Lovely little towns are not a dime a dozen, and finding another one is always a pleasure. The outskirts of such spots are almost inevitably deceiving, so it wasn't until my second visit to Warrenton, VA, that I found myself happily neck-swiveling in the neighborhood around the old courthouse.
This being Virginia, there's an historical anecdote about every couple of feet, of course - I thought about Bill McClellan, whose possible ancestor, the general, gave his farewell speech here, as a number of plaques and signs pointed out. It's near the Virginia wine country, and the countryside itself - well, it's easy to understand why the English settlers felt at home here; the drive from I-66 and Manassas has spots that look like the West Country of England.
The World's Greatest Daughter-in-Law and I had slipped out of preparation for family festivities and aimed for a spot Marian Burros had written about in the New York Times. Alas: We reached the Red Truck Bakery after every sandwich in the place had sold out. Clearly this was one of those occasions when the tough get going. The vegan sweet potato-plantain-coconut soup was velvet, a hit of Thai red curry in it, rich and wondrous. Foccacia alongside had fresh rosemary and a glaze that looked like sugar but was sea salt. And the house coffee was splendid. We ate at a communal table next to the old service station's sales room - one bay is for dining and the other is where owner Brian Noyes bakes his magic - said table being made from timbers of a barn that General Sheridan set afire as he marched through the Shenandoah Valley.
Lots of local ingredients including local eggs for the egg salads and housemade pickles for it, too. Check the website, where the soup of the day is also announced. We left with an armful of bakery goods, including some caramel and peanut cookies, a loaf of bread with oatmeal, cranberries and walnuts and - fanfare, if you please, maestro - a moonshine cake. Noyes is using real, legal, 'shine in this, and while it makes things distinctive, it's not so deeply alcoholic that kids go "oh, yuck!" Lightly sweet, and a little spicy, it's a ring cake with a drizzle of chocolate ganache on it. Much polite argument over the last piece.
They also do mail order, including pies made with their own mincemeat when that season arrives. Not far from the Blue Ridge Parkway, and Luray Caverns as well, so lots of excuses to go visit. And yes, there's breakfast, too.
Breakfast and Lunch Mon.-Sat.
Credit cards: Yes