Monday, October 29, 2012

Visiting The Coolest Small Town in America 2011

Ablaze.  Utterly, brilliantly ablaze. One of the many wonders of my home state West Virginia is its breathtaking color palette every Autumn.  Having left the hometown early in the A.M to continue our vacation, we eventually embarked on to the West Virginia turnpike and every turn peeled back another multi-hued layer.  The further into southern West Virginia we got, the closer we were getting to some noted tourist spots as well, such as the renowned Greenbrier resort and the towering New River Gorge Bridge, then on the cusp of Bridge Day; the annual celebration of adventure-seeking that takes place every year there.  I found myself in an almost dreamlike reverie of memory as the colorful trees whizzed by; remembering the whitewater rapids of the nearby New and Gauley rivers and how rafting became one of my all-time favorite excursions after trying them out here.  An addition to an exit sign soon caught my eye: Lewisburg, WV. Voted The Coolest Small Town of 2011.

I had thought I had visited Lewisburg previously but if I had, it must have been ages ago.  This complete and total charmer of a town won us over from the moment we pulled on to its streets.  We stopped at the nicely appointed visitor center where I would discover the source of Lewisburg's new "coolest' moniker; Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel magazine.  Clearly, the writer was swept away by Lewisburg and sure enough, we soon would be as well. 

Harmony Ridge Gallery was our next stop and what a stylish stop it was.  Alive with eccentricities and whimsy, this is a ravishing space. The sleek furniture and wild decor are enough reason to visit and they also feature a wine bar and coffeehouse called Red Key 3.  We picked up a couple of prints and took the proprietor's advice on lunch and headed to a little gem called the Stardust Cafe up the street.  I have to say there are lots of satisfactory restaurant experiences out there, and sometimes you have an excellent one that you look forward to speaking to your friends about.  Every once in a great while though, you enter a place and that makes you feel like you were welcomed home and that indeed is case with the Stardust Cafe.  The decor is like the menu and the service, fun and cheerful.  We sat at the bar where I nursed a Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar and watched the lively Tuesday afternoon lunch crowd.  Keith ordered a satisfying Grilled 3-cheese sandwich consisting of goat cheese, Swiss and aged Reggiano Parmesan, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh basil on homemade ciabatta bread.  After a bowl of creamy celery soup, I had what was considered a "Stardust classic", the Trust-Me Salad.  This bright, cheery confection of a salad earned its place in a Southern Living cookbook by its sunny flavor for sure: fresh greens topped with locally made Crazy Baker's granola, chevre, fresh tomatoes, onions and avocado tossed with Destiny's secret vinaigrette and a slice of crusty bread on the side.  Destiny is the proprietress of the Stardust Cafe along with her daughter Sparrow and the Crazy Baker in question is Destiny's twin brother.  Clearly, great care is taken here, with ingredients, with preparation, and with service.  I wanted to wile away the afternoon here, try some more ales from their impressive list and take in one of their sumptuous desserts like the apparently famous sticky toffee cake.  Time for travel was of the essence, though, and so we did reluctantly move on and stroll through Bella, the Corner Gourmet before finally returning to the road.

Yes, there are places I love to visit and then there are places I would like to move to and Lewisburg was definitely the latter.  So much so in fact, that I have read through much of the material we collected there.  Even while writing this post, I read the back story of Stardust Cafe and was charmed even by that.  I am always proud of my home state and prouder still to see a town so completely captivating reside there.  The Coolest Small Town?  You betcha. Almost heaven, indeed.


Anonymous said...

My Greggles, first let me say that currently Lewisburg as is most of the eastern half of WV is now under a blizzard warning thanks to Hurricane Sandy (who is a real b*tch btw). I'm so glad to see the progress in the southern part of our great home state and I'm pretty sure that we (you and I or maybe just I) sang in Lewisburg as part of the PCC Chorale World Tour. I'm also pretty sure that's the place where "Wanna bishcuit" became popular via Joe Bennett and the lovely lady that he and Eric Ruf stayed with. We used that during the Aesops Fable huddle during our performance. Maybe that wasn't your year in chorale but Lewisburg is absolutely beautiful. Glad you had a wonderful visit.


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