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What's for Dinner?


      "What's for supper?"

     "I don't know.  What do you want?"

     "I don't care.  Let's go out."

     "Where do you want to go?"

      “I don’t know. Where do you want to go?”

     “I don’t know. You decide.”

     “I decided last week. It’s YOUR turn!”

     “Well, I don’t know. What do YOU feel like?”

     “I don’t care. Just DECIDE!”

     “Why me? Why can’t YOU decide?”

     “Oh forget it. I’ll open a can of soup.”


            Sound familiar? We bet it does to at least some, if not most, of our readers.
           Dinners out should be a fun time together…not a source of argument and frustration. Still we all tend to get in a rut don’t we? And who wants that?  
           Well, maybe it’s time to start broadening our gustatory horizons…particularly now that it’s getting colder and the days are getting shorter. Couples need date nights…and we all need something to look forward to… something new and different to break up the monotony during the winter months ahead.

            Why not make dining out an adventure? Even a road trip?
            Did you know those of us fortunate enough to live in the Bluegrass State are blessed with “culinary trails”? Well, we are!
          There’s the I65 Culinary Trail that stretches from Louisville to Bowling Green and features restaurants ranging from 610 Magnolia in Louisville to Mama Lou’s Barbecue #2 in Mumfordville.
     There there’s the Bon Appetit Appalachia Trail that includes 40 restaurants, farm tours, farm to fork restaurants, festivals, events, breweries and so forth.   Start at the Blue Haven Restaurant in Pikeville or the Rockhouse Café in Red River Gorge. Or drive down to Whitley City near the Tennessee border and dine at Kristina’s Kitchen, Bakery and Vegetarian Café. And since that’s a pretty long drive, you may as well stay awhile. Snug Hollow Bed and Breakfast in Estill County was voted by Southern Living Magazine as one of the five most romantic places in the south!

     Do you know how to do the “Hot Brown Hop”? It’s yet another Kentucky Culinary Trail. Believe it or not, there are at least 39 restaurants in the Louisville area where you can get some variation of the Hot Brown, including the Bell House here in Shelbyville and of course, the Brown Hotel where the dish was invented. Others are Dish on Market, Bristol Bar and Grille, O’Shea’s Irish Pub, Café Magnolia and the ever-popular Wild Eggs.
     The I75 Culinary Trail goes from Lexington to Berea by way of Winchester. On this stretch of road, you can indulge in some spoon bread at Boone Tavern or some beer cheese at Hall’s on the River.
     We’re all familiar with The Bourbon Trail for its bourbon. This trail currently features eight distilleries in the central Kentucky area offering samples, flights and bourbon laced goodies, including bourbon balls, in their gift shops. And of course, there are lots of good restaurants nearby. Then there’s the Urban Bourbon Trail centered mostly in downtown Louisville and featuring some of the River City’s favorite hot spots and gathering places like Vincenzo’s, Maker’s Mark Bourbon House and Lounge, Marketplace Restaurant at Theater Square, Proof on Main at the 21C Museum Hotel and Derby City Café at the Derby Museum. There are 39 stops in all, so we recommend they not be visited all in one day.
For those who think hops are hip, there are six offerings on the Kentucky Brewgrass Trail featuring the growing popularity and skills of the small batch craft brewer. Stops include Rooster Brew in Paris, Beer Engine in Danville and 4 others in the Lexington area.
     Would you believe it? There’s a Kentucky Beer Cheese Trail! And apparently, Winchester is the beer cheese capital of the world! You can start your cheesy tour at Stinky and Coco’s Diner downtown, then move on to seven more restaurants, bars, grills and cafes offering the golden goody. I would do this one just so I could say I had been to Stinky and Coco’s Diner.
Ready for dessert? The Kentucky Sweets Trail features nine locations offering everything from bourbon balls to Derby Pie. Oh my. There are ten stops on this trail. They include both Ruth Hunt and Rebecca Ruth Candy Companies (ask for a bourbon ball boo boo), Amon’s Sugar Shack in Somerset, Doughdaddy’s in Versailles with 60 kinds of doughnuts and last but certainly not least, Patti’s 1880’s Settlement at Grand Junction known for their famous pork chops and mile-high meringue pie. 
If you enjoy festivals and special events several fun activities are coming up such as the Talon Winery Saturday Concerts in Shelbyville, the Nature’s Bounty Buffet at Kenlake State Resort Park featuring steamship round of bison, rabbit pot pie, duck gumbo and other wild goodies. My Old Kentucky Dinner Train is hosting a murder mystery dinner at the end of November and in December; you can board the North Pole Express and dine with Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus. 
      If you still don’t know what’s for dinner, try the opentable.com app, which allows you to search for restaurants by type, table availability, location and restaurant name. The app includes 92 central Kentucky restaurants in its database.
A good go-to book is Eating Your Way Across Kentucky  with a forward by Byron Crawford.  You can usually find a copy on one of the bookseller websites.  If you are a Shelby County native, start right here at home.  Claudia Sanders Dinner House and Wakefield Scearce,  offer their own unique tastes of Kentucky, and it's hard to beat the chicken livers at Our Best in Smithfield.
     And of course, don’t forget our wonderful Kentucky State Parks. Most of the resort parks (the ones with lodges) offer a Sunday buffet which often includes our website publisher's favorite banana pudding with meringue topping. You can also check with the parks for holiday meal offerings or plan an outing for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. Then take a hike on one of the park’s trails to burn off all those calories.
     “Where should we have dinner tonight?” The choices are many and varied. Even better, the opportunities for fun date nights, fellowship with friends and family and for exploring new places in our beautiful state are right down the road.
     Bon Appetit, ya'll !

By Paula Moore Hurtt, Web Content Writer