Over the past few years, Lexington dining has undergone a seismic shift to Jefferson Street, a previously blighted area that is now home to a variety of restaurants. You can get barbecue at both ends of the street, hand-crafted pizzas, tapas and small plates, seafood and upscale deli offerings.
And there’s Blue Heron Steakhouse, anchored squarely in the middle of Jefferson Street. Six steak entrees are offered, ranging in price from $24 for the 8-ounce flat iron steak to $59 for the 40-ounce porterhouse (big enough for two).
The porterhouse has many commenters on Open Table and Yelp calling it “one of the better steak offerings in Lexington,” although my dining companion had the flat iron and pronounced it delectable — tender and juicy.
You can choose to adorn your cut of beef with the complimentary house steak sauce, or choose one of the following for a $2 charge: green peppercorn sauce, Bearnaise, Bordelaise, or grilled onions and mushrooms.
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There are options for the diner who doesn’t want red meat. One of the most popular is the half fried chicken: crisp on the outside, tender and moist on the inside ($19).
The jumbo lump crabcake with lemon beurre blanc and dressed greens ($15) is listed as an appetizer but is large enough for an entree, and it’s stuffed with a largesse of crab. That might seem obvious, but at many restaurants, the cake is heavy on filling and light on crab.
Speaking of appetizers, many diners’ favorite seems to be the baked brie with fig preserves and spiced walnuts, served with grilled bread ($8), but I loved the vichyssoise, a frothy, creamy concoction perfect for a sultry summer’s eve.
If you are an oyster fan, Blue Heron has two excellent choices: Virginia oysters with house-made horseradish mignonette at $2.25 per oyster, or char-grilled Louisiana style with garlic butter at $2.50 each.
The salad category features the usual suspects — spinach, Caesar and wedge — but my favorite is the Bibb lettuce with avocado, grapefruit, toasted almonds and ricotta ($10).
Portions of everything are generous, and most entrees come with two sides, ensuring that you won’t leave hungry. The sides are reliably good, if not extraordinary, especially the hand-cut fries ($4.50). The only disappointment was the creamed spinach ($4.50) which came to my table as a solitary spinach leaf floating in a bowl of cream.
Desserts, all priced at $6, include warm apple crumble with Calvados and ice cream, and vanilla bean crème brulee.
To complement its restaurant reputation, Blue Heron has garnered attention as the place to go for inventive craft cocktails. I’m still mourning the departure of Seth, maker of the meanest Manhattan in Lexington, but his successor seems to be carrying on the tradition, especially with the great selection of bourbons available.
As for atmosphere, Blue Heron scores high. In a converted cozy cottage, it has lots of exposed brick and beams, a fireplace, soft lighting and subdued background music, plusa covered patio for dining al fresco.
Service is generally good, spotty only on busy weekends and during special events. Parking can be iffy on the street unless you arrive early, and if you don’t, be sure to park in the lot designated for Blue Heron or risk being ticketed.
Blue Heron isn’t the lowest-priced restaurant in Lexington, but keep in mind the old adage: You get what you pay for, and in this case, it more than proves true.
Patti Nickell is a Lexington-based travel and food writer. Reach her at email@example.com.