Lexington: The End of the Road(s) — Celebrating the Chef Ouita Restaurants
At the beginning of September, Midway’s Chef Ouita Michel challenged local eaters to visit each of her five Bluegrass area restaurants by September 19 in order to join in a celebration that evening at Lexington’s West Sixth Brewery. I accepted the challenge, kicking things off with a visit to the Midway School Bakery.
The next week I made it to Windy Corner Market for a Bourbon Barrel Deluxe Burger. Mrs. Eat Kentucky joined me at Smithtown Seafood where she had her favorite dish, shrimp & grits, while I tested out the Cape Codder fish sandwich. We couldn’t resist the last of the fried pickled okra (they even have that?!).
With time running out and the party only two days away, I drove out Old Frankfort Pike–perhaps my favorite drive–to Wallace Station for breakfast. I had never been to Wallace Station for breakfast, and I jumped on the Breakfast Brown Panini. Readers no doubt know I’m always game for a hot brown variation, and I’m a big fan of the WS Inside Out Hot Brown for lunch.
One advantage of breakfast at Wallace Station is the lack of the crowd you find later in the day. If you want a more relaxed Wallace Station, morning is for you. The weather is also perfect for morning outside eating right now. The Breakfast Brown? Piping hot and delicious.
That left me with only one restaurant left: Ouita’s flagship restaurant, Midway’s Holly Hill Inn.
And…I didn’t make it.
That’s right, after a rush to eat at four Ouita restaurants before the deadline I didn’t make it to the fifth.
And I confess, it’s because I knew I could cheat.
I was in a time bind, and simply couldn’t make it out to Midway to eat on such a tight schedule. But when getting my passport stamped at two different restaurants I had been told that each restaurant would actually have a table at the West Sixth party, and that you could get any lacking stamps taken care of there in exchange for a $5 food ticket.
So at the party I dutifully picked up my ticket and ate a tasty and light fig and beet salad from Holly Hill. There was also a table of hors d’oeuvres and crazy good salted caramel pumpkin cake. Everyone received a “Ouita” t-shirt and a commemorative glass. It was a fun time.
“The restaurant business is about people. It’s not really about the food.” ~ Chef Ouita Michel
I had a chance to sit down and chat with Ouita about her forthcoming restaurant at the new Summit development on the intersection of Nicholasville & Man O’War in Lexington. The name of the new restaurant will be Honeywood and is slated to open October 2016, barring any construction delays. Ouita is traveling to Texas soon to talk to kitchen designers.
This new Summit restaurant is going to be something that is unlike anything we’ve seen from Ouita before. Why waste your time at the Cheesecake Factory when you can go over to Honeywood?
Ouita also indicated that beyond Honeywood there will be some very familiar Lexington and Kentucky food names at the Summit. The Birmingham based developer is not only bringing in big national brands, but they particularly want the food to be Kentucky focused. Ouita was very excited about it, and by the time we finished talking I was, too!
Lexington and the Bluegrass is blessed to have Ouita’s vision and commitment to local cuisine. Yes, there are many good restaurants beyond Ouita’s, but no one else has put together such a broad array of offerings that while possessing individual distinctiveness, maintain a loyalty to the place where they’re found.