Thursday, July 2, 2009

Dinner at Dudley's

Satisfied and stuffed from our lunch in Louisville, my husband and I continued on our journey to Lexington, Kentucky. So far the sun still shone, although some clouds were beginning to move in. The drive on I-64 between Louisville and Lexington is beautiful, and we soon arrived at our hotel. White horse fences front the road and stone gates frame the entrance to the hotel. Griffin Gate Marriott Resort and Spa stands tall against the pines on the property while an antebellum mansion next door now houses Kentucky’s first four diamond restaurant.

We have arrived.


The Mansion at Griffin Gate.

We arrived shortly after 3 pm to find that check-in time was actually 4 pm and that our room wasn’t quite ready for us. No problem; we signed in at the desk and walked around the hotel for a bit before heading to the lounge for a drink.

Ooh look, a peek into the kitchen area of the hotel.
An hour and a half later we were given the keys to our room and headed out to the car to get our bags. After getting off the elevator, we walked and walked and walked down the hall. At last! We reached the end of the fifth floor hall and stood before the door to our room. We opened the door to find that we actually had been given a corner room with a wide window on the far wall and a sliding glass door on the right side wall. To our surprise we even had a balcony furnished with two chairs and a small table. Other than that, the room was the standard hotel room that one expects to find. Unfortunately our room also had one additional feature: a rather pronounced musty smell. Indeed, that evening as I was closing the drapes, I found that a large section of wallpaper had peeled from the wall underneath the window and that mold was growing on the wall. Fortunately for me, I didn’t seem to be allergic to the molds that were present in the room. The smell was dispelled by a judicious spraying of my travel-size lavender pillow mist. Rest assured that I used the courtesy comment card in the room to notify the hotel of this issue. After all, mold isn’t just a cosmetic issue – it is a very real health issue.

So far, just what you'd expect from a hotel room.

But wait, there's more...

Including a balcony.
A very disappointing discovery was that the Griffin Gate Marriott Resort and Spa does not offer free Wi-Fi. Period. However, for a small fee of $12.95 per day, guests are encouraged to connect to their iBAHN network using the provided cable. This means that the Internet is available only in the guest rooms or in the business center. Certainly not user friendly. Needless to say, I chose to forgo the Internet for the duration. What, me cheap? Well, maybe. And besides, it’s the principle of the thing.
As my husband noted, the hotel could easily charge four to five dollars more a day for each hotel room and offer "free" Wi-Fi Internet service to the guests.
But enough of that. Let's get on to the food, shall we?

Before we left home I had done some research on the Internet and had decided on a restaurant for us to try on Thursday evening. Dudley’s Restaurant is housed in a restored schoolhouse near downtown Lexington.

The storms hit about the time were ready to leave for the restaurant. Luck was with us and we arrived, not too terribly wet after our sprint through the rain.

The formal dining room.
The front room is a rather casual space with a bar along one wall. We made our way to the hostess station and asked to be seated in the more formal dining room. We were able to get a table right away and after settling in, began the difficult task of deciding just what to order.

After much deliberation and backtracking, along with some help from our friendly waiter, we made our decisions and ordered.

While we watched the lightning flashes and the rain pour down, we talked quietly and relaxed with our drinks, a nice Riesling for me and a whisky sour for my husband. Our food soon arrived and after I took pictures, to the amusement of our neighboring diners, we each tasted our entree.

I decided to be adventurous and ordered the daily special of pan-seared antelope leg medallions with a wild mushroom glace, apples, beets, fennel and Peruvian fingerling potatoes.

The antelope was cooked to medium and the meat was moist, tender and succulent. As the water had promised, the meat tasted very much like beef, with no overt gaminess present. The wild mushroom glace was smooth and held just a hint of sweetness from the red wine reduction. The purple Peruvian fingerling potatoes had been cut in half lengthwise and were nicely browned. The green-skinned apples (Granny Smith, perhaps?) were thinly sliced and lent a counterpoint to the rich, buttery flavor of the antelope. The fennel was thinly shaved and had just a bit of that anise flavor. The beets were diced and quite frankly, could have been omitted from my plate as I didn’t care for the almost acidic bite they lent the dish. But I suppose it is all a question of balance. All in all, this was an inspired dish that left me wanting more. I would gladly eat antelope again, if it was prepared as expertly as this was.

My husband chose the Classic Tournedos Maxwell with two petite beef filets topped with crab and béarnaise sauce beside asparagus and pureed potatoes.

My husband thoroughly enjoyed his dish and even ate a couple of asparagus spears, no small feat that. After dinner we briefly contemplated ordering coffee and sharing a dessert before deciding that we really should take advantage of the slight lull in the rain.
And my advice to you? If you ever find yourself in Lexington, Kentucky with a few extra bucks in your wallet, do yourself a favor and go to Dudley's. You will be glad you did.

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