Meet Me in Midway
Bring your appetite, because delicious options abound
When people ask me about Midway, Kentucky, my hometown, I tell them it’s the place that time forgot — but in a good way. A bustling railroad town in the 19th century, Midway’s historic downtown has had its ups and downs in the decades since. Much like a late-blooming thoroughbred racehorse, though, it seems to have finally found its stride.
Among the cheery storefronts that line Main Street you’ll find an array of antiques shops, specialty boutiques and restaurants with a little something for everyone.
The town is a hangout for local and visiting horse enthusiasts who fill the tables at the Grey Goose bar and restaurant come happy hour. So it’s no surprise that you’ll find you’ll find lots of equine gifts and gear in the stores, especially at Freedman’s leather shop. If bridles and bits aren’t your thing, Freedman’s leather accessories — belts, wallets and handbags, for example — are a notch above Ralph Lauren’s in both materials and workmanship.
Further up the street you might hear a duet of fiddle and flute playing a mournful tune. That would be Leslie and Bill Penn, the musicians/owners of Historic Midway Museum Store. There you’ll find everything from old-fashioned unplugged toys to rare books, art prints and local history items.
At Damselfly Studio & Gallery there’s artwork from dozens of Kentucky artists. From pottery to paintings to jewelry and other wearable art, artists/owners Eric and Mary Thoreson’s eclectic inventory is constantly changing.
If you can’t get enough antique furniture and upscale home furnishings, May & Co./Soapwerks is the tiny shop that could. Packed in its small space is estate crystal and china, vintage textile pillows, paintings and handmade soaps and lotions created by Kathy Werking of Soapwerks.
A few miles out of town is Weisenberger Mills, Kentucky’s oldest continually running mill—six generations!. The mill still uses turn-of-the-century machinery to create its flour, cornmeal and a variety of baking mixes including spoonbread, muffin and fish fry batter mix, which works amazingly well for vegetables as well. You can buy the inexpensive mixes, grits and other products at the mill and elsewhere.
The most difficult part about a trip to Midway is deciding where to eat, so be sure to plan on both lunch and dinner. If you want drinks, pizza and pub food, the Grey Goose is open daily and hopping on the weekends.
Just over the tracks is the Holly Hill Inn. A little more than 10 years ago Executive Chef Ouita Michel and her husband, Chris, bought the 1845 Greek Revival mansion that houses the restaurant. “Fresh, local, seasonal and Southern” seems to be the DNA at Holly Hill, and the prix fixe menu always credits the producers. A recent meal featured spoonbread with dill and chive, topped with some of Capriole’s fresh goat cheese, a smidge of lemon confit and toasted hazelnuts.
Local lamb came three ways: a petite rack; slow-cooked and pulled shoulder; and savory kibbe patty of spiced ground lamb, served alongside fiddlehead ferns, baby green beans and new potatoes. Chris, the sommelier, is happy to suggest the perfect wine from the restaurant’s extensive list. www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MZ0bkmGtMs
A sister restaurant also owned by the Michels, Wallace Station Deli & Bakery, is about five miles out of town and is the place for lunch. Big, juicy grilled burgers and fries, sandwiches on freshly baked bread, salads made with local produce, and housemade sweets keep the locals coming back for more. Monday is fried chicken night while Friday features fried fish — difficult to choose which is more delicious.
At Heirloom restaurant Chef Mark Wombles cooks up a fusion of modern cuisine. It’s a romantic spot for lunch or dinner (try the chicken livers and Mary’s burger), and has nice wine selections. It’s always best to call ahead; Heirloom can get crowded. www.youtube.com/watch?v=gN7RKtPYSzM
For more information, visit www.meetmeinmidway.com