Winston-Salem’s Finest-French toast

I have enjoyed interviewing Famous Winston-Salemites and difference makers so much that I wanted to find a way to connect these great people together to talk about Winston, and there is no better way to connect people than through food. The first meal I shared with some of Winston’s most excellent people was over French toast.

I had two couples meet me for this blog: Caleb Caudle and Lauren Harden (engaged), and Jigar and Lawren Desai. I did a local difference maker blog (link) on Caleb (website) a couple months back, and Rolling Stone just called him, “a pedal steel laced mix of modern Americana meets Eighties country.” His fiancée, Lauren, is also a Winston-Salemite, who is an account executive for Airtype (website), who make the coolest shirts ever. Jigar Desai is a director of sales and strategy and analysis for IMG Sports (website), which is formerly ISP sports. Lawren Desai is the owner and curator of a/perture cinema (website). Airtype, a/perture, IMG, and Caleb’s music feature some of the best things about our city.

I knew that Mary’s Gourmet Diner, the Lighthouse, and Midtown Cafe all are excellent choices for breakfast and French toast, and all three restaurants were gracious enough to have us all for breakfast on the house. I recommend everyone picking these local Winston restaurants as a top choice for your meals in town.

Lawren, Caleb, and Lauren
We met first at Mary’s where I gave them a quiz on Winston to see how well they knew our city as they ate the French toast. Here were some of the comments on breakfast at Mary’s: “Damn, that’s good; I didn’t expect anything here not to be good; it’s really cinammony (not sure that is a word); the syrup is pure maple and not Aunt Jemima.” Here is the quiz I gave them:

What does the word Salem mean?

Caleb: Menthol cigarette?
Lawren: Menthol cigarette that originated from Moravian Tobacco?
I gave them the hint to think of the Moravian’s, where Lauren said, “helper,” before Caleb threw out, “peaceful,” which was very close since the meaning is peace.

How many floors are in the Reynolds Building?
Lauren, Jigar, and Lawren all said numbers in the low thirties and Caleb said twenty five. The correct answer is twenty one. Then there was a discussion of if the twenty one is including the non-existent thirteenth floor or not, and I had no idea.

Winston was named after a Revolutionary War hero, what was his first name?
Caleb: Sir Robert and Gerald
Lauren: Misheard the question and said Benjamin Forsyth, which is the first name of who Forsyth County is named after. They know this because there is a marker in front of the house Caleb grew up in Stokes County about Benjamin Forsyth.
Lawren: Henry
Jigar: Octavius
I gave them the hint to think of the mascot for Camel cigarettes, and they immediately knew Joe Camel, and then gave out the correct answer, Joseph.

After the quiz, the table talked some about RiverRun Film Festival, and Lawren and Caleb realized that the energy drink, Sunshine (also made in Winston), is doing an upcoming project on both of them.


We headed to the Lighthouse next, where Lawren spent a lot of her childhood and Caleb frequented for breakfast. Lawren let everybody know that the Lighthouse used to be across the street, where Airtype is currently located. They all enjoyed the French toast there as well, and made comments that included, “It is very moist; the bread is excellent; it is very fluffy.”

At the Lighthouse, we talked about things they would like to see in Winston. For restaurants, they agreed that they would like an authentic doughnut place like the Vortex in Asheville. Lauren said she would like more rustic farm to dinner options. In the retail area, Lawren really thinks we need an Apple store, while Lauren and Caleb agreed that we need a grocery store that includes a butcher shop and a fresh dairy that sells products like Ashe County cheese.

We left downtown to head to Stratford and Midtown next. We got a large helping while we were there that included one order of gluten-free French toast and another of regular French toast. Some of the comments about Midtown included, “we really like they have different options; very sugary; and you can really taste the eggs in their French toast.”

At Midtown, we talked about music and the music scene. Caleb really appreciates the Garage for everything they have done for his career. I asked them to give me some musicians that they would like to see play in Winston and they responded with:
Lauren: Van Morrison, Fleetwood Mac, Toots and Maytals, and Gillian Welch
Caleb: Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, Gillian Welch, Buddy Miller, and John Prine
Lawren: The National, Haim, Jenny Lewis, Leon Bridges, and Milo Greene
Jigar: The National, Foo Fighters, Bon Iver, Benjamin Booker, and the Tupac hologram


The four seemed to get along very well, which is part of my reasoning for getting this blog together, to make connections for Winston-Salemites. Lawren and Jigar are leaving to go out of town for their tenth anniversary tomorrow, while Caleb is off to tour in Savannah, Charleston, and Tampa this weekend. I look forward to my next addition of Winston-Salem’s Finest.

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