Sunday, October 23, 2011

Lexington Trip, Part 3: Jean Farris Winery and Bistro

Before heading back to Cincinnati after the Kentucky Proud Incredible Food Show, I had time for one more meal. So, without a reservation, I headed for Jean Farris Winery and Bistro. I've seen the winery's name on a brown interstate sign designating "local attraction" many times as I drove to and from Tennessee but never realized it also features a restaurant until I started investigating the day before this trip. It's only three or eight miles off I-75 (depending on which exit you take), about 20 minutes from downtown Lexington. But you're out in the rolling hills of Kentucky horse country.

A short drive through the rows of vines that front Richmond Road . . .

. . . takes you to this structure, which houses an intimate bistro and the enormous side porch you can see on the left.

Although it was a tad chilly when I arrived at 11:30 that Sunday, I asked to be seated on the porch, where I got a lovely view of the surroundings. The high-ceilinged porch is equipped with outdoor heaters and zip-up plastic windows for cooler weather.

Decisions, decisions. I sipped a cup of coffee and nibbled this delectable chocolate chip muffin while struggling to settle on my order.

I wasn't going to miss the opportunity to try the charcuterie board, even though it was early in the day. At dinner as well as weekend brunch (11:00 to 3:00 both Saturday and Sunday), the restaurant offers a rotating variety of cheeses and housemade charcuterie you can mix and match (one for $6 or three for $14). Mine were served on this long, narrow weathered board; similar boards of different shapes and sizes were served to other diners.

With plenty of lovely accompaniments, this could have been a meal in itself. From front to back, here are toasted pecans, freshly grilled links of fennel and milk-fed veal sausage (outstanding!), and raisin compote.

Then there was a chunk of a sheep's milk cheese called Appalachian, duck liver paté topped with blackberry gelée, and housemade crackers at the back.

As much as I enjoyed the charcuterie, one of my favorite components was the miniature pickled heirloom tomatoes you can see nestled between the cheese and the paté served in a shot glass. If I come back again for dinner, I will definitely try a glass of Jean Farris wine with another one of these samplers.

There were lots of tempting entrées to choose from on the brunch menu as well.

I finally settled on this omelette filled with housemade ricotta, Kentucky mushrooms, and Newsom's prosciutto, made in Princton, Kentucky, southwest of Louisville.

And at last I got my grits on, with this Weisenberger grits cake – light and creamy on the inside, crisp and crunchy on the outside.

Whether you're brunching or not, enjoy your Sunday. I'm off to the Cincinnati Chocolate Festival, and with any luck I'll double back for one more installment from the Incredible Food Show later in the week.

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