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Midway, Kentucky: All the Way to Restaurant Greatness

Today I went to Midway, a beautiful tiny town halfway between Lexington and Frankfort (I guess). Incredi-chef Ouita Michel and her husband Chris renovated the mid-1800s Holly Hill Inn building and began serving memorable meals there in 2000. A little bit of what's great about Holly Hill Inn: After people eat at Holly Hill, no matter how many times they have eaten there, they talk about their meal. A LOT. They tell people about the beautifully prepared food, much of it made with fresh, locally grown ingredients, and they talk about the warmth, kindness and graciousness of the people who served the meal.

Holly Hill Inn turned into a magnetic force, attracting people to Midway and to the idea of supporting local growers and securing top quality ingredients by buying as many ingredients locally as possible. Holly Hill Inn became a destination.

Now Midway itself is a destination, helped by the work visionary, diplomatic mayor Becky Moore set in motion to make Midway's historic Main Street buildings and grounds beautiful and appealing again. Today I ate lunch at the Black Tulip, and then had dessert and coffee next door at Quirk's Café.

Good things about the Black Tulip: Cream of tomato soup rich with cream, topped with perfect tiny homemade croutons and some deep green parsley. On a wintry day I also enjoyed the brick red paint and red oriental rugs, and the gas log fire just beyond my right elbow.

Good things about Quirk's: French press coffee -- I had Guatemalan; creme brulée made with fantastic vanilla. The creme itself was silky and thick without being heavy -- perfect. The brulée, too -- just right. My favorite dessert, prepared as well as I have ever had it. Quirk's uses a ramekin for the custard instead of a flatter, wider dish. I wondered if I would like the deeper layer of custard and the relatively smaller amount of the torched sugar topping. I did, indeed. I also liked that Quirk's has at least one Kentucky wine on its menu, a bottle from nearby Equus Run Vineyards.

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