Regatta Seafood, Lexington, KY

On Friday, after arriving in Lexington in the middle of the night and sleeping in, we went in search of food nearby.  Our hotel was outside the downtown area but there still seemed to be a fair amount of retail development.  I found the nearest Bed, Bath and Beyond as our main mission was picking up the wedding gift and we headed out. 

Lexington is one giant bulls-eye see:

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We were staying in the Southwest quadrant, just off KY-4 which is the giant circle around the bulls-eye. I spent the whole weekend never knowing which way was north. Anyhow, we went slightly South and East to the BB&BY store then explored the area looking for food. There was a tourist guide in the hotel but the restaurants semeed more expensive and involved they we wanted for lunch. Eventually, we came upon this mall that quite frankly was looking a little run-down. Dated colors and a empty store fronts (including CompUSA) almost turned us away but I saw a sign that said “Seafood Grille” inside so we took a chance. To get to the restaurant from the parking lot, you have to go inside a small mall then through the bookstore to get downstairs. Behind this mall is a large man-made lake/pond and the restaurant has a patio along the water. In retrospect, we should have eaten outside. It was absolutely gorgeous out with temperatures in the 70s but it was still pretty shady on the patio.

The restaurant, Regatta Seafood Grille opened in 1984, replacing a previous seafood restaurant. I knew we’d found The South when our waiter offered us sweet tea, regular tea and some kind of fancy fruit-brewed tea. This also being Kentucky, there were at least 10 different bourbons on the menu as well. We stuck with water since I didn’t want to drink that early and they served Pepsi products.

All meals, even at lunch, are started with fresh-made drop biscuits. Similar to a cheese biscuit a’la Red Lobster, these biscuits are served with a soft honey-cinnamon butter. I think we were served 4 and I only ate one which might mean Chris ate three of them.

Perusing the menu, I was strongly tempted by the crab cake sandwich. But Chris was also interested in the crab cake so we decided to share the appetizer. The crab cake appetizer is one large (burger patty size) crab cake served atop a fried green tomato with a zippy orange marmalade glaze. This was Chris’s first experience with fried green tomatoes and my first in quite a long time. The crab cake itself was average. I like a more crabby crab cake and this one was more bread filled. The sauce was good, just a hint of heat.

For the main event, I chose the blackened chicken sandwich while Chris opted for the tuna melt. The chicken sandwich is topped with bacon and provolone cheese plus lettuce, tomato & onion along with remoulade sauce on the side. The remoulade was Louisiana-variety made with mayo, Creole mustard and paprika plus pieces of veg like celery.

The tuna melt is tuna salad on grilled wheatberry bread with American cheese. I am not a fan of the hot tuna sandwich so I didn’t sample Chris’s choice. And I didn’t share any of mine although I should have stopped eating about 3 bites before I did. My sandwich was very tasty but spicy. Between the spices on the blackened chicken and the extra kick from the remoulade sauce, my mouth was smokin’! According to the menu, sandwiches are served with coleslaw and steak fries but you can substitute for the starch of your choice including rice pilaf. We, for some reason, didn’t get our coleslaw but since I was already stuffed, that was probably okay. I’m thinking now I should have ordered hush puppies instead of fries because I looove those little fried doughnuts but the steak fries were good and cut fresh, not frozen.

The dinner menu has many of the same options as lunch but for much higher prices so I would guess that dinner portions are also larger. Dinner also is much expanded with surf & turf, broiled seafood platter and a N’awlins Platter among the offerings. Both lunch and dinner include options for fresh seafood prepared one of several ways including broiled, Caribbean, etc. These items were a little more than we were looking to pay for lunch though.

Details

Website with menus
Address In the Lexington Green Mall, 161 Lexington Green Cir, Lexington, KY 40503; (859) 273-7875
Hours Summer: Mon-Fri 11:15 a.m.–11:15 p.m.; Winter: close @ 10:15 Mon-Thu
Captain Jack’s Hours (the outdoor area with a separate bar): Mon-Sat 11:15 a.m. – 1:00 a.m. and Sunday 1:00 p.m. – 11 p.m. (open spring through fall)

Full bar. Despite it being November, the outdoor area was available for seating but I heard the manager say the water had been turned off at the bar for the season. They were trying to get it turned back on due to the unexpected 70+ degree weather expected for the next week.

This place is owned by Bluegrass Hospitality Group which is apparently taking over Lexington. Will explain more later.


After eating, we were looking to walk around a bit to digest all the good eats. How fortunate that we’d had to walk through a bookstore to get to the restaurant. A rocking awesome huge bookstore called Joseph-Beth. An small (5 stores) independent bookstore company with a 40,000 square foot bonanza of books to occupy us post-nosh. We looked at travel books, kiddie clearance books including a Latin version of Olivia the Pig

and a book about the Sons of Liberty as little kids (cute artwork, kinda wish I’d bought it).

We also looked at their Kentucky section which was filled with beautiful photobooks of horse farms and mountains, historical accounts of being a border state during the Civil War and many many books on Southern cooking and bourbon. With the size of this place, they also had a fantastic magazine section (sorry, mom- but the Cincinnati location is only 5 hours away!)

Gilbert & Blakes

Last week, Chris’s mom and family friend Carol came through Lansing on their way to Traverse City for a family wedding. Because they were traveling with a dog, hotel options were limited. We found them a place over in Okemos and met up for dinner after work.

I don’t know that area of town too well. I do know that we were all quite hungry and wanted to go someplace nearby. I immediately thought of Gilbert & Blakes or Stillwater Grill. I’d never been to Gilbert & Blakes and only to Stillwater once, about a year and half ago.

I knew that Gilbert & Blakes was meant to be a more upscale dining experience and they specialized in steaks and seafood. I mentioned both places and Chris’s mom went for G&B.

I should mention this now: Chris’s parents moved to the Florida Keys a long time ago. Chris and his 2 brothers grew up eating fish and shrimp and lobsters caught with their own hands.  As an adult, he’s extraordinarily picky about what he likes and avoids frozen seafood at all costs. We’ve had fish and shrimp shipped from the Islamorada Fish Company via overnight to avoid the scary frozen fish department at Meijer.  We rarely got to seafood places around here, presuming the fish is frozen.

 

Gilbert and Blake’s flies the fish in daily.  Which would explain why their Ahi Tuna entree was $30.  Way more than I wanted to pay especially since I had no idea what I would get other than a piece of fish.  When we arrived, we were seated and brought waters, given the regular menu and a slip with the current fish and shellfish offerings.  No one ever explained what your options were for the Tuna, Snapper, Sea Bass or other items on the list.  I’m sure you had your choice of preparation: pan-fried, baked, grilled, etc.  But sides?  Recommendations?  None of that.

Our server was obviously a bit harried.  The restaurant was not busy but not dead either.  On one of her whirlwind trips by the table, she mumbled “someone …sick…in the kitchen… earlier today.”  Now, does that mean someone who works in the kitchen called in sick? Or someone was sick in the kitchen?  The implication was they were short-staffed which happens but I wish I’d asked for more clarity on that comment.

Being short-staffed, the service was not great.  I know it happens and certainly the waiters and waitresses have no control over someone else calling in.  And the manager can’t go haul a sick person out of bed just because. But a manager can help out by keeping an eye on drinks, coming by the table to explain and offer apologies, etc.  Not at this place though.  On several occasions I noticed the hostess and a man in his mid-60s standing at the front of the restaurant, looking at the tables but not actually doing anything.

 So, the service was sub-par, let’s move on to the food.  We decided to start with an appetizer or two.  The waitress said the bruschetta came with 4 pieces so that seemed ideal. Fresh bread is also served with the meal so we stuck with just the one appetizer.

The bruschetta is served with a sun-dried tomato pesto and Parmesan cheese.  When she brought it to the table, it was a little sad looking.  Not a lot of topping and the pieces of bread looked limp, if not soggy.  The flavors were fine but again, more fresh topping would have been nice. 

For our main dishes, it breaks down thusly:
Carol: Steak Bites and Crepe Aubergine, both from the appetizer menu

The steak bites are chunks of sirloin sauteed with mushrooms, onions and peppers.  Carol said it was a little too spicy.

The Crepe Aubergine is thin sliced eggplant inside a crepe with cheese, baked.  This was different and pretty good.

Chris and Kathy: both chose the Grilled Duck served with Traverse City Cherry chutney.  Kathy opted for the scalloped potatoes and Chris chose the rice pilaf.  The dinner also included a side of mixed vegetables.

I wouldn’t say the dish got rave reviews but it was considered “all right” by both Chris and his mom.  Kathy thought the duck was a little too fatty, or rather that the kitchen should have trimmed some of the fat off before serving.  Chris liked his duck and the vegetables but thought the sauce was a little weak. 

Courtney (me) went for the Seared Ahi Tuna from the appetizer menu and a Caesar Salad. 

The tuna was exactly what I’d expect, rare sashimi sliced tuna with some soy sauce, ginger and wasabi. There was also a scoop of seaweed salad on the plate.  The dish was served with chop sticks, a nice touch (and I used them) but at $11, seemed a tad over-priced. 

When I ordered, I stated I wanted my salad and tuna together with the entrees for everyone else.  Instead, I got the salad first so picked at that for 15-20 minutes, feeling bad that no one else had anything to eat.  The dressing was non-descript and there was too much of it. The croutons were good and the sprinkling of roasted red peppers was a different but welcome addition.  I have yet to find a place that makes a Caesar dressing quite like the one served at AppleWood Cafe, run by the students at Mott Community College’s business and culinary programs.  Creamy and lots of garlic with no overt anchovy taste, its just delicious.

 


You’ll notice, no major seafood items on our tab.  And the total, before tip, was still $89.  And no wine either. The only non-water beverage was a Diet Pepsi.  In looking for information about the restaurant after the meal, I checked out their lunch menu on-line.  I’m intrigued by the Lobster Grilled Cheese sandwich so a return visit could be in order but I think I’ll stick to the afternoon menu.

Deets:

Web: http://www.gilbertandblakes.com
Address: 3554 Okemos Road, Okemos, MI 48864
Hours:Mon.-Thu. 11AM-10:00PM; Fri & Sat 11AM-11PM, Sun 12PM-9PM

 

Outdoor seating (pet friendly), private party rooms and catering available.