually hang out at Cheapside Bar and the Fifth Third Bank Pavillion (approximately 5700 square feet) on the weekend for drinks (there are tons of bars on that strip near the Pavillion – it is packed on the weekends), but we have never have ate at Cheapside before, so we decided to give it a try. Cheapside has been in the heart of downtown and a Lexington favorite for about 30 years.However, the block of Cheapside dates back to 1813. A lot of people may or may not know about the history of Cheapside. It sadly has a dark and sinister past. During the slavery era in Kentucky, what is known as “Cheapside” in Lexington became one of the largest slave-trading locality in the state. In fact, it was one of the most well known slave market districts in the South. In the post-war era” Cheapside” served as a public square and market. Currently, it is now where farmer markets are held, as well as events such as Thursday Night Live, celebrations and festivals and where people hang outside on the weekends, since there are many bars located facing the Pavilion.

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For our appetizer, we got the Loaded Cheapside Tots, which are crispy fried cracked red potatoes with queso, pepper bacon, green onions, and jalapeños. For my entree, I got the Downtown Brown, which is a take on the Kentucky Hot Brown. The Downtown Brown is chicken, ham, cuatro queso, and pepper bacon. My husband chose the Cheapside Quesadilla for his entree, which was your choice of meat with lime cream, roasted corn, and black beans.

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Later in the week, we made reservations for Dudley’s on Short (multi-course for $26 per person), since we have never been and had always wanted to go. It’s one of the fancier, fine dining restaurants in the city. Dudley’s Restaurant has been a Lexington staple since 1981. If you go, be sure to try to reserve table 18 or the one next to it (I can’t remember if it its table 17 or 19), but it is kind of secluded in the corner by itself. Also, I heard they have a rooftop patio, which I plan on going back in the fall, when it isn’t 100+ degrees outside.

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A little history about Dudley’s: Dudley’s Restaurant used to be in Historic Dudley’s Square until October 2009. They then moved to the Cheapside District in 2010 to The Northern Bank Building, which was built in 1889 and one of the most prominent in downtown Lexington. Not only did it face the rear of the courthouse but it marked the beginning of Market Street. That became the entrance to the aristocratic Gratz Park Residential Historic District. It also was the head of Cheapside, originally the Public Square and location of the Market House, later the site of Court Days. Dudley’s is a two-story gorgeous fine-dining restaurant in the heart of downtown Lexington.

*They are actually celebrating 35 years this August 26th with a pretty cool event! There will be a $135-a-plate dinner, with an optional $65 wine pairing and will feature special dishes prepared by current chefs Mark Richardson and John Schweder and former chefs including Ouita Michel of Holly Hill Inn, Jonathan Searle of 21c Lexington’s Lockbox, Brian Kindel of Saint Joseph Hospital, Eric “Abe” Lansdale of Winchell’s, Erik Fowler of Idle Hour Country Club, and Will Preston of Blue Heron Steakhouse.

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At Dudley’s, we each got our own appetizer, entree, and dessert. My husband chose the White Gazpacho (grapes, marcona almonds, country ham “powder”) for his entree {top left}. For my appetizer, I chose the Fried Green Tomatoes (cilantro, smoked tomato remoulade) {top right}. My husband chose for his entree the Roasted Salmon with crisp young potatoes, cucumber, avocado aïoli, fennel {bottom left}. The entree that I chose was the Grilled Flat Iron Steak (cooked medium rare) with potato purée, bacon braised greens, tomato pistou {bottom left}. I didn’t take any pictures of the desserts, but one of the desserts was a Valrhona Chip Mousse hazelnut butter, marshmallow cream, and the other was a type of panna cotta. This meal was super delicious, and the atmosphere made it even better. I can’t wait to go back again!


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We just had to go back to JDI, since it is one of our favorites. You may remember me mentioning JDI from Lexington Burger Week. They are the ones that had the JDI Bourbon Bacon burger. JDI was one of the restaurants that was two can dine for $26.

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Like all the restaurants participating in Restaurant Week, you had a few options to choose from. For our appetizer {top left}, we chose to share the beer cheese with pita chips and tortilla chips. My husband chose the Pulled Pork Sandwich (in-house smoked pulled pork topped with pickle slices and hot or sweet BBQ sauce on a toasted brioche bun). Served with Tavern Chips {top right}. I chose the Beer-Battered Chicken Tenders. Holy moly! With those AND the fries, it was enough food for TWO people. There were definitely no complaints here. Their fries are seriously the best! {bottom left}. For dessert, we also had options, so we chose the Funnel Cake Fries {bottom right}. How fun is that?


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The Merrick Inn has been on our list of restaurants to try for quite some time, so we just had to make reservations (multi-course for $26 per person) and take this opportunity to try it for the first time. This is also a restaurant that would be considered a fancier and fine-dining restaurant.

A little history about The Merrick Inn: Some people may or may not know how The Merrick Inn got its name, but it was named after the great thoroughbred, Merrick. The Merrick Inn was built before the Civil War and completely remodeled in 1936 by the Cal Milam family. The Merrick Inn served as the manor house for one of Lexington’s finest horse farms.

“Merrick finished in the money 157 times, winning 62 races. Merrick became a member of the Milam family not only because of his success at the races, but also because he was “worthy in deeds and noble in character” ~ a tribute to him etched by the Milams on his gravestone located in the shady circle just in front of the inn.  Merrick died in 1941 at the age of 38, the oldest of all thoroughbreds.  Merrick was a truly special horse and his namesake a very special farm.”

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For our appetizer, we got to choose one to share. We chose the house favorite, Grouper Fingers with their famous mustard sauce {top left}. These were so good! My husband chose the Pecan Crusted Pork Tenderloin sautéed with Maker’s Mark apple chutney, and maple chipotle butter. His was pretty delicious, and definitely worth going back for! {top right}. For my entree, I chose the Maker’s Mark Pork Chop, 10oz. brined chop, cheese grits, and toasted onions {bottom left}. It was one of the best meals that I have ever eaten! No joke. I was amazed at such the large portion! I even had some people stop by my table and ask what it was because it looked good! For dessert, we had Cannon’s bread pudding {bottom right}.

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We decided to go to Willie’s Locally Known (two can dine for $26) to get some barbecue. For our appetizer, we shared some southern fried oysters. You can fry anything in the South and have it taste good! I got the brisket with two sides, and my husband got the ribs. For our dessert, we shared Donut Days Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce.

As you can see this is a lot of delicious food, and it’s all from locally owned restaurants. I’m a big advocate of eating local, and I try to do that and only that. If given an option of eating somewhere, I’d much prefer it to be somewhere local. I kind of cringe, when I see people giving people suggestions on where to eat and they name chain restaurants. I don’t have anything against chain restaurants. I’d just prefer supporting local businesses in the community. They are the ones that are innovative and creative. They could be your friend or your neighbor. They are what makes America great. They aren’t part of a big corporation. They are doing things their own way and bringing the community something new and delicious with their own spin on things. Not to mention the food and service is usually always better in comparison. Supporting local restaurants goes beyond the restaurant itself, because you are also supporting the local farmers from where they source their ingredients and meat from!

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