New Find at an Old Place on the New Bleu Plate Tour

 Jalapeño Black Beans at Cheapside Restaurant, Lexington, Kentucky

Jalapeño Black Beans at Cheapside Restaurant, Lexington, Kentucky

Now that cities have food tours, I want to start collecting them, just as my wonderful man and I have collected a few harbor tours. I like collecting experiences better than collecting objects, particularly because storage is easier, and not so many eventual yard sale items are involved.

Happily, though our city will probably never have a Town Branch Harbor Tour, downtown Lexington now has its own brand new foodie walking tour. Intrepid Tour Producer Laura Mize launched Bleu Plate Tours --  complete with website, online registration, brochures, and cute printed mini-backpacks -- on August 7, 2010.

I took this fun tour a week later, along with eight other people, most from "away." (The tour maximum is 12.) Since the surprises along the way are part of the pleasure, I don't want to give away much about the Tour. In fact, just as I try not to read reviews of movies or concerts I plan to attend, I worked to avoid knowing much about the Tour stops and route in advance.

So I will not ruin the Tour for those who share that love of gentle surprise. I do want to report just one thing that will not surprise some readers, but may be news to others: Cheapside Bar & Grill's Jalapeño Black Bean Soup (not very peppery) and lightly spiced cornbread sticks, available every day, deserve their own facebook page.

 Windows overlook the exterior patio at Cheapside Bar & Grill, Lexington, Kentucky

Windows overlook the exterior patio at Cheapside Bar & Grill, Lexington, Kentucky

I would be the first fan. This is a discovery I cannot imagine making had I not taken the Bleu Plate Tour. Cheapside had long ago settled into my mental map of downtown as a place where Other People go for Happy Hour and bar food. I had not eaten (or sipped) there in years before last Saturday. It was delightful, seeing this long-established iconic downtown bar and grill through a new lens.

Even without visiting, I have admired the recently renovated back deck and patio from the street. Seeing it up close, and sitting at the outside bar (not pictured), I liked this outside space even more.

 Multi-level patio and exterior deck at Cheapside Bar & Grill, downtown Lexington, Kentucky

Multi-level patio and exterior deck at Cheapside Bar & Grill, downtown Lexington, Kentucky

Now you know. If you're hungry, downtown, in a hurry, and you like hearty soups, go to Cheapside for the Jalapeño Black Bean, with its little sides of Jalapeño sherry, sour cream, and onion. Order a side of corn sticks, and feel lucky in Kentucky. Full disclosure: I asked, and the soup does include some meat.

If you want to learn more secrets of downtown restaurants and food stores, gather some friends and take the Bleu Plate Tour. You can arrange a private tour, too, if you have clients or a special group of visitors coming to town. I enjoyed hearing the out-of-towners "ooh" and "aaah" about what Lexington has to offer, and I am guessing the Tour will become even more intriguing as Intrepid Laura and the participating restaurants and vendors welcome more foodies to downtown Lexington.

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The world is coming to visit central Kentucky this year for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. To help our visitors know more about Kentucky's food and food ways, Savoring Kentucky is rolling out 116 Savory Kentucky Bites, one for each of the 100 days before WEG begins, and 16 for the days during WEG, September 25 - October 10. Today's Savory Bite is number 65.