As the sun descends over downtown Lexington and gives way to the city’s own twinkling lights, guests take the Chase Building elevator 15 stories up to gaze out the windows of the aptly named Vue Restaurant. Executive chef Ray Cameron can hardly take a moment to enjoy the view, as he presides over a bustling kitchen that churns out creative American fusions alongside traditional steak and seafood dishes.
As Chef Cameron’s creations arrive at their oversized booths, guests shift their eyes from the downtown landscape to artful plates of Kentucky Alltech Angus steaks, bacon-wrapped scallops, and pan-seared pork tenderloin medallions. A wood-burning stove—used for baking the restaurant’s signature pizzas—adds a warm, crackling soundtrack to meals illuminated by hanging lights above. Behind the trapezoidal, granite-top bar, mixologists craft drinks such as the bourbon-based Bluegrass Sundown and Absolut Vanilla–based Godiva Chocolate Kiss. Aside from these and other cocktails, guests may order wines and craft beers to enjoy with views of Lexington’s most famous landmarks and Spiderman impersonators.
From SkyBar's penthouse-level perches, rooftop revelers can fix their eyes on the panoramas of Lexington's lovely skyline and the manicured toes of soaring birds. Anchored by chic signatures such as the beef and lamb carpaccio ($10.00), SkyBar's menu features upscale American fare and Spanish-style small plates. Whet wetter appetites with a tipple from the exhaustive drink list. Selections of wine, scotch, and cognac (glasses starting at $7.50) keep quaffs classic, and cocktails such as the absinthe-infused Mint Muse ($10) leave imbibers wondering if new green-fairy dance partners are real, imaginary, or ferns.
Though the chefs at Mandarin revere classically prepared Chinese dishes, they aren’t afraid to add a dash of inventive flair with internationally inspired twists. Hawaiian-style preparations of sweet-and-sour chicken join other Chinese comfort food, such as Chinese- or Singapore-style me fen, a mix of thin rice noodles with vegetables and meats such as pork and beef. Rice and noodle bowls from the Tour of Asia menu cull flavors from Osaka, Seoul, and Hong Kong, and traditional Chinese dishes such as chicken with snow peas and sesame beef round out the menu. Staffers pour martinis into curvy-stemmed glasses or help guests pair wines amid the dining room's mandarin-orange walls, bamboo placemats, and geisha statuettes.
Soft white and red lights beam down from Baba's ceiling, spotlighting the contemporary Asian décor inside the lounge. The staff bustles about the restaurant, slicing up specialty sushi rolls and preparing hibachi-style meats, vegetables, and rice at tableside grills before captivated audiences of diners. As waiters carry out plates of eclectic Asian seafood, poultry, and beef dishes from the kitchen, bartenders dole out glasses of specialty martinis, sake, and plum wine. In the meantime, guests recline on cushy leather chairs or at the bar within the comfortable dining area, an ideal setting to meet with friends and family for a wordless briefcase exchange.
Yamamoto Japanese Grill & Sushi’s chefs awe diners with their rapid sushi rolling at an oak sushi bar, their mastery of the open flames of hibachi grills, and their ability to fold napkins of any size into handy knapsacks. Maki specials and nigiri sate diners’ sushi cravings, while yaki soba, tempura, and udon dinners satisfy guests searching for unrolled dinners.
On the shelves and display racks at Tala's, handbags from Brazil stand a few feet from mandala earrings and ornate hookahs. Around the shop, curated selections of handmade products stand ready to be inspected and taken home. Tala's also follows fair-trade practices, aiming to benefit the far-flung makers of its clothing and accessories.