Super No Bueno Eats:
The Midway Cafe (Fort Thomas, KY)
Contributor: Jesse Pratt
Every community should have a bar/pub/tavern like Midway Cafe, located in the Cincinnati suburb of Ft. Thomas, KY. You know the type of place I’m talking about, the neighborhood establishment where you can stop in for a beer or two in a relaxing atmosphere; the type of place where the staff and owners take the time to learn your name, make conversation with you, ask how your day went; the type of place that produces affordable, delicious meals that are indicative of the care taken in their craft. As I alluded to earlier, there are three major things I look for when putting a place on my regular rotation: atmosphere, staff, and most importantly, quality of the food and drink.
Atmosphere plays an important role when I choose to patron an establishment. I mean, you want to feel comfortable and relaxed, right? Midway is completely accommodating in that regard with seating available either at tables or booths—or if you’re like me and prefer to saddle up to the bar, there is spacious room to do so. For the beautiful spring days that will be (hopefully) soon approaching, plenty of outside seating exists as well. Up for a game of darts? Three boards are available for that. The decor is unassuming, unpretentious, and fitting.
The impact that staff has on an establishment is enormous. Friendly, helpful staff can really enhance the customer experience, while the opposite qualities can really detract from said experience. You know that feeling when you walk into a place after coming for a few times, and no matter what day it is, someone knows your name? Or perhaps when the staff goes out of their way to make sure your order is absolutely perfect? Maybe you’ve accidentally left an item behind after leaving, and your server was honest and professional enough to keep it safe until your return? I have personally experienced all three here at Midway, and it truly reflects the high level of respect and appreciation that the employees and owners have for their customers.
While atmosphere is important and staff is critical, the quality of the food and beverages served is what ultimately determines whether an establishment warrants my repeat business. Let’s talk about how Midway performs in this area, shall we? This is a bar located in the state of Kentucky, and as such, the bourbon selection does not disappoint. Whether you are looking for something standard, such as Maker’s Mark or 1792, or something a little more special (Stagg Jr., anyone?), Midway has you covered.
I’d be remiss if I also didn’t mention the constantly rotating beer selection on draft. Local breweries are always represented well, along with some of which you haven’t heard. There is always a type for everyone, too, whether it’s Belgian, IPA, Stout, Porter, etc. I never leave Midway thirsty.
The food selection is standard bar/tavern casual fare… until you taste it. The freshness of the ingredients is apparent from the first bite. Let’s start at the beginning of the meal, the salad. The Caesar is always my first go-to, and Midway’s is delicious. Crisp romaine lettuce, perfect parmesan cheese, a creamy and tangy dressing in just the right amount, not overbearing, makes this a wonderful start. Unless you plan on making an entire meal out of it, the small salad is sufficient, as the regular size is a very generous portion.
I’m not sure what I was expecting when I ordered the fried pickles, as I’ve usually been disappointed when ordering them from other establishments. Not these. They are crisp, juicy, and come with a wonderful breading and a refreshing dipping sauce.
For the burgers and sandwiches, the meats all come from a local butcher, and it’s evident upon tasting. The burger presented here is simple, a patty with cheese, bacon, and a fried egg. The ingredients and preparation speak for themselves, the taste is excellent. The fries are well seasoned and complement the burger.
The ketchup is made in house. Let’s get one thing clear, I have never liked ketchup, I have always felt that it overwhelms and ruins everything it touches. This ketchup, however, is different from the typical cloying gloop found in most bottles. It has a chunkier consistency and lacks the overpowering sweetness that normally keeps me away from the condiment. In short, I like it.
Last, but not least, are the wings. As stated on the menu, the wings are never frozen, and this is obvious from the first bite. What differentiates these wings from most others is that they are first smoked, then flash fried. This results in a crispy exterior, a juicy interior, and a delicious smoky flavor. Just look below:
The sauces are well crafted as well, with my favorite options being the “Hot Buffalo”, “Carolina Gold”, and “Wasabi Teriyaki”. There are also more adventurous offerings such as “PB&J” and “Spicy Nutella”, along with a “Volcano Challenge”. I have a feeling the latter will be the topic of a future review. On a personal note, I am a total snob when it comes to wings, and I can say with confidence that these are among the best I have ever had.
Every community should have a bar like Midway. Until then, I count myself lucky that I have it in mine. If you ever find yourself close to Ft. Thomas, KY, give Midway a visit. You won’t be disappointed.
Click HERE for more information about The Midway Cafe.
Learn more about Jesse Pratt HERE.
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