NONESUCH — Some restaurants are so spectacular that even if the food tasted like sawdust, it would be worth the experience: New York's Four Seasons; The Ritz Hotel restaurant in London, called the most beautiful dining room in Europe; Paris' Le Train Bleu, where the ornate gilded ceilings are reminiscent of the Sistine Chapel.
You also could add to that list The Glitz, the restaurant at Irish Acres Antiques that more than lives up to its name. It's in Nonesuch, about 30 minutes from Lexington.
Seeing it for the first time, you might gasp in wonderment. A color scheme of silver, black, mauve and pink, and a décor featuring black and silver butterflies, smoky mirrors, glittering silver disco balls, gauzy drapery and hundreds of twinkling lights give it such a glamorous other-worldly feeling that you expect Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers to waltz through at any moment. It so resembles a 1940s Hollywood movie set that it is hard to believe it was once a school cafeteria (Irish Acres Antiques and The Glitz occupy three floors of a former elementary school).
But as dazzling and yes, glitzy, as The Glitz's décor is, it's the food that will bring you back time and again. Emilie McCauley is the culinary genius behind the menu, which changes every two weeks. If you're anything like me, you'll find yourself checking the website frequently to see what she is serving next.
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On my most recent visit, my dining companions and I started with the chilled flute of spiced apple refresher that precedes the meal. A secret family recipe, it has proven so popular that it has been bottled for sale in the antique store.
Because The Glitz menu always offers three appetizers, each of us ordered a different one. The mushroom strudel featured sliced mushrooms sautéed with herbs and just a touch of Dijon mustard, baked in pastry pinwheels and accented with a dollop of delicately seasoned cream.
While I love homemade soups, I don't much care for carrots, so it was with some trepidation that I ordered the gingered carrot soup appetizer. But the purée of roasted carrot and sweet onion, spiked with just the right amount of fresh ginger and finished with crème fraîche, was velvety smooth and bowl-lickingly delicious.
The third appetizer, which we shared, was a chilled smoked salmon mousse, which again hit just the right note. Salmon sometimes can be overpowering. But in this case, the addition of lemon and horseradish both toned down and added to the natural flavor of the salmon. The mousse was served with crispy garlic bagel rings sprinkled with capers.
For my entree, I chose chicken Fontina di Lucca, a heady combination of boneless chicken breast, sautéed baby spinach, toasted pine nuts, Parmesan, garlic and marinated sun-dried tomatoes, baked under Fontina cheese. It came with The Glitz's usual salad of red leaf lettuce, mandarin oranges, purple onion and English walnuts, drizzled with poppy seed dressing; simple, but delicious.
I am not much for pasta, but one of my dining companions, a self- proclaimed expert on alfredo sauce, gave two thumbs up to the other entree, Kentucky pappardelle.
A proponent of Kentucky Proud products, McCauley tossed her pasta with shaved Finchville Farms Kentucky country ham and broccoli florets, lightly dressed with the alfredo sauce so admired by my lunch companion, and garnished it with sweet grape tomatoes and shredded Parmesan.
I can't remember who the comedian was who sagely proclaimed, "Life is short. Eat dessert first," but at The Glitz one is tempted to do just that. Though there are three choices, the signature dessert, the Nonesuch kiss, is the only item always on the menu, so any time you go, you can indulge in the baked meringue shell filled with a scoop of coffee ice cream and topped with hot fudge, sliced almonds, whipped cream and a cherry.
There's only one thing wrong with The Glitz: The food is so good you'll be tempted to return every two weeks for the new menu.