Okay, here is the inside fall/winter scoop: the â€œgo toâ€ place for home-made soup is Veranda CafÃ© & Gifts in Black Mountain.
Last week I found myself in Black Mountain, browsing at Tyson Furniture. By the time Iâ€™d perused through the maze they call a store (this was fun, donâ€™t get me wrong), I was ready for some lunch.
It was such a beautiful day, I decided to leave the car parked and walk around until I found a restaurant that struck my fancy. There were no clouds interrupting the sun and the breeze was taking leaves off the trees; scattering them throughout the town. There were lots of other folks walking, all layered in sweaters and fall jackets.
Every time Iâ€™ve been to Veranda CafÃ© & Gifts, there have been at least three or four groups ahead of mine, which translates in to a wait of about ten to twenty minutes. This time, I got lucky and was seated right away. Probably because it was 2:00PM and the lunch crowd was just starting to thin out.
My regret is that I didnâ€™t order a big bowl of soup. I ordered a half Chicken Salad Sandwich made with oven roasted chicken breast, grapes, pineapple, celery and walnuts, served on a croissant along with a cup of soup ($6.75). Here is Veranda’s menu.
The sandwich was fresh and tasty. Chicken salad seems to go through stages in the culinary world. I loved it when grapes and walnuts became pretty standard ingredients in chicken salad, but hadnâ€™t had pineapple in the mix previously. It added a nice little sweet â€œzingâ€ to the bite every now and then, taking the salad up a notch.
The word seems to have gotten out about the soups made fresh, from scratch at Veranda. They were out of their sweet potato and bacon, creamy potato, and chicken and corn chowder soups. So, I had the curried butternut squash soup.
There is no doubt in my mind – that was one of the best soups I have ever had in my life. There was just enough curry in it to give the butternut squash a richness and depth of flavor that was unexpected and very welcome. The soup was creamy with little bits of squash throughout, giving it a wonderful texture.
Even though Veranda was still very busy (most tables full), I was served quickly. Donâ€™t make the mistake I made; â€œsave roomâ€ for one of their luscious desserts.
Outside seating is available on a second story deck at the back of the restaurant. There are four or five tables. Itâ€™s cute, but the view is of the parking lot behind the building.
The gift portion of Veranda consists of two walls of shelves right inside the door. Along with some cute gift items, youâ€™ll find a nice collection of cook books.
The interior is cozy, looking historic with hardwood floors, an old display case, exposed brick and a very high ceiling. Take a moment and look up at the tongue-and-groove boards and the old heating device up there. I understand that the owners of Veranda are planning some refurbishing this coming February. Hope they can stay open during the work or at least not close for too long.
Veranda Cafe & Gifts
119 Cherry Street
Black Mountain, NC