Jonathan at Gratz Park: First Stop in a Fine Progression

Horse Mania outside Gratz Park Inn

Horse Mania outside Gratz Park Inn

Perhaps all of Gratz Park Inn'sWorld Equestrian Games guests were still enjoying the events at the Horse Park late yesterday afternoon when I met a friend for a celebratory drink and bite in the woodily handsome Jonathan at Gratz Park bar, near both our houses and workplaces.

We had the place to ourselves.

Sign welcoming guests coming to the Equestrian Games

Sign welcoming guests coming to the Equestrian Games

Quiet reigned. (Actually this particular week, probably quiet reined.) The fellow below looks a bit buggy-eyed from extending his welcoming hand around the clock to our guests from around the world.

Jockey statue outside Gratz Park Inn, Lexington, Kentucky

Jockey statue outside Gratz Park Inn, Lexington, Kentucky

In honor of multiple birthdays, anniversaries, and long friendship, my friend and I planned to have a drink and an appetizer before heading to the "Born and Bred" Kentucky poetry reading down the street at the Carnegie Center. According to the advance information, the "Born and Bred" organizers had secured the makings of a free meal, courtesy of wonderful Lexington places like Billy's Bar-B-Q, Stella's, Good Foods Café, and Dudley's. What a prelude to poetry! Our adventure at Jonathan amounted to a pre-prelude.

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The Gratz Park Inn/Jonathan bar looks great dressed in white, ready for a party, or ready to handle extra diners if the softly pink dining room fills.

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We sat in lovely light. I confessed to my friend I had "met for drinks" fewer than five times in my life. Two of those times, the Jonathan at Gratz Park bar served as the setting. Really, I wonder, could there be a better place?

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My appetizer, Pimiento Cheese Grit Fries, stood out, with its combination of crunch, melting corn, spice, and ambient piquancy. Pickly picalilli and spicy mustard flavors abounded above, under, around and over the Lincoln Log-stacked fries. We both liked this dish enormously. Jonathan at Gratz Park offers regional or "new southern" cuisine. Southerners apparently love fried food (like everyone else) -- but at Jonathan, someone in the kitchen  practices frying as a fine art.

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Recently I took the new Bleu Plate Tour of downtown Lexington foodie shrines. Our 12-member group oohed at the Jonathan sampling, served in the bar: fried green tomatoes, a spicy deviled egg, and a little tasting bowl of crunchy fried black-eyed peas, a frequent add-in at Jonathan. Eating that sampler platter, and again eating the inspired Pimiento Cheese Grit Fries, I appreciated Jonathan Lundy's investment of 11 years at this distinctive restaurant. And I appreciated the opportunity to have a small party before a fine event at the nearby Carnegie Center, one more reason to delight in downtown Lexington these days.

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The world is coming to visit central Kentucky this year for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. To help our visitors know more about Kentucky's food and food ways, Savoring Kentucky is rolling out 116 Savory Kentucky Bites, one for each of the 100 days before WEG begins, and 16 for the days during WEG, September 25 - October 10. Today's Savory Bite is number 105.

116 World EQ Game Postrona