Middle Fork Kitchen Bar – Lexington, KY
Middle Fork Kitchen Bar has great reviews and is, supposedly, one of the best restaurants in Lexington. Though I thought it was a decent meal, there were quite a few things that should have been better, in my opinion. For starters, I found the service to be lacking. The servers were not the most accommodating and did not seem concerned when I informed them that one of the dishes was almost inedible to me. That being said, the restaurant does have a good ambiance. I loved the atmosphere of this restaurant: small, hip, homey. Now, we can get onto the food.
This is one of Middle Fork’s most famed dishes. It consists of grilled baguette, daikon radish, peppers, and a ginger peanut sauce with a lime-orange jam topped with cilantro and pickled red onion. This was a very Asian-inspired dish. The bread was delicious- it had a nice char on it and a smokey flavor. The peanut ginger sauce worked well with the jam, providing a sweet, spicy, tangy bite when smeared on the bread or daikon. The cilantro added a freshness and the pickled onions brightened the dish and provided another crunch.
This plate of fried arancini was my favorite dish of the evening. These crispy balls of rice also contained braised hog’s head, rosemary, and calabrian chilis. They were served on top of a capered aioli and smoked under glass, which is where the name comes from. The rice balls themselves were extremely rich and flavorful: smokey, porky, and slightly spicy. When paired with the capered aioli, the entire dish was taken to the next level. The aioli provided a bright, tangy flavor, which was much needed with the heavy arancini.
Spaetzle is a German dumpling and cacio e pepe means cheese and pepper; an Italian pasta dish. This dish is a fusion of German and Italian. It was very cheesy and buttery and had a slight kick of spice to it. This dish was very heavy and rich, but didn’t stand out as anything amazing.
Though it may look like it was prepared well, it didn’t live up to my expectations. This is a roasted duck breast with rice midlings, orange gastrique, mandarin oranges, and blackberries and pickled rhubarb. To me, the rice midlings had very little flavor and were kind of lost in the food. The gastrique was good, as were the rhubarb, blackberries, and oranges. The duck was not prepared well, in my opinion. I’m a huge fan of duck, but only when it is prepared correctly. This duck had an off-putting flavor. In my opinion, the skin was not crisp, which is what makes a delicious duck breast. The server did not seem too concerned that I was not fond of the duck after I informed her I was not a fan.
Overall, this restaurant disappointed me. Most dishes were average, but the duck was very disappointing to me. With the duck being prepared incorrectly and lacking flavor, plus the subpar service, it made for an unpleasant experience. The arancini were delicious, but that was the only dish that “wowed” me. I hope to return someday and give the restaurant another chance, but it most likely won’t be soon.