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610 Magnolia, Louisville

Southern inspiration colors his New York roots.
Carolanne Griffith Roberts

A request from Edward Lee at 610 Magnolia: "Trust us."

Trust comes easily as the plates come from his tiny kitchen in Louisville, Kentucky. The six courses form a montage of foods as diverse as the chef himself. (Born in Brooklyn of Korean parents, he trained in New York and Europe.) His approach is new to the South yet takes us forward.

There's Edward's tempura-battered okra, cornbread sweetened with caramelized parsnips and onions, bison raised just a half-hour away, Tennessee bacon for the dainty BLTs in his selection of starters, and Farmer's Basket salads combining rich produce from the local fields. His emphasis is natural, from the region, fresh, and diverse.

A few years back, Edward stopped by Louisville for the Kentucky Derby but ended up in the kitchen at 610 Magnolia instead. Now chef/owner, he savors the South for one major reason: "Southern cuisine is the only thing I consider to be truly American," he says. "Food is a journey. That's what I try to infuse into my cooking. It has roots now in the South, and everything from there is open game. No rules." 

610 West Magnolia Avenue, Louisville, KY 40208; or (502) 636-0783. Hours: 6 p.m.-close (reservations required). Six-course dinner: $65 per person, Thursday-Saturday.

"610 Magnolia, Louisville" is from the April 2008 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.