Saturday, August 23, 2014

Just Horsing Around

Our final stop was Lexington, Kentucky.

The Gratz Park Inn, as stated on their website is “Nestled in the heart of Kentucky horse and bourbon country..” Arriving, what an adorable place! From the outside, you can see it is very welcoming with well-maintained flowers and shrubbery, under a large awning.

The Gratz Park Inn. All photos by Melissa Arditti

Walking inside, it is quite beautiful with a historical feel, as you can see from the photos.






There are many rooms and suites to choose from too. Unfortunately, our first room impression was not very desirable as the staff must have missed the memo to only have guests enter when it is fully cleaned. However, the front desk clerk apologized for the inconvenience and proceeded to show us to another room, which was exceptionally clean and exactly what I was hoping for.

You can book a room here: www.gratzparkinn.com

After we got settled, it was off to the famous Kentucky Horse Park, where we would be enjoying a 3-hr tour (insert Gilligan’s Island music here…) run by Shaun Washington of the Unique Horse Farm Tours. (VERY outdated, but Shaun assured us that a new website was coming soon)






This is honestly the best tour you want to go on, as he is truly one of a kind. He’s quite the comedian with loads of information on every destination. His stories may seem long-winded, but you can’t help but listen intently and have a smile on your face. Are all the tales real? Who knows, but frankly, who cares. He is entertaining and has a heart of gold. Shaun has a wonderful relationship with the horse owners too and so your tour does not just involve just looking out a window. You get to be up close and personal with the horses. You can also pick up the shuttle bus right at the Horse Park, which is quite convenient.

I knew that horse racing was a lucrative business, but most of these horses are worth over a million dollars or more!! I will also say that I have never seen horses so well taken care of. I was a little hesitant to go on this tour and see sad horses that are obviously malnourished and just trapped inside the horse barn all day and night. Thankfully, as we were taken to many homes, I think they live better than most people! I suppose that it necessary, especially when people risk their homes and livelihood, hoping that their horse will win first place. Oh and before the animal activists boycott my post, these particular horses are NOT confined to their stables. They get to roam around in the gorgeous fields.




The amount of superstition is also quite interesting. All these figurines were put on top of the stables for good luck and to also ward off uninvited spirits. I was hoping to see a gargoyle as they are known to “ward off evil spirits” but no such luck.



After the tour, we were pretty tired and ready for dinner. Just around the corner was Le Deauville French Bistro. Supposedly this was one of the best restaurants in the area, so we were anticipating French cuisine extraordinare! Yeah right…

I will be totally honest, I was not impressed. The food was decent, but the service left a bad taste in my mouth. Again, food is not the be all and end all when in comes to dining, it is also the SERVICE. So why I am complaining? Well let’s see, we were not told the specials at all. Every other table was and so did we have cooties? Did we still smell like we got off of a horse farm tour? I did freshen up. Our waiter was not attentive and barely talked to us. When I asked about a few items on the menu, it was like I was bothering him. Another annoyance was the woman offering bread. She was running back and forth to each table and also on the outside patio. I would have expected a calmer environment, not a bread race. Keep in mind, even though the bread was fantastic, we were the last to get any. The prices were not modest either, but we came at the right time, since they were doing a similar concept that we have here called Eat Your City Restaurant Week, with a special “3-course Prix Fix” menu.

As we sat waiting for our food, we noticed a complete different treatment of other patrons, especially the ones who were obviously regulars and did the pretentious French “double kiss” with the owner.

We sat there feeling uncomfortable, but too hungry to really go elsewhere, we decided to stay and hope that the night would get better. The last thing you want to do is go into a restaurant and be treated like you barely exist.

After our food came, the owner dropped by our table and had a short conversation with my dad, asking where we were from, how the food was, and that he was getting a new chef soon from Montreal.

Here’s our food. Nice presentation and tasty entrees, but nothing to really write home about.
I enjoyed my cauliflower soup. It wasn’t heavy, but very light and so I finished the whole bowl.


Unfortunately, there was nothing exceptionally great about my pasta primevera. It actually tasted like a glorified Kraft Dinner, just using a higher quality of cheese. The vegetables were crispy but the pasta was under-cooked. Al dente is an understatement here.


 My mom enjoyed her Salmon Crusted with Herbs, Celery Purée, Mixed Garden Vegetables  with Tarragon Sauce. It was cooked well and flavourful.



My dad had a starter of Paté Maison with French Pickles and Mustard. This was probably the best part of the entire meal, as he said it was the one of the best he had ever had.


Desserts were disappointing. Overly sweet creme bruelee and the mousse tasted similar to what I’ve purchased in store by Dr. Oetker.




I would not return here or recommend this place at all. Perhaps others have had positive experiences, which is great, but for us, it was a real letdown after all the wonderful dining and hospitality we had throughout our trip up until this point. www.ledeauvillebistro.com

There was so much more to do in Lexington, but we had a long drive back home the next day. So after dinner, we managed to get our energy back for about an hour or so and take a brisk walk in the downtown area and back to the hotel
.  We also joined the crowd watching some of the entertainment playing downtown.




I just want to say that I hope all my readers have enjoyed the articles that I have posted about our wonderful summer Great Circle Tour and this has given you an idea of where you might want to visit on your next little getaway, whether for just a weekend, or a longer stay.

While we were travelling, I honestly lost track of time. I didn’t realize what day it was, nor did I really care. I checked my email and posted a few photos here and there on Facebook. We were out every day seeing new places and meeting all kinds of unique people. The United States is HUGE and I am truly blessed that I was able to not only have my dream come true and visit Duke Lemur Center in Durham, North Carolina, but to have the opportunity to see so many other places (Mount Airy “Mayberry”, Biltmore Castle, Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens, Akron Art Museum, Akron Civic Theatre, etc…) interact with all kinds of unique people, eat incredible food, and enjoy that added touch of Southern hospitality.

As 2014 starts winding down, I am excited about planning our next trip for 2015!