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Top Restaurants from a Top Chef: Spotlight on Lexington, Kentucky

By Liza Weisstuch
January 27, 2022
Lexington Ky
James Kirkikis | Dreamstime.com
We asked Lexington, Kentucky’s, top chef where to eat. Here’s what he said.

Cole Arimes opened his first restaurant Coles 735 Main in 2012, and he’s been pushing Lexington’s culinary reputation into the national spotlight ever since. His second new restaurant, Epping’s On Eastside, is a stylish, lively eatery in a historic building specializing in elevated pub grub and wait-worthy brunches.

Cole-Arimes-3.jpg?mtime=20190920105849#asset:106903Cole Arimes knows a thing or two about Lexington's food and drink scene © Erica Lee Photography


This all comes as Lexington neighborhoods up their cool quotient. The Distillery District, for one, anchored by the newly refurbished historic James E. Pepper Distillery, draws revelers with bars (including one in the distillery), restaurants, an arcade, a brewery, and plenty more. We checked in with Cole to get his tips on dining around this dynamic town.

The Best Burger: Wallace Station Deli

Ouita Michel’s Kentucky bona fides run deep. She opened her first restaurant in 2001, and since then she’s opened seven more in the area, written cookbooks, appeared as a judge on Top Chef, garnered several James Beard Award nominations, and made very high-profile initiatives to support Kentucky farmers. But she hasn’t forgotten about simple pleasures, like a mighty fine burger.

Cole heads to Wallace Station Deli, her farmhouse-style deli in Midway, about 30 minutes from Coles 735 Main, for his burger fix. And if his young son and daughter come along, not only do they appreciate the restaurant’s kid-friendly vibe, but the ride along the grassy landscape where thoroughbred horses roam captivates their attention during the trip.

Best Latin Food: Corto Lima

Cole has a hard time coming up with an answer when asked about his favorite dishes at Corto Lima. “Everything,” he replies. “The chicharonnes are awesome and the black bean and pork dish is excellent.”

Run by Jonathan Lundy, James Beard Award semi-finalist and cookbook author, this Latin-inspired restaurant’s small-plate style lends itself to not having to choose favorites. Of course, few things go with this kind of food than a margarita. Cole considers their tequila and mezcal selection the best in the area. And while he’s more of a bourbon guy, “good margaritas aren’t all that bad now and then,” he admits.

Best Ice Cream: Crank and Boom Craft Ice Cream Lounge

Cole let’s his kids call the shots on this one. Their vote is for the industrial-chic Crank and Boom Craft Ice Cream Lounge. Yes, lounge. It’s known for eccentric flavors like coffee stout and dark chocolate truffle, and it’s all made in-house using as many local ingredients as possible. Ice cream cocktails are also on the menu.

“The sundaes are all carefully composed and the ice cream dishes are just all-around fantastic,” he swears. He and his family are hardly the only ones who think that. She started about seven and a half years ago and has blown up in terms of the restaurants that carry her product. She was also one of the first to businesses to open in the Distillery District.

Best Specialty Drinks Spot: Wise Bird Cider Company

In late August, Cole went to Wise Bird Cider Company for the first time, an airy industrial-chic spot with long tables, outdoor seating, and charcuterie on the menu. Never much of a cider guy, he wasn’t sure what to expect, but he ended up liking it so much that now he’s carrying it at both his restaurants. As an added bonus, the space is kid-friendly. “You can let them loose to run around and not fear that they’re gonna tear the place up.”

Best Fine Dining: Dudley’s on Short or Heirloom

Cole sees his fellow chefs and restaurateurs as partners, not competitors. “We’re all in it together,” he insists. He tries to visit other restaurants when he’s not busy running his own two places of spending time with his kids.

Dudley’s on Short, he says, is a longstanding local favorite, much respected for being in business since 1981. Located in a 19th century bank building, he describes it simply as “the tried and true.”

He gushes over Heirloom. Its minimalist décor ensures there are no distractions from what Cole describes as seasonally driven meals that play on Californian cuisine. The team puts a premium on local ingredients, though a menu always includes a few staple dishes, like fried chicken livers and an excellent burger, by Cole’s estimation. But it’s the seasonal dishes that lend the place some excitement. “You never know what you’re gonna get every time you go in,” he says.

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Inspiration

New Yorkers And Parisians Will Soon Have Another Option for Crossing The Pond

This week, low-cost long-haul airline French bee announced its latest route: beginning June 10, 2020, one flight will operate daily between Paris-Orly and Newark Liberty International. Prices won’t be announced until tickets go on sale on September 18, but fares for the carrier’s other routes start at US$189 (€212) for basic economy and US$239 (€268) for economy with extra amenities. (The airline only has a few destinations; it currently offers connections between Paris and Punta Cana, Réunion Island, Tahiti, and San Francisco, and between San Francisco and Paris and Tahiti.) When the EWR - ORY route launches next year, it will be with a fleet of Airbus A350 XWBs, a fuel-efficient aircraft that reportedly reduces CO² emissions by 25%. French bee says the planes were specifically designed with the comfort of long-haul passengers in mind, with air exchange every three minutes, serious sound insulation for four times less noise than the Boeing 787, and all-around LED lighting that makes it easier to nod off and wake up. That’s a good thing, too, because the only flight heading west to east is a red-eye, departing from Newark at 6:15 p.m. and arriving in Orly at 7:30 the next morning. On the return leg, it leaves Orly at 2:00 p.m. and lands at Newark at 4:15 p.m. “With our A350s, passengers are only experiencing pressure equivalent to a stay at an altitude of 1800 metres, creating a much more comfortable atmosphere,” says sales director Sophie Hocquez, adding that the inclination of the walls creates more space. “Our customers...have said they experience less fatigue, and are ready to enjoy their stay as soon as they step on the ground.”

Inspiration

The USA’s Best Fall Wine Harvest Festivals

Come September and October, vineyards begin to harvest the grapes that they’ve ever so carefully grown and cared for all season. Vineyards around the world celebrate their bounty with end-of-harvest festivities. Marking the occasion with music and dancing in the vines to food, grape stomping contests and plenty of vino. Willamette Valley Vineyards – Turner, Oregon Every year Willamette Valley Vineyards, celebrates the end of harvest with a Grape Stomp Championship and Harvest Celebration. So kick off your shoes and get ready to stomp! This year marks the 29th year, and it will take place on September 21st and 22nd in Oregon wine country. The winners of the competition receive an all-expense paid trip to the World Championship Grape Stomp in Santa Rosa. In addition to stomping, guests can enjoy Willamette Valley Vineyards’ latest wine releases (a tasting flight is included with the $15 admission). Guests are also welcome to try the custom harvest-inspired menu created by Winery Chef, DJ MacIntyre, along with live music and lawn games. Calaveras Winegrape Alliance – Murphys, California You’ll feel like you’re going back in time in Murphys, California, a historic Gold Country town nestled in the Sierra foothills. But don’t let that fool you; they sure know how to celebrate the end of harvest. Every first Saturday in October, the town of Murphys transforms into a frenzy of activity with two popular events. Organized by the Calaveras Wine Alliance, the Annual Calaveras Grape Stomp includes energetic stomp competitions every half hour. You can also look forward to live and silent auctions, a team costumes contest and wine tastings of course. Just half a block away, there’s something for everyone at the Annual Gold Rush Street Faire. Main Street fills with over 100 booths of local food, handmade jewelry, unique fashion, art and crafts and more. Château Elan Winery & Resort – Braselton, Georgia The good thing about this winery is that it has a resort just in case you taste too much delicious wine. Château Elan celebrates the end of harvest season with a massive Vineyard Fest on November 17th in the north Georgia foothills. With 1500 guests annually, the festival is sure to be even bigger this year after a $25 million renovation that will be unveiled. This year’s theme is “Flavors of the South” with a spotlight on the local restaurants. Guests can look forward to tasting over 100 beers and wines and a myriad of food stations with everything from pralines to fried green tomatoes. Don’t worry – there will be plenty of grape-stomping to burn off those calories. Niagara Falls Wine Region – Niagara Falls, New York This is a celebration to remember! More than 20 vineyards throughout Niagara Falls USA’s wine region come together for the annual Harvest Festival on September 21st and 22nd. As part of the festival, each vineyard pairs its wine with a harvest-themed appetizer, salad, soup, side dish or dessert. So come hungry! Tickets are $22 and include a tasting of three wines with a food sample at each participating winery. Some dishes to look out for include a lavender and sage ratatouille paired with Liten Buffel’s 2017 Perfetto Vineyard Pinot Noir. Or Long Cliff Winery & Vineyards savory pumpkin macaroni and cheese paired with their 2013 Reserve Pinot Noir. The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey – Cañon City, Colorado Head to The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey for a free harvest event in the Pikes Peak region of Colorado. The Harvest Festival is an annual event where partygoers can indulge in local foods and enjoy blues and jazz bands. Want to make your own wine? Anyone attending ehe Harvest Festival is able to bring their own grapes to be added to that year’s unique “Canon Harvest” wine batch. This all goes down on September 28th and 29th, and the community batch will eventually be bottled and sold. Guests can also splurge on a special dining experience with the Winemakers Dinner Friday night for a cost of $125 per ticket. The chef will highlight Colorado produce, meats, fish, and cheeses in the creation of the menus. Think miso trout and brown butter sage gnocchi, all paired with divine wine. Morgan Creek Vineyards – New Ulm, Minnesota Thanks to its strong German heritage, New Ulm, Minnesota, does Oktoberfest like no other the first two weekends every October. Part of New Ulm’s Oktoberfest celebration, Morgan Creek Vineyards’ annual Grape Stomp kicks off the first Saturday in October. Visitors can enjoy German music and dance performances, food and wine pairings, tours and more. Now, back to the main event. October 5th is the grape stomp competition day, where teams of three to five stompers compete to produce the largest volume of juice stomped from fresh grapes. The prize: bragging rights and a free case of wine. A costume contest is also held in conjunction with the grape stomp. Good luck!

Inspiration

World's First Cheese Conveyor-Belt Restaurant Lands in London

Billed as the world’s first cheese conveyor-belt restaurant, Pick & Cheese comes courtesy of the Cheese Bar team and opens its doors on 7 September in Seven Dials Market, a new food hall in Covent Garden. “We’ve been looking for the perfect spot in the West End for a while now,” says founder Matthew Carver. “We think this style of cheese and wine bar will work so well here – it’s the perfect stop for a pre-theater snack or to refuel after a hard days’ shopping.” Dairy-lovers can belly up to the bar, where spots are first-come, first-served, and spend an hour choosing from cheddar, Stilton, Gouda, and more as they whizz around the 40-metre belt. (“Cheese should always be served at room temperature,” says Carver.) Plates are color-coded by price, so you barely have to think before you grab, say, a £2.95 Mayfield cheese from East Sussex’s Alsop & Walker or a £6.10 bresaola made in Tottenham. With more than 25 varieties sourced from all over the UK, you might be tempted to try one of each. Carver recommends the Kingham, a brand new cheese released this summer that’s served with walnut fudge for a classic salty-sweet combination; Londonshire, from Wildes Cheese just up the road in Tottenham, that’s being paired with honeyed garlic; and Beauvale, “a blue for people who ‘don’t like blue cheese,’” with house-made sticky pear jam. “Over the years, we’ve built up a repertoire of our favorites, and have been waiting for the perfect chance to put them on our menu,” Carver says. “We’ve tried to cater to the more well-known flavor profiles, as well as trying to push people out of their comfort zone to try something new.”As for the conveyor belt itself, it’s been a few years in the making, but it was always part of the plan. “In our Camden restaurant, our customers always want to pick different cheeses from our house list, and create their own bespoke cheeseboard,” Carver says. “We wanted to come up with a way to offer this, whilst showcasing the cheeses at their very best.”

Inspiration

​The Most Romantic Things to Do in Paris

It’s no secret why so many couples choose Paris as a destination for their honeymoon or anniversary trip. The French capital is overflowing with opportunities for lovebirds. Obviously, the Eiffel Tower is the place to go take in the city’s aesthetic beauty, but it’s not the only spot for romance. If you’re planning a trip to Paris with your loved one, make sure these activities are on your itinerary. Picnic in Parc des Buttes-Chaumont On a sunny day pick up a fresh baguette, assortment of cheeses, and a bottle of wine and head to Buttes-Chaumont Park for a picnic. This beautiful 61-acre park, in northeastern Paris, offers stunning views of the city. Perched at the top of an artificial lake, the park also boasts caves, waterfalls, and a suspended bridge. The land is sprinkled with exotic trees, such as Himalayan cedars and Siberian elms, and numerous birds like seagulls, moorhens, and mallard ducks. Stroll arm-in-arm along Canal Saint-Martin This lovely canal, which connects the waters of northeast Paris to the Seine via nine locks, is the perfect place for a stroll with your partner. Grab a bite to eat at one of the many quirky cafes that flank the canal’s water and iron footbridges. Then, make your way to the nearby Parc de la Villette, an urban park that houses museums, concert halls, live performance stages, and theaters. Sail down the Seine No trip to Paris is complete without a river cruise down the Seine, which cuts through the heart of the city. We recommend taking a sunset cruise so that you can see the city’s lights glittering on the water as you sail past landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame, the Louvre, and Pont Neuf. To up the romance, splurge for a lamp-lit dinner cruise. Catch a cabaret show at Moulin Rouge Moulin Rouge is one of the world’s most famous cabaret clubs. After walking under the red windmill that gives the venue its name, you’ll enter the iconic theater, which hosts an outstanding cabaret show that features a troupe of more than 80 dancers donning costumes of feathers, rhinestones and sequins that were handmade in some of the most famous Parisian workshops. Enjoy dinner for two at La Coupole This grand restaurant, which features stunning art deco décor, is the perfect spot for fine dining at a French brasserie. La Coupole’s 450-seat dining room is dotted with 33 majestic pillars. The menu’s lauded lamb curry is served from a rolling cart. An added bonus: the restaurant is located in the historic Montparnasse district, a hub for bohemian painters, sculptors, and other artists. Journey to the Temple of Love Temple de l’Amour, or the “Temple of Love,” is a white-marble dome set on an artificial island in the center of a lake in Versailles. This hidden beauty, commissioned by Queen Marie-Antoinette, is part of the meticulously manicured English Gardens. The temple boasts a sculpture of Cupid cutting his bow from the Club of Hercules. Indulge in decadent Parisian pastries Couples with a sweet tooth should carve out time to visit some of the city’s artisanal chocolate makers. If you’re looking for a rich culinary experience, take a 2.5-hour walking tour (via Viator) of the acclaimed chocolate shops in Saint-Germain where you can sample an array of French delicacies such as chocolate eclairs, truffles, and other delectable sweets. Get lost in the Tuileries Gardens This 55-acre public garden, nestled between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde, is the grand dame of Parisian parks – and it’s the perfect place for a long afternoon stroll. Statues of Maillol stand among those of Rodin or Giacometti in this French formal garden, which was meticulously designed by Italian Renaissance architect Bernard de Carnesse in 1564. More than 14 million people visit the Tuileries Gardens every year. Sip your way through a tour of Paris wineries Escape the city and make your way to some of Paris’ finest wineries, where you can taste incredible vinos from locally made wineries. France’s famous champagne region is an easy day trip away from Paris. Make sure to stop at the cellars at G.H. Mumm, a renowned winemaking house that has been producing bubbly for nearly 200 years. Steal a kiss at the I Love You Wall in Montmartre This off-the-beaten-path art installation, found in the northern suburbs of Paris, features the words “I love you” in over 250 languages. It’s the love child of calligraphist Fédéric Baron and mural artist Claire Kito. Fun fact: the wall is constructed out of 612 individual tiles made from enameled lava.

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