From the inception of this blog, I knew I wanted to write a series of articles about Kentucky. I’m a Kentucky girl to the core. I love how the terrain changes as you drive across the state, from the mountains, to the rolling hills, to the bluegrass. I love the heritage and culture in the mountains. I love the fact that, while we are at the northern border of the Mason Dixon line, we hold fast to southern manners and traditions. I love the mix of southern and Appalachian cuisine, and there is nothing like a central Kentucky sunset over the rolling meadows of a horse farm. I’m not sure how many articles I will write in this series, but I’m thinking it will be open-ended, because there is just so much of Kentucky I want to share!
Photography by Jason Justice
In the heart of Kentucky’s Bluegrass region is Lexington, my second home. Lexington is unique in that it’s a small town that lives like a big city. I love the diversity of the city itself, because whether you are in the mood for a rural Sunday drive, a suburban neighborhood, or an urban cityscape with lofts and unique shopping and dining, you’ll find it in Lexington.
I love the variety of locally owned and operated restaurants in Lexington. Some of my favorites have been around for decades, while others are relatively new. One of the old standards is Winchell’s on Southland Drive. Decorated with movies and sports memorabilia and televisions showing a large variety of sporting events, it’s a great place to eat with friends while watching a game!
Now, as a born and bred Kentucky girl, I’m a bit of a Hot Brown snob. For those of you who are not familiar with the dish, it is a culinary delight that originated at The Brown Hotel in Louisville and features roasted turkey (sometimes paired with ham) on toast points, covered in a Mornay cheese sauce and topped with tomatoes and bacon. As a self-proclaimed Hot Brown connoisseur, I feel that if a restaurant has a Hot Brown on the menu, I am duty-bound to order it, or at least convince someone else at my table to order it so I can try it. Many restaurants have their own versions of the Hot Brown, but not all are created equal. Winchell’s Hot Brown, however, passed with flying colors! The Mornay sauce was perfect and everything was layered in the right proportions. Delicious!
If you have a palate that can tolerate spicy foods, try Winchell’s Hot Chicken! When the server placed it in front of me, the golden chicken was placed on two pieces of white bread. My immediate thought was, “What’s up with the bread?” After the first taste, I fully understood the purpose of the bread – it was there to buffer the heat of the chicken! The chicken was tender, tasty, and HOT! I would describe it as Kentucky meets the Bayou. I ordered the chicken with a side of mac and cheese and a cup of tomato basil soup. It was all delicious! We also had a potato soup connoisseur among us who said they will be making another trip to Winchell’s to get another bowl. The next time you’re in Lexington, stop by Winchell’s. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.