the state

– of sweetness in strangesboro. by vastate
Saturday, 8 November 2008, 17:08
Filed under: -of eats, -of jhumphrey, -of localism

i’ve said before that i grew up in waynesboro.


i am, therefore, continually shocked when things such as stone soup books & cafe pop up in my old hometown.  it’s just not expected.  at all.  have you ever been to waynesboro?  when i lived there, it’s defining characteristic was that it carried title of highest per capita teen pregnancy rate on the east coast.

well.  now i have a reason to visit besides my parents.

seriously, stone soup is fab.

booksbookstack + wine beer list

vintage books, new books, local wine & beer, sandwiches and salads made from local and organic produce, GUS soda, & neat people – all nestled cozily in a 115-year old farmhouse.


so we visited yesterday.

first, we found our server, keith.  (he’s the one on the left, see below:)


keith harris is from LA, but has been hanging around the shenendoah valley for the past few years, working on his dissertation on civil war history at UVA.  it is obvious he is not from waynesboro.  he screams west coast.  which is, most likely, good for business.

he told me that he is friends with the owner, and that’s how he found his way to this tiny little anomaly in waynesboro, virginia.  but i discovered the real reason when, after my lunch, he offered to show me a real (live?) civil war trench on the premises.  keith is very excited about this bit of history.  very excited.

and because he was excited, i was excited.  suddenly, stone soup was more than a bookstore and cafe, it was a battlefield too.  dang.  that combo only comes along so often.


keith took our orders, and told me to go talk to emily hancock, the bookseller.  this is emily:


good grief…how could you not buy a book from emily?  i certainly could not resist, and walked out with two vintage kids books:

perkylittleengine + mothermother

eli is in love.  i am besottled.  the prices were good too…

okay, now on to food.

food sign

after buying my books, i went back outside (did i mention the outdoor seating, among the native plants?…), to eat my lunch.


i ordered the ham and brie sandwich with a fresh greens salad.  johan had the ham and cheddar chutney sandwich with the spinach salad.  my dad had the smoked turkey with cranberry chutney sandwich with a signature salad.  all of these dishes were fresh, served on multigrain bread, and just complex enough to be interesting without overdoing it.

ham & brie + sandwich & soup

the soup/sandwich combos were great, but the favorite of the afternoon was, hands down, the mushroom bread pudding ordered by my mom.  it wasn’t necessarily a pretty dish, but unbelievably tasty.  rich and earthy, light and silky, with crunchy baked topping necessary for comfort food.

mushroom bread pudding

that’s the roasted eggplant & tomato soup in the corner…yum.

according to a recent article in the daily progress, stone soup sources produce locally from places such as staunton’s JMD Farm, nelson county’s Rocking M Farm, and waynesboro’s own farmer’s market.

makes the food taste even better.  in theory and in reality.

in between lunch and dessert, i went back inside to meet the chef du jour, kathryn cameron.  she was working, but didn’t hesitate to take a second to meet me, hear about the blog, and tell me a little about what she was doing.  here’s kathryn:


after talking with kathryn and a couple of folks eating at the kitchen bar (and hearing about their friday night chef’s dinner specials & live music), i went back to sample dessert.  we ordered (on keith’s suggestion that it was “over the top”) the pumpkin cranberry upside-down cake.  again, delicious.  moist.  seasonal.  not-too-sweet. excellent.  well done, folks.

pumpkin cranberry cake

as i licked my finger to pick up rouge crumbs, i thought to myself, for the five-hundredth time, “where did these people come from?!”  i found people like keith, emily, and kathryn to be sorely missing from waynesboro while i was growing up.

maybe they, and those like them will be waynesboro’s chance.

to fight against the big box stores threatening to close in on what could be a sweet, thriving, valley town.  to encourage a thriving local farmer’s market.  to show others the beauty of the mountains in the fall.  to overcome a history mired in statistics, factories, and reputations.  to make choices that are long-term rather than short-sighted.

i say, ¡way to go! stone soup!  and thank you!  congrats on your upcoming 2 year anniversary….may there be many more.


4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Wow and here I thought there was no reason for me to ever go to Waynesboro again!

Comment by Emmy

The Best Thing to happen to The ‘Boro since I grew up here! I am lucky enough to work at Stone Soup, live in Waynesboro, and LOVE it – thanks for a great article.

Comment by LBC

There ARE a few reasons to come to Waynesboro, believe it or not! And if you keep reviewing things here, you might help develop even more reasons to visit. J&J, you should review the Purple Foot next time you’re here — our longest lasting restaurant which has always offered good food and by some miracle hasn’t gone the way of many others here….

Comment by Barbra

Check out Dulcimer Central, the Friday night entertainment, the displays by local artists, the discussion groups, the awesome food and the amazing sense of friends and family. What a treat is this place called Stone Soup. Definitely a “Place to Return to” See you soon!!!!

Comment by Shannon F. Tate

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