Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Kentucky Food: Midway's Affordable Eats
Midway is a tourist town, pure and simple; the entire downtown consists of one block of high-end restaurants and gift shops. It's a great destination for "red hat ladies" and wealthy horse breeders, but not much there for regular folks on a budget. Most of the restaurants are excellent, but none are really affordable. That is, until about a month ago when a few new places opened within 100 feet of each other.
The Wonderland Book Cafe is a really nice little place focusing on breakfast and light lunch. It's really the only decent breakfast in town - Wallace Station isn't really "in town" and the Quirk (or whatever they're calling it now) isn't very good. Your best bet is the "Farmer's Breakfast", a pretty hearty omlette served with bacon and homemade bread. The vast majority of the food is locally produced, from the veggies to the eggs. They have several coffees to choose from, which is self-serve. The bookstore part is really just several book cases around the dining room, mostly full of kid's books. In fact, the Wonderland's focus is being kid-friendly; if you bring your kids to town, this is where you want to take them when they get bored out of their mind in the decorator shops.
Also opening recently is the Grey Goose, a pizza place that originated in Lexington on Jefferson Street. It's as good as any pizza I've ever had, with hand-tossed crusts and fresh toppings. I'm not going to spend much time talking about it, though, because if you come to a quaint little railroad town in Central Kentucky you need to get a Hot Brown or some burgoo, not eat a pizza. You can do that anywhere. Keep it real! Same goes for the new Italian place across the street, Jimmy D's. Its got pretty good burgers, as well as spaghetti and other Northeastern big-city food. Like the Grey Goose, the quality is there and the price is good, but if you're visiting Midway for the first time you really should hit one of the more traditional Kentucky places like Darlin' Jeans, or my favorite, Bistro La Belle . Darlin' Jean's Apple Cobbler Cafe is the most unpretentious, down home style place in Midway, and it's still fairly upscale. It's the kind of place my 75-year old mother thinks is "charming". The hot brown is pretty good, and the debris is excellent, and everything is served by a great staff at affordable prices. The Bistro isn't remotely affordable, but it's the best food in town, most of it with a unique spin on traditional Southern cuisine - ignore the girly name and get the fried chicken livers followed by some shrimp and grits or lamb sliders! And if you are a drinker make sure to order an old-fashioned or whatever bourbon-based drink special they have, they have a great mixologist who really knows how to treat Kentucky's signature beverage.
Now, if you're interested in trying any of these places I suggest trying them soon because I don't see how a town of 1200 can possibly support more than a dozen restaurants for very long, tourism or no.
Unfortunately I was right. The Bistro La Belle closed in January 2011. Hopefully someone else will buy it and keep a similar menu, but since the owner, chef, and mixologist are all moving on it certainly won't be the same...