Local Paragons Part IV: Midtown Cafe and Dessertery

Midtown Café and Dessertery is located on Stratford Road in Winston Salem. It is a delightful café with a varied menu. Their selection of breakfast pancakes is divine and every one is well worth the effort. While I usually enjoy hashbrowns, the Midtown Café prepares their shredded hash browns with what I (a non-culinary proficient every day person) would call more oil than I would personally desire. Their coffee is top notch and their desserts…well…get ready to gain five pounds just looking at the display window but so worth it.

Food/Beverage: <3 <3 <3                                     Local Color: <3 <3 <3


After the most awkward phone call of her life, Lucy sat in Midtown Café waiting for Saul to meet her for a late lunch. And by late, she meant they were bordering on a senior citizen’s supper time, but it was the best they could do given both of their busy schedules.

“We can pretend we’re still living in 19th century south when lunch didn’t really exist,” Saul had joked.

“I beg your pardon?” Lucy had not been aware that lunch was a twentieth century invention.

“Antebellum South—there was breakfast served until about 11, dinner from about 2-4 and supper as late as 9—but no lunch,” he said. “We’ll just go back in time for a bit. Or if you’d rather we could be English and call it Afternoon Tea.”

Tea, he’d gone on to explain, was really only part of the deal. It was, in fact, a light meal. And so, they’d agreed to be time travelers for their first date.

“Hey, you’re here!” Saul called out, his voice carrying over the empty restaurant. A few hours before, the place had been packed with Sunday brunchers, but they had cleared out and the evening crowd had yet to arrive. Those who were still lingering glanced at Saul, who commanded attention with his loud, somewhat abrasive voice.

Lucy tried not to cringe. She was quiet by nature. Abrasive would never be her style.

Saul slid into the seat across from her at the booth and smiled, his voice lowering—but only slightly.

“You look great,” he looked at her appreciatively, then reached across the table pausing just above her hair. “May I?” he asked. Lucy was confused. She didn’t really know what he was asking but she nodded. He ran his hand down the side of her Dutch braid running sideways down left side of her head and tumbling down her shoulder. His pinkie brushed the side of her cheek and as he studied her hair, he paused at the base of her neck. While he didn’t actually touch her skin, she could still feel his touch traveling all the way down her back.

Saul sat back in his seat. “How do you get the braid to sit on the top of your head like that?”

Lucy blinked stupidly. “Wh-what?” she stammered.

“The braid,” he gestured toward her head again, accepting the water from the waiter as he spoke. “Usually they’re like tucked under and stuff on girls. But yours is sitting on the top of your head. It’s really pretty like that.”

“Oh,” Lucy reached up and fingered the thick black strands. Satisfied it was still as smooth as ever, her had dropped to her lap again. “It’s not a French braid, it’s a Dutch braid.”

“There are different kinds of braids?”

Lucy smiled, feeling herself relax. “Of course. There are different kinds of cars aren’t there?”

“Well, sure,” Saul shrugged. “But braids? They have names?”

“Ever since God put Adam in the garden and said, ‘here start naming these’ we humans have felt the need to name everything in our world. Even braids.”

Saul laughed, turning heads in the quiet restaurant again. Lucy ignored the uncomfortable feeling and told herself to relax.

“Exhibit A,” he said, glancing down at the menu. “Look at this pancake menu! ‘Peach delight: thin rolled pancakes dusted with powdered sugar and filled with delicious ricotta-cream-cheese-peaches blend.’ Okay my mouth is officially watering.”

“I love that they serve breakfast here all day,” Lucy laughed. “I was eyeing the Silver Dollar Pancakes myself. Do you think they’re actually the size of a sliver dollar?”

“I don’t know. But it makes you wonder,” Saul mused. “Considering when I make pancakes they look like big blobs of crazy—I’m impressed.”

“Have you seen that Youtube video? With the pancake art?” Lucy asked.

“The one where the person is making like dinosaurs or something with the batter?”

“Yeah, the one I saw she was making like a pumpkins and butterflies, but I’m sure dinosaurs are just a possible.”

“I’m impressed by people and their ingenuity on a regular basis,” Saul shook his head. “But I also think they may have too much time on their hands. I can barely get to work and class on time without feeling like I’m drowning in papers and due dates. When do I have time to do all that? Much less post it on Youtube.”

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The waiter came then, interrupting them to take their order—and they did each get pancakes, but Saul also got a side of hash browns.

“Do you watch a lot of Youtube?” he asked once the waiter had gone to put their order in at the kitchen.

“Not really,” Lucy shrugged and took a sip of coffee. It was late afternoon, but that didn’t matter. Good coffee was hard to find, and she ordered it at Midtown every time she came—even if it was late. And at this dessertery, she had come much later than three thirty before. “Mostly I only see the videos when someone else posts them on Facebook and I happen to be twirling through it on my way from one thing to another.”

“Ah,” he nodded. “Yes, the great social connector, Facebook. It brings us all together while giving us reasons to never talk to one another again.”

“Are you saying Facebook is a paradox?” Lucy asked, sipping her coffee again.

“One of the greatest paradoxes of the twenty first century. Have you read The App Generation?” He asked leaning back in his chair and sipping on his water.

“No,” she leaned forward. “Tell me about it.”

“It’s a great published study about the concept of having an ‘app for everything’ is how this generation has come to identify itself. Really fascinating research. One things the guy says in there is that we constantly have all these new technologies popping up all over the place and they allow for self-expression in a way that we’ve never seen before. You know—selfie with the Tower of London! Kind of thing.”

“Right,” Lucy said, nodding slowly. “But selfies aren’t really representative of the self, are they? I mean I take one and I think: ugh, that can’t really be me!”

“Well, that’s kind of the point I think. We have all these new methods of expression but we’re starting to connect to them too much and suddenly that becomes our identity. We are that selfie, we are that person we put online. But what we post and these things are very two dimension—very flat. And we’re not meant to be two dimensional, flat characters in our lives and so we feel like our lives our lacking in something…more. And they are. They’re lacking in self expression and actualization that we thought we were getting by being the Facebook person.”

“Thus a kind of paradox.”

“Right, and it’s not just Facebook, but all these apps and gadgets.”

“So what do you think we should do about it?”

“I don’t know,” Saul shrugged. “I’m not even sure we can do anything about it. But I do think it’s interesting.”

“Interesting, and a little disturbing. I mean if I am without my cellphone I kind of feel as though I have lost a little part of myself.”

“Exactly what the book is kind of pointing out, only the generation right behind us is in even worse shape.”

“Yes,” Lucy nodded. “I can see that, you can’t even walk down the street without seeing a teenager or even a little child with some kind of electronic device in his or her hand.”

“Right,” Saul nodded and leaned over the table. “Speaking of which, let’s talk about you.”

“How is that a speaking of which? Are you saying I’m a teenager or a child?”

“Actually, I was thinking more along the lines of generation we’re in—“

“And you assume we’re in the same generation?”

“I would guess so.”

“You’re in med school?” Lucy prompted. She tilted her head to the side and studied him a little. She’d done the math. She had to be older than he was, but she didn’t know by how much and was a little afraid to ask.

“Finishing up. Have to start looking at fellowships soon.”

“Complicated?” she said it more as a question, though she’d heard from a friends how hard and arduous the medical school process was only to get to residencies which then led to fellowships until you finally were able to establish some kind of practice. None of it was easy.

Saul shrugged. “I’m leaving my fate to God’s hands really.”

“God?” Lucy asked, wrinkling her brow. “Isn’t that a little irresponsible? Seems like you need to take a more active role rather than just letting fate decide. You might as well just be rolling a dice.”

Saul studied her now, noting the wrinkled brow, but honest curious eyes. Lucy wasn’t judging him, he decided, but she didn’t understand what he meant.

The waiter brought their food and they began eating. Saul, studying Lucy and thinking about how to explain his active, conscious faith. And Lucy wondering just what she had gotten herself into.

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