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.
At Tea With Thee By Victoria, it's hard to decide on the main attraction: it could be the teas themselves, the gourmet food, or the elegant atmosphere. The teas are eclectic, ranging from a fruity cherry-ginger-orange brew to a Cold Comfort blend, designed to neutralize sniffles. The food consists of soups and salads, as well as tearoom classics: scones, finger sandwiches, and dainty sweets, which range from cupcakes to tea-infused chocolates. And the shop's flower-patterned china and three-tiered trays add a touch of understated glamour, which is only enhanced by the shop's decorations, including wintertime's Christmas trees.
"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.
The four chefs at Rib Kings—Michael Gaines and Angela, Wendy, and Darrel Pickett—are adept at slathering tangy barbecue sauce over slabs, half-slabs, and three-bone portions of ribs, as well as exhibiting their pit mastery in the preparation of diverse meats. Beside southern-style sides such as buttery smoked corn and a six-cheese mac 'n' cheese, Michael and the Picketts pile plates with juicy cuts of beef brisket, pork, chicken, and tilapia. As feasts wind down, the culinary team can also serve slices of sweet-potato pie or triple-chocolate cake, as a socially acceptable alternative to eating three chocolate cakes in a row.