MIDWAY, Ky.—Most chefs are creative, but few are true creators like Ouita Michel.
In the past few years, Michel, who is chef and co-owner of Holly Hill Inn, crafted Wallace Station Deli and Bakery (Midway) and Windy Corner Market and Restaurant in Lexington.
As of mid-June she’s got a new place, Midway School Bakery which, as the name implies, is located in the one-time cafeteria of Midway School, a building that surely is 80 years old.
The de rigueur wide, iron-framed rectangular windows of that day border the east and west sides of the space, allowing ample sunlight to spill into every corner of what largely is a retail production bakery. If you like watching the action, the view into the bustling kitchen is completely unobstructed.
Scattered tables and chairs give the room a coffee house feel, but few java joints produce such a broad range of baked goods made on premise. (Check out the bread and pastry menu and the coffee menu. Click here to see a video — complete with Dixieland jazz — full of those finished products.) There’s seating inside and outside, a totally casual and cozy spot.
Michel wanted cakes, pies, donuts, scones, cookies and more made from scratch and born of time-tested recipes: pretty much the old-fashioned way. The donuts and such I sampled were incredibly good, especially the corn cookies and the Blue Jay donut, named after the school’s mascot. (WARNING: Consuming a glistening chocolate donut while operating a five-speed automobile on a two-lane road is ill-advised.)
“I’ve always done fresh baked goods at our restaurants, and this is a natural extension of that,” said Michel, who describes her breads as “Kentucky home-style” and “Pullman-type loaves, sandwich breads.” Bread also was being made at each restaurant site, and she wanted to centralize production.
Since the school, once the center of the community, was closed many years ago and its classroom areas converted to apartments, Michel sensed “we had lost something that made Midway Midway. Part of us opening here is to give the community the chance to come back together at this school.”
Seeing most of you reading this have no connection to Midway School, you’re likely wondering whether you should wander off I-64 to stop in.
If you’re going to Midway, Georgetown, Versailles, Lexington (especially if you’re headed to Keeneland or a Wildcat tailgate party), Richmond or any of the nearby distilleries—by all means go.
Not only is it just five minutes off the Interstate, Midway is a beautiful, historic village of 1,200 that’s nicely retained its charm and is worth exploring for an afternoon. So check it out this weekend if you’ve got the time. It’s about an hour from Louisville.
Midway School Bakery is located at 510 South Winter Street, Midway, Ky., and is open Monday through Friday, 6 to 6, Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call (859) 846-4336 for more information.