Road Trip: National Provisions, Lexington

A luxe Bluegrass outpost realizes its full potential.

Editorial Note: This restaurant is closed.

Think of the word compound—as in Waco—but with much better cheese, bread, wine, pastry, and all-around taste. National Provisions isn’t just a café, restaurant, beer hall, or gourmet larder—it’s all of that under one very stylish roof.

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Photographs by Sarah Jane Sanders
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Photograph by Sarah Jane Sanders

Cheese plate
Cheese plate

When Lexington native Andrea Sims and her French husband, Krim Boughalem, left New York City in 2008 to return home, their fancy friends may have snickered. But when the two opened the first stage of National in 2013, the local mic literally dropped. They started with an industrial bakery and café storefront that served Gallic standards with plenty of panache (vintage hotel silver, parchment-wrapped tartines) in the emerging Mentelle neighborhood.

The "Kentucke" Plateau for 6: Oyster, smoked char, shrimp, mussel, clam
The “Kentucke” Plateau for six: Oyster, smoked char, shrimp, mussel, clam
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Sea scallops with butternut squash, curried coconut, and pickled Fresno chili

A Bauhaus-meets-Bavaria beer hall followed, replete with mounted antlers and vintage steins. Brews range from esoteric European offerings to neue Cincinnati favorites such as Rhinegeist and Rivertown. Then the Bluegrass Brasserie—a technical study in exquisite 18-percent gray with cadet blue tufted velvet banquettes—officially started cranking out French classics with Low Country flair last December: bouillabaisse with fennel and sausage broth, duck confit with dumplings, and Blue crab salad with local peas and tarragon aioli.

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Bottomless sweet tea and baskets of biscuits National most definitely is not, but that hasn’t stemmed the tide of well-heeled patrons who devour their meals and wash it all down with an array of refreshments, from Ricard to Ridgemont Reserve. Who says you can’t sell brandade in the Bluegrass?

National Provisions, 264 Walton Ave., Lexington, (859) 303-4763, Facebook. Open seven days.

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