Inspired by Southern-cooking traditions and flavors found right on its owners' Harpersville farm, The Pantry by Stone Hollow Farmstead designs "eat clean" cafe menus that transform local produce into fresh, sustainable, seasonal farm foods. Each day, its charming cottage-style Crestline Village home fills with the aromas of hearty soups as well as "one-pot" meals, which are simmered in traditional cast-iron cookware. These meals celebrate the work of Stone Hollow's farmers while highlighting the diversity of Southern agriculture. This eatery also doubles as a specialty food boutique, serving artisan products such as goat cheeses, preserves, and honeys that are made in small batches at the Farmstead. Onsite events such as recreational cooking classes and twice-monthly food and drink tastings give visitors even more ways to interact with local food that are easier than trying to speak fluent "cow" so they can finally ask where all that milk really comes from. The Pantry also moonlights as a one-of-a-kind venue for parties and events.
Voted to have the best milkshakes by Birmingham News’ readers, Eclipse Coffee & Books boasts an eclectic selection of hot and cold beverages, as well as a menu that brims with sandwiches and delectable breakfast options. Literary theorists can interpret the poetry of pastries with the pecan pie milkshake ($6), or nurse a cup of chocolate turtle latte ($4.50) as they thumb through a novel from one of Eclipse's three book rooms. A bite from the avocado melt ($5.50) with red onion and provolone will satiate hungry bookworms, while Eclipse's selection of beers and liquor is as ever-changing as Abe Lincoln's facial expressions on Mount Rushmore. In addition to its laid-back vibe and stacks of intriguing literature, Eclipse hosts several events each month, including palate-pleasing wine tastings, trivia nights, poetry slams, and soothing musical performances.
Christine Boatwright of Shelby Living Magazine wrote a piece detailing the operations of self-taught baker and Wooden Spoon Bakery owner Leslie Arnold and how she specializes in surprising scone flavors—pear and fresh ginger, apricot white chocolate, and salted caramel, to name a few—but also loves one special, more familiar flavor. Her red-velvet cake, a hand-me-down recipe from her husband’s grandmother, is a popular classic: a light chocolate cake colored a vibrant red and sprinkled with icing and walnuts. As she told the magazine, “I’m proud to say it’s the only recipe I have not tinkered with because it’s perfect the way it is.” Still, Arnold keeps a constantly rotating menu of flavors and offerings at Wooden Spoon Bakery, baking bacon-cheese biscuits, strawberry coffee cake, and blueberry-and-cream muffins one week and specialty brownie cakes the next.
"This Boot was a lone house of public entertainment," Charles Dickens wrote in his novel Barnaby Rudge, with "several people drinking there, and a great merriment going on." The Boot at Preserve Village works to channel this homey vibe into its spacious dining room, where a pecan-wood fire burns inside a brick hearth. Made with organic chicken, beef, and veggies, their fast-casual American menu includes salads topped with homemade dressings, slow-cooked beef-brisket sandwiches, char-grilled smoky pimento burgers, and homemade brownies. Guests can wash down each flavorful bite with cocktails, wine, or craft beers from local Alabama and southeastern breweries such as Back Forty Beer Company and Terrapin Brewing Company. The Boot at Preserve Village recently won the 2013 Best of Birmingham - Best New Restaurant award.