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The Main Street Flavor

December 17, 2020 | Posted By: [email protected]

There’s no doubt Lexington’s restaurant scene has exploded exponentially in the past decade, something that visitors and residents alike enjoy seven days
a week, from breakfast until last call. The setting for the wide variety of offerings that are influenced from across the globe is centered in the
historic Main Street area in the Town of Lexington. In a one-mile span you can clink beer steins over a football game at an Irish pub, cozy in for
a perfect first date of pasta and red wine, or head down for a taste of the bayou to conjure up New Orleans memories.

O’Hara’s Public House is one of the newest additions to Main Street’s cultural vibe, and perhaps one that has had the most impact on the visuals of the
street. With sidewalk seating, diners can enjoy the people watching on Main, as well as take advantage of the warm Southern breezes most of the year.
Two beer serving windows open up onto the sidewalk too, encouraging passersby to stop for a pint before heading to their next destination, without
the need to go inside or request a table.

A little farther down Main, Alodia’s Cucina Italiana has added a similar but smaller outdoor vibe with a cozy area where diners can sit and relax with
drinks while waiting for their table. The inviting feel and promise of friendly companionship beckons in those passing by — whether by car or
on foot.

About a quarter mile away, a dining secret awaits those who are in the know. A large white house sits at the corner of West Main and Cedar Streets, with
no indication as to what it is. It’s Private Property, but the kind where visitors are welcome. This Creole-Cajun inspired fine dining restaurant is
possibly Lexington’s best kept culinary secret. “Word of mouth has been our best advertising,” said co-owner and head chef Trip Chalk. “If someone
tells someone else this is a great place to go, and they can find it without a problem we don’t need to put up a sign, and it adds to our vibe.”

Chalk’s commitment to the true spirit of New Orleans is what makes Private Property such a unique experience in Lexington. “For two years after we opened,
every two months, we’d close the restaurant on Saturday night and drive through the night to pick up andouille, alligator sausage, boudin and seasonings
— we’d pick up 1,200 pounds of meat and drive it back in a Lincoln Navigator with the air conditioner on full-blast,” said Chalk. “We’d get back
on Monday morning and keep going with the restaurant.”

In addition to sourcing originalto- the-source ingredients, he also struck up an unlikely friendship through a chance meeting with Paul Prudhomme, the
proprietor of K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen and Chef Paul Prudhomme Magic Seasoning Blends who taught Chalk a great deal about the restaurant business.

Similarly, O’Hara’s is greatly influenced by place. The menu is filled with comfort foods from many different parts of the country, and from co-owner and
general manager Matt O’Hara’s travels around the world. “I traveled extensively for 20 years before opening the restaurant and thought our town needed
a traditional Irish pub,” said O’Hara. “I am not the chef but I did build the menu based on a combo of two things: items you’d find at a traditional
pub in Ireland, and items from the menu of an Irish pub in America.”

Pub-goers will find those traditional Irish or American-Irish dishes – beer-battered fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, and corned beef and cabbage – as well
as the comfort foods from all over. Pot roast and a steelworker sandwich are two such dishes, but O’Hara thinks their Cincinnati chili spaghetti is
especially unique to the area. “I don’t think anyone else in Columbia is serving traditional Cincinnati chili, but folks who are from Cincinnati give
me high marks on it!” O’Hara exclaimed.

A half block over, the other spaghetti expert in town isn’t putting chili over their noodles, but they are pulling those strands by hand and they are quite
proud of it. A prominent feature of Alodia’s interior is their spaghetti wall, where diners can see noodles being made by hand in the glass walled
kitchen — that is, if the view isn’t obscured by strands of pasta already hanging to dry before being served. “This adds to the guest experience,
so while they are eating, they have a behind the scenes view of the production process so they can know what they are enjoying is made fresh,” said
Alodia’s chief operations officer Ryan Clark.

One thing all of the restaurateurs can easily agree on is how beautifully the area has come to life in the past few years. “As a self-dubbed foodie, I
could tell the town was really hungry for some local flair,” said O’Hara. “It’s nice to hear that people from Columbia are now driving to Lexington
to go out to dinner when it used to be that people from Lexington had to drive to Columbia to go out to eat,” said Chalk. “Lexington has a great culinary
scene now, and there are a lot of people just within a mile who have so much culinary expertise.”

As Clark from Alodia’s put it: “Lexington’s Main Street area brings the feel of being in a metropolitan area and combines it with a hometown feel.” Together,
these three restaurants, plus all of the others, bring a fresh personality to Main Street, and are just part of what makes the area a true destination
for unique dining options, not to mention a whole evening of fun in the heart of Lexington.

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