We diners here in the city of Lexington are a lucky bunch. You can practically throw a rock in any direction and you’ll hit any number of restaurants, delicious dives and fine dining establishments featuring culinary styles from across the board.
However, some Lexington restaurants are intent on serving the type of dishes that have become synonymous with Southern-style cuisine. 'Then, there are places like The julep Cup, which is intent on elevating it to obscenely delicious levels....
The restaurant, located in The Woodlands, opened just over four years ago. It’s also a family affair, currently owned by Carol Brooks with her daughter, chef Lindsay Brooks Brugh, leading the kitchen and Lindsay's husband, Scott Brugh, offering the welcome hospitality as the general manager.
As you make your way through The julep Cup, it’s impossible not to notice the décor. Where as some restaurants sprinkle their interior with references to the Bluegrass State’s horse racing heritage, the julep Cup goes full bore, with endless equine decorations adorning it’s deep red walls complemented by heavy curtains and Oriental rugs. You’ll get quite the opposite effect in the restaurants Seahorse Lounge, with walls blasted with turquoise and seashell decorations.
Chef Lindsay’s specialty is infusing southern comfort food with a bit of French flair, and that French flair is well earned. She graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago and earned the Superior Cuisine Medal while continuing her education at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.
This deft hand is evident from your first bite to your last. For its upcoming spring menu, the iron skillet crab cake features plentiful amounts of crab with a smoky char, the sweetness of homemade green tomato jam and the mix of sugar and spice in the tomato coulis. When ordering some greenery, a head of romaine lettuce gets the grill treatment with avocado, bacon, red onion and the house bleu cheese.
Since the restaurant opened, entrees like The julep Cup’s take on shrimp and grits or its Kentucky trout, which you can get either grilled or fried, have become beloved staples. In fact, the restaurant's southern fried chicken received iconic actor William Shatner’s stamp of approval.
Now, The julep Cup has evolved into one of best places in Lexington to get a serious cut of meat. Chef Lindsay only uses A grass-fed, certified Angus beef that’s grade choice or higher and always locally raised. You can also amp up your cut of steak with one of several “style enhancements" that incorporates seafood like lobster tail, lump crab and New Orleans BBQ shrimp. Plus, considering the chef ’s French background, if you choose one of these add-ons, you’re guaranteed to get a killer sauce.
While I didn’t get a chance to try a steak, The ]ulep Cup’s grilled bone-in pork is a dish everyone should try The inch-thick chop comes with sweet potato gnocchi, grilled asparagus and it’s topped with a blue cheese, bacon and green apple slaw. As my colleague, photographer Keni Parks, nicely put it when hearing the dish’s description, “every word you just said I love.” I agreed, but words barely do this tasty entrée justice.
Considering the restaurant’s namesake and my own affinity for bourbon, I felt like it was my moral obligation to you, the reader, to “force" myself to try a ]ulep Cup mint julep. As manager Brugh described it, this “adult snowcone" is made simply and attentively with shaved ice, lightly bruised mint and the sweetness of the simple syrup further enhanced in my metal cup by Basil Hayden’s bourbon. Speaking of bourbon, if you want your desserts to have more than a mere hint of bourbon, chef Lindsay Kentucky-fies a fantastic flourless chocolate cake and ice cream with Jim Beam baked in and a pourable bourbon icing that may make you consider taking a sobriety before walking out the door.
Everything about The julep Cup, from what’s on the walls to what’s on your plate, will give you a feeling that you’re experiencing something both familiar and unexpected. With the way this restaurant brings it all together, it’s a feeling Lexington residents should experience themselves—on a repeat basis.