Lexington has seen a proliferation of new dining options in and around the downtown area in recent months, and Sabio, located in the completely re-imagined restaurant area in Dudley Square, is definitely one of the more anticipated additions to the lineup.
Gone are most recognizable remnants of the space’s former tenant, Dudley’s Restaurant, which relocated to Short Street – sharp wood tables, clean hardwood floors and exposed brick walls are hallmarks of the substantial remodel.
The Dudley Square building was originally used as a city school when it was built in 1881, and executive chef and owner Javier Lanza pays homage to the former halls of learning with his restaurant’s name – which has a loose translation of “being wise, educated” – and the contemporary bar area, affectionately called “Detention,” since the room was first used as a detention hall.
Chef Lanza is a strong proponent of the farm-to-table food philosophy, and Kentucky Proud ingredients are used prominently throughout the small, but resourceful menu. Make no mistake – the options might be limited to a single-sided-page menu, but you will have difficulty making your final decision for what to eat.
My guest and I had trouble making our selection while looking over the small plate options, which include items like potato gnocchi (with roasted wild mushroom, $8), mussels ($11) and beef tartare ($11), and we ended up going with soft shell crab ($10) – a special for the day.
Deciding on the dinner entree proved equally onerous, even though there are only seven options: chicken, duck, scallops, seafood pasta, steak, lamb, pork and vegetarian. The difficulty came from the small print beneath each dish describing the accoutrements. The duck came with sweet potato and goat cheese puree ($24), the filet with smoked cheddar au gratin potato ($32), the lamb with Gruyere bread pudding ($29) – all of which looked very good on paper.
And, it turns out, on the plate as well. I opted for the pork dinner, an almond crusted tenderloin on a bed of goat cheese polenta and grilled asparagus served in a shallow bowl to keep the peach marsala glace from spreading away ($25), and my guest selected the lamb, which along with the bread pudding, came with massive chunks of roasted carrots. Both plates were well proportioned and rich in flavor.
Prior to our entrees, I had an iceberg salad (with basil-buttermilk blue cheese, $7), and my guest ordered the roasted beet salad (with frisee and key lime balsamic vinaigrette, $8). Along with the dinner menu, Sabio has a separate lunch menu, which consists mostly of a few sandwiches and salads, and bar menu, which has a cheese platter and a few more small plate options (like ceviche and kimchi ribs).
Our bill, prior to tipping and tax, came to $107.50, and included two entrees, one small plate, two salads, a dessert and a few adult beverages. Along with the bar area, and two dining room areas, Sabio has seating on a 1,000-square-foot patio – plenty of ample seating whenever you choose to visit.