It’s kind of like when Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker got together to form Cream, or when Bob Dylan made Nashville Skyline with Johnny Cash. The cluster of talented people behind Topsoil Kitchen & Market, the new venture in TR’s historic Williams Hardware Store, is working on a sure-fire hit.
Patrick McInerney, co-owner of Due South Coffee Roasters, and Wendy Lynam, of Swamp Rabbit Inn, have partnered with Chef Adam Cooke, formerly of Blackberry Farm and Restaurant 17, to bring a farm-based, fresh-baked, elegantly complete food outlet to their community. There will be breakfast and lunch, every day—a veggie-forward menu with lots of locally sourced goodness. And yes, there will be specialty coffee in spades, but also a daily bread program, with old-world style loaves coming out of the oven just as the restaurant transitions to its evening alter-ego wine bar, with an interesting by-the-glass list and snacks until 8 p.m. There will be brunch on weekends, and take-home soups, spreads, and locally grown produce and proteins in the market. Someday, dinner service. In essence, everything a food-loving person needs.
So how does a supergroup like this come to be? Patrick laughs. It seems easy, fluid. “One thing led to another,” he says. He and Adam worked together on a fresh menu when Due South made the move to Hampton Station. They got to talking bigger plans and started a pop-up supper club. Wendy was a regular at the supper club, and would stick around afterwards, washing dishes, talking even bigger plans. The next thing you know . . .
Much of this collaboration is rooted in Topsoil Farm, started last year on Swamp Rabbit Inn’s property, now home to four goats, three pigs, 65 chickens, and 22 rows of chef-selected vegetables—all of which will influence what’s on the plate and available in the market. For Adam, this kind of connection to where food comes from is part of his creative drive.
The history of the building itself is also clearly an inspiration. Patrick shows off an old photo from a winter 1970 edition of the Greenville News, a young woman warming her miniskirt-bare legs by the cast-iron potbellied stove at Williams Hardware. Topsoil has kept the same store counter for the market, the same open bare beams and old shelving, sanded the original floors, even pulled remnant tracks from the Swamp Rabbit Railroad to use as footrests for the bar. But the painted cinderblock walls give way to a clean sweep of white marble at the kitchen, and the sweet screened porch overlooking the Swamp Rabbit Trail has doubled in size. The ceiling fans that tick overhead are massive and beautiful, their windmill-ish blades reminding us again of the farm.
“We see this as a daily stop for a lot of people,” says Patrick, looking into the belly of the restaurant, and Main Street beyond. Daily, central, on their way home.
The pitch is perfect.
Topsoil Kitchen & Market, 13 S Main St, Travelers Rest. Open daily, 8am–8pm.